When people think about climate change, melting ice caps and suffering polar bears often come to mind. In the past, and to some extent still now, Environmentalism is often linked to saving the whales or being a “tree hugger”! Historically, the American society has failed to make the connection in terms of the direct impact of environmental injustices, including climate change, on our own lives, families, and communities, which depend on the physical environment and its bounty. Toxic facilities, like coal fired power plants and incinerators, are emitting mercury, arsenic, lead, and other contaminants into the water, food, and lungs of communities. Many of these same facilities are also emitting carbon dioxide and methane – the #1 and #2 drivers of climate change. At the same time not all are equally impacted. For example, race – even more than class – is the number one indicator for the placement of toxic facilities in this country. Communities of color and low income communities are often hit the hardest by climate change.
James Johnson, Chairperson