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Kate Hannon

In the New York Times article by Hiroko Tabuchi, one line in particular stood out to me given the context of our discussion on Tuesday: “Given the lack of availability of COVID-19 testing, researchers say it’s impossible to know yet just how much higher risk polluted communities face in contracting and dying from the virus”. Though we could not know the full impact of pollution on COVID-19 incidence and morbidity, all the evidence we have suggests there is a relationship between the two variables. However, no immediate action was taken to address this impact, and in fact the regulation of pollution was relaxed at the onset on the pandemic (mostly out of reasonable safety concerns). This reminded me a lot of one of the things that Michael Hendryx focused on during his Ted Talk, which is that at a certain point we have to stop looking for more and more evidence that a phenomenon is truly causal (in his case the impact of MTR on health outcomes) and begin to act on the information we have. COVID-19 transmission, especially, is obviously a time-sensitive issue; if all evidence suggests that there is a relationship between pollution and the severity of COVID-19 cases, we need to use this information to begin advocating for policy changes immediately rather than waiting for us to have all possible data, which could take many months and years. The United States tends to be (arguably) overly-cautious towards implementing policies to address climate change, but especially when these problems disproportionately affect low-income/minority communities, as is the case for both Mountain Top Removal and pollution during COVID-19.

Claire Jenkins

Each of these readings emphasize the point that low-income and minority households are disproportionately affected by pollution. Communities with a majority of the population being made up of low-income households and minority groups are known to be more exposed to air pollution. The first article specifically points out that there is an association between redlining and present-day environmental health disparities in U.S. cities. Redlining was a discriminatory mortgage appraisal practice that was prevalent in the 1930s. Cities were given one of four different grades, and “grade D,” meant “hazardous, i.e., redlined.” The authors point out that “in 64% of grade D neighborhoods, a majority of the population is POC [and] in 74% of grade D neighborhoods, the median income is low to moderate.” Further, these areas were home to more industrial facilities, railroads, and other pollution sources than the other neighborhoods. This discriminatory practiced placed these disadvantaged communities in areas that trapped them in an even more disadvantaged cycle. I was shocked to read that while rail infrastructure was largely constructed before the redlining took place, many highways were constructed after redlining occurred and were purposefully positioned to travel through “black and brown communities in U.S. cities.” These communities have been taken advantage of, being pushed towards these areas with housing close to industrial plants, railways, and highways, all of which are extremely undesirable places to live. POC and low-income groups are overrepresented in these undesirable places to live, and experience higher than-average NO2 and PM2.5 levels. When I was reading this article I thought back to one of the articles that we read for the previous class. I think that one of the reasons that there is more minority and low-SES exposure to pollution is because of their inability to move away from these areas. The two other articles read for Thursday’s class makes me think that these communities are aware of the adverse effects that the pollution surrounding them have on their health, however, they are unable to do anything about it. These households may not have the means to pick up their families and move. It is very disheartening to think that these people are aware of the negative effects this pollution is having on their families and communities yet they are unable to do anything about it. Regulatory bodies clearly give them no say in the matter and “the system has allowed, basically, low-income people and people of color to have to breathe the pollution.”

Jessica Pachuca

These papers had the common theme of minority and low-income individuals being more exposed to pollution. In particular, the first paper discussed the impact redlining has on segregating those demographics from wealthier and whiter households. The others elaborated on how Covid-19 has exacerbated these already present health issues. While they were certainly interesting reads, they, unfortunately, weren't surprising to hear. There are several common discussions on how low-income and minority people are facing issues in education, the labor market, incarceration, wealth accumulation, abuse, and overall health, among various other topics. In theme with the video shown today, at what point are we going to act on it? In my own experiences, as a low-income Hispanic in Houston and having taken several poverty-related courses, it is frustrating to have no one listen. Or at the very least, having people in control not making changes for situations that don't directly affect them. It is sometimes discouraging to read pieces explaining clear correlations, but still not have individuals believe them. What's it going to take? How can we increase awareness and connection between people, who as seen in the first article, are often separated from one another?

AJ Mabaka

Since we've been discussing the degree to which impoverished and low-income communities of color unjustly bear adverse impacts of air and water pollution, it was unsurprising, but still unsettling, to read these papers. What I found most interesting was how the COVID pandemic exacerbated this issue of environmental justice. In fact, toward the end of last year there were a handful of publications that actually showed the benefits the pandemic had by leading to cleaner air, waterways, roads as a result of decreased traffic/ human travel. However, this likely occurred in wealthier areas as I now realize. Furthermore, the "Cancer Valley" paper helped serve as a reminder that in lower-income and poorer communities, such benefits were not likely felt because of the increased proximity to pollution-producing facilities. What I found even more shocking and frankly egregious, was that following the EPA change in enforcement regulation, not a single agency (federal, state, or local) acted to help the people in Louisiana, who had essentially been caught between a rock and a hard place (to put it lightly). Without the financial means to move away from pollution-producing facilities, coupled with the adverse health impacts of these facilities, it only makes sense that a global disease outbreak (with heavy pulmonary effects no less) would have a disastrous impact on communities like St. John. In thinking about the future, I'm curious if, given how litigious society can be in the U.S., environmental induced health lawsuits may be filed given the impacts that have been seen throughout the country as a result of poor decisions within federal agencies (i.e., the EPA retracting of enforcement regulations).


These three readings all reaffirm a point that has been made in this course and in many of my previous environmentally focused economics classes: environmental justice is as important as environmental sustainability (though they may work hand-in-hand). Though it may not truly matter considering the dire impact on these communities is the same in both cases, I wonder if many of the cases where minority groups are disproportionately affected by pollutants is a result of overt racism or institutional racism? Further, I thought the Cancer Alley piece was the most impactful, as I had not considered the fact that people are disproportionately more at risk for death from Coronavirus by residing in a certain geographical region, or in other words, more highly polluted areas. I found it extremely disheartening that people are not only so financially constrained that they are forced to live in an area knowing that they’re at the highest risk of cancer in the country, but that their only public hospital was destroyed with no mention of rehabilitation as well. I’m surprised that since Coronavirus received so much news coverage and overall attention from the media that more efforts were not made in hotspots such as Cancer Alley to help mitigate or filter the industrial toxins generating these underlying conditions that made so many fall victim to the virus.

Max Thomas

Issues of environmental justice are pervasive, too commonly afflicting racial minorities and the poor. Not only do such injustices devastate marginalized communities, but they also perpetuate cycles of poverty, restricting social advancement for future generations. That said, I wonder what tradeoffs exist, and whether proximity to polluting factories, power plants, etc. have any developmental potential. Particularly in areas with high manufacturing activity, how frequently are local residents employed by polluters? If employed, how often does financial compensation outweigh the adverse effects of pollution?

Likely, the answers to both questions would be disappointing. Given trends in automation, manufacturing jobs are few and far between. Additionally, any remaining jobs, especially in heavily-polluting industries, are likely low-paying. Of course, as automation advances, there must be demand for higher-profile tech and programming jobs – though, given the negative relationship between education and poverty, such jobs are out of reach for most environmental justice victims.

From an equity standpoint, it seems to me that there must be some mechanisms to incentivize firms to employ more local residents. If local residents were employed at a greater rate, financial development could follow. That said, given inadequate medical infrastructure, quality of life would still likely lag in poor areas.

Too often, areas most in need of medical assistance have the least access to health care. At the simplest level, few doctors currently choose to work in poor communities, whether they be urban or rural. Given their high incomes, personal incentives preclude physicians from living in underserved regions. Again, there must be some form of incentive to attract doctors to poor areas. If the government were to pay for educational expenses for doctors attending underserved areas, if greater salaries were guaranteed in small hospitals, or if residents were required to work understaffed clinics, we could see more equitable health care access for the poor.

Jack Lewis

The vice article was striking, but not very surprising to me. As we discussed on Tuesday, people are at risk to more health issues when surrounded by polluted areas, whether it be from mountain-top removal or from petrochemical plants located in the neighborhood. I realized that the article was written at the beginning stages of the pandemic, and it is disheartening to learn that those living in Cancer Alley have to deal with worrying about more than just cancer. I'm currently working on a final project that focuses on cancer in Brazil, and I've found that one of the main reasons mortality rates haven't decreased drastically is many people in lower-income areas don't have access to the public hospitals that provide free consultations. Additionally, the number of healthcare workers in lower-income and more more rural areas is very sparse, so a lot of people can't get the help that they need from the lack of professionals. I feel that it is critical that New Orleans re-establishes a public hospital in the area. From the time of the article, it had been three years since the only public hospital in the area was destroyed from hurricane harvey.

I was also taken aback by the statistic that African Americans make up 32% of the population, but account for 72% of all deaths. These predominantly Black and Latino communities surrounded by chemical plants have no way out. Due to financial burden it is difficult to find somewhere else to stay. My question is how can New Orleans citizens and others drive home the adverse health effects studied constantly in Cancer Alley to politicians and authorities? It is critical that we find ways to help out communities struggling with chronic health problems.

Camryn Bostick

The letter by Lane et al. stood out the most to me. It is crazy to see how much racism from the past still affects people today, and how those processes of systematic racism are still in process. Although the Fair Housing Act banned redlining in 1968, most of the long-lasting damage was already done. Those who were put into the "D" level neighborhoods lost the opportunity to gain wealth through property ownership, and following generations are often stuck in the same neighborhoods because they do not have the wealth required to move or afford a better home. On top of this, living in these lower-level leads to higher-level pollution rates which a lot of times leads to adverse health effects starting from in the womb. Poor health can also lower wealth by inflicting high medical bills, lowering the ability to work, and lowering education performance, which often results in lower paying jobs. I also found it crazy that in 80% of what used to be categorized as D neighborhoods, the air pollution levels are higher than average. Also, in 84% of A neighborhoods the air pollution levels are lower than average. Finally, what I believe to be the most important topic of this letter, is the fact that redlining still subconsciously continues. While there are no specific categorizations of A through D neighborhoods, new highways, railways, and other largely polluting types of construction are built around neighborhoods of the lower income population, and mostly people of color. Although redlining is illegal, air pollution is used to systematically lower the living conditions and wealth opportunities for people of color.

Hayden Roberts

All three of these articles revealed and explained the relatively ignored topic of environmental racism. The data presented shows clear trends between higher pollution levels and neighborhoods or sectors where minorities live. The historical redlining paper shows that housing acts from the 1930s still affect minority living standards today. Further, the Vice article shows how such exposures to elevated pollution levels can make populations more susceptible to negative health consequences. Cancer Alley in Louisiana is the perfect example of this. Due to structured inequalities, minorities live disproportionally closer to petrochemical plants, exposing them to harmful chemical pollutants and increasing their susceptibility to viruses such as COVID-19. I find all of this interesting but alarming. Much of America likes to believe that inequalities such as the discriminatory mortgage appraisal practices from the 1930s have been completely dealt with and ended. In reality, the adverse effects from almost a century ago rage on. This makes me wonder about what other environmental inequalities are sneaking under our awareness or are not getting attention from the media.

Alice Chen

The readings for Thursday were not surprising after everything we've learned this semester. I also recall reading similar articles to the NY Times piece during COVID as well and hearing about how environmental problems could be the cause of the disproportion risk to the disease. While reading the piece on redlining, I was reminded of a paper I wrote for Urban Econ last year where I focused on the inequalities in Durham. Durham has historically faced a lot of discriminatory practices and red-lining was prominent in the areas around downtown which used to be the home of factories and tobacco plants. The majority of residents that lived and worked in these areas were Blacks and other people of color and they were pretty much living right where the smog would blow. After a quick google search, I found that people who lived in Durham neighborhoods that were redlined from the 1930s-1968 had a higher risk of COVID than those that lived in other areas. With workplace discrimination, low-paying jobs and other disadvantages like living in crowded housing, preexisting health conditions and lack of accessibility to healthcare--COVID became a much bigger risk. It is shocking how these health consequences still effect people even after 55+ years of discriminatory practices.

Carter Dummett

Readings like the ones we have just read are never surprising to me because I know exactly what is going on generally in regard to things like redlining and who is largely affected. It just really pisses me off when you read about the stories of individuals who have not only to face the obstacles that come with being a low income individual in this country but doing it while a minority makes it even worse. The purposeful lack of progression towards cleaner energy is killing people who already die at higher rates through no fault of their own other than they just so happened to be born into a certain community that others don't put any value on. The idea that they are then blamed for something that is a result of centuries of mistreatment and being put at a disadvantage is mind boggling. You don't think people would move to an area with cleaner air and water if they could or was even feasible? very few people choose to remain in these places if they have a choice. These articles speak to a bigger issue in my mind that we clearly just value some lives more than others.

Jackson Hotchkiss

Some of the sats that were brought up in the articles regarding Environmental Justice issues were truly mind-blowing to me. I have been aware that low-income communities, and communities of color specifically, are affected at a rate that is disproportionate to those around them. However, a few stats from the NYT piece really put this into perspective for me. The Article stated that Michigan where Ms. Dobbins Lives has a high death rate when discussing Covid19. Yet, 40% of the deaths are people of color, while they only make up 15% of the population. A clear representation of the burden falling on low-income individuals more than others. Another thing that I thought was interesting was during the Covid19 pandemic many factories and industries shut down, yet the industries in these low-income communities continued to run. Not only were these individuals more susceptible to the virus to be with, but the areas they are living in are continuing to be polluted while others have stopped for the time being.

One thing I wanted to note about Environmental Justice was an issue I did some reading on in the Everglades. Specifically how this is highlights the problems within the legislation passed and how it clearly benefits those with a higher income. In the Everglades, there is a large demand for burning sugarcane to reduce biomass for sugarcane harvest. However, when doing some reading on this I found that the laws passed said that when the burning was done the direction of the wind should be taken into consideration. What I mean by this is that if the wind is blowing in the East then they would hold off the burn to prevent the smoke from traveling into these wealthy communities. While if the wind was blowing west or south the burns were encouraged. By doing so the negative externalities of burring the sugarcane were passed onto those in the Low-income communities that lived in these areas. While many Environmental justice issues might not be this severe and clear to see I think it's a good example to consider when thinking about the issue of low-income communities taking most of the burden.

Izzy Koziol

This week’s topic of environmental racism reminds me of discussions that I engaged in last year in my poverty class. One broad concept we talked about was the climate gap, which is the phenomenon that people of color and poorer communities are unequally/disproportionately affected by climate change and climate mitigation policy. This relates to the discussion in the Environmental Science and Technology article, for example, about how communities of color in the United States are systematically exposed to higher levels of air pollution. In my poverty class, we talked about climate vulnerability, which is a function of exposure, sensitivity, and adaptive capacity to environmental issues, and communities of color are particularly vulnerable. Interestingly, in one of the articles we discussed I remember learning that people in different ethnic groups were surveyed and asked about their level of concern about climate issues, and the hispanic respondents had the highest likelihood of considering climate change an issue. This should definitely concern policymakers tasked with dealing with issues like climate change because communities that are disproportionately more affected are also expressing their concerns though these research initiatives. Relating this back to the Hendryx’s point about when the research will be enough to bring about comprehensive policy changes, my question after taking my poverty class and completing these readings is when will the research connecting poverty, communities of color, and adverse effects of climate issues be enough to bring about necessary changes?

A Facebook User

Upon analyzing the Vice article about Cancer alley, I became aware to a whole new perspective on air pollution and COVID-19. Although I understand the large threat COVID-19 poses to our country, I have previously taken for granted the situation I am in and the correlation it has to the threat COVID-19 poses to me as an individual. I thought that simply because of my age and fitness that I did not need to be concerned about the effects COVID-19 could have on me individually. However, I did not realize how much I should attribute my fortune of being less likely to be seriously threatened by it due to my socioeconomic status. I did not consider the fact that I likely have a much better chance of surviving the virus due to the location of my home and access to clean air. Putting this into perspective has allowed me to better understand the connection between injustices that lie in the inequality of income and are perpetuated throughout the system in more ways than one would think. This article also makes one realize the importance of clean air quality overall and as it pertains to a global pandemic or another catastrophe where an optimal and functional immune system is necessary.

Valerie Sokolow

We’ve spent much of this course discussing the issues in the environment and how they relate to the economy. We’ve talked about potential policy implications and the economic theory behind them. These readings introduced race as a factor in considering the damages done by pollution on public health. In light of everything we’ve discussed, I’m wondering if a policy aimed to address racism and redlining would be more feasible than a policy aimed to address climate change. In thinking about the most high-risk populations, I wonder if addressing the race bit would be a way to take care of some “low-hanging fruit” as far as pollution and public health go. With this, there are many things to consider including policy framing, how likely it is to get passed, and how it would be implemented. Overall, I’m curious if a policy to address elevated health issues in minority populations would be a sufficient way to begin addressing pollution and climate change overall.

Blake Cote

I really appreciate these articles on environmental racism and injustice. I have found it very interesting when we have talked throughout the semester about how often low income and minority communities bear the brunt of the negative effects of climate change and environmental problems, as environmental injustice was something I was looking forward to focusing on. The NYT article made me realize that while for many people the idea of sheltering in place seemed like a once in a lifetime recommendation, it wasn’t so unusual for some people. I hadn’t thought about how communities that live near refineries and factories might have received these warnings before as the toxins in the air are at some points dangerous to their health. That makes all the more sense why there is a negative relationship between income and COVID-19 mortalities. The article talks about how inflammatory lung disease and coronary heart disease are both tied to exposure to air pollution and are shown to provide a higher risk for severe cases of COVID-19. Before really thinking about this situation I would have said people of all socioeconomic statuses were equally as likely to have severe cases of COVID-19 and hadn’t thought about how people who are left to live in areas of poor air quality have more adverse effects. Articles like these make me more aware of the fact that the pandemic was much worse for some people than others. I would be interested in learning more about what, if anything, is in the works to address environmental injustice on top of climate change.

Cal Christianson

Given all that we have been discussing this semester, these articles were not very surprising. That does mean that they are not concerning. I think that to the average american, the idea that air quality would dictate survival of a dangerous disease would be shocking. On average, I think that people tend to focus on specific outcomes. By doing so, the whole system is usually ignored. I remember seeing headlines that discussed how Americans of color were dying of covid at higher rates than white Americans. Given that Black Americans tend to be poorer than the average American, I assumed that this correlation was due to factors such as poor diet and less access to quality healthcare. I did not think about air quality. It is also interesting to think about the dilemma that some residents in these highly industrial areas must face. These industrial plants provide jobs to residences. Even if the jobs do not pay a great wage or are in low numbers, it is still an economic driver to these impoverished neighborhoods. But as these papers show, the health effects of living in these areas are atrocious. You know it is bad when a region is called “cancer alley”. Further complicating the decision to move is the housing market. No one is going to purchase a house in one of these areas. Because of this, a family moving out would have minimal capital to find a new residence. This is the same dilemma faced by families who live in abandoned mining towns. How can they move if their homes are worthless? This is even more infuriating when we know that this reliance on fossil fuel based industry is not mandatory.

Grace A Stricklin

The articles this week were about how minority groups are more exposed to, and thus more affected by, pollution than non-minority groups. The last two papers went on to interview people from areas of Louisiana and Michigan who are exposed to these higher levels of pollution also faced increased covid cases compared to other areas in the same states. The New York Times article stated that “In Michigan, African-Americans have accounted for more than 40 percent of deaths, even though they make up only 15 percent of the population” and the Vice article noticed a similar trend saying “African Americans account for 70 percent of all of the deaths in Louisiana so far. They make up just 32 percent of the population”. These patterns can easily lead one to conclude that a change in our policies on pollution is necessary and could perhaps lead one to conclude that new policies should be made that specifically target these low-income minority communities. So why haven’t policymakers enacted more climate policy that protects against this dangerous air pollution? Perhaps, it is because they are more inclined to listen to the interests of big, influential companies than the concerns of citizens. Perhaps, it is because they feel threatened by the notion that these problems are institutional, ingrained into the fabric of our society, and are thus rather large undertakings to combat. Either way, it is clear that more aggressive air pollution policy is necessary to ensure the health and safety of groups across the U.S.

Mohammed R Mourtaja

One of the things that always surprises me is how actions from the past could affect our future in significant ways that we can not imagine. I have not learned about American history back in Palestine, but I have personally read about its history. I am going, to be honest, reparations for POC communities and especially the Black communities do not look unjust to implement. Decisions made more than a century ago are impacting POC today in significant ways, especially in the most important thing humans have: Their health. It is astonishing to me how POC that are affected in those areas are not even able to get free health care let alone reparations. I believe this is immoral and should be changed. Moreover, I believe that studies like Historical Redlining should be heard more.
In Gaza, where I live, the UN reported that more than 95% of the water is polluted and can not be used even for non-drinking purposes. This is happening due to the political and racist agendas of different people who only care about their profits and political gains. I, personally, saw one of the closest people in my life dying of cancer because of pollution. I am really upset that I am reading and hearing something like that again, but this time in the richest country in the world.

Josh Fingerhut

These articles all shed light on an incredibly important issue. In reflecting upon these articles, I felt that there was a clear distinction between a reaction of a rational person observing these issues and what has actually been done. Any rational person would look at these polluting plants and draw the conclusion that they have serious negative health effects on the communities around them. This is similar to a point in Michael Hendryx's ted talk on mountain top removal in which he ponders why he has to convince people that "blowing up a freaking mountain top with explosives" has impacts on the health of those in surrounding communities. These impacts should be obvious. Yet, as the Vice and NYT articles called attention to, the reaction of the government has been counterintuitive to these obvious issues. Instead of tightening environmental regulations during a global pandemic in which any health impacts will be exacerbated, they loosened them. Seeing how these impacts are specifically felt by low income and minority communities, I can't help but feel that the government is still rigging our system to favor special interests over those that have been historically disenfranchised. Of course, it does not help that Louisiana senator Bill Cassidy was staunchly against Biden's proposed climate legislation. He wrote in an op-ed, "The administration’s solitary focus on lowering domestic emissions has sacrificed U.S. interests." Until these politicians seriously consider what is best for their most vulnerable constituants, many will continue to suffer.

Matthew Todd

Environmental racism is a crucial point when considering climate policy. It shows who bears the brunt of costs associated with climate change, which is often disadvantaged minorities as shown in the articles. A quote in the Vice article that I found to be particularly jarring, in response to taking residence in "cancer alley", was “We’re just here dying and waiting to die.” That emphasizes the hopelessness associated with knowing that you and your family are internalizing negative effects but lacking the means to escape them. Dating back to red-lining, we are cognizant of the fact that it is by no coincidence that poor minorities can find themselves facing negative health consequences disproportionately. As Josh mentioned, examples like the Vice article where the emissions are at the behest of industries like oil and chemical industries- it is not merely a lack of governmental oversight that allows people to be harmed. This is an intentional decision caused by the government being impacted by special interest groups and prioritizing those groups (and their deep wallets) over poor American people.

Merritt McCaleb

While I appreciated insight from all of the readings, the most unsettling and shocking bit of information I read for today came from the Vice article: “African Americans account for 70 percent of all of the deaths in Louisiana so far. They make up just 32 percent of the population.” This is a harrowing statistic, as it speaks directly to the blatant economic racism embedded within our institutions. This also speaks to the rhetoric embedded within the Vice article. Phrases such as “we’re just dying and waiting to die” and “it’s as if the government doesn’t even care how many people are dying” particularly caught my eye. This is tragic and so incredibly disheartening to read.
Additionally, I appreciated how the Vice article set the context of environmental justice, racism, and consequences of air pollution against the specific backdrop of Covid-19. As the article mentions, the Covid-19 pandemic “poses a severe threat to people whose lungs, immune systems, and hearts have been weakened by environmental contaminants.” Before reading this article, I hadn’t thought deeply about who in particular the pandemic might have disproportionately affected. In my Poverty 101 class that I took last semester, we discussed the pernicious cycle of how air pollution adversely affects those who live near highly polluted areas, and how this can negatively impact unborn children, among other residents. The harmful effects of air pollution on health of those who are most exposed to it are so abundantly clear, and when challenged with the pandemic, these people are more at risk of catching the virus.

Giang Nguyen

These articles were really interesting to read. They show that racism and discrimination extend to the very air we breathe. In the VICE article, the number was too discerning and too convincing: “****African Americans account for 70 percent of all of the deaths in Louisiana so far. They make up just 32 percent of the population.” The fact that oil companies tried to suspend the enforcement of environmental laws during COVID with the excuse of short-staffing was mind-blowing to me. It just shows how much of an influence firms can have over our policies and they exacerbate the racial inequalities.****

****One thing I notice that may explain why we still have a long way to fight environmental racism is that the environmental movement is still very white. We need more diverse representation in the environmental policy and conservation sector. I also would love to discuss how environmental racism is not one size fits all - it can take place in many forms and on many scales. For example, rich countries export their trash and dump them in developing countries, most likely poor Asian countries like Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand, etc. This is an example of how environmental inequality and colonialism are so much intertwined with each other. It’s also ironic how rich countries are the ones that push for climate change policies, telling poorer countries to do better, but they themselves are just trying to push the consequences of their actions out of sight.****

Clara Ortwein

After reading Tuesday's readings and the previous articles about the health implications of pollution, even low levels, these articles struck me with more force. I had read about how minority areas, in particular black populations, have seen more deaths due to COVID than white populations, but I hadn't considered how these two things could be connected. Knowing this is upsetting enough, but to read about the EPA's movement away from regulation during COVID made it even worse. I realize that there are not enough studies to prove that these phenomena are linked, but it reminds me of our conversations of the precautionary principle. Even if it is not complete able to be proven at this moment, there seems to be a suggestion that it is possible, and if so, wouldn't we want to be as careful as possible to protect these lives, which are already affected adversely by the pollution they face? The statistics in particular from Louisiana struck me, with 70% of COVID deaths being African Americans, who only make up 32% of the overall population. That is simply a shocking statistic. I hope that more research will be done into this.

Allyssa Utecht

I found all three of these articles to be a powerful intersection of multiple environmental, socioeconomic, and political challenges. All three highlighted the disproportionate ways in which minority communities are forced to suffer environmental consequences they often had very little part in creating. Both the New York Times and Vice cited eerily similar statistics about two different areas: in Houston, minority groups make up 2/3 of COVID deaths but are only 22% of the city's population, and in Louisiana, 70% of COVID deaths were African American when they only made up 32% of the population. In many of the anecdotal stories told in these two article, environmental issues combined with COVID, cancer and other medical problems, a lack of insurance, and no public hospital to climax in striking rates of COVID infection and death. All three stories highlighted how, as a result of existing societal structures and disparities, individuals at risk for pollution-related sickness are resultantly even more at risk for COVID. These articles were deeply striking and saddening, illustrating how when an event such as a pandemic hits our country, it accentuates every challenge already thrown at certain communities often as a direct result of racist practices such as redlining. The essay on redlining described how systemic racial/ethnic air pollution exposure can be correlated with redlining, in which the spatial distribution of pollution sources is aligned with diverse communities. The previous two articles highlighted how dangerous this is, especially during a pandemic, because long-term exposure to air pollution makes people more susceptible to the coronavirus, and covid patients from areas with heavy air pollution are more likely to die from the disease.

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