No country in history has ever risen as a major industrial power without also rising as a leader in environmental damage, leaving behind a slew of environmental chaos that can take far longer and far more wealth to remedy than its rise to power took. The environmental damage caused by rapid industrialization of the world’s most populous nation, China – it had 1.351 billion people in 2012 – is so severe and far-reaching that its multifaceted repercussions are present not only domestically, but also internationally. Continue reading
What if the path to empowerment for urban students is through the local park?
Bronx, NY—In a borough with a disproportionate number of waste and power facilities and the highest child asthma hospitalization rate in New York City, high school interns at the Van Cortlandt Park Conservancy put on their garden gloves each summer to improve trails and weed out invasive species.
In September 1982, citizens of the very poor, predominantly black, Warren County in North Carolina marched against establishing a PCB (highly toxic chemicals which were previously used in electrical equipment such as transformers and capacitors before they were banned in 1979) landfill in their community. Six weeks later, after the last truck loaded with contaminated soil arrived at the landfill location, the police had arrested 523 people protesting the toxic dump, including Democratic Congressman Walter Fauntroy. The situation also marked the first official documented use of the term “environmental racism”—a phrase that implies race plays a factor in overlooking environmental and health concerns in neighborhoods occupied primarily by people of color. Although the term itself was coined quite a long time ago, this problem remains controversial today. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, racism is “poor treatment of or violence against people because of their race.” By extension, environmental racism is often defined as “the disproportionate impact of environmental hazards on people of color.”