Environmental Justice

The quest for environmental justice is a social, political, and moral struggle for human rights, healthy environments, and thriving democracies led by residents of communities most negatively impacted by economic and ecological degradation. The term “environmental justice” emerged from the activism of communities of color in the United States in the latter half of the twentieth century and is now used by many to describe a global network of social movements fiercely critical of the disparities and depredations caused by the unchecked expansion and neocolonial logic of fossil fuel–driven modern industrial development. Activists and scholars of environmental justice challenge the disproportionate burden of toxic contamination, waste dumping, and ecological devastation borne by low-income communities, communities of color, and colonized territories. They advocate for social policies that uphold the right to meaningful, democratic participation of frontline communities in environmental decision making, and they have redefined the core meanings of the “environment” and the interrelationships between humans and nature, thereby challenging and transforming environmentalism more broadly. Tackling these bold social-change goals head on, environmental justice advocates work toward building diverse, dynamic, and powerful coalitions to address the world’s most pressing social and environmental crises—global poverty and global climate change—by organizing across scales...

This essay may be found on page 100 of the printed volume.

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