Climate change is viewed as a primarily scientific, economic, or political issue. While acknowledging the legitimacy of these perspectives, Kevin J. O’Brien argues that we should respond to climate change first and foremost as a case of systematic and structural violence. Global warming is largely caused by the carbon emissions of the affluent, emissions that harm the poor first and worst. Climate change is violence because it divides human beings from one another and from the earth.
O’Brien offers a constructive and creative response to this violence through practical examples of activism and nonviolent peacemaking, providing brief biographies of five Christians in the United States—John Woolman, Jane Addams, Dorothy Day, Martin Luther King Jr., and Cesar Chavez. These activists’ idealism, social commitment, and political savvy offer lessons of resistance applicable to the struggle against climate change and for social justice.