Humans keep discriminating and ruining for themselves


(Photo credit: TimothyJ)

by Marius Brusegard

Chuck Laszewski mentions the catchphrase “Environmental racism” in his article “The sociologists’ take on the environment”. This phrase means that people with less influence or wealth have to suffer from environmental hazards caused by landfills, hazardous waste dumps and dirty factories. Laszewski further claims that numerous reports have proved conclusively that environmentally hazardous businesses have been overwhelmingly established in poor or minority neighborhoods, hence the phrase “environmental racism”. Politicians were able to bring dirty factories etc. into these areas by claiming that it would increase the tax base and create jobs. Indeed jobs were created, but according to sociologist David Pellow, referred to by Laszewski, these dirty facilities were producing poor economic results, jobs hazardous to the workers, and a new source of toxic emissions in the neighborhood.

These types of environmental hazards have been placed in these areas most likely because of the knowledge about how environmentally damaging the hazards really are. I find it hard to believe that helping these poor areas grow economically was an important part of the siting process of these environmentally hazardous businesses. I find it likely to believe that the economic growth and increase of jobs for the respective communities were used solely as arguments to convince the people of these areas to accept having these environmentally hazardous businesses placed in their areas. This means that the influential and wealthy people are knowingly forcing the less fortunate people to live in an environment damaging for their health. Even if people wanted to move away from this new environment, most of them probably can’t afford it. After all, many of them are living in these areas because they can’t afford living anywhere else. If they were to move to another area within their price range, chances are that they would eventually have to move again for similar reasons.

Another aspect that I find disturbing is that by building these factories etc. in poor areas with lack of jobs, it makes the areas dependent on these factories. There have been some cases of this happening in my home country, Norway. Factories were built in small communities and these communities then experienced economic and social growth. Naturally, many people in these towns got jobs at the factories, and the population even grew because of people moving there for work. However, after several years, the market changed and there were either no more need for the factories, or they were relocated somewhere else more beneficial to the factory owners. This caused a lot of people to lose their jobs, and their lives were abruptly changed. People were forced to move in search for work, schools had to be shut down, and the formerly vivid towns had transformed into so-called “ghost towns”.

The fact that people do not want to have these hazardous factories in their own neighborhoods testifies how dangerous they are. In order to get rid of these problems, we would have to stop producing products that creates hazardous waste, and go over to using natural products as far as possible. However, this means that the human race would have to take some steps back from today’s modern society. But moving backwards does not seem to be something the human mind is set to do, even if this way of moving backwards could result in a healthier and longer lasting environment for the future.

Environmental Class Discrimination Takes on a Global Scale

by Miko Borys

Throughout the 80’s, less affluent neighborhoods began noticing that they suffered a highly disproportionate share of the pollution from the same industry that produced resources for all. Demonstrations such as the one in Warren County in 1982 where 550 citizens protested non-violently and were arrested, or in Southeast Chicago in 1987 where African-Americans blockaded 57 trucks from entering a waste incinerator, were happening all over America. Furthermore, the minority neighborhoods were statistically the most affected, having more toxic waste in their neighborhoods than any surrounding area: “of [the] nine proposed and constructed incinerators in the greater Chicago area… seven were in African American communities and two were in working class and/or white ethnic neighborhoods” (Pellow 90).The lesser chance of litigation in poorer minority neighborhoods supposedly made it an attractive option for industry initially. Groups like PCR, the People for Community Recovery led a movement in the US dubbed the “Environmental Justice” movement. The EJ movement believed, among other supporting ideals, that “all people have the right to protection from environmental harm” and they challenged the environmental inequality all over the U.S. Eventually, they successfully brought reform hindering the proliferation of environmentally unsound civil development. But where did the pollution go?

Thanks to such movements the environmental burdens of industrial development were seemingly abated. But the burdens were not abated in terms of distributing them more evenly, rather they were moved physically until they were no longer local. The regulations passed were so stringent, that environmentally challenging industry decided it would be in their best interest to remove their factories from the country entirely. The regulations and the effects weren’t exactly harmonious with what the EJ movement idealized. Even though the activists succeeded with getting pollution out of their neighborhoods the issue with pollution wasn’t resolved, it was just shifted further away.

Poorer neighborhoods might not be struggling with keeping pollution out as much as poorer countries are now. The pollution haven hypothesis states: when firms from industrialized nations seek to setup factory or office abroad, they will choose the country with the cheapest resources and labor, often at the expense of sound environmental practice. Even though the EPA might be seeing guidelines met in the U.S. for reduced emissions, the resolution might have just been “fancy bookkeeping” from the companies part. For instance, in Oregon the last coal-fired power plant is set to close by 2020. Yet the same town of Boardman closing down the power plant is considering the construction of a new large coal export facility. This coal export facility like others will take Powder River Basin coal from Montana and Wyoming and export it to the less environmentally restricted markets of Asia.

Even when we’re cautious to keep pollution out of our own neighborhoods it still finds its way to the climate through cracks in environmental policy elsewhere in the world. Even though one of the core fundamentals of the “Environmental Justice” movement was for “all people [to] have the right to protection from environmental harm” the movement stopped short when polluting industry crossed international borders. Even once the environmental movements cross borders, will pollution still find its place? Perhaps extra-terrestrially.


Environmental Racism”

“Cutting Carbon Means More than Fancy Bookkeeping”,8599,2112907,00.html

David N. Pellow. “Garbage Wars: The Struggle for Environmental Justice in Chicago”

Gunnar E. Eskeland and Ann E. Harrison. Moving to Greener Pastures? Multinationals and the Pollution Haven Hypothesis. NBER Working Paper No. 8888.

Environmental discrimination in Canada’s proposed oil pipeline

by Sherry Stanczyk

The term ‘environmental inequality’ is defined as the unequal allocation of pollution across the globe that unfairly falls onto poorer communities. Take for example landfills being built close to poorer neighbourhoods, or the construction of environmentally unsustainable factories in poorer countries where environmental regulation is not as strict. I also believe that the destruction of the environment by businesses or the government at the expense of indigenous populations also falls under the category of environmental discrimination and injustice. The majority of indigenous populations still choose to live off the land, and many times the devastation of the environment comes at a cost to their livelihood and the lands that they own and live on.

This issue can be seen currently in British Columbia, Canada, where the proposal to build an oil pipeline from neighbouring province to Alberta’s oil sands is currently on the plate. The creation of the oil pipeline would bring in a large amount of money into the Canadian economy, create jobs, and strengthen trading ties with Asia. However, because a large portion of the pipeline will be built on native land, and the chance of an oil spill could destroy the habitat of fish, the construction of the pipeline has been met with protest from native groups.

Although the construction of an oil pipeline and the chances of a possible oil spill are environmental issues that affect everyone in the area, the pipeline still effects and causes the most damage to the minority group of natives more than it does the typical Canadian. If the pipeline directly affected more people, it’s very likely that there would be more opposition, and that the idea for the pipeline would maybe not have been proposed in the first place. Is it fair to sideline a minority group for the ‘greater good’ of the economy? Just like discrimination of any other nature, overlooking the rights of a group of people is unethical. Utilitarianism may seem like the better option, but it’s not necessary the best choice for the long run. One could argue that the money from made from the pipeline could go back into programs and support to the effected native populations, but there is no guarantee this payback will be sufficient or will make up for the environmental damage to their lands. Instead, we need to protect our environment and vulnerable groups of people, and look into plans that are more sustainable for the long term.

It’s good to see that the protests against the pipeline in British Columbia have been fairly successful, and others are also adding their voices to the protest alongside the native bands. As of now the whether the project will go through is still up in air, and there is a chance it may never come into action.

Globalization: The Regional Goldilocks Approach

by Samuel Slaten

Globalization; it is a term thrown around loosely in today’s societies. However, when people say “globalization,” what do they actually mean? Increasing employment from foreign companies? The spread and mixture of cultures; or could it the growing interdependency between the current nation-states of the world? Well, according to an entry in the Oxford dictionary it is in a general sense, “the increasing worldwide integration of economic, cultural, political, religious, and social systems” (Black, Hashimzade, and Myles). So as one can see the term is very vague. However, due to the growing number of complications caused by this phenomenon (globalization), it is becoming increasingly important to narrow down globalization and focus on each aspect independently so we can address the unique problems each one causes. So how can one separate the positive aspects of globalization from the negative? I believe the solution comes from a popular principle known as the Goldilocks Principle. According to Bill Tierney, the Goldilocks Principle “states that something must fall within certain margins, as opposed to reaching extremes” (Tierney). Thus, in the following paper I will focus on the cultural aspect of globalization and by using the Goldilocks Principle analyze different problems associated with the mixing of cultures.

The first extreme that needs to be balanced is the degree to which cultures are introduced. Instead of replacing whole communities with new foreign strip malls or putting one culture’s products on a lower tier than another, we should slowly mix foreign cultural products with indigenous products. Building a global market which would sell imported goods along side domestic might be good way to for a community grow accustomed to the idea of foreign products without totally removing their own cultural identity. However, if the demand for slower cultural spread is too great, the possibility of censorship or negative stereotypes being implemented is ever present. Thus the idea would be to allow for a steady flow of culture yet at a pace that suits each society’s needs.

However, closely tied with culture are the social norms of a society. These can vary greatly even between regions within a country, let alone countries themselves. Take my own country for example. America has greatly different values just based on the regions one is from. For example, what may be considered normal in the western United States might be viewed entirely different in the southern or northern United States. We can see this with such topics as gun control, abortion, the environment, and much more. So if different regions can differ so greatly about their own country’s cultural norms, how can they be expected to adapt to another country’s cultural influence in the same manner as each other? Thus, I think each region (based on each country) should be balanced according to their rate of acceptation while catering to the needs of the migrant populations, who are helping to speed along this phenomenon of globalization.

However, balancing cultural globalization can at times encroach on the productiveness of the other aspects of globalization, such as the economic and social aspects. So then the problem becomes how do we balance between the difference in ideals between the categories of globalization? The answer is not easy because what might benefit one aspect might hurt another. Thus once again I believe the answer relies on regional-based analysis. Not only can we cater to a region’s cultural needs more efficiently but we can also cater to their economic situations. Just as regions have different social norms such as family values, each region has different social standings and economic situations. We can observe negative impact caused by this in India, where the standard of the economic gains are being standardized based on more prosperous cites like Bangalore while affecting the less developed cities’ cultural standards and self-identity. Here is a good example of different aspects of globalization affecting one another. This happens because instead of basing economic aspirations on the region’s cultural adaptability, people are basing it on the the more prosperous and faster growing regions which usually have a more global population than the other regions, or, in other words, are the less traditional regions.

Thus, in the end I think the best approach to cultural globalization is trying to find a balance between regions and catering to each in a different way.


Black, John, Nigar Hashimzade , and Gareth Myles. “Oxford Index.” Web. 23 Dec 2012. <;.

Tierney, Bill. “21stcenturyscholar.” University of Southern California, 25 2012. Web. 23 Dec 2012. <;.

Environment and Technology Information

by Ayaka Nishizaki

Environment and social are mutually created and environment inequality is one of sociological aspects. I think environment is also liked to technology and information. I would like to think environmental problems from these points: The unequal limitation of access to information, ineffective use of information, and relationship between information and unclear responsibility.

During class, I learned residents of lower class neighborhoods face a variety of risks. The manufacturing jobs are often given to immigrants or poor people who don’t understand English well and don’t understand what they’re being exposed to. I think it is connected with unequal access of information between the rich and poor. The poor is limited to access information, so they can’t get enough knowledge about environment (the article of ‘connecting communities: on and off line’). Also, the lack of information will cause not only their health can be exposed to danger by toxic materials in industries, but also people take some action for the environment in a wrong way.

I learned the concept “inverted quarantine” from the reading and class. We often don’t know how much the “eco” products help the environment. I think inverted quarantines are caused by a lack of correct information. I learned environmental issues since I was an elementary school student. But I was shocked that I haven’t known the exact meaning of “eco” until I started to learn by myself. In fact “eco” is not equal to “save energy (省エネ)”, but I saw many people and TV commercials use “eco” incorrectly.

It is true that we are surrounded by a bunch of information to learn, but why does the kind of wrong actions happen? Many Japanese including me had studied global warming or depletion of ozone layer in school. I studied a lot of definitions and words about the environment. However, I wondered ‘how can I use the knowledge in daily life in order to reduce CO2 or waste?’ We have learned a lot of things like helium or CO2 are bad for the environment, but I think those knowledge is not linked to taking environmental actions. Some people would say that recently, more Japanese schools have required students to take actions for environment, but I think some actions are not contributed to environmental improvement directly. Japanese people learned how to separate trash appropriately, but how many people know separating trash (分別) doesn’t always lead to recycling, or it encourages people to increase more consumption of plastic bottles? My point is that although there are many chances to access information, we don’t choose information effectively and don’t link such information to environmental improvement.

In addition, a lot of information make responsibility for polluted environment unclear. For example, mass media criticizes the Japanese government about an accident of nuclear power plant in Fukushima. On the other hand, other people say this responsibility is TEPCO. How can we decide who will take this responsibility? If people think the bad governance was the biggest cause of the accident, they will require Japanese government to take responsibility. If the old nuclear power plant was the most cause of accidents, TEPCO which haven’t reconstructed the plant for about 40 years should take responsibility. In my opinion, through a lot of information, responsibility becomes more unclear because information diversifies people’s thoughts and ideas (as we discussed ‘what is positive side when new culture/information is brought into our country?’). If a state-level accident such as the nuclear plant is related to many actors such as government and companies involved in the case, it is difficult to clarify the responsibility because of many people’s points of view.

As I mentioned above, the environment is strongly connected with information. Environmental problems, diversification of people’s ideas help our standard of living, but on the other hand, it makes it difficult to think what the most correct choice of information for the environment is.

Environmental issue

by Siân Taylor

In this essay I will explain my view of the situation regarding environmental issues, and in order to do so, I will initially analyse an episode of environmental issue in Italy, that sadly became famous  all over the world.

Moreover I will give my own opinion about why things go this way, and about why, no matter how much people speak about these issues, no one really does anything in order to change  them, or even if they do, no major things really get accomplished.

Starting from about four years ago, in some cities of the southern part of Italy, the waste people produced stopped being taken to the disposal facilities and started accumulating in the middle of the streets. As time went by things kept getting worse and worse, until citizens started to get poorly from the bacteria coming from the decomposing rubbish.

Eventually the garbage was gotten rid of by shipping it, after having paid large amounts of money to the local government, to some third world Country were people “won” Italy’s waste for being poor.

Now, let us examine why this episode happened in the first place. The Italian Mafia, due to a number of corrupted interests, stopped the dustbin men from collecting the rubbish.

Due to this many people suffered for years and years living in unhealthy dangerous environments.

All of this is to state that personally I think that it’s not that environmental issues are too complex to resolve, or that common people do not care about the environment, it’s that the people who have the most power to change things have got many interests not to do so.

It is all about gaining money from it. Governments use waste disposal as a profitable business; Companies create double or more the amount of waste by overly wrapped and deceptive products, we live in a consumerist society where consumers are taught to throw away their “unfashionable” items to buy a brand new model of the same thing. And why? To make the economy go round.

To make the rich people get richer and the poor people get poorer, society is destroying the world they live in.

I am certain that if this were to be a world where money did not exist, people would live in a much healthier environment both for the body and the spirit, because it is for money that marketers create the sense of dissatisfaction in consumers, so they can buy this new item which may resolve their “problem” and make them happier for a short while, and this is, as stated before, the start of a long chain of interests that brings society to destroy the environment they and their children are living in.

Until this chain will not be broken, I think that nothing will be able to change, no matter how most people want it to.


Environmental Issues: Foundation and Framing

by Samuel Slaten

Environmental problems and the solutions to overcome them should be on the minds of everyone rich or poor, it affects everyone  in one aspect or another. However we are seeing more and more the blatant disregard of primary issues such as global warming, toxic waste, and destruction of ecosystems. So what exactly is reason for the lack of interest in such important issues? I believe the problem resides in the way the issues are being portrayed to the public and the how the the problems are being shown relating to everyday life. So how do we address these problems? In two steps, by adding a foundation for people to base their perception of the issues on. It is essential to show people that these issues do affect everyday life and how exactly they can observe it. Then in order to bring the issues to heart it is necessary to frame it so that people can actually understand the causes and science behind the issues. Trying to understand the issues without understanding the actual substance of the issues results in misinformed people who can easily be mislead.

So how can scientists, authors, and news analysts add a foundation for people to base their perception upon? First it is essential to show that even though other issues might not be affecting them other issues are. And that these issues are interconnected to other serious issues affecting different communities.  One of the issues effecting urban populations is air pollution, smog is one of the better examples of this. Smog , I think, is one of those issues that can be used not only to educate and inform the population but also to draw awareness to other environmental issues. Smog is also easy to form a foundation around because it is one of the easier issues to see and relate with. According to one news source smog is so abundant in 10 of the 11 most populated states in America and that in many of their cities the air quality level has reached above the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) level of safe air (Meth). Another example is from Ontario Canada where in the past 10 years there have been over 100 Smog advisories  lasting 275 days in total (“Ontario Ministry of the Environment” ). Thus it can be assumed the issue of smog is one that many ordinary citizens are affected by and can observe directly. Thus, by using an issue like the one of smog environmentalists, sociologists, and scientists alike can raise the awareness levels and then direct them into other issues that are linked to smog, Such as rising air temperature (global warming), emission standards ( the impact of industry), and waste dumps(toxic and normal). Thus by adding a foundation that is easy for people to observe and understand we can raise the interest and awareness levels of other issues. Here I used smog as an example but in truth any issue can be used as long as it meets various criteria, the different columns of the foundation: 1. It relates to vast amounts of people everyday. 2. It is easily observed. 3.It has connections with other issues around the world.

So now that the idea of a foundation has been established the question is how can we frame the issues in question so that everyone doesn’t need a science book near by in order to understand the issues? If people do not understand the reason for why the problems are arising then how can they be expected to advocate for their change. First, public figures need to be able to explain these issues themselves. People need to be able to rely on their elected officials when problems affecting their communities arise. Secondly the facts and data surrounding the issues needs to be simplified to terms and reasoning  that everyone can accurately perceive. People will not have an interest in something they do not understand.  This also coincides with how people of influence portray the importance of these issues and the people they affect. According to Mr. Gibbons from the University of Georgia whom did a survey of ecology graduate students. The number one problem facing the environment today is apathy (Gibbons). How can normal citizens be expected to show concern when the people representing them show no concern for the issues. How can people be expected to understand the issues when their leaders and idols themselves do not understand the issues, or at least not well enough to explain them. How can an English, American, or French citizen be expected to relate to a scientist in India or Japan or vice versa? They also must be able to see that these issues affect everyone and one cannot simply remove themselves from the problem. This inverted quarantine effect  (the idea that one can just remove themselves from a problem that affects everyone) is not a long term solution but a quick fix that will end with the same result. Each communities’ leaders and icons should show concern and advocate that we have to come together for a solution, not expect change to just occur. As they say, home is where the heart is. So show people things that adversely affect their home and loved ones and then they will demand for change.


Gibbons, Whit . “WHAT ARE OUR TOP 10 ENVIRONMENTAL PROBLEMS?.” UGA, 06 206. Web. 2 Dec 2012. <;.

Meth, Madeline . “Center for American Progress .” Center for American Progress . (2006): n. page. Web. 2 Dec. 2012. < report-u-s-breathes-dangerous-levels-of-smog/>.

“Ontario Ministry of the Enviroment.” Ontario Ministry of the Enviroment. (2012): n. page. Web. 2 Dec. 2012. <;.

How to think about the disaster in Fukushima

by Azusa Iwata

When I saw the news about the explosion of Fukushima nuclear power plant, I could not feel that it happened in Japan. However, as I saw the news on TV many times, I realized that it happened in Japan, which was very difficult for me to accept such a terrible fact. However, I do not know the real situation in Fukushima after that happened because I just get the information through the newspaper and the news on TV. In other words, almost all the information about Fukushima that I have is through just the media. On the other hand, I was really impressed on the movie “Women of Fukushima”, which we saw in the class. I actually have never seen that movie and the activities that I saw in that movie even though I always watch the news on TV.  This paper will focus on  how we should think about “the disaster in Fukushima” as a Japanese citizen through the media.

First, according to “Women of Fukushima”, the ladies in that movie have been protecting the operation of the nuclear power plant. They insisted that the explosion of Fukushima caused the many fields very dangerously, which exposed local people to dangerous from the radiation. In addition, it caused the situation that children cannot play outside safely because of the explosion. I felt so terrible when I knew such a facts. At the same time, I was very surprised for me not to know such a serious situation that I saw in that movie. Surely I am the one who are influenced by the media.

In that movie, one of the ladies said, “I am really sorry that our generations made such a terrible plant in Fukushima. We have the responsibility about this situation that have happened. However, this is not only the responsibility of people in Fukushima but also Japanese government and the citizens in our age. We will try to create Japan without nuclear power plants from learn of “Fukushima”.  Please the young people keep trying to create Japan without nuclear power.” This is the one of the real voices from the people in Fukushima.

In my opinion, I think, in theses days, it is clear that the people, who are influenced by media, are trying to change the situation and affecting the lives of the citizens. That is why there exist people just like me who know not the real voices of people in Fukushima but just the facial aspects of “what happened in Fukushima”. Thus, the media that our generation will lead should convey all the voices of the nation regardless of gain or loss in terms of the agencies. In order to that, all citizens need to know how much dangerous we depend on the media in our life and how much we do not know about Japan because of the media. The disaster that happened in Fukushima is warning that the young generation should change what the media has become today and how powerful the media is. I think Japan, which is not influenced by the partial media, is what people in Fukushima have needed before and after the disaster 3.11.

Environmental justice

by Shoko Inouchi

According to the readings, it could be said that the problem of environmental racism is one of serious issue which we are required to take a prompt action. Paper says the number of incinerator has been increased dramatically. From 1965 to 2002, there were  100 more increased for the number of incinerator. These are incinerator often concentrates on the area where African-American lives. There were also demos for this fact. It says that rich people could live the environment which is very healthy and clean. On the other hand, socially disadvantaged people who are like minority and poor people would be a victim of environmental destruction with ease. Victim of pesticide and a vicious spiral of environmental destruction among developing countries could be said good example for supporting these facts.

In the United States, they made the office of environmental justice in 1992 and report which aimed at decreasing risks of environmental problems for every communities.

Environmental justice is idea for accomplishing environmental conservation and social. The word of environmental justice came from environmental justice movement which was made by criticism for environmental racism in 1980.

Development of environmental justice movement

In 1982, the plan of PCB waste landfill were appeared.In those days, this plan was concentrated on area where African- American lives more than the place where rich people and white people lives. African people were criticised by not only social but also problems of landfill. keeping good environmental place for white people who are already are blessed. However, African people was forced to live in the place where environmental quality was bad. These fact was viewed as problem of environmental racism. For this fact, the demo was conducted by African people. However, more than 500 people were arrested and it was ended up failure. Later , these action became to be symbol of environmental justice.In 1991, policy of environmental justice was adopted in United states. In 1994, Bill Clinton signed for actions od federal government keeping environmental justice for minority and poor people.

According to above statement, environmental justice provides minority with  good quality of environment.

Effect of environmental justice

The idea of environmental justice was stared in U.S’s domestic problem. However,

In 1992, the idea of environmental justice was become to be understood as a global issues after Earth summit in Rio de JaneiroRio. Moreover, in everywhere pollution problem were happened due to economic development.

To sum up, idea of environmental justice is going to be changed. However, one of important things is learning from mistakes. These issues which reading says is important for thinking environment in our future.