Week 4 Blog Promp: Justice

Standard

As consumerism increases in developed nations, more waste is created. The dilemma of where to throw this toxic waste is constantly being debated. In modern society, the location of waste disposal seems to be near areas where the poor live. Peter Wenz believes this is environmental racism because individuals who live in poor areas, generally people of color and racial minorities, are exposed to disproportionate portions of toxic wastes. Congress, however, has implemented the Superfund law in 1986 to create relationships with communities so that they can have an opportunity to contribute to the cleanup process of waste disposal sites. Do you agree with Wenz’s belief of environmental racism, where we are placing our burden of toxic waste on the poor?  If not, why do you believe poor communities tend to be located next to hazardous waste sites?

Another aspect of environmental racism articulated in Earthcare is the idea that developed countries ship their toxic wastes to lesser developed countries. This creates a disregard for the safety of poor individuals living in these countries. One case occurred in Nigeria, where workers storing drums in bins for retransportation suffered chemical burns. Prohibiting these shipments would require developing countries to deal with the wastes they generate. What do you think should be done about the waste that is generally shipped to developing countries?

http://www.epa.gov/superfund/accomp/17yrrept/report4.htm

http://ban.org/library/lipman.html

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One response »

  1. I disagree with Peter Wenz’s belief of environmental racism. In a way, I do believe he is correct that the toxic wastes and waste disposal sites are being built where a majority of the poor people live, but I also believe that such actions is based on the fact that the majority of the poor people (lower class) don’t have a sufficient amount of income to move to a different, safer location. This problem is due to different class standings and not the race of an individual. I think to connect these two issues and call it environmental racism would be a wrong assumption. In America, it so happens that a greater percentage of the lower class people are, in fact, African Americans, but they are living amongst toxic waste and consumers trash because of their lack of money to move. The issue of environmental classism is a real issue that not only Americans, but people all over the world deal with on daily basis. Waste consumed by a majority of the top and middle class people is being left behind to be dealt with the lower class citizens. In a way it is ironic because they are the people who can do the least about such actions. The consequences of such actions are causing these lower class people to get ill and take on health issues that they can’t afford to treat.

    I believe a way to deal with this hazardous waste is not to lock it up and ship it to another area or country, but instead deal with it in the area that it was created. By shipping these toxins elsewhere doesn’t solve anyone’s problems, instead it just increases it on a global level. In order to try to solve this vicious cycle of infecting those who are helpless, the nations who are creating the most waste need to set boundaries and stricter laws on the amount of waste they are allowed to be created. Also, it should be a “Your mess, you deal with it” policy. This will cause people to think twice before consuming uncontrollable amounts of produce and then just passing it off to a different location.

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