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The Journal of Philosophy of Disability

Volume 1, 2021

Andrew F. Smith
Pages 175-199

Surviving Sustainability: Degrowth, Environmental Justice, and Support for the Chronically Ill

The quest for ecological sustainability—specifically via prioritizing degrowth—creates significant, often overlooked challenges for the chronically ill. I focus on type-1 diabetes, treatment for which depends on nonrenewables and materials implicated in the global proliferation of toxins that harm biospheric functions. Some commentators suggest obliquely that seeking to develop ecologically sustainable treatments for type-1 shouldn’t be prioritized. Other medical concerns take precedence in a post-carbon world marked by climate change and widespread ecological devastation. I challenge this view on three grounds. Its proponents (i) fail to treat type-1 as the public health issue it is, particularly within the context of what Sunaura Taylor calls disabled ecologies. They (ii) deny persons with type-1 an equal opportunity to pursue survival. And they (iii) presume without warrant that treating type-1 is an all-or-nothing affair. Indeed, research by biohackers points to suboptimal but potentially workable ways to make type-1 survivable in a post-carbon future—so long, I stress, as their findings are cripped in a manner that foregrounds the demands of environmental justice.