Focus | Environmental Justice
The nations around the world that will be most adversely affected by rising seas, increased droughts and floods, and increased disease are those countries that are the least responsible for the rising temperatures.
We are pleased to announce the Miami University 2023-2024 FOCUS theme: Environmental Justice. The FOCUS initiative is teaming up with the 2023-2024 John W. Altman Program in the Humanities. Together, we will bring a myriad of speakers to campus and sponsoring events through which we can learn about the issues, problems, and solutions associated with environmental justice. The speakers comprise professors, activists, writers, and artists covering topics that include:
- Global migration
- Stories of surviving climate catastrophe
- Justice and the next energy economy
- Climate change, motherhood, and Antarctica
- Using geospatial technology to empower community-based organizations
- Environmental justice closer to home: Cincinnati, Tennessee
- Black Ecofeminism and Abolitionist Ecology
“The environmental movement can only survive if it becomes a justice movement. As a pure environmental movement, it will either die, or it will survive as a corporate 'greenwash'. Anyone who's a sincere environmentalist can't stand that role. But it has limitless possibilities as both an ecological and justice-based movement.”
Vandana Shiva, 1997 (http://www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/25a/061.html)
In the past 20 years, Miami University has made great strides in environmental sustainability through energy-use reduction, waste reduction, recycling, and development of geothermal heating and cooling. Miami is now in the process of developing our Climate Action Plan, which will set the date by which we pledge to reach carbon neutrality and describe how we will achieve that ambitious goal. Miami devotes resources to these efforts to help enhance both local and global human and ecosystem health. There is, however, another essential reason to work towards sustainability. The harsh reality is that the environmental consequences associated with resource extraction, use, and disposal are not evenly distributed among populations. Hundreds of studies have demonstrated that the impacts of environmental degradation disproportionally affect lower-income and marginalized communities across the globe. In fact, one could say that all environmental issues are also social justice issues. There is no separating these two topics.
“Climate Change Is a Civil Rights Issue…Dr. King's dream is sometimes misunderstood. It is not just about the right to vote or an end to legal discrimination. It is about fulfilling the promise of a land of opportunity and leaving a proud legacy for our children.”
Rev. Dr. Gerald Durley, 2013, Civil Rights leader and retired Senior Pastor, Providence Missional Baptist Church. (https://www.huffpost.com/entry/climate-change-civil-rights_b_3844986)
Consider the gross injustices stemming from climate change. The nations around the world that will be most adversely affected by rising seas, increased droughts and floods, and increased disease are those countries that are the least responsible for the rising temperatures.
Consider renewable batteries on which a transition to a greener economy depends. These batteries require cobalt, three-quarters of which is mined in the Democratic Republic of Congo through child labor, forced labor, and worker exposure to toxic contaminants. The mining leaves behind devastating environmental damage to communities who do not profit from the cobalt extraction or use.
Consider that in the US, African Americans are exposed to higher levels of air pollution regardless of income, and consider that non-white Americans are one-and-a-half times more likely to be exposed to lung-damaging air particles and two times more likely to live near a hazardous-waste facility than are white Americans.
For these reasons and more, our FOCUS and curriculum on Environmental Justice is vital.