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ARTICLES ON ENVIRONMENTAL AND CLIMATE JUSTICE

Youth Group Shuts Down Toxic Waste Facility

Charisse Domingo, 35-year-old associate director of Youth United for Community Action (YUCA) in East Palo Alto, California has worked with the organization since she was 21. The youth-based non-profit operates out of a one-story house on a residential street in this tiny (2.6 sq. mile) Silicon Valley city of about 30,000 people, 94 percent of whom are people of color. This community of mostly small single-family homes has recently been (literally) overshadowed by new multi-story condominium buildings and big-box retail giants. The location of Romic Environmental Technologies—a hazardous materials recycling firm—in East Palo Alto was in stark contrast to the Facebook and Hewlett Packard campuses of neighboring upscale Palo Alto. It was a sobering reminder of the city’s 19 percent poverty rate. But residents of East Palo Alto organized to shut down the plant and to fight gentrification. In 2007, the Department of Toxic Substances Control ordered Romic to cease handling hazardous wastes.

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Climate Change Could Bring Toxic Deluge to Bayview

By Carol Harvey

Walking the site of a planned condo development in Bayview’s Candlestick Point, Marie Harrison observes, “There’s more water when the tide rolls in.” Harrison lives in Bayview-Hunter’s Point and works with Greenaction, seeking ways to include low-income people of color in the global warming/climate justice debate. The San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) predicts that sea levels will rise 16 inches by mid-century and cover coastal lands like Candlestick.[1]

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Incinerators in Delhi Threaten Waste-Pickers

The waste-pickers of Delhi may soon rank among the world’s endangered species if carbon markets continue their rise. Now numbering in the tens if not hundreds of thousands, waste-pickers have plied the garbage of Delhi’s streets for decades. A disturbing spectacle, often including women and children in their ranks, they nonetheless provide a vital service: recycling. In a country like India, paper, plastic, and metals are an increasingly valuable commodity. And for slum-dwellers, this may be their only source of income.

And so they join the cows and dogs in a daily forage through garbage by the side of road, searching for plastic, paper, metals—anything that can be turned into cash.

Bharati Chaturvedi, director and co-founder of Chintan, a small non-governmental organization (NGO) servicing India’s waste-pickers, claims that more than one percent of Delhi’s population is engaged in waste-picking—a significant source of revenue for the poorest—and that they recycle nine percent to 59 percent of all of the waste generated in the city. “These waste-pickers are providing a public service—for free,” Chaturvedi says.

Manufacturing Affordable Housing

Garry “Bear” Salois and his granddaughter April Flores are the proud occupants of a 2004 Cavalier-manufactured home with three bedrooms and a small porch where Bear likes to relax after work with his dogs Rain and Storm. “I always thought I wasn’t rich enough to afford my own home,” says Bear, a bona fide member of the Salish-Kootenai tribe who grew up on the Flathead Reservation in Montana. “But now I’m voluntarily paying over three times the required monthly payment of $120 in order to be in good shape to retire at age 65.”

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War, Climate, and Women

By Maryam Roberts

War, militarism, and climate change are destroying countless communities worldwide and women, particularly women of color in the Global South, are paying the highest price. “It is now more dangerous to be a woman than to be a soldier in modern conflict,” says Major General Patrick Cammaert, a former United Nations peacekeeping operation commander in Africa.[1] And to be a poor woman, even outside the theater of war, is to be at risk for starvation and displacement.

Mililani Trask: Indigenous Views

Mililani B. Trask is a native Hawaiian attorney and expert in international human rights law. She is a founding member of the Indigenous Womens Network and has been a guest lecturer at the University of Hawaii and the International Training Center for Indigenous Peoples, in Greenland. She is one of the primary drafters of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples which passed the UN General Assembly in 2007, and served as the Pacific Indigenous Representative to the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. She served two four-year terms as Kia Aina (Prime Minister) of Ka Lahui Hawaii, the Sovereign Hawaiian Nation. 

How do you see climate change impacting indigenous island peoples’ subsistence and health?
Indigenous peoples' livelihoods and their cultural survival are being directly threatened. For example, the Pacific island states are experiencing significant increases in the frequency of cyclones and storm surges, which destroy housing, roads, hospitals, and telecommunications systems. They are causing countless deaths and people go missing and are never found. In the past two years, Samoa, Fiji, the Solomon Islands, [and the Philippines] have all declared national disasters. In Fiji, the total sugarcane crop was lost and major damage done to schools and hospitals. The vast majority of people in the Pacific basin live within 1.5 kilometers of the ocean. 

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Just Climate Policy —Just Racial Policy

Everywhere we turn, the issues and impacts of climate change confront us. One of the most serious environmental threats facing the world today, climate change, has moved from the realm of scientists and environmentalists to the mainstream. Though the media is dominated by images of polar bears, melting glaciers, flooded lands, and arid deserts, there is a human face to this story as well.

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