Updated: Dec 4, 2020
Over the past month the United States has seen the uprising of possibly the largest civil rights movements in American history. On June 6th protests were held in at least 550 different locations across the United States with over half a million attendees. Polls have shown that up to 26 million people participated in protests proceeding George Floyd's murder by a Minneapolis police. You may be wondering why this is relevant to Millennials for Climate Action? It is relevant because there can be NO climate justice without racial justice. Environmental activists must advocate, not only for our planet, but for all of the people on it. Moreover, we should fiercely advocate for those who are being affected the most by climate change events and other environmental disasters. This is why MFCA believes that it is our part of our mission to help inform others of how environmental justice is racial justice.
One of the biggest barriers to effectively mitigating the effects of climate change is how our cities are zoned, what our cities look like, and how our cities work. This happens to be at the heart of the racial justice fight in this country as well. Centuries of housing discrimination has led to a long history of geographical segregation throughout the United States. Black individuals have been forced into overcrowded, poorly maintained, and environmentally neglected 1., neighborhoods within cities that have little "green" space. Meaning these neighborhoods have few trees, natural areas or green parks. They are made of mostly concrete and asphalt, which cause increased heat trapping due to thermodynamic and climate principles, termed the Urban Heat Island Effect. 3. It has been shown that these areas can get up to 10 °F hotter than surrounding areas. A. As the effects of climate change worsen we will see more heat waves. We will also see harsher heat waves and more heat related deaths in these areas.
Studies have shown that black individuals and other POC are disproportionately exposed to poor quality air and water. The former mayor of Flint Michigan, Karen Weaver, has said that she believes race was a factor in authorities slow response to their water crisis. 4. Fracking sites, hazardous waste sites, and landfills are more likely to be established near communities comprised largely of people of color. 2. Furthermore, in areas with large populations of POC, natural disaster relief is often slower and less effective.
The systems of oppression that perpetuate mistreatment of black people and other POC are the same that have brought about our current climate emergency. We must stand together to put an end to all injustices in our society, for ours and future generations. Black Lives Matter.
Please check out these resources below to learn more.
B. Future Ethics: Climate Change and Apocalyptic Imagination by Stefan Skrimshire
C. Environmental Injustices, Political Struggles: Race, Class and the Environment by David Enrique Cuesta Camacho
2. 18 EPA J. 6 (1992). Race, Poverty, and the Environment.