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Environmental Ethics

Volume 40, Issue 4, Winter 2018

African Environmental Philosophy

Yvette Abrahams
Pages 389-404
DOI: 10.5840/enviroethics201840436

How Must I Explain to the Dolphins?
An Intersectional Approach to Theorizing the Epistemology of Climate Uncertainty

The story of change and growth, i.e., evolution, in the traditional manner, involves an epistemology of indigenous knowledge systems that admits both evolution and the divine—and therefore the human capacity for free choice—that tells us that fossil fuels are a bad choice. Steven Biko’s message of “Black Consciousness” responds to the dilemma of how we belong to the species that is damaging the planetary ecosystem, amd yet how we can deny complicity by saying that reclaiming our culture enables us to see what we have done, so we can refuse complicity with the system that has divided us and take responsibility for giving birth to new life. The uncertainties of climate change can be thought through using race, class, gender, sexual orientation, indigeneity, and disability as categories of analysis. The result is an understanding that through both climate science and lived experience, we can know enough to know we ought to act on climate change. We do not need more research; we need instead an acceptance of our ignorance amid a sense of ethical responsibility. This story speaks of liberation from oppression and of climate action as deeply entangled in

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