Environmental Justice

Scott Church
Toward Environmental Justice: Research, Education, and Health Policy Needs
NAS, 1999
In the late 1990's the National Research Council arm of the National Academy of Sciences was tasked with investigating claims of environmental injustice. They conducted case studies in five locations worldwide to which an NRC committee traveled to hear citizen and researcher testimony and examine all available scientific, social, and economic evidence. This 1999 book presents the results of that investigation, which confirmed what growing numbers of scientists, economists, and public officials already know—that fears of environmental injustice are indeed well justified. Minority and low income communities had "disproportionately higher levels of exposure to environmental stressors compared with those for the general population". They offered detailed examinations of several areas, including identification of environmental hazards, risk assessment for populations of varying ethnic, social, and economic backgrounds, and the need for methodologies that uniquely suit the populations at risk. They also discussed the legal and ethical implications of these results, and offered suggestions for improving education regarding the environmental impacts on public health.
State of the World Reports
The Worldwatch Inst
These books, published annually by the Worldwatch Institute's award-winning research team are among the best, and most concise, summaries of the impacts of human activities and social structures on the Earth and its carrying capacity. These links are to the 3 most recent annual versions as of this writing. Each presents an overview of that year's current state of knowledge in biodiversity, energy use, global warming, economics, the relationships between poverty and environmental impacts, how various social structures contribute to social injustice in the world, and more. They describe the state of various ecological indicators and how human activities are impacting them. In particular, show that environmental damage is being borne disproportionately by the world's poor and disempowered. They also discuss how the complex challenges of restoring a sustainable balance between the growing human population, rising levels of consumption, and the threats to the natural systems that support all life on the Earth can all be met. It's worth noting that the quality of research in these books and their impact has drawn a response from the ultra-conservative Competitive Enterprise Institute, whose industry and Far-Right benefactors profit heavily from the pollution and ecosystem degradation they document. The book, first published in 2000, is titled "Earth Report 2000 - Revisiting The True State of the Planet". Edited by CEI adjunct scholar Ronald Bailey, its title and cover presentation were clearly intended to mimic its namesake, thereby leveraging off of Worldwatch's reputation with less careful audiences. As might be expected, the "research" in this book is cherry-picked and amateurish compared to its Worldwatch Institute counterparts and few of its conclusions would survive scientific peer-review.
Environmental Justice Case Studies
This is the University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment's site for their Environmental Justice Initiative. The first link is to their main site, and the second is to student researched case studies of environmental injustice. The School of Natural Resources and Environment at U. of M. has gained a national reputation for scholarly work in environmental justice. The school provides an undergraduate course in Environmental Justice—SNRE 492. A description of it is available at this link.
The U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops' Environmental Justice Site
This site is run by the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops which offers news, information, church position statements and access to publications on the spiritual and social implications of environmental justice. It also has pastoral statements on a wide range of issues relative to environmental justice including, climate change, children's health and brownfields. It also has access to USCCB publications and videos on many of these issues, which discuss the spiritual mandate to care for the Earth, and in so doing, care for the poor, and insure that all costs of our footprints on the Earth will be distributed equitably.
The Sierra Club's Environmental Justice Site
This is the Sierra Club's site dedicated to environmental justice and their programs for dealing with it. It has their position statement on environmental justice as well as news, information about specific case studies, and access to more information. It also shows how those who wish to get involved can participate in their programs.


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