Within the U.S., though we feel the impact environmentally of our agricultural, business, and political endeavors, they are not felt equally. Certain groups of people are impacted far differently than others. Unfortunately, the negative impacts are often distributed among groups of lower socioeconomic status, people of color, and generally geographic regions that contain both of these groups. It would seem that systematically, when it comes to environmental degradation and the health harms that come with it, these two groups are disadvantaged. There are many groups in the U.S. that are insulated from environmental and global climate change. They are insulated through their financial ability and stability. If the gas prices change, they can afford it. If it gets too hot where they live, they can move north. And most importantly, if a proposed dump, nuclear power facility, logging or mining endeavor gets too close for comfort they have a voice that will actually be heard. Not all people have this privilege. In fact, many times the people most acutely feeling the degradation of global climate change (spurred by anthropogenic lifestyles) are the people contributing least to it.
I will share an example that I got to experience first hand in Yasuni National Forest, in the Amazon of Ecuador. I had the ability to spend a few days in a beautiful rain forest in Ecuador this past January. We were in a national reserve and stayed at a research site of one of the local institutions. This site is about a 10 hour drive on a bumpy gravel road from the nearest "town."Though, there are plenty of the Waorani people living in the area, a larger felt presence is the Suzuki oil reserve. Sharing a boarder with the national forest, the reserve is pumping raw petroleum and natural gas and some of it directly into the atmosphere and Tiputini River. The river that the local people use for recreation and sustenance. Unfortunately, do to the language barrier, and the disadvantaged position these people are in, they are not being heard within the country's political sphere. Rather, they are being bought off. They have been bought off with tools and toys they don't use and aren't beneficial to their local situation. They have purchased cars and boats that they didn't teach them how to operate, and unfortunately were crashed or broken almost immediately. However, there is a large indigenous rights movement that has a presence in Ecuador and hopefully is only growing in strength.
|Pipes carrying natural gas|
|Tour guide demonstrating the raw petroleum at the surface of the waste pond|
|Burning off natural gas|
Some helpful sources on the concept of environmental racism and the unequal and inequitable distribution of resources' costs and benefits will be attached.
Here is an article chronicling U.S. environmental racism regarding nuclear waste and it's costs and benefits.
Here is another example in California.
And a final article.