Environmental Justice

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Editor: J. Britt Holbrook
Date: 2015
Ethics, Science, Technology, and Engineering: A Global Resource
Publisher: Gale, part of Cengage Group
Document Type: Topic overview
Pages: 8
Content Level: (Level 5)

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Environmental Justice

Environmental justice encompasses distributive and recognition justice to address the interlocking relationship between environmental issues and social justice. Environmental justice can include a myriad of struggles experienced by local communities whose concerns include protecting the environments where people live, work, play, and pray. One dimension of environmental justice focuses on the fair distribution of and compensation for the environmental burdens of modern industrial society, including, but not limited to, issues of toxic waste, pollution, workplace hazards, health disparities related to environmental trauma, and unequal environmental protection. Another dimension involves the equal political representation of diverse groups in environmental values and decision-making processes through robust participatory inclusion and respectful recognition of community environmental values, traditional lifeways, and the environmental identity and heritage of peoples. Environmental justice has served to effectively criticize the inequitable distribution of environmental benefits and harms that can be associated with many technological developments, often employing science to identify and assess these benefits and harms. Likewise, technoscience is implicated in both the burdens and the solutions for addressing struggles for environmental justice.

Scope: Histories and Geographies

The scope of environmental justice is extensive in terms of both historical and geographical significance. Many of these issues are tied to specific grassroots organizations and networks that exist across the globe. Within the United States, environmental justice is part of a larger social phenomenon referred to as the environmental justice movement (EJM). Geographically, movements around the world motivated by the same concerns operate under many different names (Figueroa 2007 ). Historically, the movements and the context of environmental justice have taken different forms, including those associated with transnational corporations (especially in cases of disaster, such as the 1984 chemical leak in Bhopal, India); the elite nature of scientific and technical expertise; imbalances of power with regard to global scientific and technological policymaking; issues pertaining to indigenous land rights and compensation for damages from technological expansion; and the ability to acquire and patent the traditional environmental knowledge of indigenous people. Compensation and donor policies between the global north and south, as well as the environmental and economic consequences of global trade agreements, spark the distributive and recognition justice dimensions of environmental justice.

Transcontinental pollution and environmental impacts to the global commons find their ethical implications in the EJM. There are localized EJMs across the globe, including Japan’s Soshisha movement to address victims of Minamata disease, a debilitating neurological disorder caused by the dumping of mercury oxide into the public water supply; Nigeria’s Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), which struggles against military aggression in a region of petrochemical corporate neglect; and the Greenbelt Movement in Kenya, which has involved the planting of more than fifty-one million trees since its founding in 1977 to empower communities, women, and girls while also resisting the negative impacts of climate change.

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Additional diversity in scope exists for indigenous peoples. Environmental injustices can be historically tied to the European colonial invasion following 1492, when trade and exploration involved cultural appropriation of traditional ecological knowledge. The expropriation of natural resources and the ultimate advances in trade went hand in hand with advances in the European sciences, such as botany and agricultural development. Current concerns for climate change further exemplify the multiple scales of environmental justice, as climate justice attempts to ad dress the distribution of environmental burdens from individual industrialized states to developing nations, the extent of the burdens upon future generations, and the role that different peoples have in the adaptation and mitigation efforts in climate sciences, including the extent to which climate sciences should inform policy and direct voice in policy decision making. All this provides evidence of the expansive scope of global environmental justice, which American activist Lois Gibbs has declared to be the largest, fastest-growing social movement in the world. At the same time, the dominant dis course of environmental justice under the EJM rubric must be regarded as both historically and geographically specific to the United States and may underestimate the enormity of the scope of environmental justice writ large, which in turn can offer a widening in terms of justice and issues of technoscience.

The US Environmental Justice Movement

With this broad global scope in mind, the US EJM emerged in the 1980s when people of color formed grassroots responses to the lo cation of environmental burdens, particularly toxic-waste facilities and point-production pollution sources. Although the US EJM was first heralded as a people -of-color movement, the historical range of issues and communities led to the recognition that the movement involved several underlying populations, geographical contexts, and political identities. Luke W. Cole and Sheila R. Foster (2001 ) identify six intersecting social movements as the under -currents of the US EJM: the civil rights movements, labor movements, Native American movements, the antitoxic movement, movements in academic scholarship, and the mainstream environmental movement. However, they omit within their list of undercurrents the women’s movement, which should be considered a seventh tributary, be cause it serves as a historical linchpin to the sciences currently used in environmental justice cases and because 70 to 80 percent of grassroots leaders in the US EJM are working-class women, many of them women of color. Indeed, this demo graphic of women’s leadership extends to the respective EJMs around the globe.

As early as the work of Jane Addams (1860 – 1935) and Alice Hamilton (1869 – 1970), when Hull-House pushed bacteriology and precursors for the new sciences of toxicology and epidemiology into connections between health, environment, and politic s, women have been critical to the scientific knowledge of community environmental health. These early environmental reformists created new methods of data collection and analysis to improve the industrial living and working conditions of the modern city (Gottlieb 2005 ). The attention given to women’s health issues and environmental dangers from industrialization carries a direct thread between Hull-House and the contemporary EJM. Contemporary science and policy agendas, like those found in the US Superfund Act (the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980), were spawned by the activism of women, such as Lois Gibbs in Love Canal, New York. Indeed, for Gibbs, as well as the Hull-House leaders, activism and scientific perspective, as well as struggles against scientism among presumed experts, were inseparable challenges. Thus the early advances in toxicology and epidemiology were partly due to environmental justice struggles led by women, including women scientists who challenged the politics of scientism, and from that time policies and scientific insights to address environmental justice have had their origins in the activism of such community leaders.

Other important precursors that relate to Cole and Foster’s six movements are identifiable as early as the 1960s, when Martin Luther King Jr. (1929 – 1968) and other civil rights leaders observed that people of color suffer higher pollution and more denigrated environments. By the end of the 1970s, a series of studies had again drawn the historical inference that different human environments are directly related to social stratification. In a chapter of their seminal book addressing environmental justice, Race and the Incidence of Environmental Hazards (1992), Paul Mohai and Bunyan Bryant compare studies dating from 1971 to 1992 that assess the correlation of toxics, including air pollution, hazardous waste, solid waste, and pesticide poisoning, with the impact on people of low income and racial minorities. Two critical findings from this comparative study are worth highlighting. First, the study clearly proves that government agencies observed the relationship between social stratification and environmental burdens as early as 1971. Second, the comparisons provide empirical evidence that in the United States the distribution of environmental burdens has a strong correlation to race and socioeconomic class.

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In addition to the comparative study by Mohai and Bryant, the federal government in 1978 released a brochure called Our Common Concern that described the disproportionate impact of pollution on people of color. The struggle of César Chávez (1927 – 1993) and the United Farm Workers to protect the health, environment, and rights of farmworkers was a vital precursor to the US EJM. Studies of rural Appalachian living conditions were revealing the connection between poverty and environ-mental burdens, providing further evidence of trends of environmental injustice. Environmental justice also pervaded the struggles of native peoples—for instance, American Indians dealing with issues stretching from land rights to the hazardous industries of uranium mining, coal mining, petroleum refining, and nuclear waste depository in the wake of colonialism and relocation that dramatically upset health and traditional lifeways.

Although mainstream environmental groups were often absent from the environmental justice struggles, Cole and Foster accurately include mainstream env iron-mentalism as a tributary undercurrent of the US EJM. For instance, as early as 1979, the City Care Conference, held in Detroit, was jointly sponsored by the National Urban League and the Sierra Club. The intended purpose of this conference was to bring the civil rights movement and the environmental movement together for a dialogue to reconceptualize the very meanings of the terms environment and environmental issues.

Although the EJM in the United States is not bound by a single event, many scholars and activists regard the 1982 protests in Warren County, North Carolina, as a historical launching point. These protests marked the first major civil rights – style response to an environmental issue. The episode involved nonviolent activists blocking the passage of trucks hauling PCB-laced soil to a new landfill, an act of civil dis obedience that led to more than five hundred arrests and drew national media attention. The Afton site in Warren County prompted many questions about the direct correlation be tween African American communities and hazardous-waste sites. It incited District of Columbia delegate Walter E. Fauntroy, who was himself arrest ed in the protest, to initiate the 1983 US General Accounting Office study of hazardous-waste landfill siting, which found a strong correlation between the locations of hazardous-waste landfills and the race and socioeconomic status of the people living nearby.

Fauntroy’s GAO-commissioned study spawned later comprehensive studies, including the frequently cited Toxic Wastes and Race in the United States (1987 ), a national study by the United Church of Christ’s Commission for Racial Justice, which not only confirmed the disparate environmental burdens suffered by minorities and lower socioeconomic groups nationwide, but also centrally located race in the disparity: “Race proved to be the most significant among variables tested in association with the location of commercial hazardous waste facilities” (xiii). In testimony to the US House of Representatives in 1993, Benjamin Chavis, then director of the United Church of Christ’s Commission for Racial Justice, described environmental racism as “racial discrimination in environmental policy making, and the unequal enforcement of environmental laws and regulations,” as well as “the deliberate targeting of people-of-color communities for toxic waste facilities and the official sanctioning of a life-threatening presence of poisons and pollutants in people-of-color communities,” along with “the history of excluding people of color from the leadership of the environmental movement” (Chavis 1993 , 4).

By the late 1980s and early 1990s, environmental justice became a newly established term used by scholars and policymakers. Environmental justice was first used in book and article titles by 1990, and by 1995 several environmental justice college courses and curricula were offered. These curricular initiatives coincided with federal responses, as the initiatives came a year after President Bill Clinton signed Executive Order 12898, titled “Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations,” which introduced environmental justice as a federal man date by White House fiat.

Environmental Racism

Numerous studies concerning what came to be called environmental racism followed the Warren County protests. The studies collectively formed a major debate as to whether or not the siting of environmental burdens is determined by the socioeconomic or racial/ethnic composition of a community. Social scientists investigated these factors, and a central thread of studies emerged in environmental justice discourse. In 1992, Marianne Lavelle and Marcia Coyle published their seven-year study of the activities of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the National Law Journal. It revealed that polluters were fined more in white communities, responses were slower in people-of-color communities, and scientific solutions differed between the communities. The same science that would be used to determine a facility’s toxicity to a community was used differently depending on whether the community had white or minority residents. Likewise, the same science that would determine the technological and economic responses, such as the method of soil washing or soil removal or the decision to shut down the polluting facility, would be weigh ed against the economic assessment of community relocation, because the implications of dangerous conditions involve costly relocations, making such projects too expensive. Lavelle and Coyle revealed that different technological solutions would be used in different communities, even when the scientific data described similar health threats. The different responses follow the trend that white communities receive more expensive and up-to- date technological solutions and higher compensation for health and property damage, and that polluters pay greater fines for damage to white communities than to minority communities, even though scientifically, with regard to the pollution, the circumstances do not warrant these differences.

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Further sociological and legal studies examined charges of environmental racism by addressing fundamental methodological questions: Did the community or the environmental burden arrive first? Are there other categories to consider, such as age? How should a community be defined? Vicki Been (1994 ) argues that market forces drive the lo cation of toxic facilities and the choice of many workers to come to a highly industrial sector. While acknowledging the racism in many social institutions, Been’s study challenges the main measuring units used by earlier studies and raises important temporal questions about the relationship between minorities and environmental burdens. Other studies that altered the measuring unit of what constitutes a community found less disparity in the distribution of environmental burdens with regard to race than was initially claimed by earlier studies defending the environmental racism charge.

Peter S. Wenz (2001 ) considers the ethical implications of this debate as a form of double effect in which race may be incidental to the socioeconomic target. Even if the market-forces argument put forth by Been is correct, Wenz argues that distributing the environmental burdens onto the poor violates the principle of commensurable benefits and burdens, which stipulates that unless there are morally justifiable reasons, persons receiving the benefits of modern industrial technology should also receive the commensurate burdens. Those who receive an abundance of consumer goods should therefore be the targets of hazardous-waste facilities and polluting industries, whereas those who receive noticeably fewer benefits—that is, the poor—should be relieved of this incommensurable burden. Compensatory justice would follow the same moral foundation for redistributing benefits for incommensurable burdens.

A refugee child from Myanmar scavenges at a rubbish dump in Mae Sot, Thailand, 2012. A refugee child from Myanmar scavenges at a rubbish dump in Mae Sot, Thailand, 2012. The environmental burdens of modern industrial society often fall on the poor, prompting the argument that those who benefit most from an abundance of consumer goods should more justly shoulder most of the attendant burdens. ARTURO RODRIGUEZ/DEMOTIX/CORBIS.

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The 1987 study Toxic Wastes and Race in the United States was revisited in 1992 and 2007 to account for methodological challenges to its results, and it maintained its conclusion that race/ethnicity, especially when considering multiple environmental burdens for communities of color, have only increased in correlation since 1987. Numerous studies were conducted in response to this debate, thus generating a community of scientists, scholars, and activists to help deepen the ethical questions and broaden the scope of environmental sciences. What are the proper characteristics for determining the community that will host the environmental burden? What procedures will be used? Which scientific perspectives would best measure the risk of danger? How will racial/ethnic and socioeconomic background be considered in these risk assessments?

Recognition Justice, Expertise, and Technoscience

The strict distributive justice discourse that social scientists offer in the environmental racism debate proves to be an incomplete ethical account. Addressing environ-mental racism and environmental justice more broadly also pertains to the principles of equality that require respect for the basic rights of all individual s. The most pronounced right in environmental justice is the right to a safe environment, which has assignable duty holders in the public (government) and private (corporate) sectors. In addition, the principle of self-determination, which honors the autonomy of individuals and communities and their moral capacities to direct the activities that impact them the most, is of vital importance to ensure participatory justice. The principle of self-determination entails that citizens ought to participate in the process of siting hazardous waste, as well as the procedures for determining fair compensation, distribution, and the appropriate environmental policies and practices. Direct political participation, however, is not available for many residents in the burden-affected neighborhoods. The environmental decision making is typically made prior to the time when community members are able to voice their opinions in the public review-an d-comment meetings that are standard political mechanisms in the siting process. The strictly distributive justice considerations fail to address the robust participation environmental justice advocates and grass roots organizations call for; instead, the dimension of recognition justice involves participatory inclusion of voices, interests, perspective s, and knowledge of community members. The combination of limited representation in mainstream environmental activism, agencies, and sciences illustrates the ways that recognition justice is undermined and that exclusionary practices promote disparities in environmental conditions for marginalized people around the world.

The lack of representation in the mainstream environmental movement or the vital decision-making sectors can be referred to as discriminatory environmentalism. In discriminatory environmentalism, representation and participation in mainstream environmental groups, participation in environmental policymaking, representation in federal, state, and local environmental agencies, and decision-making power over the location of environmental burdens and benefits are either intentionally or unintentionally exclusionary. Underrepresentation in the mainstream environmental movement is also a fundamental contention of injustice against political recognition and participatory justice. In an effort to establish a genuine voice that would better represent the environmental concerns of people of color in the United States, alternative environmental caucuses were created. Often highlighted is the First National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit, held in Washington, DC, in 1991, which represents two important foundations of the US EJM: the lack of political representation of people of color in the greater environmental movement and the seventeen Principles of Environmental Justice that were formulated at the summit.

Discriminatory environmentalism also identifies the ways in which mainstream environmental ethics has considerably overlooked the poorest and most disenfranchised peoples of the world in its efforts to securely ground moral obligations to nonhuman nature. In particular, the moral elevation of the nonanthropocentric ethics found in biocentric, ecocentric, and “deep ecology” approaches has received criticism for discriminatory environmentalism. The Indian ecologist Ramachandra Guha (1989 ) argues that the sweeping universalist claims of deep ecologists would cause further distribution of resources for biological protection and environmental improvement away from poor nations to wealthy nations. In addition, various expressions of misanthropy emerged from deep ecology, which served to undermine the environmental struggles of the poor and failed to distinguish between those who hold institutional control over resource use and those who are subjected to the worse side effects of resource depletion and consumption. By making all humans responsible for ecological impacts, deep ecologists overlooked not only the dramatic distinctions between the rich and the poor, but also who has consumed and controlled the use of the natural resources.

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Deep ecology and other philosophies of biocentrism and holistic ecocentrism fundamentally distinguish their non anthropocentric ethics from “shallow forms” of environmentalism that reflect anthropocentric ethics directed at pollution, workplace hazards, and public health. This distinction be tween anthropocentric (shallow) and nonanthropocentric (deep) environmental ethics marginalizes communities of color from mainstream environmental ethics and underestimates the extent to which communities worldwide struggle between values of human environmental conditions and the plight of non human survival and ecological protection. The Principles of Environmental Justice are meant to generalize the environmental concerns of communities of color, and while the principles expose discriminatory environmentalism and undermine the dis course that the EJM characterizes as shallow environmentalism, they also clearly echo the fundamental values of mainstream environmental philosophies.

Since the Principles of Environmental Justice represent the rallying cry of the EJM—“We Speak for Ourselves”— it is reasonable that scholars consider some essential passages. For instance, the preambleto the principles refers to a number of environmental values: “to begin a national and international movement of all peoples of color to fight the destruction and taking of our lands and communities, [we] do hereby re-establish our spiritual interdependence to the sacredness of our Mother Earth; to respect and celebrate each of our cultures, languages and beliefs about the natural world.” Neither the preamble nor the first principle—“Environmental justice affirms the sacredness of Mother Earth, ecological unity and the interdependence of all species, and the right to be free from ecological destruction” (Lee 1992 )—imply the anthropocentricism that so many would hold characterizes the EJM. These principles articulate values and perspectives that are often lost to the discourse of anthropocentric versus nonanthropocentric environmental ethics, which in itself is an academic distinction that most environmental justice advocates were excluded from developing.

Although the mainstream environmental movement maintains an affluent, white membership, many of the mainstream environmental groups, such as Greenpeace, Ancient Forest Rescue, and the Sierra Club, have ad dressed discriminatory environmentalism by fusing environmental justice dimensions to their environmental agendas. Likewise, the EPA includes an Office of Environmental Justice and Tribal Affairs. Similarly, academics have made exceptional contributions to articulating environmental justice perspectives and agenda s. New risk-assessment strategies have added qualitative research to the quantitative standards. These cumulative risk assessments have been used in cases of American Indian lands, extending health perspectives to the preservation and impacts upon culture and extending the scientific discourse to such fields as anthropology and cultural studies. Likewise, this method includes much greater community involvement at the base level of the kinds of questions and investigations scientists should consider in light of environmental justice concerns.

Whole industries have emerged to address concerns of environmental justice both directly and indirectly. For example, the tourism industry, which is the world’s second-highest-grossing industry behind the oil and gas industry, has experienced its fastest-growing segment in sustainable and ecotourism. The most effective efforts address economic, environmental, and cultural sustainability using new technologies in architecture, grey-water recycling, and offsets in carbon emissions while including local and traditional practices in agriculture and resource management. Toxic tourism, “poorism,” “voluntourism,” and other alternative practices bring people into direct contact with communities that are struggling with environmental trauma and injustice.

An additional dimension of justice for reconciliation, called restorative justice, has heightened the degree of recognition for communities and citizens facing environmental trauma in relation to health, safety, environmental identity, and environmental heritage. For instance, at Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park in Australia, the simple technology of a chain-link support for climbing the sacred rock of the Aboriginal peoples, the Anangu, who request that tourists do not climb the rock out of cultural respect, has been in place since the park was established in the mid-twentieth century. That chain-link support has allowed millions of tourists to climb the rock. However, since the park was returned to the Anangu in the late 1990s and began operating under a joint-management structure, it has become a place for cultural reconciliation as part of tourism goals. Simple alternative technologies like signage, a cultural center, a base walk, and new viewing platforms are now in place to circumvent the desire of tourists to climb.

Similar restorative efforts include the memorials for those effected by the technological disasters at Minamata, Japan, and Bhopal, India. Such memorials recognize the victims lost to these disasters, as well as the generations who continue to struggle with the impacts to their health and culture. In Minamata, a reconciliation campaign called Moyainaoshi has led efforts to erect memorials and transform the most toxic sites into community gathering areas. These activities are part of a long process of healing, but they are also relevant to the process of justice that provides a deeper recognition of past harms and leads to future improvements.

Basic Issues

The environmental justice movement has generated a host of ethical questions regarding environmental benefits and technological advances: To what extent is industrial technology implicated in the underlying struggle for the fair distribution of environmental burdens? What is the appropriate relationship between scientific analysis and environmental policies? What technological solutions are available and to whom? How can environmental burdens and benefits be fairly distributed to the earth’s populations? What kinds of risks and social conditions constitute an unfair distribution of environmental burdens?

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The movement has also produced ethical questions concerning fair representation and inclusion in the decision making and social dynamics surrounding environmental hazards: Do marginalized groups receive their proper voice in the process that is likely to affect them the most? How are racial dynamics related to environmental decision making and environmental harms? What role does gender play? Is it morally acceptable to environmentally discriminate against communities, such as working-class and poor neighborhoods, if it is legal? To what extent are all interests represented in the process? Is the process appropriate for understanding the social and scientific relationships, as well as the community perception of risk compared to the scientifically acceptable range of risk?

Environmental justice has given scholars and activists the tools to address the environmental conditions of social justice. A vocabulary and conceptual framework now exists to discuss the relationship between environmental values and institutional racism. The political underpinnings of dominant environmental movements are now more easily exposed by the lens of environmental justice. False distinctions between social problems and environmental problems, which caused the splintering of the civil rights and other movements from the environmental movement, are now confronted by environmental groups, civil rights groups, and the numerous grassroots groups that have formed to address environmental injustices in their communities. The EJM has broadened the possible interpretations of justice by combining distributive justice with recognition justice, and economic justice with cultural justice, under a new rubric of environmental empowerment for the least-well-off populations around the world. New scientific and technological remedies have been initiated to address issues of much greater scope than was originally presented. Indeed, worldviews of science, technology, and the philosophical dimensions of nature and the environment are being revised and transformed by the closer scrutiny that the environmental justice perspective entails.

SEE ALSO Environmental Ethics: Overview; Justice ; Sierra Club ; United Nations Environment Programme .


Been, Vicki. 1994. “Locally Undesirable Land Uses in Minority Neighborhoods: Disproportionate Siting or Market Dynamics?” Yale Law Journal 103 (6): 1383 – 1422.

Chavis, Benjamin, Jr. 1993. “Statement of Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., Executive Director, United Church of Christ, Commission for Racial Justice.” In Environmental Justice: Hearings before the Subcommittee on Civil and Constitutional Rights of the Committee on the Judiciary. 103rd Cong., 1st sess., March 3.

The House hearings, which influenced a number of federal and state agencies, included testimony concerning the environmental racism debate.

Cole, Luke W., and Sheila R. Foster. 2001. From the Ground Up: Environmental Racism and the Rise of the Environmental Justice Movement. New York: New York University Press.

Ferris, Deeohn, and David Hahn-Baker. 1995. “Environmentalists and Environmental Justice Policy.” In Environmental Justice: Issues, Policies, and Solutions, edited by Bunyan Bryant, 66 – 75. Washington, DC: Island Press.

Figueroa, Robert Melchior. 2007. “Evaluating Environmental Justice Claims.” In Forging Environmentalism: Justice, Livelihood, and Contested Environments, edited by Joanne Bauer, 360 – 76. Armonk, NY: Sharpe.

Covers eight different cases and histories of local EJMs across four nations: India, China, Japan, and the United States.

Figueroa, Robert Melchior, and Gordon Waitt. 2010. “Climb: Restorative Justice, Environmental Heritage, and the Moral Terrains of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.” In “Ecotourism and Environmental Justice,” edited by Robert Melchior Figueroa. Special issue, Environmental Philosophy 7 (2): 135 – 163.

This article is one in a series by the authors on the reconciliation project at Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. This special issue includes philosophical discussions of ecotourism, toxic tourism, nature tourism, and poorism, bringing a unique angle in recent ethics scholarship on ecotourism and environmental justice.

Gottlieb, Robert. 2005. Forcing the Spring: The Transformation of the American Environmental Movement. Rev. ed. Washington, DC: Island Press.

A revolutionary environmental history revealing various origins of the EJM and its early parallel path with the mainstream environmental movement.

Guha, Ramachandra. 1989. “Radical American Environmentalism and Wilderness Preservation: A Third World Critique.” Environmental Ethics 11 (1): 71 – 83.

A seminal critique of Western environmental philosophy.

Lavelle, Marianne, and Marcia Coyle. 1992. “Unequal Protection: The Racial Divide in Environmental Law.” National Law Journal 15 (3): S2 – S12.

Lee, Charles, ed. 1992. Proceedings: The First National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit. New York: United Church of Christ, Commission for Racial Justice.

A crucial moment in the EJM, and a defining document of the breadth and depth of the movement.

Mohai, Paul, and Bunyan Bryant. 1992. “Environmental Racism: Reviewing the Evidence.” In Race and the Incidence of Environmental Hazards, edited by Bunyan Bryant and Paul Mohai. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.

A seminal study of race and the disparate distribution of hazardous waste.

Nakashima, Douglas, Kirsty Galloway McLean, Hans Thulstrup, Ameyali Ramos Castillo, and Jennifer Rubis. 2012. Weathering Uncertainty: Traditional Knowledge for Climate Change Assessment and Adaptation. Paris: UNESCO; Darwin, NT, Australia: UNU. http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0021/002166/216613E.pdf

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Ottinger, Gwen, and Benjamin R. Cohen, eds. 2011. Tech-noscience and Environmental Justice: Expert Cultures in a Grassroots Movement. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

An anthology of cases and scholarship in cumulative risk assessment and citizen-inclusive science addressing environmental justice.

Rajan, S. Ravi. 2001. “Toward a Metaphysic of Environmental Violence: The Case of the Bhopal Gas Disaster.” In Violent Environments, edited by Nancy Lee Peluso and Michael Watts, 380 – 398. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

Tesh, Sylvia Noble. 2000. Uncertain Hazards: Environmental Activists and Scientific Proof. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

An important work on the flaws in environmental risk assessment.

United Church of Christ, Commission for Racial Justice. 1987. Toxic Wastes and Race in the United States: A National Report on the Racial and Socio-economic Characteristics of Communities with Hazardous Waste Sites. New York: Public Data Access.

First national study of the correlation between race and class and the distribution of hazardous-waste sites. The researchers concluded that race plays the stronger role, setting off the environmental racism debate. Follow-up studies in 1992 (Toxic Wastes and Race, Revisited) and 2007 (Toxic Wastes and Race at Twenty: 1987 – 2007) address methodological challenges and confirm the continuance of racial disparities in hazardous-waste site distribution.

Wenz, Peter S. 2001. “Just Garbage.” In Faces of Environmental Racism: Confronting Issues of Global Justice, edited by Laura Westra and Bill E. Lawson, 57 – 72. 2nd ed. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield.

Whyte, Kyle Powys. 2013. “Justice Forward: Tribes, Climate Adaptation, and Responsibility.” In “Climate Change and Indigenous Peoples in the United States: Impacts, Experiences, and Actions,” edited by Julie Koppel Maldonado, Rajul E. Pandya, and Benedict J. Colombi. Special issue, Climate Change 120 (3): 517 – 530.

Robert Melchior Figueroa
Revised by Figueroa

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Source Citation   

Gale Document Number: GALE|CX3727600272