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Climate of Justice and Climate Justice

Updated: Mar 30, 2023


So, what’s the difference between the widely used phrase “climate justice” and the climate of justice?


The climate of justice and climate justice refer to quite different areas of concern. Climate justice refers to the unequal distribution of the harms of global warming and other forms of planetary destruction. In many cases, the global economy that has caused our current climate crisis has benefited some at the expense of many others. Also, poor and many non-Western communities have fewer resources than Western communities to change their social practices, so climate justice entails helping those most impacted and least able to deal with the changing global environment.

The climate of justice, on the other hand, refers to a social context in which people tend to act with fairness toward one another and the earth, and expect to live in reciprocal relationships. In a climate of justice, people design social structures that protect the vulnerable and restrain the arrogant.


The notion of a climate of justice does not understand justice as particular actions, although a climate of justice would encourage such acts. Nor does a climate of justice refer to individual virtues, although individuals existing in a climate of justice would have a disposition toward justice since the climate itself disposes them to seek justice. It’s best understood as a social context in which we expect fairness because that’s what people tend to do in such situations.


The problem is really simple: We need a climate of justice to deal with the growing trends of social and planetary disintegration, but we live, for the most part, in a climate in injustice caused by the Atlantic commerce of enslaved and dislocated people. People of privilege, of course, have adjusted to this climate because we have received more than we deserve. For others, the opposite is true. The fact is that we have never sufficiently addressed these injustices and they now prevent us from joining together to change the current trends that are destroying our human habitat. The purpose of this project is to work on this problem.


The climate of justice project does not compete or replace the work on climate justice. It adds another area of concern to the conversation. It examines the causes of the climate of injustice—such as white supremacy —and seeks to change them.

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4 Comments


Marvin T. Brown
Marvin T. Brown
Feb 05, 2020

I don’t think white supremacy is natural for humans. I think attachment theory that assumes human beings desire a secure place is a better starting point

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Doug Ross
Doug Ross
Feb 04, 2020

I am interested in the roots of white supremacy because this problem is world wide. It was Thomas Hobbes who observed humans were in a state of perpetual war. Hobbes suggested that humans do not know their own source, their own power and therefore seek to find themselves through the dominance of others.

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Marvin T. Brown
Marvin T. Brown
Feb 03, 2020

The climate of injustice radiates from the Atlantic commerce involving enslavement and the appropriation of land that involved Europe, Africa, and the Americas, so its impact surrounded the Atlantic and its legacy has become global. Still, this project focuses on how the pursuit of American prosperity has prevented the United States from changing the social climate to a climate of justice and the urgent need to do so today.

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Nancy Southern
Nancy Southern
Feb 03, 2020

Thanks Marvin. Do you see this project primarily focused on what is needed to create a climate of justice in the United States? Are there actions that have been taken in other countries that we can learn from?

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