In a new video on how people are affected by climate change, go to clickthegeorge.com and see some of the horrifying details
How people in the US are experiencing ‘climate racism’
Approximately 80% of the black community lives below the poverty line. They are less likely to own cars. Their kids are less likely to be immunised. They are more vulnerable to public health risks and environmental hazards than others. Black people are more likely to be homeless. And this is just to take the very obvious points.
A recent University of Maryland study found that black people in the US are exposed to “climate racism” – both subconsciously and explicitly.
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“People with wealth and power in the US tend to believe that the ‘average’ American person who is living in a place that’s experiencing climate change isn’t affected,” said professor Shanta Lewis, who co-authored the study, in a recent interview.
“They tend to see the science of climate change as objective – a cold night here, a hot day there – and therefore dismiss those suffering in its more virulent forms,” Lewis said.
The researchers looked at interview footage with both people in the US and people in Ghana, and found that those who were wealthier and more educated, or who were Caucasian, were more likely to dismiss the effects of climate change, or to see it as much less dramatic than what others were seeing.
A piece for NPR found that in New York City alone, about half the black community lives in or near flood zone and an entire subset in Bushwick has been forced to take refuge in Rikers Island prison.
Around 80% of the African-American residents of Flint, Michigan, reportedly don’t have air conditioning. “Flint’s becoming climate emergency and many of its residents are still grappling with it more than a year after the water crisis was exposed,” wrote Matt Hayes on NPR.
A phenomenon called “hot-hit syndrome” occurs when an environmental problem has impacts that are more severe for black communities than they are for white communities, said Lewis.
A mother and daughter sleep on the floor of their tent in Midland City, Alabama, on 4 September. Photograph: Jimmy Stewart/Getty Images
“There is significant language use by both white people and by researchers on the effects of climate change. Their argument is typically that black people are more likely to experience that. One could offer, say, poor black people are more likely to die from weather related issues,” she said.
Lewis pointed out that even though racial issues are used as a primary weapon of resistance, politics also play a big role, “which is why I say it may not be climate racism; it may well be climate racism.”
Another indication that climate racism is real: the presence of it is also real, and not only in the US. A 2017 report by the University of Liverpool, using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, found that African-Americans are significantly more likely to be exposed to air pollution, and that Asian and Latino people, in comparison, “are more likely to experience milder effects, but don’t show the same alarm.”
During July 2018’s unbearably hot weather, residents in Chicago tried to make the best of the mercury-soaked conditions. Hundreds of people piled into tents and squatted near railroad tracks on the city’s south side to sleep beneath the weight of the unbearable heat.
“What’s most important is not just experiencing climate change but also understanding why it’s happening and the impact it’s having on communities,” said Justice, the group behind the “Climate Justice” project.
It’s hard to see how, if the effects of climate change can make people lose their lives, if the effects are so disproportionately felt by certain groups of people.
And until we are on the receiving end of the loss of life and loss of life, we have more to do to inform ourselves about climate change and educate others.
See the video here: