EHS Executive Director Douglas Fischer is working hard just to keep up. His 17-year-old daughter can run a 5k almost twice as fast as he can, and his 15-year-old son passes him on Nordic skis without breaking a sweat. One thing Douglas really enjoys doing? Running Environmental Health Sciences, pushing good science into public discussion and policy.
Climate change is a particularly acute example: While air, water and toxic pollution hit vulnerable populations hardest, climate change drives the inequities even further. Acknowledging this, President Biden has made environmental justice a central element of his federal climate agenda (Read our overview on environmental justice here; view the Belfer Center's webinar video here).
Underlying environmental inequities
Environmental justice panel organized by Harvard University's Belfer Center Environment & Natural Resources Program.
In the past, national environmental groups would focus on, say, reducing harmful air emissions without thinking of equity or social justice, said Worland, who covers national climate policy for Time. Meanwhile social and racial justice groups would not focus on issues like asthma or air pollution. Today there's "an increasing degree of engagement, borne out of necessity," he said: To get either goal done, the groups need to build political pressure together.
The pandemic, of course, hit communities of color hardest, and that "lifted the lid" on underlying societal inequities, added Sengupta, who focuses on international environmental justice for the New York Times.
"Climate change is that magnified. Climate change ... forces us to confront how to do things better."
"There's no doubt in my mind that 2020—not just in the U.S. but globally—forced us to look at those underlying inequities," Sengupta added.
Indeed, a report issued last week by the Solutions Project found that mentions of communities of color in environmental coverage jumped from 2 percent in 2019 to 13 percent in 2020—a 500 percent increase. Among articles quoting a spokesperson or lawmaker about energy issues, more than half quoted a woman—"a clear tipping point" in the group's analyses since 2017.
The Biden Administration's "Justice40 Initiative" is also driving this, Worland noted. The President's Jan. 27 executive order on climate change stipulated that "40 percent of the overall benefits (of climate action) flow to disadvantaged communities."
"How that's defined is unclear—what does it mean to receive benefits, what's an underserved community?" Worland noted. "But it is a dramatic re-centering of the issues."
Count Down, a new book by environmental and reproductive epidemiologist Dr. Shanna Swan, ties the use of industrial chemicals in everyday products to smaller penises, erectile dysfunction, and lower sperm counts. What do you think?
Spasms, memory loss and hallucinations among symptoms of patients, mostly in Acadian peninsula of New Brunswick province. Researchers are working to determine if there is a common link to the cases or any environmental causes, including water sources, plants and insects.
In the course of our investigation into personal pollution from fracking operations, EHN.org reporter Kristina Marusic consulted with numerous experts in air quality, epidemiology, public health and fracking exposures.
These independent scientists and researchers can speak specifically to the value of our work in "Fractured," our methodology and approach, and the science behind our findings:
Dr. David Brown, Southwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Wilma Subra, Subra Company: email@example.com
Dr. Chung Ho Lin, University of Missouri: LinChu@missouri.edu
Dr. Christopher Kassotis, Wayne State University: firstname.lastname@example.org
The company scraps planned Pennsylvania investments and will instead shut down three polluting batteries in 2023. The announcement comes a week after a study shows lower lung function in people living near its Pittsburgh-region facility.