CLIMATE CHANGE AND AFRICAN AMERICANS
Compiled by Robert D. Bullard
Climate Justice Now – Getting a Seat at the Table
Global climate change looms as a major environmental justice issue of the 21st century. Climate change poses special environmental justice challenges for communities that are already overburdened with pollution and environmentally-related illnesses. As seen in Hurricane Katrina that hit the Gulf Coast, the environmental effects of climate change are real. The adverse impacts fall heaviest on the poor. This deadly pattern occurs disproportionately among African Americans and other people of color across the U.S. who are concentrated in urban centers, coastal regions, and areas with substandard air quality—including ground level ozone.
Mounting scientific evidence documents that human activities are altering the chemical composition of the atmosphere through the buildup of greenhouse gases—primarily carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide. Changing climates are expected to raise sea levels, alter precipitation and other weather conditions, harm fish and many types of ecosystems, and threaten human health with a . broad set of problems, including heat stress and heart failure, increased injuries and deaths from severe weather such as hurricanes; more respiratory problems from drought-driven air pollution; an increase in waterborne diseases including cholera, and increases vector-borne diseases including malaria and hantavirus; and mental health problems such as depression and post-traumatic stress.
Those most affected must have a voice at the table in shaping the solutions. The following links represent recent articles that have been written on environmental justice and climate change.
Understanding Climate Change: An Equitable Framework
By Serena W. Lin,
August 25, 2008
When the hurricanes hit in 2005, more than 1,500 people died in New Orleans alone. There is no doubt that better disaster management practices will be needed to respond to the impacts of climate change, including increased flooding, drought, wildfires, and stronger hurricanes. The destruction wrought by these storms reveals how the interaction of forces—energy use, environmental degradation, climate change and financial vulnerability—puts low-income communities of color at greatest risk. As the world grapples with other effects of climate change and global warming, the need to understand the embedded issues associated with these complex ecological transformations becomes clear. This report contributes to a deeper understanding of the issues, and considers the equity consequences and implications associated with global warming.
House Majority Whip: Climate Change Hurts Blacks More:
Clyburn says African-Americans 'disproportionately impacted'; study recommends 'fee, tax or allowance auction on polluters.'
By Jeff Poor for
July 29, 2008
Business and Media Institute
Climate change is no longer just an environmental issue. It’s now an issue of race, according to global warming activists and policy makers.“It is critical our community be an integral and active part of the debate because African-Americans are disproportionately impacted by the effects of climate change economically, socially and through our health and well-being,” House Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C., said July 29.Clyburn spoke at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., to help launch the Commission to Engage African-Americans on Climate Change, a project of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. The launch came on the heels of a separate report by the Environmental Justice and Climate Change Initiative (EJCC), which claims African-Americans are more vulnerable to the effects of climate change.
U.S. blacks face harsher climate change impact
By Deborah Zabarenko Environment Correspondent
July 29, 2008
American blacks are likely to suffer disproportionately from climate change and they are willing to pay to combat it, a commission aimed at raising awareness about global warming said on Tuesday."There is a fierce urgency regarding climate change effects on the African-American community," said Ralph Everett, the co-chair of the Commission to Engage African-Americans on Climate Change said. "People need to understand what is at stake -- our very health and well-being."Blacks are more than twice as likely as whites to live in cities where the so-called heat island effect is expected to make temperature increases more severe, the newly formed group said at a briefing.More blacks also will be "fuel poor" as energy demand rises due to higher air-conditioning loads, population growth and urbanization, commission said.
Global warming more harmful to low-income minorities
By Lea Radick for
July 24, 2008
Blacks are more likely to be hurt by global warming than other Americans, according to a report issued Thursday. The report was authored by the Environmental Justice and Climate Change Initiative, a climate justice advocacy group, and Redefining Progress, a nonprofit policy institute. It detailed various aspects of climate change, such as air pollution and rising temperatures, which it said disproportionately affect blacks, minorities and low-income communities in terms of poor health and economic loss. Heat-related deaths among blacks occur at a 150 to 200 percent greater rate than for non-Hispanic whites, the report said. It also reported that asthma, which has a strong correlation to air pollution, affects blacks at a 36 percent higher rate of incidence than whites.
Climate Change Brings Health Risks: CDC Official Predicts Health Impacts From Climate Change
By H. Josef Hebert
April 9, 2008
The Associated Press
A top government health official said Wednesday that climate change is expected to have a significant impact on health in the next few decades, with certain regions of the country — and the elderly and children — most vulnerable to increased health problems. Howard Frumkin, a senior official of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, gave a detailed summary on the likely health impacts of global warming at a congressional hearing. But he refrained from giving an opinion on whether carbon dioxide, a leading greenhouse gas, should be regulated as a danger to public health.
Poor left out of environmental loop: Those with low incomes will be most affected by climate change, but often are least informed
By Julie A. Varughese
April 7, 2008
When you're struggling with bills, the last thing on your mind is global warming. Or your carbon footprint. About 14 percent of residents in the Capital Region live in poverty, according to the U.S. Census. In 2007, the poverty threshold was defined by the federal government as a person with an income of just over $10,000 a year. Experts say climate change is going to take a much greater toll on poorer populations who tend to live in locations vulnerable to floods and who are less likely to hear warnings of natural disasters. And while that may not apply directly to the Capital Region, poor living conditions coupled with rising temperatures can also pose problems for residents here.
Rich, Poor and Climate Change
By Rachel Oliver
February 18, 2008
The general dialogue on adapting to a world affected by climate change by definition excludes the world's poorest people. And yet it's the world's poorest who are often put forward as the ones who are likely to feel the affects of climate change the most and are likely to be able to deal with them the least. Around half of the world's population -- slightly fewer than 3 billion people -- survives on less than $2 a day. None of them are likely to go shopping for an automobile any time soon in a bid to reduce on their greenhouse gas emissions; and investing in photo voltaic solar panels to put on their rooftops probably won't be a priority, either.
Thinking Green Engineering a Cooler Planet
By Pamela R. Bingham, NSBE-AE Environmental Engineering Special Interest Group
February 8, 2008
The National Society of Black Engineers
There is an urgent need for engineers to engage in the responses to climate change, or "global warming." Global warming is the gradual worldwide rise in surface temperature observed across the entire planet in recent decades. This phenomenon, scientists now know, is being caused by the unprecedented buildup of the "greenhouse gas" carbon dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere, as a result of mankind's burning of fossil fuels. Why does it matter? If left unchecked and uncorrected, global warming could lead to rising sea levels; flooding of low-lying areas such as New Orleans, Miami and Manhattan; significantly increased storms; more frequent and severe droughts; an increase in the number and effects of diseases and harmful insects; and the loss of many species of animals and plants.
By Larry Gabriel
October 24, 2007
The environmental movement is no longer a suburban and white movement. Environmentalism has moved to the city. It first arrived through the environmental justice movement, which focused on such things as urban pollution and lead paint. Now issues of climate change and the green economy have charged up the discussion. And it's going to get louder. Saving the planet from global warming and saving Detroit converge very nicely. If we are going to re-create the city and its economy we need to create a green, sustainable culture. That means everything from energy generation and use to the auto industry to food delivery and more. It means recycling and reusing materials. It means green buildings and homes.
Protecting Vulnerable Communities from Impacts of Climate
Change is Moral Imperative
Press release by US Rep. Hilda Solis
October 19, 2007
Calling climate change the “defining issue of our time,” witnesses urged Congress and the Administration to take swift action to reduce emissions in a manner which protects vulnerable communities in the United States and abroad on a hearing held by the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming on October 18, 2007. Rep. Solis stated the current administration denial of the science is particularly damaging to environmental justice communities who are already on the front lines of cumulative environmental exposures. For example, five and one half million Latinos and 68 percent of all African Americans live within the range where health impacts from power plants are the most severe. More than 70 percent of African Americans and Latinos live in counties that violate federal air pollution standards. Climate change poses additional, significant risks to the health and economic security of these communities.
Joint Center forms Partnership to bring more African
American voices into Climate Change Debate
September 28, 2007
Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies,
The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies (Joint Center) is launching an effort to engage the African American community on the issue of climate change. The move is being funded by the Bipartisan Policy Center which is providing the Joint Center with a $500,000 grant to expand its capacity to conduct climate change research and outreach. Energy and climate change policies are vitally important to African Americans. Black communities are likely to be disproportionately affected by the health effects of climate change – particularly those related to extreme weather events like Hurricane Katrina and further The Joint Center has a long history of tackling issues of concern to African Americans and other communities of color. This grant will allow the Joint Center to build on the work it is already conducting in the environmental, health, education, and governance arenas. The funds will enable the Joint Center to hire a senior research associate, as well as to form a distinguished national advisory committee to provide policy direction and point the way to opportunities to build a broader coalition.
Climate Change Refugees: As large areas of the planet
become unsuitable for human life, the sad stream of climate refugees will
become a torrent
By Terry J. Allen
In These Times
September 4, 2007
Climate refugees around the world are fleeing regions beset by violent storms, extreme temperatures, melting glaciers, spreading deserts, swelling oceans and other escalating effects of global warming. Billions of people are at risk and the number is growing. Environmental stress forced more than 25 million to migrate in 1998, according to a Red Cross and Red Crescent study—roughly the same number that fled armed conflict.
The poor are hit hardest by climate change, but contribute
the least to it.
August 19, 2007
Low-income and minority populations will bear the brunt of health consequences caused by global warming, mainly because they tend to have limited access to health insurance. One recent study of Seattle residents reported that white populations had an 89 percent health insurance rate compared with 75 percent for black and 61 percent for Latino populations. Split by income level, one recent King County report shows a strong correlation between health insurance rates and income. According to published reports low-income populations are hit the hardest by climate change, yet they contribute the least to climate change on a per-capita basis. Lower-income populations generally have smaller carbon footprints than higher-income populations as they (usually) buy fewer goods, own smaller homes and drive and fly fewer miles. A recent CBCF study showed that black populations nationwide contributed about 20 percent less in carbon-dioxide emissions per-capita than white populations.
Green Market Hustlers
By M. K. Dorsey
June 19, 2007
Foreign Policy in Focus
Climate injustice is the idea that harm from the deleterious effects of climate change and the production and materialist processes associated with it is unevenly distributed and deliberately falls disproportionately on the marginalized and the disadvantaged. Beyond specific non-market proposals, an increasing polyphony of actors is going further still and demanding climate justice. The demand for climate justice is thus a subset of a wider set of discussions and demands for environmental justice. These demands are not just positions against authority. To the contrary, demanding climate justice is an expression of hope -- indeed, desire and love -- and a demand for objectives rooted in collective decision-making that are well beyond the provisional scope of power as presently conceived. The climate justice movement is therefore one of liberation as well as economic and ideological sovereignty. Prophetically, the struggle for climate justice dares to demand changing the world without reproducing hierarchical state or market power.
Adapt or Die
By Mark Hertsgaard
April 19, 2007
Orleans, like Bangladesh, will be looked back on as one of the first great casualties of climate change. Not because global warming can definitively be blamed for Katrina or the Bangladesh floods; the earth's weather system is too complex to attribute any one event to a single cause. But these events fit a larger pattern: Extra-strong hurricanes and floods are exactly what scientists expect to see--along with fiercer heat waves, harsher droughts, heavier rains and inexorable sea level rise--as global warming intensifies in the years to come. Bangladesh and New Orleans thus offer a glimpse of the global warming future all humanity is entering.
Leaders of African-American, Hispanic, and Religious
Groups Take Global Warming Message to Capitol Hill
By Rosanne Skirble
May 3, 2007
Voice of America
Global warming has become a hot topic in the U.S. Congress. Several bills now pending with lawmakers address how to reduce the carbon emissions responsible for climate change. A coalition of leaders from Latino, African-American and faith communities recently came to Washington to urge lawmakers to incorporate their concerns into proposed climate-change legislation.
On the Front Lines of Climate Change
By Mark Hertsgaard
March 29, 2007
For years, global warming was discussed in the hypothetical--a threat in the distant future. Now it is increasingly regarded as a clear, observable fact. This sudden shift means that all of us must start thinking about the many ways global warming will affect us, our loved ones, our property and our economic prospects. When climate scientists use the word adaptation, they are referring to actions intended to safeguard a person, community, business or country against the effects of climate change. Its complement is mitigation--any measure that will reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, such as drawing power from a wind turbine rather than a coal-fired power plant. Mitigation addresses, if you will, the front end of the global-warming problem; by cutting emissions, it aims to slow rising temperatures. Adaptation is the back end of the problem--trying to live with the changes in the environment and the economy that global warming has and will continue to generate.
Earth Day Network launches ‘Earth Day on the Hill’
Brings Diverse Voices to the Global Warming Discussion
April 17, 2007
Earth Day Network
On Tuesday, April 17, 2007, Earth Day Network (EDN) sponsored 'Earth Day on the Hill,' a platform for diverse voices and perspectives on the most critical environmental issue of our time: global warming. The launch event included Earth Day Network President Kathleen Rogers, Step It Up's Bill McKibben, William C. Velasquez Institute (WCVI) President Antonio Gonzalez, Dr. Robert Bullard of the Environmental Justice Resource Center, and Rev. Peter Moore-Kochlacs of the Religious Coalition on Creation Care. Participants in 'Earth Day on the Hill' visited Congress, pushing for programs to help those most vulnerable cope with the impacts of climate change. They also urged legislation to speed up our transition to renewable energy and help economically disadvantaged individuals participate in the new green economy. In addition, Earth Day Network called on Congress to require that companies purchase emission permits, and not to allow any permits to be "grandfathered" or given away.
National Youth Polls: Climate Change and Environmental
African-American students are 12 percent more likely to believe that climate change is very likely to affect them personally in the future than students from any other ethnic and racial background. However, African-American students answer correctly fewer questions about climate change than students of other races or ethnicities. This difference holds after controlling for additional characteristics such as gender, political preference, and parents’ education, among others.
Changing the Social Climate: How Global Warming Affects
Economic Justice, the Future of the Progressive Movement, and Whether Your
Child Walks to School
The public debate about whether or not global warming is real is officially over. The pressing need to do something about dramatic climate change has reached a critical mass across the globe and across the country. And it is an issue that has also reached into every aspect of our lives. Global warming is not simply an environmental issue. It is an economic issue, a social justice issue, a lifestyle issue. It’s about race, class, and democratic participation. It’s about globalization and global democracy. It’s about national security and global security. Interview between Redefining Progress Executive Director Michel Gelobter and Catherine Lerza.
Who Will Be Hit Hardest by Climate Change? Minority
communities will be the first casualties of global warming, according to a
By Julie Johnson
July 19, 2006
New America Media
As reports of climate change predict its likely effects on business and nature -- from California's wine industry to the Siberian permafrost -- what's missing in the discussion is who bears the brunt of the negative impact of global warming. Ethnic and low-income communities will be hit hardest by the economic costs of climate changes, reports the nonprofit research group Redefining Progress, unless energy policies take into account the impact on those in the lowest income brackets.
Africans, African-Americans and Climate Impacts: Top-down
vs. Bottom-up Approach to Capacity Building
Michael H. Glantz
7 July 2006
African Americans already are suffering disproportionately from the impacts of today's climate variability and extreme events, such as Hurricane Katrina's impacts in New Orleans in 2005 and Hurricane Floyd's impacts in North Carolina in 1999. Only by getting involved directly in climate impact studies related to climate change --- whether public health, disaster preparedness, political and legal aspects, risk assessments, and so on --- will African Americans be prepared to do their own bidding in political circles, for the greater protection of the African-American community, not only from global warming but from other climate and weather extremes as well, such as hurricanes, floods, vector-borne diseases (e.g., mosquitoes), and other climate-related problems.
Climate Change, Justice And Future Generations
Edward A. Page
Global climate change raises important questions of international and intergenerational justice. In this important new book the author places research on the origins and impacts of climate change within the broader context of distributive justice and sustainable development. He argues that a range of theories of distribution – notably those grounded in ideals of equality, priority and sufficiency – converge on the adoption of the ambitious global climate policy framework known as ‘Contraction and Convergence’.
Climate Justice for Black New Orleans
Getting Ready for Change: Green Economics and Climate Justice. Vol. 13 No. 1 Summer 2006
Urban Habitat/Race Poverty and the Environment. Oakland, CA
While most of the post-Katrina discussion has been on the fragile condition of the levees, the under-funding of levee repairs, and the fiasco of the Bush dismantling of FEMA, instead of focusing on how the destruction of the wetlands through corporate development has undermined one of nature’s ways of mitigating the impact of hurricanes. A climate justice approach to the matter should begin with a demand for regulation of corporations and their “individual choice” to pollute; mandated increases in auto fuel efficiencies; (reductions in the use of toxic substances; expansion of public transportation systems; and transparency about the chemicals and greenhouse gases produced by corporations and institutions. Climate justice proponents should demand dramatic reductions in emissions from Louisiana’s oil refineries in Cancer Alley, from the grain elevators, and steel plants. They should call for the preservation of the wetlands, and a moratorium on highway expansion, coastal development, and gambling boats that come inland to set up coastal enclaves.
Overcoming Structural Racism
Getting Ready for Change: Green Economics and Climate Justice. Vol. 13 No. 1 Summer 2006
Urban Habitat/Race Poverty and the Environment. Oakland, CA
Often, when we talk about global warming, issues of racial inequity are left out. We focus on “dirty” energy, our government’s failure to regulate corporate polluting and reluctance to create incentives for clean and renewable energy alternatives. We criticize our consumer culture with its insatiable appetite for SUVs, and our preference for suburban living with its long commutes. All of these are, of course, important factors in creating and perpetuating a climate crisis that is finally being acknowledged in the U.S., thanks to the hard work of environmental activists. While no one can say for sure that global warming caused hurricane Katrina, the science strongly suggests that storms are getting fiercer and more destructive because of carbon emissions.
Katrina Reveals Environmental Racism's Deadly Force
By Beverly Wright
New America Media
September 21, 2005
New America Media
Hurricane Katrina is a test of how America should respond to the effects of global warming. It is a test that we are largely failing. Environmental scientists and activists have warned that warming ocean waters will increase the frequency and intensity of these storms. They have also warned that the working poor and people of color would bear the brunt of climate change impacts, at home and abroad. To address these issues, we need to begin reducing our reliance on fossil fuels. We must learn to build cities and towns that are less environmentally vulnerable and more sustainable. We need to address the root cause and protect against the impacts that are already coming.
Climate Change and Extreme Weather Events: An Unequal
Burden on African Americans
Center for Policy Analysis and Research, Congressional Black Caucus
Oakland, California. No.2
According to this study African Americans are already disproportionately burdened by the health effects of climate change. Specifically, health effects include upper respiratory problems as a result of the degradation of air quality, deaths from heat waves and extreme weather events, and the spread of infectious diseases. Globally, climate change already causes an estimated 160,000 deaths annually, and this number will only worsen as the rate of change increases over the coming decades. Also, the changes in temperature extremes are likely to result in increased crop and livestock losses, higher energy use for cooling and lower for heating, and increased human morbidity and heat-stress-related mortality. Despite the heavy burden of climate change that African Americans carry, they are less responsible for climate change than other Americans; historically and at present, African Americans emit 20 percent less greenhouse gases per household.
Climate Equity for All
Chris Huntingford and John Gash
September 16, 2005
Science, Vol. 309. no. 5742, p. 1789
Recent natural catastrophes have catapulted climate into the headlines again. As we witness the devastation wreaked by Hurricane Katrina, we are also reminded of numerous floods, droughts, and storms seen across the world in recent years. Questions about climate change, its global effects, and whether and how we can tackle this issue can no longer be avoided. Fortunately, at the G8 Summit in Scotland, the leaders of the world's major industrialized nations agreed on the need to reduce carbon emissions; and although there is argument about the mechanism and timing, the case for moving to a low-carbon economy is essentially won. But we are faced with a rapidly changing global economy. As developing countries industrialize--China and India in Asia and Brazil and Mexico in Latin America--greenhouse gas-related climate stresses are expected to increase. At the same time, the environments, economies, and societies of the least-developed countries, such as those in Africa, are the most vulnerable to climate change because their ability to adapt is poor. Reaching international agreement on actions to minimize the dangerous impacts of climate change requires not only negotiations among developed nations but dialogue with the developing world.
Equity and justice in climate change adaptation amongst
An article from: Global Environmental Change
By D.S.G. Thomas (Author), C. Twyman
July 1, 2005
Issues of equity and justice are high on international agendas dealing with the impacts of global climate change. But what are the implications of climate change for equity and justice amongst vulnerable groups at local and sub-national levels? We ask this question for three reasons: (a) there is a considerable literature suggesting that the poorest and most vulnerable groups will disproportionately experience the negative effects of 21st century climate change; (b) such changes are likely to impact significantly on developing world countries, where natural-resource dependency is high; and (c) international conventions increasingly recognize the need to centrally engage resource stakeholders in agendas in order to achieve their desired aims, as part of more holistic approaches to sustainable development. These issues however have implications for distributive and procedural justice, particularly when considered within the efforts of the UNFCCC. The issues are examined through an evaluation of key criteria relating to climate change scenarios and vulnerability in the developing world, and second through two southern African case studies that explore the ways in which livelihoods are differentially impacted by (i) inequitable natural-resource use policies, (ii) community-based natural-resource management programs. Finally, we consider the placement of climate change amongst the package of factors affecting equity in natural-resource use, and whether this placement creates a case for considering climate change as 'special' amongst livelihood disturbing factors in the developing world.
African Americans and Climate Change: An Unequal Burden
July 21, 2004.
There is a stark disparity in the United States between those who benefit from the causes of climate change and those who bear the costs of climate change. According to this report African Americans are already disproportionately burdened by the health effects of climate change, including deaths during heat waves and from worsened air pollution. Similarly, unemployment and economic hardship associated with climate change will fall most heavily on the African American community. Also African Americans are less responsible for climate change than other Americans. Both historically and at present, African Americans emit less greenhouse gas.
Climate Change and the African American Community: CBCF
FACT SHEET No. 1
Center for Policy Analysis and Research, Congressional Black Caucus
According to this study African Americans contribute significantly less to greenhouse gas emissions than others in the U.S. in both direct emissions of carbon dioxide from energy use, and indirect emissions, or emissions generated during the production or delivery of consumed products. Also, there are large differences between patterns of energy use in urban and rural communities, both with respect to direct fuel consumption, and the purchase of other goods and services. Urban populations have approximately 8% higher carbon emissions than rural populations for both African Americans and Whites. African Americans in rural areas have the smallest carbon footprint of any other group at about 23 percent below the national average. Conversely, African Americans spend a higher fraction of their income on carbon-intensive purchases. Consequently, African Americans are more likely to be affected by changes in the price of energy or carbon. In particular, low-income African Americans are among the most vulnerable populations in society to sudden increases in the price of energy. The lowest income groups reported spending 13% of total expenditures on direct energy purchases, relative to just 9% of total expenditures for other Americans.
A Human Face to a Human Problem: Climate Justice Summit
By Nadia Khastagir
India Resource Center
November 1, 2002
The effects of climate change are felt hardest in a country
like India. The fact that India has a large rural population who are dependent
on the cycles of the seasons, fishworkers who work the rivers and seas, farmers
who need the seasonal monsoons, and a large and varied indigenous population
who live in harsh climatic regions of mountains, desert and river delta, make
India especially susceptible to a changing climate. In 2002, while the Conference
of the Parties-8 (CoP8) meet in a sterile air conditioned building, an altogether
different group of people were meeting at the Climate Justice Summit, organized
by the Indian Climate Justice Forum meet under a pandal tent. This is the
human face of the rising movement for Climate Justice.
Climate Change: Breaking the Cycle of Denial
By Shantilal P. Bhagat
Ecumenical Eco-Justice Network
CorpWatch India (Nov. 2002)
Climate is the average weather of a given area over an extended
period of time. One of the foundations of human societies and economies is
a stable climate. The Earth’s climate is driven by a continuous flow
of energy from the sun. This energy arrives mainly in the form of visible
light. Ever since life first appeared, natural emissions of water vapor, carbon
dioxide and other gases have helped maintain the temperature of the Earth
within a range at which life can exist. They act like a glass greenhouse to
trap the sun’s heat in the atmosphere, as an essential part of keeping
the planet warm and habitable. But global warming gets dangerous when the
greenhouse we live in gets so hot that it affects the Earth’s natural
climate system, causing oceans to swell, storms to brew, glaciers to melt,
and tropical diseases to spread.
Air of Injustice: African Americans & Power Plant Pollution
Black Leadership Forum
This report chronicles how African Americans are affected by the air pollution emitted by our nation's biggest polluters: coal-fired power plants. These plants release millions of pounds of a wide variety of chemicals to the air, water and landfills. This report describes the relationship between power plant pollutants like sulfur dioxide, particulate matter, mercury, nitrogen oxides and carbon dioxide and environmental health issues that have the most impact on African Americans: pediatric asthma, infant death rates, emergency room visits and hospitalizations, fish contamination and climate change.
Exploring the Nexus: Bringing Together Sustainability,
Environmental Justice and Equity
Julian Agyeman; Robert D. Bullard; and Bob Evans
April 1, 2002
Space and Polity
Volume 6, Issue 1 April 2002, pages 77 – 90
In recent years it has become increasingly apparent that the
issue of environmental quality is inextricably linked to that of human equality
at all scales. This article examines the differing traditions and approaches
of environmental justice and sustainability, and explores some of their theoretical
bases. It also briefly reviews human rights and environmental security issues
in order to discern the potential for common ground between the two main traditions.
The authors argue that there are indications of convergence between these
traditions and that this convergence is happening primarily through the activities
of progressive NGOs, academics and local community organizations world-wide.
What is now needed is for governments at local, regional, national and international
levels to learn from these organizations and to seek to embed the central
principles and practical approaches of environmental justice within emerging
sustainable development policy.
Environmental Justice Forum: Speak Out!
August 25, 2001
Hosted by groundWork, South African Exchange Programme on Environmental Justice, and International Possibilities Unlimited
The Speak Out is being held in advance of the World Conference
Against Racism (WCAR) and will feed into both the NGO Forum and the governmental
proceedings. The concepts of environmental racism and environmental justice
have their origins in the U.S.A. but respond to a global phenomenon. With
these concepts people of color around the world recognize our common experience
and can build links across race, class and gender lines. Many of the pioneers
of the movement are here and this meeting, with people from eleven countries,
comes out of working these debates over the past two decades. At the heart
of the experience of environmental injustice is the abuse of power. Poor people,
and particularly people of color, live in damaged environments which damage
their health. So the struggle for environmental justice is a struggle about
relations of power. This is the common theme to the range of diverse struggles
against various forms of inequitable development, from shrimp farming to uranium
dumping, that we will hear about today.
Climate Justice and People of Color
Robert D. Bullard
November 21, 2000
Environmental Justice Resource Center
Clark Atlanta University
The environmental and economic justice movement was born in
response to these injustices and disparities. Not surprising, resistance to
reigning in climate-altering activities through the Kyoto Protocol has come
largely from the fossil fuel lobby. The adverse impacts of global warming
fall heaviest on the poor. This deadly pattern occurs disproportionately among
people of color in the U.S. who are concentrated in urban centers in the Southern
United States, coastal regions, and areas with substandard air quality.
A Fair Climate for All
Ansje Miller with Paige Brown
Climate Change is a life and death issue for the poor and communities
of color. As the Environmental justice movement has demonstrated, the effects
of pollution often fall disproportionately on the health of minorities and
low income communities. Climate change is expected to affect human health
in three major ways: new and increased rate of infectious diseases from insect
and rodents, respiratory illnesses related to increased air pollution, and
death and illnesses related to thermal extremes.
What's Fair? Consumers and Climate Change
Ansje Miller, Gautam Sethi and Gary Wolff
Redefining Progress (April 2000).
Climate change itself will have significant impacts on U.S.
consumers. Several studies have suggested that climate change policy will
impose financial burdens on consumers, but none of them have compared the
impacts of unabated climate change to the impacts of climate change policy.
With or without policy efforts to limit it, climate change will affect the
health, social, and financial conditions of most Americans. Consumers need
a more full comparison and understanding of who is affected before they take
a position in favor of or against some particular climate change policy proposal.
Greenhouse Gangsters vs. Climate Justice
Kenny Bruno, Joshua Karliner & China Brotsky
November 1st, 1999
Climate change has the potential to radically damage entire
ecosystems, agriculture, and the inhabitability of whole countries. Changing
the climate affects everyone and everything. Despite the efforts of a few
transnational oil corporations (as well as their cohorts in the coal, chemical
and car businesses) to dupe the public into thinking that global warming is
not a real threat, the vast majority of the world's climate scientists and
a growing body of evidence say it is. No longer does the scientific debate
focus on if global warming will happen, but rather on how soon it will occur
and on how bad it will be. The ranks of those fighting for Climate Justice
are filled by democracy movements struggling against oil interests around
the world. They include communities polluted by refineries and working for
environmental justice in the United States, as well as Indigenous people trying
to maintain their cultures and their lands. Residents of smog-filled cities,
and students seeking to reign in unaccountable university investments all
can be advocates for Climate Justice.
Breathing Polluted Air: Minorities are Disproportionately Exposed
Wernette, D.R. and L.A. Nieves
EPA Journal 18 March, 1992.
At Argonne National Laboratory, scientists have been studying the relative potential for exposure of minority population groups to substandard outdoor air quality. The studies have focused on areas identified by EPA as failing to attain national ambient air quality standards. Under the Clean Air Act, EPA has established standards for ground-level ozone, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, lead, and particulate matter and annually identifies areas having excess levels of these pollutants. These so-called nonattainment areas generally consist of counties of many square miles, and residents` exposure to air pollution surely varies depending on where individuals live and work within an area. Nevertheless, the racial and socio-economic makeup of the population in these areas can imply differences in potential exposure to pollutants and may suggest directions for research and remedial action. So far, scientists have examined these differences for African Americans, Hispanics, and whites (non-Hispanic).