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Disability and Climate Change: Plain Language

Original Version by Julia Watts Belser

Plain Language Translation by Reid Caplan

July 1, 2022

Table of Contents:

What is discrimination and disability justice?

Dangerous situations like climate change hurt some people more than others. They especially hurt people who get discriminated against. Discrimination is when someone gets treated unfairly by society because of who they are, in ways that take away their rights.

For example, Tina is about to rent an apartment from Jed. Then, Jed finds out that Tina has a disability. Jed doesn’t want to rent his apartment to someone with a disability. So Jed tells Tina that he rented the apartment to someone else instead.

The way Jed treated Tina is an example of ableism. Ableism is discrimination against disabled people.

Ableism is just one kind of discrimination. Many different groups of people get discriminated against:

  • disabled people,
  • people of color,
  • poor people,
  • women,
  • older people,
  • queer and trans people,
  • fat people,
  • people in prison,
  • houseless people,
  • indigenous people.

Everyone who faces discrimination gets more hurt when climate change causes problems. They become even more likely to get discriminated against.

Disability justice is a movement that fights against discrimination. It got made by and for queer and trans disabled people of color. You can learn more about disability justice by going to

Disability justice says that all discrimination is connected. All groups that get discriminated against have to work together to stop discrimination. If one group gets discriminated against, that affects everyone because different types of discrimination build on each other. It makes things harder for people who are a part of many groups that get discriminated against.

Julia Watts Belser, “Disability and Climate Change.”  Plain Language translation by Reid Caplan.  Disability and Climate Change: A Public Archive Project.  July 1, 2022.

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