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Home » Urgency pervades COP26 climate change summit as US grapples with environmental justice

Urgency pervades COP26 climate change summit as US grapples with environmental justice

Urgency pervades COP26 climate change summit as US grapples with environmental justice

As the Earth warms, strokes and heart disease increase, as does depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. Crops fail due to persistent drought, causing farmers in conflict zones to turn to terrorism to make a living. The inequities in communities of color in the U.S. worsen as "bad air days" disproportionately impact Black and Latino populations.

The climate change risks we face are writ large in the form of supersized and more frequent wildfires, heat waves, floods, hurricanes, and depleted ecosystems. But as humans release large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, all this activity is also having profound yet more subtle and harder to measure impacts on public health, national security, social justice, economic growth, worker productivity and a range of other everyday concerns big and small, scientists and experts say.

"I'm in Texas where we have a lot of communities that host oil and gas facilities. These refineries and petrochemical plants are in places where people are invariably poor, where they don't get the jobs or income, they don't get the tax benefits. They get polluted. They get poverty. They get sick," said Robert Bullard, a professor of environmentalism and sociology at Texas Southern University, in Houston.

"Climate change is probably the single most important environmental justice issue of our time because it will accelerate and exacerbate existing inequalities in terms of access to good housing, health care, food, water and safe environments, and the U.S. in many ways is a microcosm of what's happening globally," Bullard said.

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