- Where we live in society plays a huge role
in the environmental benefits and risks
that we're exposed to.
And, I'm gonna actually draw in
different parts of society by using this line
which represents a spectrum of society.
On the right hand side I'm gonna draw
part of society that experiences higher poverty
and also incorporates the often disadvantaged
racial and minority groups.
On the left hand side I'm gonna draw
a much wealthier part of society.
One of the things that we know
is that living areas that experience
high poverty and have a lot of racial minorities
often have few environmental benefits
compared to the wealthier part of society.
What do I mean by environmental benefits?
I mean green spaces, parks, recreational areas.
What does that look like?
Well let me draw it for you, using this triangle.
This is supposed to represent environmental benefits.
And one of the things we can see
is that the wealthier part of society
has much higher benefits than the high poverty
and racial minority part of society.
And as I mentioned, those benefits
include things like parks, bike paths,
and other green spaces.
So one part of society seems to be getting
a lot of benefit while another part of society
seems to not be getting as much benefit.
But what the high poverty and racial minority
part of society does get, it does get something,
and what it does get,
it gets a lot of environmental burden.
So what does that look like?
This line is actually supposed to represent
So compared to the high income part of society
the high poverty and racial minorities
get increasing burden.
And this includes things like waste facilities,
manufacturing and factories,
and transportation facilities such as airports.
And one of the things we have to consider
is that these are disadvantaged populations,
they are really at risk
because they're disadvantaged in many ways.
They often have few alternatives
in terms of where they work and where they live.
They may have little awareness
of the risks they may face being exposed
to various environmental risks or pollutants or chemicals.
They may also have other pressing issues,
meaning that environmental issues
are low on their agenda
and let us contrast that to the wealthier population.
The wealthier population may very well
be more politically powerful,
they can also be economically powerful,
literally being able to demand
that the environmental beneficial facilities
are placed close to them,
and the burdensome facilities are placed far away.
And being able to control things
like laws and regulations to benefit them
more so than the other communities.
And they can also be better represented
in environmental groups or lobbying groups.
Now this is all of significance
when we consider that the high poverty groups
and racial minorities may have health problems
such as asthma or obesity, because we know
conditions like asthma have got strong correlations
to environmental issues such as pollutants,
particles and ozones,
and these are part of the environmental burdens
that these populations face.
And also when we consider obesity,
obesity can be thought of as a lack
of access to safe recreational facilities
where people can exercise.
So a lack of access to environmental benefits,
and lack of access to affordable
grocery and shopping facilities.
The big concept here, that I want to write down
is the concept of environmental justice.
And what this concept really looks at
is that there is a fair distribution
of the benefits and burdens,
of the environmental benefits and burdens
within society, across all groups.
And as we can see here, that is clearly
not happening at the moment,
and much action still needs to be taken.