|Nature is the 99%, too|
The economy is built on the idea of relentless growth, which is an environmental and health disaster for all but the 1%.
Chip Ward Last Modified: 09 Nov 2011 17:04
It's not hard for me to understand how environmental quality and economic inequality came to be joined at the hip. In all my years as a grassroots organiser dealing with the tragic impact of degraded environments on public health, it was always the same: Someone got rich and someone got sick.
In the struggles that I was involved in to curb polluters and safeguard public health, those who wanted curbs, accountability and precautions were always outspent several times over by those who wanted no restrictions on their effluents.
We dug into our own pockets for postage money, they had expense accounts. We made flyers to slip under the windshield wipers of parked cars, they bought ads on television. We took time off from jobs to visit legislators, only to discover that they had gone to lunch with fulltime lobbyists.
Naturally, the barons of the chemical and nuclear industries don't live next to the radioactive or toxic-waste dumps that their corporations create; on the other hand, impoverished black and brown people often do live near such ecological sacrifice zones because they can't afford better.
Similarly, the gated communities of the hyper-wealthy are not built next to cesspool rivers or skylines filled with fuming smokestacks, but the slums of the planet are. Don't think, though, that it's just a matter of property values or scenery. It's about health, about whether your kids have lead or dioxins running through their veins. It's a simple formula, in fact: Wealth disparities become health disparities.
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