Tuesday, June 7, 2016

June 7, 2016 Blog

Environmental Justice is a topic discussed in the meeting today. The definition of environmental justice is broad with many different aspects but it all reduces down to one word: fairness. In the past, I only had a broad sense of what environmental justice was. In my mind, environmental justice is treating people equally and providing people with equal benefits and opportunity. Today, we analyzed environmental justice and its deeper contents. Environmental justice is a fair distribution of environmental benefits and burden for all group. However, it is clearly not the case in today's society. As discussed in today's video, areas inhabited by the poor and the minorities usually receive little environmental benefits which includes parks, green spaces, bike spaces, and many more. The wealthy area of the city will receive all the benefits. Aside from the lack of benefits, the poor area receives
·      more environmental burdens which includes waste facilities, transportation facilities, and energy production. These burden are life-threatening and can cause health problems such as asthma and obesity. An article we read today stated that minorities are also more severely affected by environmental hazards than whites. Therefore, being exposed to a hazardous environment will only make them more vulnerable diseases caused by the emergence of 5,000 new chemicals each year. One reasonable reason why environmental burdens are more concentrated in poor areas is due to the fact that the wealthy part of the city are politically and economically powerful and therefore, they have sufficient amount of voice to control laws that will benefit them. The poor areas do not have the same power. 
      There are many different aspects of environmental justice. In discussing environmental justice, we have to consider fairness, awareness, regulation, compromises, cultural sensitivity, sustainability, and equity. Race should not be a factor in deciding who gets what benefits. Right now, all the burden are concentrated in poor and minority areas including African Americans, Latinos, etc. This should not be the case. The distribution of benefits and burden should be distributed fairly. Every culture should be respected equally. Those in need should be provided for more. This is the definition of equity. In order to make a change, we should spread awareness. Right now, environmental justice is the least of everyone's concern. By spreading awareness, we can make sure people know how big of a role these injustices are playing in our daily lives. Spreading awareness will also bring people together. The bigger the group, the bigger it will have on the legislation process. 

     In the summer, I hope to research the topic even more deeply. Mercury poisoning can lead to many dangerous health hazards. By researching how mercury accumulates near waste facilities and factories in New Haven, we can spread awareness on how poor and minority groups are most affected by it. This is the case because the factories and facilities are all located near the poor area. In order to spread awareness, I think one way is through school education. Like stated in the article, the way you are raised will most likely contribute to how you grow up to be. Therefore, by spreading out information at a young age, these youths will grow up to be well-informed of environmental injustice. Currently, environmental justice or even environmental studies is not part of the curriculum in the school system. By gathering data on environmental justice, these information can become a part of the curriculum. 

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