Connections Between Climate Change and Disability
People with disabilities are both the most vulnerable and the most overlooked population when it comes to addressing the effects of climate change. According to the United Nations Environment Programme, people with disabilities are more at risk in the case of disasters due to 1) a lack of access to education, 2) existing health conditions, and 3) difficulty evacuating safely. Further, the Center for Disaster Philanthropy highlights that because disabled people are more likely to experience poverty, this further elevates risk.
Following the occurrence of a disaster, people have limited access to necessary resources and services including life-sustaining care. And many people will become newly disabled as a result. For all of these reasons, it’s imperative to include disability, especially multi-marginalized disabled people, in work focused on protecting the environment and preventing climate change.
As a starting point to better understand the impacts of climate change and natural disasters on people with disabilities, we encourage you to read Climate Change, Environmental Activism, and Disability in Stanford Social Innovation Review. Then, explore the following resources and articles.
Perspectives from People with Disabilities
- Indigenous People With Disabilities Are on the Front Lines of the Climate Crisis by Jen Deerinwater
- Environmental injustice and disability: Where is the research? by Krystal Vasquez for Environmental Health News
- A disability should not be a death sentence during a natural disaster by Krystal Vasquez for Environmental Health News
- It’s Time to Recognize Climate Change as a Disability Rights Issue by Tiffany Yu for Rooted in Rights
- A Call for Climate Action by Ipul Powaseu for the Disability Rights Fund
- Climate Darwinism Makes Disabled People Expendable by Imani Barbarin for Forbes
- To Survive Climate Catastrophe, Look to Queer and Disabled Folks by Patty Berne and Vanessa Raditz for YES!
- Disability And Disaster Response In The Age Of Climate Change by David Perry for Pacific Standard
- The End of the World As We Know It by Alex Ghenis for New Mobility
- To Each According To Their Own Abilities: Disability and Environmentalism by s.e. smith
- Toward Disability Justice: Don’t Forget the Plastic that Gives Me Freedom by Luticha Andre Doucette for YES! Magazine
Podcasts and Films
- Environmental Justice and Disability with Pauline Castres, the Heumann Perspective Podcast
- Eco-Ableism, an episode of Disability Rights Florida’s You First podcast
- Disability Inclusive Climate Justice, European Disability Forum
- Episode of the Disability Visibility Podcast on Climate Action with Kera Sherwood-O’Regan
- Cripping the Anthropocene, a podcast from Sins Invalid exploring the connections between disability justice and climate justice
- The Right to be Rescued, a documentary from Rooted in Rights
- The Unknown Ally in the Fight for Environmental Justice by Ximena Saskia Warnaars, Program Officer, Natural Resources and Climate Change for the Ford Foundation
- Demanding Inclusion in Disaster Risk Reduction, Disability Rights Fund