After reading an article titled, "The impact of Race on Environmental Quality" by Raquel Pinderhughes, the idea that people in poverty receive a greater economic burden than people of higher socioeconomic status was reinforced. This was not a surprise to me, but I was interested in the fact that there are professional studies addressing the subject. I am aware of the project involving mercury samples that the this program has done in the past and is repeating, and realize it is a reinforcement of knowledge that is already agreed on.
Today, the greatest benefit I received today was a clarification of what environmental justice truly is. After watching a khan academy video on the subject, a benefit vs. burden analysis is necessary before fully resolving the issues in a community. In general, there is a trend showing greater environmental benefits (parks, less air pollution, etc.), increases with the socioeconomic status of a community. Likewise, the burdens (greater air pollution, dirty water, greater number of brownfield sites, etc.) that arise from the environment are often skewed in favor of harming those in poverty. Based on the videos we watched and activities we did, I realized how large of an issue environmental justice is, and how it can affect several parts of a person's life. While these environmental issues are usually one of the last problems concerning a person in poverty, it is important to understand how much of an affect it can truly have, and what we can do to resolve something so complex.
After our discussion and activities today, I am interested in learning more about specific people/programs whom are currently doing work involving environmental justice. Although this is not an issue that necessarily that affects me directly, it is something that I am strongly interested in, and want to discover community activities that I can become involved in. This summer, my current internship is projected to be in a lab, working on some critical environmental research. While this is obviously not going to be community-involved, I hope to learn some valuable information that I can bring back to the Environmental Leadership Program - in turn becoming a informed citizen of the environment and an effective community leader.