Washington lawmakers have spent months negotiating legislation to address climate and other environmental issues. It is not clear what they will end-up doingOr Whether those actions will sufficeThis is in light of the extensive environmental damage already done. In the meantime, Americans have been subject to a number of extreme weather events this year. Millions of people were left in the cold, They destroyed their homes and abused their communities They destroyed millions of acres of land surrounding them.
This article is not about Washingtons inaction on polar vortexes and hurricanes, wildfires, and other environmental issues. Instead, it’s an article about the PeopleThese people are the ones most affected by these issues.
I wrote earlier this year about how America’s structure makes it difficult for many people understand the racial wealth disparity between black and white America. Many of these social structures also impact how Americans view and perceive environmental issues.
Let’s begin by looking at how we, as a nation, deal with environmental issues.
Over a decade of research has shown that the The risk of environmental hazards is not equally distributedThe United States by race and class. According to Dorceta, Dorceta Taylor, environmental socioologist, low-income Americans are more likely than whites and other minorities to live in the “environmental sociologist Dorceta Taylor” category. Communities that are toxicHigher levels of pollution and more hazardous waste sites and toxic materials are more likely to have higher levels of contamination. Worse outcomes for health and well beingThey are less wealthy than their white and more affluent peers.
These differences in risk exposure are not accidental.
Many scholars, both inside and outside academia, have examined how policies over the past several decades created these conditions. The U.S. Government Accountability Office conducted an early study in the 1980s and found that this was the case. Unsightly number of waste siteswere placed in African American neighborhoods in the South. A few years later, Another studyBased on the GAO results, it was found that the percentages of racial or ethnic minorities in a particular community was a significant predictor of the location of commercial hazardous waste facilities around the country.
In the early 1990s, these initial studies had received enough attention that the Environmental Protection Agency was created. began tracking disparitiesThis is done by using metrics such as lead exposure or air pollution exposure. We can look at individual studies as well as at the entire set of studies. meta-analysesMultiple studies have shown that environmental disparities exist. This could be based on income inequality, racism or a combination of both..
However, our experiences with environmental issues are not limited to those of a particular race or socioeconomic class. How different Americans are Seek outEnvironmental issues are also affected by race and classes.
For example, My colleagues and I carried out researchWe found that participants generally agreed that eco-oriented topics like drought and climate change were environmental issues. However, they disagreed on whether more human-oriented problems like poverty and racism counted. Participants who were non-white and less wealthy were more likely to rate these issues as environmental than their white counterparts. This is because it is easier for members who are regularly exposed to these risks to make these connections than for those who are not regularly experiencing poverty, racism, or other environmental risks.
You may find that your neighborhood is predominantly poor and populated by minorities. air quality water qualityBut there are also There isn’t as much greenspaceRegular exercise is a must. You may also notice a difference in the way your friends and neighbors exercise. More people are suffering from health conditions. These things may make you think that they are all connected and part of a larger set of problems. If you live in a wealthy white neighborhood, however, it may not be as bad. You might not be able to seeYou would not know they were related if you didn’t have many of them.
If you fall into this category, environmental issues may not be as important to you. Indeed, there are many environmental issues. recent paperAn analysis of how the American public viewed climate change from 2008 to 2019 revealed that whites were much more likely than others to be politically polarized. These issues were seen as political for many white Americans. But, for Americans of colour, they were seen as issues of survival. People with a higher percentage of global warming concerns were more likely to identify it as a danger to their health.
It is important that low-income and people of colour are more concerned about environmental problems than white people. This is a clear indication of a profound disconnect in American thinking.
In 2018, a team made up of environmental social scientists ran a studyIn which they asked Americans how concerned each group was about environmental issues. They found that white people, young women, and men were most concerned about the environment. However, poor people and people of color reported the highest levels.
Because Black and Hispanic Americans tend to be more vulnerable to environmental risks These risks are yours to bear.It is understandable that they would be concerned more. The striking thing is that people tend to underestimate the environmental concerns and low-income Black, Hispanic, Asian Americans. Why?
It is partly due to the larger structural issues that I mentioned earlier, and to how we deal with them. Make sense of the world around you. Either our position in society makes it easy to see certain issues (such as environmental injustices), or it makes these issues more difficult to see. In my previous article, we also discussed how America’s segregated and stratified society impacts things like Who were your friends?This also impacts what we learn. There are many other factors that can influence the learning process.
One factor is the media that we consume. News coverage also differs based on raceThis has an effect on the stories being told. Many editors and producers of mainstream media outlets are aware that white audiences are important to them. Shapes the storiesThey create. There has been the creation of the environment. Whitewashing of storiesAbout climate and other environmental issues, which contributes towards the perception that it’s mainly white people who are concerned. People who are often highlighted in the environmental movement include White wealthy people. Americans tend to believe that those who care the most about the environment are the most concerned.
The media overlooks the contributions of people from color to environmental movements. Environmental organizations are also The overwhelming majority of white. This is true for both governmental and nongovernmental environmental organisations, as well as the environmental sciences. Less diverse than many other scientific disciplines.
This lack diversity can also have serious consequences. Research on Climate change policies that consider genderResearch has shown that climate arguments that are about science and business were more favorable than those that were about ethics and environmental justice. However, it is possible that it was an ethical and environmental injustice failure that led to the creation of Flint water crisisA decision-making procedure that at least one environmental scientist has described as This is the most extreme example of environmental injustice in American history.
It is why the exclusion of people of colour in research and discussions about the environment is so troubling. We implicitly make decisions about who lives and what the future looks like when we decide who can participate in environmental discussions, who can participate in environmental research, and who can be featured in stories about environmental issues. We must remember that these decisions have important implications for how we learn about environmental issues and the policies and practices that result.