This month, I thought I’d share some gathered signals and resources related to climate-related issues as we approach Earth Day on April 22.
Climate change is among our most urgent shared concerns. Thankfully – social work has taken up space related to this topic – in the form of the Social Work Grand Challenges and beyond. But there is so much more to do. Let’s up the breadth, depth and focus of our climate change discourse in social work – and help to pull the profession forward to see the many intersecting issues that make this so vitally important.
As is my custom, I tend to share signals and information in the following categories I think are most helpful/relevant to the study and practice of foresight in social work. If you’d like to see previous months’ posts, you can do so here!
- The futures of social issues
- The futures of social movements
- The futures of social welfare
- The futures of racism, other isms and equity
- The futures of professions
- And a good old “miscellaneous” category in case something great appears that doesn’t directly fit. Here goes!
The Futures of Social Issues and Climate
- It is interesting to see the U.S. Federal Government/White House’s framework for climate resiliency. It is a useful framework for understanding how climate issues are considered and will shape future policy (particularly related to infrastructure, green jobs and disaster readiness) on this topic. Here’s one climate organization’s report card on President Biden’s progress on climate change policy impact. Here’s a Pew Research poll report on American attitudes towards Biden’s climate policies. Here’s additional commentary – covering the mixed promise and shortcomings of the approaches we’ve seen so far, and additional views from college aged students.
- Does climate change mean we’re doomed? No – if we’re brave, big change can happen fast (thanks to Social Work Health Futures Lab Fellow, Dr. Finn Bell for sharing this item.)
- Fine article about increasing awareness/naming of the moral imperatives of climate action – The Global Bystander Effect: Moral Responsibility in an Age of Climate Crisis. A related piece discusses the need for/emergence of a global mindset for climate action that operates beyond traditional nation-state boundaries. Called How to Develop a Planetary Consciousness – I found it useful and moving.
- This piece called Study Reveals That Pollution Can Cause Cancer in Nonsmokers reminds us that climate change will intersect with physical human health in intensifying ways in the years to come. Gentrification and privilege issues are likely to increase regarding to access to clean air.
- Really interesting film series on the ways that climate intersects the future of numerous central issues: flight, forests, buildings, transportation, water and farming. Worth a look.
The Futures of Social Movements and Climate
- This article entitled How social movements contribute to staying within the global carbon budget: Evidence from a qualitative meta-analysis of case studies by May Aye Thiri, Sergio Villamayor-Tomás , Arnim Scheidel , and Federico Demaria from 2022 specifically sought to understand the relationship of social movements to impacting adherence to climate carbon budget goals. This is rich piece which analyzes activities across the globe and offers both hope about what can be accomplished as well as a call to action for what remains to be done.
- Climate change: Radical activists benefit social movements – history shows why by Heather Alberro reminds us all why playing it safe in movement work will ultimately never be enough…and why we all probably need to get ready to get braver about taking a stand on urgent climate concerns before us.
- Why older Americans are hitting the streets for climate action (thanks to Dr. Finn Bell, Social Work Health Futures Lab Fellow for sharing this piece)
The Futures of Social Welfare and Climate
All of these pieces give important focus to emerging issues that social welfare institutions will need to be increasingly responsive to as climate change evolves and progresses.
- The impact of climate change on children (this piece has the same title but additional information)
- Participation Income: The social welfare model that could help communities fight climate change
- Barcelona bets on green to boost city’s mental health
- The guide to degrowth: The movement to prioritize well-being in a bid to avoid climate cataclysm
- Climate change and health (additional info from 2022 IPCC report on this topic)
- Climate change and poverty
- 30% of Americans cite climate change as a motivator to move in 2023
- Americans are moving to escape climate impacts: Towns expect more to come
The Futures of Racism, Other Isms, Equity and Climate
- Why climate change is inherently racist
- Global heating: Study shows impact of climate racism
- The perfect storm: The US city where rising sea levels and racism collide
- The racial violence of climate change
- What is the relationship between abolition and climate change? This piece tackles that vital question: From Urban Resilience to Abolitionist Climate Justice in Washington, DC by Malini Ranganathan and Eve Bratman – the abstract describes the piece as “drawing on key insights from Black radical, feminist, and antiracist humanist thought, we reimagine resilience through an abolitionist framework.” This is a thoughtful and important contribution to the literature.
- Racism, climate activism and the politics of apology: The image exclusion of Black youth activists by Garret Barnwell, Brendon Barnes, Lynn Hendricks and Brendon R. Barnes is an important examination of privilege and whiteness in climate change spaces and how to more meaningfully and equitably address harms done.
The Futures of Professions and Climate
- BU recently hosted an event called Social Work, Climate and Environmental Justice focused on highlighting the work of three emerging social work scholars on climate-related issues. You can learn more about it and watch the session here.
- This post is from 2020 – but I thought it did a particularly terrific job in concisely explaining why social work belongs in climate action work. 5 Reasons Why Environmental Justice is Social Work by Social Work Health Futures Lab Fellow – Jenna Rines
- The Journal Critical and Radical Social Work just had a call for papers on the topic of Climate Justice, Food Insecurity and Social Work. Though the deadline has passed, the overview provides an intriguing and important glimpse of what is to come – I plan to keep my eyes open for the eventual special edition.
- Loved this article by Joe Wheelan called: From dissent to authoritarianism: What role for social work in confronting the climate crisis? This piece focused on two key questions: “‘What sustainable social policies should social work align with?’ The answer to this is presented as a means of progressing the task of social work in the context of climate justice. The second question builds on the answer to the first and asks, ‘Does arriving at an adequate response require dissent?'”
- A terrific scoping review specific to social work is called Climate Change, Social Work, and the Transition Away from Fossil Fuels: A Scoping Review, by Lisa Reyes Mason, Colleen Cummings Melton, Darian Gray, and Andrea Swallow. This piece does a terrific job of exploring the topic and both acknowledging and providing pathways for social workers to play a larger role in in this important set of transitions.
Every social worker should know about/be familiar with a few key “cornerstone” climate change-related sources of information. These include:
- The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change which is affiliated with the UN and remains among the most prestigious sources of climate-related news, science and action.
- The Stockholm Resilience Center has produced the Planetary Boundaries framework and research comprised of a global network of climate scientists focused on a recognition of the undeniable responsibilities we have towards our planet and each other.
- The Sunrise Movement
- Extinction Rebellion
PLACES TO PLUG IN! Did you know there is an international list-serv for social workers interested in climate-related news, research, information and more? Started and maintained by Dr. Meredith Powers in the the Social Work Department, University of North Carolina at Greensboro. As part of this post, I contacted her and she sent the following note to be included inviting you all to join in. I’ve been part of this group for a while now, and can attest to its quality and vibrancy! Here’s Dr. Powers note:
” I invite you to our collaborative network (currently operating as a google group), named Green-EcoSocial Work Collaborative Network which is intended for sharing ideas, resources, asking questions, and building solidarity as those who care about ecological issues and are seeking to address them within our profession.
I see my role as using my social work skills to help us connect and network. And, since I want it to succeed as a network and become more interactive, from time to time I write posts to help build solidarity. I also do a little outreach to invite more people to join us, but primarily rely on others to spread the word as well.
I only moderate the membership so we don’t have spam, but I don’t really monitor content, thus it is important that people are careful if they want to only reply to one person that they don’t hit reply with the network email in the “To” line. That has happened a few times, but hopefully people are careful.
You can email the network group directly if you have anything pertinent to share at:
Feel free to introduce yourself to the group and your interest or connection to Green/Environmental social work. They are great at offering ideas and resources. And, very supportive of newcomers with any questions, or thoughts to share.
There is also a Facebook group, Ecologically Conscious Social Work, and a Twitter group, Green and Environmental Social Work, if you would like to join these as well.
Finally, I am now serving in a volunteer role as Director of IFSW Climate Justice Program Check it out when you have time, there are resources for
education, advocacy and action, particularly for investing in climate justice projects as we redress our ecological footprints related to travel.”