Environmental Justice (E1): Series on Environmental Justice

Who has access to environmental goods and who is exposed to environmental harms? What’s up guys it’s your sustainagirl and I’m back with a 12 week series on environmental justice in this series I’m looking to discuss and unpack environmental issues through a different lens of equality and justice so I have about 12 videos planned on a multiple a variety of different topics I’ll be releasing them every Wednesday so be sure to subscribe hit the like and share my goal for this first video in the series is to set an introspective tone by sharing my own reflections discussing the complexities of fairness defining the environmental justice movement introducing some of its associated concepts and then finishing off with some aims for the movement I will reserve most case studies and examples for future videos to come so starting with the introspective tone in 2018 I posted this picture on the ground I was living my best digital Nomad life in Bali Indonesia and at this point in my life I was volunteering in farms and jungles deserts and I wanted to learn about where and how our food is grown how countries are handling pollution and waste management how the oceans are being affected by ocean acidification and coral bleaching just your typical guided tour of exotic garbage and bleached corals so this was one of my early and uncomfortable dives into environmental justice my own privilege especially on an international scale I may not have considered myself to be particularly privileged back home you know within my circle of friends and the people that I frequently see but as I traveled I tried to meet local people get to know more about how they live and I couldn’t help but notice the tremendous disparities in the opportunities and the set of rewards that they would receive for their work you know in Asia I would meet people who work in factories six days a week hours a day 400 euros a month after years of experience like they work a heck of a lot harder than 90 for a fraction of the rewards and I kid you not every day I would ask myself had I been born in a different country and a different socio-economic class with you know different factors would I be where I am today would I have the same outcomes would I be able to reap the same outcomes and if not is that fair and you know what what is fairness is fairness you know me taking that well-deserved vacation overseas where I get to benefit from low wages and environmental lacks regulations if I ask myself how does that vacation impact the world beyond my own means who ends up suffering the consequences of the accumulated air pollution caused by me and all of the other middle and upper income class people in the world who deserve these vacations is the economy of that country or that city really benefiting from that influx and tourism you know just a small parentheses I’m based on my own experience of meeting with locals and asking them how things have changed over the years with an increase in tourism a lot of people don’t consider the fact that many of the owners of most businesses are often foreigners and take the majority of the profits and leave the local people with barely any money so that’s one thing to consider another thing to consider is you know the amount of pollution and the amount of resource depletion but also the customs and the culture when cities are becoming tourist hotspots to a certain extent that people are being stripped from their genuine customs and celebrations and pastimes and being sold this idea that in order to live this meaningful life they now need to sell themselves to tourists now what I’ve come to conclude is that much of society is bill on these benefits of injustice and potion and the depletion of resources and people including myself enjoy these benefits without caring or realizing the consequences of these actions especially on marginalized and low-income class communities the equipment I’m using for this video the cheap clothes that I buy sometimes Oh try not to they are likely made with the help of child slavery and

the exploitation of people now beyond our desire to reap the benefits of injustice whether we want to acknowledge that or not lies another factor that complicates the discussion of achieving fairness humans have strong biases whether it be religious or cultural or political some people may consider it ok to place their elderly in a retirement home where strangers take care of them that are professionals whereas others consider that to be completely outrageous you’re abandoning the people who have given you life opportunities some of us may consider it fair that the hardest-working most diligent smartest or most beautiful people get more in life and can reap those benefits whereas others think that those who are the most fortunate should share some of that fortune with those who are perhaps disadvantaged in some way and some of us think that we should have even distribution for all basically what I’m getting at is that fairness is extremely hard to achieve in a world where one people love the benefits of inequity and two we have different definitions of what fairness even means so there’s not one clear answer now placing that aside let’s try to define environmental justice so environmentalism sustainability and green living it’s not just about the statistics of how our climate is getting warmer or resources are depleted or the earth is being polluted it’s also about who is causing that and who is suffering the consequences and why we’ve gotten to that point an environmental justice is not just about the laws and the policies or justice in its most official sense it’s also about how we define fairness and how our systems work with or against that definition so I would say the environmental justice movement is a blend of efforts to preserve and improve the environment all the while fighting against discrimination and poverty figuring out who gets to reap the benefits and who gets to suffer the consequences and how we can even that out now this blend has been and still is quite messy the environmental movement has been accused of being a latest systemic lien just not agreeing on whether we’re aiming for equality of opportunity or equality of outcome and lacking some international intergenerational intersectional aims so let’s dive into those associated concepts now so let’s start with environmental elitism and systemic injustice as you already know indigenous populations all over the world have been stripped of their culture and their land in the name of colonialism also in the name of environmentalism many of the parks that you probably love such as yoza might Park in the United States many of the park in all over in America and all over the world have been created through the eviction and the torture and the arrest of the indigenous populations living there before and this is still happening today in Botswana in Cameroon in India there are contemporary examples of this basically these populations aren’t allowed to maintain their ancestral homes due to the new branding of exclusive conservation sites so conservation parks are more contentious then you might have realized and they are an example among many others of these this kind of elitist environmental behavior that push pushes forward the dominant group think or the people who are in positions of power at the expense of minority groups such as indigenous peoples now this leads to the conversation of systemic injustice which is by the way a big debate among I would say the left and the right political spectrum as to whether it exists and the idea of it existing is that it keeps the systems that we have in place were created by certain groups of people and this ranges from country to country right let’s take the United States for an example for many years colonial powers white male powers have put forward the ideas of that group and through the criminal system through the environmental lobby groups through all different areas this system has supported their interests so now if you want to have minority groups or females heard then you need to readjust that system to take into account their interests so the

idea if you believe in systemic injustice is the involvement and treatment of people has not been equally distributed among groups so minority communities to this day may not have the financial means the resources or the political representation to oppose environmental burdens and in some cases the creation of something like a facility with a high level of pollution could be very beneficial to this low-income group of people who are hoping to have jobs and are reluctant to oppose some of the health risks placed by this facility because they’re at an economic disadvantage and they’re desperate in a way to receive those that income so if we wish to have a system where the burdens and the benefits of the environment are more equally distributed I think it’s important to talk about equality of opportunity versus equality of outcome so you’ll likely hear about topic in any discussion of justice or equality there’s a lot of debate as well as to how we should measure equality and justice should we measure it based on the opportunity that people have or should we measure it based on the outcome that we see so I’m gonna give an example and then I’ll get into defining each one a bit better a company could claim for example that they don’t discriminate against women in their hiring process they offer the same amount of opportunities they interview the same amount or you know they don’t discriminate against women who apply perhaps they interview them but if we don’t see equal representation in their workplace if there are barely any women working there and barely any women in positions of power how do we know for sure that along the line there aren’t any biases or prejudices or stereotypes against women that are impacting their ability to really get a job there it’s a lot easier to trust a company that walks the talk that can showcase that equal representation and because we know that prejudice against women is still alive in so many countries in the most grotesque ways it’s hard to believe that there aren’t companies that still would allow those biases to to play into their hiring process now critics of equality of outcome argue that equal outcome leads to meeting quotas at any cost and actually perpetuates discrimination if I start to hire based on your gender or based on your race then am I not discriminating discriminating against people who may be more qualified or you know and that is leading to kind of an oppressive regime that wishes to make everybody the same there’s more to it especially when it comes to genders some people believe that male and females have different interests and therefore equal outcome won’t happen in certain fields but I’ll stop it there now those in favor of equality of outcome believe this to be a disingenuous argument given the realities of systemic injustice and discriminate there are biases and prejudices and stereotypes that are not overtly expressed all the time and can still be a huge factor and discriminate and and lead to different outcomes therefore by using diversity and inclusion metrics we are acknowledging that opportunities are largely inseparable from outcomes now the opinion I’ve formed is that it can depend on the specific subject or topic and as we’ll see throughout the series there are certain examples I’ll be providing where the the outcome is very important and another thing is that the intent isn’t always as important as the impact you may for example say a joke and you don’t intend it to be racist or you don’t intend it to be sexist but the reality is that it perpetuates the stereotype and it offends people and it can be considered racist or a sexist by a lot of people so I think it’s important to kind of check your intent based on the impact and that is a concept that I find interesting to relate back to equality of opportunity versus equality of outcome and especially when it comes to the law as we will see it’s very difficult to show the intent of a company and therefore we tend to focus on the impact and in the definition as we’ll look at in closer detail later in the series but in the definition it’s about whether you know a minority communities or low in socio-economic communities are being impacted disproportionately so if we’re

looking to abolish elitism or restructure the system and achieve a more equal distribution how do we get there so I’ve put together what I call the six eyes to achieve environmental justice and I think it’s important to note that the environmental justice movement has very close ties with environmental racism and at its roots which I’ll be discussing in that video in further detail the environmental justice move began with the disproportionate impact of pollution on minority communities but in the face of globalization in the face of new scientific discoveries about the impact of climate change on minority communities especially it is evolving and so I’ve put together these six eyes and the first one is institutional as we discuss with systemic injustice it’s important to restructure the institutions and the way that we are looking to achieve equality the second is International with our products being mined in many different countries put together in another package and another shift over and then the garbage is being disposed of who knows where there are many many connections that are being made on a global scale and I think it’s important to reach for environmental justice beyond local or national borders so the third is intergenerational you’ll see this often with climate justice signs asking to save the earth for our future and it’s very important when it comes to pollution and resource depletion and climate change to consider how our affects how our actions now are going to impact the future to come the fourth is intersectional and by this I mean the many cultures and races and sexualities and nationalities and how people’s different set of factors could compound and impact their experiences differently it’s important to consider how a white male is being treated versus black male versus a black woman how do those factors meet at intersections to create a very unique experience that we need to be aware of the fifth is inequalities and by this I mean the many different forms of equalities that a group of people or a person could be experiencing and how those overlap and affect each other it’s important to consider not only how pollution is affecting a community but how that compounded with a lack of education with a lack of health care services etc etc how all of those work together to form a certain type of experience that we should be evaluating the sixth is interspecies so the other species that humans share this planet with and this is not something that you’ll typically see associated with the environmental justice movement but I think through my research and creating this series I think it’s something that has been left out of the scope and is important because not only because as part of justice animals could to like based on certain people’s beliefs have an intrinsic value have value in and of themselves but also because certain groups of humans believe that and if we were to respect them as a community we should maybe respect how they want other animals and other species to be treated so this is a lot and I’m not claiming this series to be the be-all end-all of environmental justice I’m sharing information based on my scope of knowledge and what I’ve been able to accumulate and research as I prepared this series and I could go on for years and years and years before I decide to publish but I’m deciding to put something out there based on what I’ve been able to gather and of course it’s open to your critique and your opinion and your comments so please participate and let me know what you think and if you think differently that’s fine that’s great I won’t be covering for example like far left socialist views that critique environmentalism for working within a non-functioning capitalist system people have that view I won’t be covering like anarchism and I definitely have a lens with which I’m creating this series which is that of believing there should be a marriage of the government and the market so that being said I have my own biases and this information is being presented through certain bias so my goal is that participate in the conversation about environmental justice and hopefully I can provide you with information you find interesting and I’ll be releasing these videos each and every Wednesday so be sure to subscribe like comment and I’ll see y’all next Wednesday