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Environmental Inequality in the United States

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Environmental Inequality in the United States
Introduction
Minority and poor populations have been experiencing an unequal amount of exposure to various environmental hazards. The goal of this paper is investigate the situation at hand and provide an explanation to whether this treatment is ethical. Thus, in this paper, I will not only attempt to analyze reasons why these populations experience more pollution than other populations and the types of pollution that they experience, but I will also explore the solutions provided by other researchers on how to solve environmental inequalities.
Previous research has been carried out to detect why most, if not all, of the polluting industries, such as power plants and waste facilities, tend to be located in minority and poor neighborhoods (Carter; Morello-Frosch; Pellow and Park; Bullard and Wright). Normally, people that live in low income neighborhoods will experience a disproportionately high amount of pollution compared to those living in high income neighborhoods (Morello-Frosch). Therefore, parks, trees, and outdoor recreational areas tend to be located in wealthy neighborhoods. Consequently, minority and poor neighborhoods tend to have the lowest ratios of parks-to-people (Carter). This means that there is a low amount of park space per 10,000 people. Other research shows that even if we ignore the level of income, minority neighborhoods, such as African American and Hispanic neighborhoods, will still experience higher levels of pollution than white neighborhoods (Bullard and Wright). Thus, by looking at both race and social class we can point out the communities that enjoy the availability of parks and trees or suffer from the pollution from industrial facilities. According to Majora Carter, an American urban revitalization strategist, the South Bronx in New York City is known as a low-income Latino and Black community. Therefore it is known as the community that handles “40 percent of the entire city’s commercial waste, a sewage treatment plant, a sewage sludge pelletizing plant, four power plants, the world’s largest food distribution center, and other industries which bring in more than 55,000 diesel trucks to the area each week” (Carter 48). Another example is Silicon Valley. Silicon Valley is a community that is populated by people of color and immigrants and it is also the community that hosts the highest density of the most toxic industries in the U.S., such as nuclear industries, electronics industries, and computer components industries (Pellow and Park).
Types of Pollution
There are multiple variables that caused the current situation of environmental inequality in the U.S., but before I discuss these variables I must explain the types of pollution that the minority and poor communities experience. According to Pellow, a professor of environmental studies, communities that suffer from industrial facilities also suffer from air, water, and land pollution. Ultimately, these three contaminations cause minority and poor populations to become victims of health problems. For instance, African Americans are twice as likely as a white person to live in an area where air pollution poses the greatest risk to their health (Carter). Furthermore, African Americans are five times more likely to live within walking distance of a power plant or chemical facility (Carter). Polluted industrial facilities create the hostile conditions that lead to problems like obesity, diabetes, asthma, cancer, and other chronic diseases.
One might not expect that pollution can lead to obesity, diabetes, asthma, and cancer. However, a person that lives near a polluting industry would not likely have the desire to leave their home to go for a brisk walk or run to inhale toxic substances. Consequently, diabetes is linked to obesity. According to James Loewen, an American sociologist, historian, and author of Lies My Teacher Told Me, rich babies are healthier and weigh more than poor babies. “Poor babies are more likely to have high levels of poisonous lead in their environments and their bodies” (Loewen 207). Furthermore, exposure to air pollution is one of the factors that leads to asthma (Massey). For example, 25 percent of South Bronx children are diagnosed with asthma symptoms, which is seven times higher than the national average (Carter). Other research shows that besides being exposed to air pollution, low income and minority families experience higher rates of asthma than white families due to their inadequate access to health care to treat the disorder (Massey). Consistent medical attention is required in order to control a patient’s asthma. Because these minority groups are only treated for asthma when they have an acute attack, African American children between the age of 10 and 14 are six times more likely to die of asthma than white children (Massey). Lastly, many studies have discovered that the increase in cancer rates is related with the exposure to industrial chemicals in the environment (Massey). These studies have also found that there is a strong relationship between being exposed to toxic air pollutants and being diagnosed with leukemia, brain, and central nervous system cancers, which represents about half of all children’s cancers (Massey).
Pollution is not only caused by large industrial facilities, but also by freight transportation systems that pass through minority and poor neighborhoods. Studies have shown that minority and poor neighborhoods become victims of health effects, such as asthma, caused by exposure to diesel exhaust particulates (Lena et al). Children from low-income neigborhoods of New York City were over four times more likely to be hospitalized for asthma than children from high income neighborhoods, due to their higher exposure to diesel exhaust particulates produced by large transportation trucks (Lena et al). Furthermore, solid and liquid hazardous waste treament sites, municipal landfills, incinerators, and other hazardous facilities take up an excessively large part of poor and minority neighborhoods (Massey). These studies have discovered that minority communities experience just about nine times more exposure to various air and water pollutants due to environmentally hazardous facilities and sites than white communities (Massey).
Environmental Justice
By not having a clear and stated definition of environmental justice, researchers have erroneously used this and environmental racism interchangeably. Therefore, before I provide evidence supporting the occurance and the reasons for the occurance of environmental racism in the U.S., a clear understanding is needed regarding what is considered to be environmental racism and environmental justice. According to Dr. Robert Bullard, frequently portrayed as the father of environmental justice, “Environmental racism refers to any policy, practice, or directive that differentially affects or disadvantages (whether intended or unintended) individuals, groups, or communities based on race or color” (497). Bullard further explains that environmental racism is simply one of the various forms of environmental discrimination. For instance, environmental racism is environmental discrimination based on race, while environmental classism is discrimination based on social class. According to Rachel Morello-Frosch, professor of Health and Human Sciences, there is a pattern of disproportionate exposure to toxics and related health risks among minority and poor communities, with racial differences, which continues to exist across economic levels. Thus, both environmental racism and classism occur in the U.S.
The theory of environmental justice emerged as a response to the environmental discrimination experienced by minority and poor communities. “Environmental justice embraces the principle that all people and communities are entitled to equal protection of environmental and public health laws and regulations” (Bullard 493). Hence, in order to reach environmental justice in the U.S. we must first identify the factors that contributed to this current situation of environmental inequality. Industrial facility siting, household income, housing policy discrimination, job limitations, land prices, and environmental regulations are some of the factors that have contributed to the existence of environmental racism and classism.
Industrial Facility Siting
Waste management companies have had difficulties finding sites that are suitable for landfilling because no one is willing to live near a waste disposal site. Therefore, waste disposal companies that are being run by both the private and government sectors have decided that it would be best to establish an increasing number of their landfills near neighborhoods with mostly minority and low income residents (Bullard and Wright). This causes minority and poor families to face the issue of landfills being located in the neighborhoods where they are situated. This is a clear example of conflict theory; the rulling ideas are the one of the rulling class. In this case, the rulling ideas are the ones of the elite that occupy political offices. Because the elite do not want to be faced with garbage being disposed of in their neigborhoods they shift that burden over to the minority and poor communities so that they become the ones faced with the health implications due to hazardeous waste dumps. Thus, this is a clear example that society is structured in ways that benefit the few (wealthy white individuals) at the expense of the majority (poor and minority individuals).
Household Income and Job Limitations
Minority and poor individuals rely heavily on their income to support their families. However, they tend to have difficulties finding a job because they generally have no or low levels of education. Because the blue-collar jobs provided by these industrial facilities do not require any or much education, the poor and minority people become employees of the very industries that pollute the neighborhood in which all live, in order to support their families (Bullard and Wright). Thus, due to the job limitations minority and poor families find themselves forced to the exposure of the toxics produced by these industrial facilities. On the other hand, the white collar positions provided by these industrial facilities will enable the more educated individuals to move away from the polluted neighborhood because they make more money (Bullard and Wright). As a result of this social inequality, upward mobility was not an option for minority and poor communities (Loewen). Thus, the establishment of polluting industries causes displacement of the wealthy families and stagnation of the minority and poor families.
Housing Policy Discrimination
During the last half of the 20th Century, financial institutions and government agencies controlled the process of urbanization and developed suburbanization and residential differentiation. One way in which these institutions were able to segregate minority and poor families was by discouraging the combination of credit to communities of color through explicitly excluding government mortgage guarantees from minority neighborhoods; this process policy was called redlining (Morello-Frosch). The Federal Housing Administration (FHA), a U.S government agency, openly refused to make mortgage loans to individuals that lived in poor neighborhoods (Madrigal). Furthermore, since the nadir of American race relations, residential segregation existed. He explains that blacks could not buy houses in white communities, such as Minneapolis. Thus, the minority and poor individuals found themselves obligated to remain in the extremely polluted neighborhoods in which they lived. This is a clear example of structural-functionalism. In those times, the function of the government policies was to ensure that minority and poor families do not move into wealthy neighborhoods.
Nowadays, these housing discriminatory practices are less likely to occur due to enactment of the Fair Housing Act (The United States Department of Justice). Therefore, the current function of the government policies is to protect minority and poor families from housing discrimination. The consequences of housing discrimination can still be seen today. Even when the minority families gained access to more profitable jobs outside their polluted neighborhoods, they were still unable to escape from the toxic zones of industrial activity and move into a better neighborhood because of the housing discrimination policies and were forced to continue in the cycle of poverty.
Economic Dislocation
Studies have shown that industrial corporations look for conditions that facilitate discriminatory siting of their hazardous facilities. In other words, they search for lucrative, low-priced locations for their facilities where political resistance of facility siting is likely to be low. Industrial corporations know that poor and minority neighborhoods would be perfect for industrial siting because of the desperate economic position they hold (Morello-Frosch). This strategy used by industrial corporations for siting their polluted industries is an example of symbolic interactionism. Industrial corporations investigate the behaviors of minority and poor families and notice that minority and poor communities do not have the ability to resist facility siting due to their underdeveloped social and community organizing networks. The investors know that the middle and upper class communities possess better resources to accomplish political resistance towards the siting of their polluted industries and, therefore, did not locate their hazardous facilities in their neighborhoods.
As long as there was growth and regional development, investors continued to invest in certain areas, to then invest in a completely different place (Morello-Frosch). However, their changing investment patterns from one location to another meant divestment in another. As a result, minority and poor communities became victims of this economic dislocation. This meant that at one point in time they were experiencing rapid growth of polluting industries and later, when investments stopped, they were abandoned in deindustrialized wastelands where environmental hazards from past contamination persisted and economic revitalization opportunities were limited (Morello-Frosch). As a result, this factor added to the cycle of poverty that minority and poor communities faced.
Chicken-versus-Egg Dilemma
In this paper, it is important to analyze the chicken-versus-egg dilemma, which came first, polluting industries or minority and low income neighborhoods. Previous studies claim that the fact that investors intentionally targeted minority and poor communities to place their polluting facilities in is considered enough evidence of discrimination (Morello-Frosch). However, other research also shows signs of “minority move-in,” where individuals decide to move into already polluted neighborhoods because land near polluting industries is cheaper compared to environmentally sound areas. Most minority and poor families prefer having a home in a polluted neighborhood than not having a home at all. Another reason for minority move-in is job opportunities provided by industrial facilities. Most minority and poor families would prefer having a job, even if the job pollutes their neighborhood, than not having a job at all. Therefore, the argument can be made both ways.
Economic Perspective
A different viewpoint on this environmental inequality is provided by economists. They claim that there is a certain amount of utility that the poor and minorities receive from the presence of polluting industries and for that reason there is no environmental discrimination in minority and poor communities. According to Dr. Wayne Gray, a research associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research, the lower a family’s income, the more pollution they are willing to tolerate. Alternatively, the higher a family’s the income, the more they are willing to pay for an environment that is not polluted (Gray). In addition, Gray asserts that environmental concerns are developed by wealthy individuals that have enough time to be concerned with their environment. He explains that minority and poor individuals do not have time to be worried with their environment because they are too busy working to simply have food to eat or a home to live in. Thus, the reason why polluted industrial facilities are located in poor and minority neighborhoods is because they have a lower ability to pay for a cleaner environment.
Another standpoint is that minority move-in portrays a free market and fails to meet environmental discrimination (Willers). However, supporters of environmental justice responded that minority and poor communities would not have been bound in remaining close to large industrial facilities if it was not for the income and employment constraints and discriminatory housing policies that inhibit their mobility (Morello-Frosch). On the other hand, wealthier, mostly white, classes enjoy the mobility and privilege to escape the toxic zones of industrial activity. In addition, perfect information concerning the benefits and costs of toxic facilities is not available to minority and poor families (Willers). This is another example of symbolic interactionism. Minority and poor families acted according to their interpretation of the situation at hand. Because minority and poor families were not well informed, they were not able to make informed decisions that affected their choice of where to live.
Solution to Environmental Inequalities
It is clear that we cannot continue to let environmental inequality go unsolved. Land use regulations are still used to give a justification for putting polluting facilities in poor and minority neighborhoods. It is not right that poor neighborhoods have to take up a disproportionate share of a city’s waste and polluting industries. Environmental degradation gives rise to economic degradation and then social degradation (Carter). Carter proposes that in order to achieve environmental justice we have to “bring local advocates together with city government to articulate a vision for community development that includes everything from green roofs and improved storm water management to the rehabilitation of the industrial waterfront into a new greenway, which will provide much needed open space, waterfront access, and opportunities for mixed used economic development” (Carter 24).
Additionally, Carter explains that in areas where you find the poor environmental conditions, you do not only find the most health problems, but you will also find prison recidivism, no jobs, plenty of poverty, and a deficit of hope. Many minority and poor individuals are imprisoned for economic reasons and two-thirds of them find themselves back in prison because they have a hard time finding employment after getting out of prison (Carter). Therefore, Carter proposes to use the green economy as a social and economic solution to poverty. She calls it “Greening the Ghetto”. Consequently, in 2001, Carter founded a nonprofit environmental justice solutions corporation called Sustainable South Bronx.
Their first project was the restoration of the Bronx River. They noticed that the investors were employing “outsiders”, while the South Bronx neighborhood was experiencing 25 percent unemployment. Most of the residents of the South Bronx are unemployed and have difficulties finding a job because they have been previously incarcerated. Individuals who have suffered from trauma of prison, poverty or combat have a hard time participating in society and they do better when they work with living things and when they know that their work improves our collective society (Carter). Therefore, they decided to use this project to employ and help the minority and poor individuals that lived in the neighborhood (Carter). Subsequently, Carter started a project called Bronx Ecological Stewardship Training (B.E.S.T.) that provides job training to minority and poor individuals in the fields of ecological restoration. Carter claims that “green jobs” help us not only achieve environmental justice, but also save poor and minority communities from poverty. Moreover, the B.E.S.T. program has upheld a job placement rate above 80 percent, and ten percent of their participants have gone on to college (Carter).
Conclusion
No community should be held back with more environmental burdens and less environmental benefits than any other community. However, minority and poor neighborhoods experience a disproportionately high amount of pollution because of housing policy discrimination, economic dislocation, job limitations, environmental regulations, and the fact that land prices near polluting industries are much cheaper compared to pollution-free areas. Because social and economic degradation are intertwined with environmental degradation, poor and minority neighborhoods that experience higher levels of pollution also experience higher crime, higher unemployment, and higher incarceration rates. By developing economically sustainable projects informed by community needs, people can not only solve environmental inequality, but they can also positively affect unemployment and crime in poor and minority communities. Works Cited
Bullard, Robert D. and Beverly Hendrix Wright. "The Politics of Pollution: Implications for the Black Community." University, The Atlanta. Phylon. Vol. 47. Clark Atlanta University, 1986. 71-78. Web. .
Bullard, Robert D. "Environmental Justice: It's More Than Waste Facility Siting." Social Science Quarterly (1996): 493-499. Web. .
Carter, Majora. "Green is the New Black." Race, Poverty & the Environment. Reimagine!, 2006. 48-50. Web. .
—. Greening the Ghetto. 22 April 2009. Web. 24 November 2015. .
—. "Sustainable Solutions." Economic Development Journal (2006): 24-29. Web. .
Gray, Wayne B. "'Optimal' Pollution Abatement – Whose Benefits Matter, and How Much?" National Bureau of Economic Research (2002): 1-39. Web. .
Lena, T. Suvendrini, et al. "Elemental Carbon and PM(2.5 )Levels in an Urban Community Heavily Impacted by Truck Traffic." Environ Health Perspect (2002): 1009-1015. Web. .
Loewen, James. Lies My Teacher Told Me. New York: The New Press, 2007. Print.
Madrigal, Alexis C. "The Racist Housing Policy That Made Your Neighborhood." The Atlantic 22 May 2014. Web. .
Massey, Rachel. Environmental Justice: Income, Race, and Health. Medford: Global Development And Environment Institute, Tufts University, 2004. Web. .
Morello-Frosch, Rachel A. "Discrimination and the political economy of environmental inequality." Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy 20 (2002): 477-496. Web. .
Pellow, David N. and Lisa Sun-Hee Park. The Silicon Valley of Dreams : Environmental Injustice, Immigrant Workers, and the High-tech Global Economy. Pellow, David N.: Critical America, 2002. Web. .
Pellow, David Naguib. "Garbage Wars: The Struggle for Environmental Justice in Chicago." The Journal of Politics (2004): 1317-1318. Web. .
The United States Department of Justice. Fair Housing Act. n.d. Web. 23 November 2015. .
Willers, Heidi Y. "Environmental Injustice: Evidence and Economic." University Avenue Undergraduate Journal of Economics (1996): 1-16. Web. .

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...(LegalCyberTips, 2007, Para 1). The concept of racism has existed for decades. The act of one race attempting to exert supremacy over others has often resulted in racial discrimination (LegalCyberTips, 2007). Racial discrimination is a constant reality in the lives of Hispanic Americans in the United States. Due to alarming migration rates over the past several decades, the United States has experienced significant growth in ethnic and racial diversity. However, racial minority groups like the Hispanics; “the largest and fastest growing population in the United States, continue to struggle for full acceptance and equal opportunity” (Louie, 2005, Para 1). The migration of Hispanic groups such as the Puerto Rican Americans was not readily accepted by the United States causing immediate social inequality. This social inequality caused segregation and forced the Puerto Rican Americans to work the lowest paying jobs and live in the poorest communities. This paper identifies factors that influence past and present discrimination trends that have lead to the segregation, racial redlining and stereotyping of the Hispanic American in the United States. The term Hispanic was established by the United States Government in the early 1970's, “in an attempt to identify a diverse group of people among the population with a connection to the Spanish language or culture” (U.S. Diplomatic Mission to Germany, 2008, Para 2). Although the term Hispanic is automatically associated with Spanish......

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Globalization vs Localization

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Uk Online Travel Agencies

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