Environmental Scientist Says Climate Justice Is a Racial Issue Too


Saving the environment is vital for the whole planet. But in the wake of recent protests around the country following the death of George Floyd, some are stressing that it is a racial issue as well.

People of color are especially vulnerable to climate change, according to Dr. Adrienne Hollis, senior climate justice and health scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Hollis says that the impact of COVID-19, compounded with poor air and water quality, means vulnerable communities are living through a syndemic, Triple Pundit reports.

A syndemic is a scenario in which multiple epidemics occur at the same time. They can be interrelated and even exacerbate one another.

Numbers show that African Americans have been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus pandemic. In May, NPR’s analysis found that in 32 states plus Washington D.C., African Americans died from the virus at rates higher than their proportion of the population.

In a discussion between Dr. Hollis and Dr. Sacoby Wilson, an environmental health scientist from the University of Maryland, Dr. Wilson claimed that “the COVID pandemic has made what was invisible visible,” according to Triple Pundit.

“Now we see that we need to protect frontline healthcare workers and vulnerable communities," Dr. Hollis added. "Systemic racism has put people at risk, and we have reached a teachable moment, a moment where we must address the issue head on. If we address the heart of the justice issue, we address climate injustice and all the rest. You cannot separate them.”

Hollis also said that for the complicated problem, a solution must begin at the local level in which business and community leaders work together to do what makes most sense for their area.

“Look through a small lens to start and then widen the scope,” Hollis emphasized.

For more ideas on how you can save the planet, visit 1Thing.

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