With so many requests, and demands to make our economy better, we tend to worsen our environment by doing so. Before doing something that seems to be good for our economy, what should first be looked is how it will affect our environment in the long run. In the end, no matter what decision is made, if our environment is going to be put at risk so will the people and wildlife living in it, and that won’t help anything. Throughout the years, the environment hasn’t always been the first thing that the people in Government prioritized in their minds. If it had, it wouldn’t be consumed with so much pollution, and other contaminants caused by decisions that were made for the economy. Environmental justice also plays into ethnic groups, and social division. When the environment is affected in a harmful way, certain ethnic groups and social divisions are affected more than others.
When there are environmental toxins and pollutants going around, it has more of an effect on the health of the poor and people of color. It’s often observed that when there are environmental dangers going around, it’s often unaddressed in urban communities. In New York, a group of parents are protesting to bring attention to polluted schools that their children attend. “Throughout the United States, children of color and poor children are disproportionately exposed to health hazards while attending public school, placing them at high risk. Often, this problem is unaddressed in urban centers. However, one group of New York City parents is bringing attention to polluted schools, holding elected officials accountable, and in the process, becoming a focal point in the environmental justice movement.” (Huffington Post)
Even though environmental justice is supposed to be the fair treatments to people of all ethnic groups, not all ethnic groups are actually being treated fairly. This isn’t the first time that certain ethnic groups, and lower classes have been targeted when it came to environmental pollution. In 1982, a polychlorinated biphenyls landfill, which is highly toxic, was going to be built in the community of Afton, North Carolina. At the time, it was predominantly an African American community. The landfill was protested against, but it was also argued that this region was selected because it was a minority and it was also poor. Later on, it was proven that the Afton PCB landfill was not a scientifically suitable site because the risk for groundwater contamination was high (USCCR). This shows that instead of , “fair treatment” to people of all ethnic groups and social classes, the Government was instead willing to put people of color, and those who weren’t in the best financial situation at risk.
Resources from this earth have been taken and altered to produce what we have to keep our economy running today. The primary greenhouse gas excreted due to human activities is Carbon Dioxide. Even though Carbon Dioxide is naturally in the air because of the Earth’s carbon cycle, it is altered by human activities. Carbon Dioxide is mainly excreted through the combustion of fossil fuels, which is used for energy and transportation. Though energy and transportation is necessary in our economy, so is the health of people living in it, and that should first be taken into account when dealing with harmful gases, such as Carbon Dioxide. If high concentrations of Carbon Dioxide is released into the air, when inhaled, it can cause many health hazards including death, if oxygen isn’t available. President Obama recently proposed a new rule to cut Carbon Dioxide emissions. “Initiating a broader use of executive authority announced earlier this year, the president proposes new rules that require the country’s dirtiest fossil fuel-reliant power plants—those which burn coal—to cut their carbon-dioxide emissions by 30 percent.” (ColorLines)
It was also promised that energy production would be remade for this economy. “The mechanism for this carbon reduction, known as “cap-and-trade,” promises to remake the economics of domestic energy production by essentially making polluters pay for the harm that they cause in the short-term, and by incentivizing them to do less harm over time. Cap-and-trade will diminish the amount of carbon that can be emitted into the atmosphere each year, while at the same expanding the market for and price competitiveness of renewable energy sources such as wind and solar.” With such a long history of events concerning environmental and climate injustice, President Obama taking a step to change this is a pretty big deal. The country itself is it’s own polluter because of what we made it into, that’s why a lot of issues concerning the environment weren’t addressed. So, now that President Obama is working within the country to deal with environmental dangers, it’s a shock to the system.
For so long the safety of the people living in this country has been put aside in order to fill the needs of what was wanted and needed for this country. The Government prioritized what they needed to do to keep this economy running, rather than prioritizing what they needed to do to keep their people healthy and safe, while making decisions for this country. Environmental justice is equality between all ethnic groups, social class, as well as respect to the environment. ‘Equality’ is one of the factors that makes up a democracy, so environmental justice should already be apart of that package. A democracy isn’t much of a democracy if it doesn’t look below high class, and only looks above minorities. While there is a lot of mess to clean up from so many years of neglecting the environment, there are improvements being made. Each improvement is a step to a brighter future for a better democracy.
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