Why Environmental Justice Still Has a Considerable or Long Way to Go

The health risks posed by incinerators, landfills, hazardous waste dumps, and polluting factories located in communities, called for the need to enforce environmental justice which is a concept that embodies the belief that everyone is qualified to be protected from environmental pollution and hazards, regardless of their race, age, gender, income, country of origin, or social status.

Over the past few decades, some individuals organized environmental justice movements to prevent the construction of landfills, incinerators, and other types of polluting structures near or within communities inhabited by people.

In addition to the efforts of the proponents for environmental justice, manufacturers and waste industry officials have opined that actions need to be taken to prevent toxic and hazardous wastes from being dumped in anyone’s or any country’s backyard and environment.

However, not everyone accepts this argument; some people believe that the best way to tackle hazardous and toxic waste is to employ or enforce pollution prevention measures and drastically reduce the quantity of waste produced.

Environmental injustice inspired the rise of environmental justice

Past studies have shown that a considerable number of incinerators, hazardous waste dumps, and landfills in the USA were located in areas mostly occupied by Latinos, African Americans, Native Americans, and Asian Americans.

Studies also showed that the noxious or toxic wastes sites located in areas occupied by whites have been decontaminated or cleaned up much faster than noxious sites located in areas occupied by non-whites, especially Latinos and African Americans.

As a result of oil pollution, drinking water sources and farmlands have been contaminated in the Niger Delta region (in Nigeria) which has experienced decades of oil spills and gas flaring which have transformed it into one of the most polluted regions in the world; most times, nothing is done to clean up any mess from the oil spills.

These types of injustice or discrimination, which occurred and still occur in many parts of the world, led people and grassroots to form environmental justice movements and pressurize businesses, governments,  and environmental organizations to be aware of environmental injustice and use environmental justice to prevent it.

For decades, countries that are highly or more developed have been transporting hazardous waste to nations that are under- or less-developed; but in 1992, an international treaty called “the Basel Convention” came into effect to control the movement and disposal of hazardous waste.

According to the Basel convention international treaty, more-developed countries are banned from transporting hazardous waste to other countries without the latter’s permission. The treaty was amended in 1995 to ban the transfer of hazardous waste from industrialized nations to less-developed nations.

The general interest in environmental justice was proven by the fact that, in 2009, the agreement that created the treaty had been signed by 175 nations and formally approved and implemented by 172 countries. Out of the 175 nations that had signed, only three (Afghanistan, Haiti, and the USA) didn’t ratify or sign for implementation.

But despite the efforts made, environmental justice still has a considerable or long way to go

Although treaties and bans have helped to some extent, experience has shown that they might not be able to prevent or wipe out all illegal transfers of hazardous waste. In the midst of treaties, laws are still broken, and hazardous waste smugglers use bribes, false permits, and tactics to evade laws and label hazardous wastes as recyclable wastes.

In the year 2000, delegates from 122 countries established an international treaty, called “the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs)”, in order to regulate 12 widely used organic pollutants (including DDT) that accumulate in humans; by the year 2009, 152 nations signed a stronger version of the treaty; however, the USA still hasn’t ratified the treaty which allows 25 countries to still use DDT to combat malaria.

In the year 2000, the Swedish legislative assembly or parliament enacted a law that demanded industries to perform risk assessments on chemicals and prove that they are safe to use, instead of waiting for the government to find out whether they are safe to use. Most industries strongly oppose this approach in the USA, especially those that produce and use unsafe or life-threatening chemicals.

As we can see, there is no consensus among humankind when it comes to practicing and ensuring that there is environmental justice. Generally, the Earth as a whole is still being polluted without complete restrain.

A treaty that is accepted by some nations is signed by the nations involved in it, but still not implemented by all the nations that signed the treaty. Also, the acts which some nations consider to be unjust are considered by other nations to be fair or just.

Therefore, the current state of environmental justice still has a considerable or long way to go in order to carry everyone along in the same boat. Until all governments, businesses, leaders, organizations, movements, and people have a common opinion or goal for environmental justice, environmental justice itself may continue having a considerable or long way to go.

21 comments

  • Efforts to educate the public and concerned officials such as yours are a key factor in making continuing progress. Keep at it, Ihagh!

    Liked by 2 people

  • Pingback: Why Environmental Justice Still Has a Considerable or Long Way to Go — Motivation & Environment – Guam Christian Blog

  • R. Buckminster Fuller: “We are not going to be able to operate our Spaceship Earth successfully nor for much longer unless we see it as a whole spaceship and our fate as common. It has to be everybody or nobody.”

    Liked by 3 people

  • GT,

    Sadly, it is a world-wide problem that affects everyone. Not to sound pessimistic but with sinful man, this issue won’t be solved by man on his own. Thank the Lord that He knows people need to be saved from sin first, because He already has a new creation in the works. Maybe seeing these terrible things now remind us where our eternal hope should be.

    Thank you,

    Gary

    Liked by 1 person

    • G. P., thanks for reading and commenting about a deeper and reasonable issue which I concur with: mankind’s waywardness and unreadiness to live right will actually make it difficult to get out of the rot.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Here in Canada (and America), when a public person/personality openly promotes such things as a universal or guaranteed basic income, many ‘Christians’ will reactively presume he/she must therefore be Godless, evil or (far worse!) a socialist. This, despite Christ’s own teachings epitomizing the primary component of socialism — do not hoard morbidly superfluous wealth when so very many people have little or nothing.

      Many of Canada’s Conservative party politicians — not to mention our thinly-veiled-theocrat former prime minister Stephen Harper — are/were ideologically aligned with the pro-fossil-fuel mainstream American Evangelical community and Republican Party. They generally share the belief that to defend the natural environment from the planet’s greatest polluters, notably big fossil fuel, is to go against God’s will and therefore is inherently evil. (No wonder they hate any carbon tax.)

      While there are theocrats who credit the bone-dry-vegetation areas uncontrollably burning, global warming and pollution to God’s supposed wrath upon collective humankind’s ‘sinfulness’, there clearly has been inexcusably insufficient political courage/will globally, though especially here in the West, to properly act upon the cause-and-effect of manmade global warming thus climate change. Neo-liberals and conservatives everywhere appear overly preoccupied with vociferously criticizing one another for their relatively trivial politics and diverting attention away from the planet’s greatest polluters, where it should and needs to be sharply focused. Granted, it appears to be conservatives who don’t mind polluting the planet most liberally.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think we should be good managers of the earth. We do live in a fallen world where nothing is as God intended. I think believers should have the right balance of caring for people first then the environment second. With the Lord’s help we don’t overemphasize one or the other. He is a God of order and it is His creation afterall. He knows best how to care for it all. The most precious resource that can’t be replaced are the unique and individual souls of men and women. He will make another earth that will be ready to be properly managed by redeemed people.

        Liked by 2 people

        • thanks for your comment; this part is especially so true and striking: “We do live in a fallen world where nothing is as God intended. I think believers should have the right balance of caring for people first then the environment second”.

          GOD designed the world and asked man to manage or watch over it, but what a poor job has been done so far, especially during the industrial, technological, or most recent ages. Worst still is the mismanagement of the human core—souls and spirituality—which although can’t be replaced, is fortunately renewable by the power of GOD if humans are ready to make a strong decision to use it effectively.

          Liked by 1 person

        • I wonder, what if the present Earth is supposed to be that other/new Earth, when Man is finally ready to behave responsibly with its natural environment?

          Liked by 2 people

          • We have 1000 years on this old Earth after the Great Tribulation. Lots of maybes to that chunk of time. Maybe we use this old Earth as practice for the real one? Maybe we get to do things we never could in this life? Who knows, but the truth is the Lord knows how much sin has ruined His creation so making a new one without sin is the next step.

            Liked by 2 people

  • Clearly there has been inexcusably insufficient political courage and will to properly act upon the cause-and-effect of manmade global warming thus climate change. Neo-liberals and conservatives everywhere appear overly preoccupied with vociferously criticizing one another for their relatively trivial politics and diverting attention away from the planet’s greatest polluters, where it should and needs to be sharply focused. (Granted, it appears to be conservatives who don’t mind polluting the planet most liberally.)

    As individual consumers, far too many people still recklessly behave as though throwing non-biodegradable garbage down a dark chute, or pollutants emitted out of exhaust and drainage pipes, or spewed from sky-high jet engines and very tall smoke stacks — or even the largest contamination events — can somehow be safely absorbed into the air, sea, and land (i.e. out of sight, out of mind); like we’re inconsequentially dispensing of that waste into a black-hole singularity, in which it’s compressed into nothing.

    There is still hope, however, mostly due to environmentally conscious and active young people, especially those who are approaching/reaching voting age. In contrast, the dinosaur electorate who have been voting into high office consecutive mass-pollution promoting or complicit/complacent governments for decades are gradually dying and making way for voters who fully support a healthy Earth thus populace.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have read all your comments, both previous and most recent, and deeply appreciated your time and trend of thoughts regarding the matter. You’re concluding remark is positive and inspiring most especially because you still have hope in the “environmentally conscious and active young people, especially those who are approaching/reaching voting age”… like you do, I also believe that, in the future, the environmentally conscious young people will take over the positions of the current dinosaur electorate who—in your words which describe their discouraging choice—”have been voting into high office consecutive mass-pollution promoting or complicit/complacent governments for decades”.

      Liked by 1 person

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