Our Quote of the Week stresses the importance of working together to protect our environment from the many human-made threats that are endangering life on Earth. Taking action to create a cleaner, healthier environment is important for all of us. And, as we continue to explore the ways in which our systems have exploited and harmed the poorest and most vulnerable populations on earth, we must remember that protecting the environment is also a question of justice.
Sargent Shriver gave this speech 45
years ago. He stressed a need for international
collaboration and spoke about science and the environment in ways that seem
remarkably prescient today, particularly in his inclusion of what he referred
to as “inadvertent weather modification from all sources,” or what we would
refer to today as climate change.
Without a doubt, pollution, climate change, and other factors that destroy our environment are damaging for all of us. But in 2020, we must also understand that the destruction of our environment disproportionately affects the poor and communities of color. For example:
- Poor communities, and communities that are predominantly African American and Latinx, have a higher exposure to air pollution, which means that they are at much higher risk of premature death.
- Members of poor communities are more likely to live near and / or work in garbage dumps, which are a cause of multiple health risks.
- Poor communities are at a much bigger risk of suffering from the effects of climate change. Unbearably high temperatures, droughts, violent weather, rising sea levels, and other effects of climate change are causing everything from food shortages to population displacement to miscarriages and premature death in the United States and across the world, and all of these are more prevalent in poor communities and communities of color.
The health, safety, and well-being of populations
around the world, particularly those who are already most vulnerable to poverty
and conflict, rely on our collaboration and collective action. As we continue to push for action on protecting the environment, let's remember that we are also fighting to achieve environmental justice.