Example of Environmental Justice

heatDo you remember that I briefly mentioned social justice and environmental justice before and you may have wondered what is the big deal.  Here is an example of “environmental justice” that was reported by Arizona Republic reports on Sunday September 20, 2009.

The two page spread basically boils down to:

Heat discriminates = Wealth buys rescue from urban heat island

Heat island hurts poor more

As temps rise, rich vs. poor gap widens

“It’s an environmental-justice issue,” said Darren Ruddell, a geographer who led the study, produced by Arizona State University (ASU).  “The people who are most vulnerable are also living in the worst conditions.  It’s a double whammy.”

The point of the article is that the hottest neighborhoods are the most barren due to lack of resources, the cooler areas have xeriscape, natural desert and those with grass and trees.

If you are living in Arizona, you may have heard about the heat island in the Phoenix area:  increased heat in the  city center because of streets and buildings that hold the heat after sundown.

This heat island then discriminates against the poor.  Do you see how a natural force (heat) takes on a human behavior (discrimination).   How can that be?  Natural forces don’t discriminate.  Human behavior and decisions are the determining factor.

Ruddell states to help those most at risk, we need to redesign neighborhoods, build cities differently, improve warning systems to reduce our vulnerability to heat.  This is important to learn and understand so we can apply what is learned as global warming, oops, climate change impacts us more every year.

So how does environmental justice factor into this–tax money is being used.  When the government uses tax money beyond those services that a limited government should provide—example: military, control of our borders, police, coin money, post office, courts, congress—it becomes redistribution of wealth.  That is the redistributive change that our President has talked about before.

This study was funded as part of a larger ASU research team with a $1.4 million National Science Foundation grant.    State, local and federal officials have spent about $1 million a year to help low-income residents weatherize their homes.

The federal stimulus bill added $7.2 million to this program for the next three years.  Yes, the stimulus  money that puts us in more debt.  I say us–you and me–because the tax bill falls on our backs.


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