Disabled People Cannot Be “Expected Losses” in the Climate Crisis

Author: Julia Watts Belser

September 20, 2019

In an op-ed for Truthout Julia Watts Belser argues that if we persist in framing disability and climate change as a problem of physical vulnerability, we miss the underlying realities of structural violence: how ableism, racism, class inequality, and other forms of oppression work together to compound and intensify risk. Disabled people are often used to sell a story of triumph over adversity, or serve as icons of disaster. Both narratives focus our attention on the individual, rather than the political, and veil the effects of structural inequality and injustice. Watts Belser concludes that the ethical norm that no body is disposable pulses at the heart of climate justice and disability justice movements, pushing us to tell stories that expose inequality and injustice and challenge the root causes of disability risk.

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