I want to explain what “environmental justice” means to me. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency of the United States) defines it thusly:
“Environmental Justice is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies. EPA has this goal for all communities and persons across this Nation. It will be achieved when everyone enjoys the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards and equal access to the decision-making process to have a healthy environment in which to live, learn, and work.”
In practice, it is the corporations (typically multinational conglomerates) that set the laws, exploit the regulations governing their business practices, and inflict their toxic means to an end upon the world we’re forced to share with them.
Too often the communities that suffer the greatest environmental hazards are those too poor to protest effectively, don’t have a tax base big enough for anybody to pay attention to, and are too stressed to worry about their environment. They have things like food and school supplies and heating bills to worry about. The quality of their air, ground water or food is pretty low on the list.
So far I’ve been talking like an American. The concept of Environmental Justice doesn’t stop at our shores. People in China are witnessing the polluting of their major cities at a level we couldn’t conceive of here in America because at least we have laws that protect us and our natural environment to a certain degree.
India is witnessing a complete erosion of a local, rural economic system that has been in place for centuries, while their government rushes to become an economic superpower on the same par as China and the US.
This race for global economic supremacy destroys communities, ravages the land, depletes natural resources at an astonishing rate, and annihilates any hope we have for maintaining balance on the planet.
Don’t take my word for it. Read. Learn.
Participate in solutions and movements and new visions for the future. What else have you got to do?