"Do not get lost in a sea of despair. Be hopeful, be optimistic. Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year; it is the struggle of a lifetime." -John Lewis
Climate change disproportionately harms children of color. Minority communities are routinely exposed to more air pollution, a trend that is exacerbated by climate change. These communities also tend to be located in neighborhoods shaped by discriminatory “redlining” policies, which have fewer trees and more asphalt. This increases children’s exposure to extreme heat in a warming world. And when food supplies are threatened by extreme weather events, such as floods and drought, fires and storms, disenfranchised families already at risk for malnutrition become even more vulnerable.
Environmental justice issues are prevalent throughout the world, including close to home. The last five miles of the Duwamish River towards Elliott Bay in Seattle is one of the most polluted rivers in the country. The US Environmental Protection Agency has declared it a Superfund site. This disproportionately affects under-resourced communities living near the Duwamish. Further, trees in urban areas tend to be concentrated in higher income neighborhoods, leaving historically red-lined neighborhoods more exposed and hotter during periods of extreme temperature. Check out the Tree Equity Score project started by American Forests.
Read about the health effects of the Duwamish superfund site and find out how you can help
Educate yourself through taking these Environmental Justice Action Items
Check out Front and Centered, a group committed to fighting for environmental equity in Washington. Follow their blog https://frontandcentered.org/blog/ for up to date information
Read an EPA handout on climate change and environmental justice
Look at a mapping tool identifying Washington communities disproportionately affected by climate change and poverty
For more information on the history of the Environmental Justice movement in the United States, refer to this National Resources Defense Council article.
For a literature review on Environmental Justice, please refer to our Further Reading page.