Why Racial Justice is needed in a time of Global Warming

Racial unrest is a serious issue that needs to be resolved no matter the environmental circumstances. With hate crimes on the rise and people of colour being disproportionately affected by society, many already vulnerable minority communities are being made more vulnerable by global warming. 

Image Credits: Kon Karampelas

You may be thinking, what does global warming have to do with issues within society?

Creative extraction. 

20.8% of African Americans and 17.6% of Hispanics were living in poverty in America in 2018, in comparison to 8.1% of white people. Therefore, the majority of those living in poverty in America in 2018 were people of colour. 

The concept of creative extraction allows Trump’s government to legally take money from poorer neighbourhoods in order to help fund projects in richer neighbourhoods. 

This money would have gone to important development in infrastructure, education and healthcare; all vital sectors for when an environmental disaster occurs. 

Global warming has increased the rate, duration and intensity of extreme weather events. The recent Hurricane Laura, which made landfall as a category 4 hurricane, and Tropical Storm Marco have highlighted this fact. These two extreme weather events were predicted to hit the Gulf of Mexico within 48 hours of each other and create an “unsurvivable” storm surge, which was luckily avoided.

Image Credits: WikiImages

Nevertheless, if this event were to have occurred, would minority communities have been disproportionately impacted?

Take a look at Hurricane Katrina in 2005. When this Category 5 hurricane hit the cultural city of New Orleans, Louisiana, around 1800 people died. A major issue during the evacuation of the city was the way that those in charge left behind the immobile poor, 93% of which were black. Many of these people didn’t have access to a car or a good education which left them even more vulnerable. 

Therefore, it is clear that if Hurricane Laura and Tropical Storm Marco had panned out as they were predicted, we could have seen the devastating impacts of Hurricane Katrina once again. 

In a time of global warming, it is clear that extreme weather events and other major environmental issues are on the rise and those living in poorer communities are more at risk of being affected by them. 

This is not just a political issue but a socio-environmental issue. 

Without resolving the racial injustice that we hear of, and that some are a victim of, on a daily basis, climate change will carry on destroying those already disadvantaged communities.

Jenny Muckle is an Environmental Geography Student

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