April 18: Sarah Jaquette Ray

Climate Justice and the Politics of Emotions

What role do our emotions have in addressing climate change? What interior resources are needed for the marathon of realizing climate justice? What does justice have to do with climate change emotions? How are climate emotions politically powerful? Who feels climate anxiety, and what does it tell us about the politics of climate justice in America today? In this talk, Dr. Sarah Jaquette Ray will explore the relationship between climate change, justice, and the role of emotions in bringing about political change. She will investigate the seeming paradox that marginalized people and people of color report higher concern about climate change than white and privileged people, yet rarely articulate their concern in terms of "climate anxiety," even as the term is proliferating in climate discourse, from popular culture to the New York Times. How might racial and social justice concerns shape those conversations? Drawing on her book, A Field Guide to Climate Anxiety: How to Keep Your Cool on a Warming Planet, Dr. Ray will offer ideas for how we might enlist the power of emotions for climate justice.


Dr. Sarah Jaquette Ray is chair of the Environmental Studies Department at Cal Poly Humboldt in Arcata, California, on Wiyot territory. Ray's first book, The Ecological Other: Environmental Exclusion in American Culture (Arizona, 2013) explores the phenomenon of green hate in U.S. history, and its legacy of ableism, xenophobia, and eco-fascism in mainstream ecological thought. Her current work is motivated by the despair she started observing in her students about a decade ago. Focusing on the role of emotions in climate justice advocacy, Ray's second book, A Field Guide to Climate Anxiety: How to Keep Your Cool on a Warming Planet (California, 2020), is an existential toolkit for the climate generation. Ray is editing a book for educators called An Existential Toolkit for Climate Justice Educators. Ray's writing on emotions and climate justice activism has been published in the LA TimesScientific AmericanThe Cairo Review of Global Affairs, Edge EffectsKCET, and Zocalo Public Square. She just became certified as a mindfulness teacher through UCLA's Mindfulness Awareness Research Center and delivers workshops for professionals on centering emotions in climate advocacy, called the Climate Wisdom Lab.