We cannot talk about environmental injustice without understanding the historical context of colonization and capitalism. Environmental injustice is about [the state] creating sacrifice zones where we place everything which no one else wants. People in poverty are exposed to more fine particulate matter than people living above poverty. According to a study from EPA’s National Center for Environmental Assessment, “results at national, state, and county scales all indicate that non-Whites tend to be burdened disproportionately to Whites.”
They found that black people are exposed to about 1.5 times more particulate matter than white people, and that Hispanics had about 1.2 times the exposure of non-Hispanic whites. The study found that people in poverty had about 1.3 times more exposure than people above poverty. Interestingly, it also finds that for black people, the proportion of exposure is only partly explained by the disproportionate geographic burden of polluting facilities, meaning the magnitude of emissions from individual factories appears to be higher in minority neighborhoods.
Climate justice has mobilized young people because there’s something in it for everyone. Whether you care about animals, science, pollution, racism or sexism, all these issues are intertwined with the climate crisis in the worst possible way. Poor people and people of color are much more likely to die in climate disasters than rich people. This means addressing racism, colonialism and patriarchy, because inequalities do not exist in a vacuum, and neither does the climate crisis. It’s the result of all the other societal evils.