Climate Injustice

Across the globe, many victims of the recent hurricanes, Harvey, Irma, and Maria are left with nothing as they do their best to recover from the traumatic disaster. However, the majority of those who are impacted the most are communities of color and lower-income. “Vulnerable communities pay a disproportionate price for climate-related disasters, just as they do in other aspects of life. In Houston, people of color were, unsurprisingly, hardest hit by Hurricane Harvey.”

Vulnerability maps show which communities are most endangered by flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey.

Natural disasters, such as hurricanes are naturally occurring, however, the warming of our planet causes them to be much more extreme and to occur more frequently. Those who contribute most to global warming are those supporting the mining and extraction of fossil fuels, driving cars and flying in airplanes, etc. Typically these contributors come from well developed, middle class or wealthy communities. These communities happen to be the least affected by climate change and natural disasters. Jeremy Deaton, with Think Progress mentions, “Hurricanes don’t care if you’re rich, poor, white or black — but that doesn’t mean that every person is equally vulnerable to a storm. Low-income families are more likely to live in flood-prone areas with deficient infrastructure.”

“Prior to the storm, Houston already faced a severe shortage of affordable housing that will only intensify now. As federal funding is directed to Harvey recovery efforts, local leaders must ensure fair distribution of housing funds by targeting renters and allocating funding to homeowners based on cost of repairs rather than on the value of homes, to avoid penalizing low-income people who tend to have properties appraised at lower values. In addition, it’s critical that public housing is replaced quickly, and that new developments are mixed income.”

“Once the images fade from the news and the conversation around these disasters tapers off, communities risk what some call the “second disaster” — a recovery and rebuilding process that leaves behind those most in need. Following a disaster, local leaders can either use the opportunity to push towards racial inclusion and equitable growth, or deepen systemic inequities that have plagued their city for generations.”

It is not often discussed that those who contribute to our changing climate the least are always the ones impacted by it the most.“Despite the popular narrative, the climate crisis isn’t only about polar bears and melting ice-caps. Climate change exacerbates systemic violence against the poor and communities of color. The continued denial of climate change and unpreparedness for the impacts that follow has racist implications — and it’s time we started talking about it that way.”

Bibliography

Democracynow. “Hurricane Harvey: Zip Code & Race Determine Who Will Bear Burden Of Climate Change.” YouTube, 29 Aug. 2017, www.youtube.com/watch?v=d6gCHSdQWMw.

“Hurricane Harvey hit low-Income communities hardest.” ThinkProgress, thinkprogress.org/hurricane-harvey-hit-low-income-communities-hardest-6d13506b7e60/. Accessed 23 Sept. 2017.

Jason Shueh August 29, 2017 5:45 PM, et al. “In the Wake of Hurricane Harvey, Technologists Grab Data to Lend a Hand.” StateScoop, statescoop.com/in-the-wake-of-hurricane-harvey-technologists-grab-data-to-lend-a-hand.

“Op-Ed: The ‘second disaster’ facing the victims of Harvey and Irma.” ThinkProgress, thinkprogress.org/second-disaster-harvey-irma-victims-8afe43d44cda/. Accessed 24 Sept. 2017.

September 08, 2017 Rob Friedman. “Harvey & Irma: Climate Injustice in Action.” NRDC, 8 Sept. 2017, www.nrdc.org/experts/rob-friedman/harvey-irma-climate-injustice-action. Accessed 26 Sept. 2017.

Truthdig, and Sonali Kolhatkar. “Demanding Climate Justice in the Wake of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.” Common Dreams, 15 Sept. 2017, www.commondreams.org/views/2017/09/15/demanding-climate-justice-wake-hurricanes-harvey-and-irma. Accessed 23 Sept. 2017.

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