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Climate, Health and Equity

DATE POSTED

June 4, 2020


Race, class and unequal protection

Written By: Matt James and Traci Siegel

Photo credit: Gonzalo Fuentes/Reuters

The Climate, Health & Equity Brief is GMMB’s take on the week’s news on the current impacts of climate change. If you haven’t subscribed yet, you can do so by clicking here.

Hot Topic: Black Lives Matter.

When we say #ICantBreathe —whether it is an officer with a knee on our neck or the #airpollution which continues to take away our breath —that’s why we march, and that’s why we work so hard to change these dynamics.” – Mustafa Santiago Ali, senior vice president of climate, environmental justice & community revitalization at the Hip Hop Caucus

America is segregated, and so is pollution. Race and class still matter and map closely with pollution, unequal protection, and vulnerability. Today, zip code is still the most potent predictor of an individual’s health and well-being. Individuals who physically live on the ‘wrong side of the tracks’ are subjected to elevated environmental health threats and more than their fair share of preventable diseases. Still, too many people and communities have the ‘wrong complexion for protection.’” – Dr. Robert Bullard, founding director of the Environmental Justice Resource Center at Clark Atlanta University

The effects of the water crisis on my community will be felt for decades to come. And the worst part is there are other communities facing toxic water as well, and nobody is taking it seriously.” – Mari Copley, founder of #DearFlintKids and #WednesdaysForWater

As black, indigenous & brown people, the enviro-climate justice movement has ALWAYS fought for racial justice. For us, this is not new. We don’t have the privilege of choosing between racial justice & climate when it’s all coming for us.” – Elizabeth Yeampierre, executive director of UPROSE

Without an equity and racial justice orientation, climate solutions risk perpetuating and exacerbating unjust patterns, thus undermining the broad public support needed for rapid progress. Solutions created with input and support from those most impacted stand a better chance of success for all.” – Melanie Allen and Erin Rogers, co-directors of The Hive Fund for Climate and Gender Justice

In order to address climate change, we have to address classism…because those are the very systems that put us into where we are…it’s not just working on climate. It’s working on a social justice and systems change in order to uplift human rights.” – Jacqueline Patterson, director of environmental and climate justice at NAACP

Seeing massive health inequalities in the black community — that’s the same mass death we want to fight against with climate change, and we should be showing up for black lives.” – Mattias Lehman, digital director for the Sunrise Movement

Health
A new study found that the negative health outcomes affecting minority populations living in heavily polluted neighborhoods are similar to those experienced by black and Latino Americans facing police brutality. (The New Yorker)Equity
Social justice activists are calling on environmental groups to increase their focus on racial inequality by providing resources to minority communities and advocating for climate solutions that address disproportionate impacts on people of color. (Grist)

The New York Times and Grist interviewed leading environmental activists to discuss the role of racism in disproportionate health outcomes impacting people of color and how the climate movement can be anti-racist. (Grist, The New York Times)

A new analysis found that intensifying and increasingly unpredictable flooding in the U.S. disproportionately impacts majority-black and low-income urban neighborhoods. (E&E News, Our Daily Planet)

Politics & Economy
As systemic racism continues to exacerbate environmental inequalities across the U.S., a growing number of activists are pushing for policies that tie climate action with economic reform. (Los Angeles Times, Medium)

Changes to the Clean Water Act announced by the EPA this week will shorten the period for states, Indigenous tribes and the public to review and reject federal pipeline projects. (The Washington Post)

Action
Several environmental groups are among nearly 400 organizations that have signed a letter to Congress demanding immediate police reform, including greater accountability and restrictions on the use of force. (Newsweek)

Climate scientists and researchers are speaking out against the underrepresentation of black Americans and other minorities within their fields and calling for greater diversity within scientific organizations. (The Washington Post)

Black climate activists in Minneapolis are calling on city officials for an update to its 2013 climate action plan which was constructed without the input and needs of minority and low-income communities in mind. (E&E News)

Black environmentalists led a weeklong Black Birders Week to give visibility to black scientists, scholars and everyday nature lovers and call for greater representation in professional fields. (CNN)

Check out these podcasts for advocates new to the climate justice fight to learn more about how the climate movement can advocate for racial justice. (Medium)

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