Georgia Rosenberg ’19, Staff Writer
When the topic of climate change comes up in conversation, the dialogue often shifts to one of partisanship and political debate. People do not often consider the idea of “climate justice,” a term associated with the fact that climate change unjustifiably affects members of low income communities and communities of color both in America and across the globe. Toxic facilities, such as factories that emit toxic substances including arsenic, lead, mercury, carbon dioxide and methane (some of the driving forces of climate change), are disproportionately placed in low income communities across the United States.
Even further than economic factors, studies show that race is a main indication of where toxic facilities are established. This injustice spreads beyond the borders of the US. Individuals across the globe fear for their lives and struggle to put food on the table due to the effects of climate change. In the United States, too many people think of climate change as the reason their beach home might one day be underwater, and others don’t even believe that it’s real.
In a small town called Tsihombe, Madagascar, the American people and government’s ignorance on this issue have led to starvation and uncontrollable death. Many citizens of this town have not even heard of the United States, and yet the environmental decisions we make in our everyday lives are killing their children. Climate change has led to severe drought across Madagascar and other nearby African countries.
In this farming community, crops can no longer be grown. According to the UN, 1.3 million children are malnourished in the area due to the effects of climate change. According to The New York Times, starving families are forced to eat cactus, rocks and ashes. They turn rock dust into soup in the hopes of filling their stomachs. The UN stated that 1 million people in Madagascar are in need of emergency food assistance.
According to The New York Times, the United States is responsible for more than 25% of carbon dioxide emissions in the world in the past 150 years, which is more than double the amount of any other country. The substances churning out of the ceilings of American buildings and factories are leading to the deterioration of the nature around us, and in far away places. American blindness towards the environment has caused water runoff in South Africa to decrease by 48%.
The citizens of the US play a large role in the deaths of countless children in Madagascar–forced out of school and sent to search for food for their family. What America doesn’t realize is that the malnourishment and lack of education in the lives of these children will ultimately affect economies across the globe.
The recent presidential election does not help this cause. Donald Trump once tweeted that climate change is not real, but rather that it is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese government. Though he said during an interview with The New York Times that he believes there is “some connectivity” between human activity and climate change, recent actions prove otherwise. Myron Ebell, the head of Trump’s EPA transition team, recently stated that Trump’s administration would “clearly change its course on climate policy.”
This includes pulling out of the Paris Agreement. According to the UN, the agreement, signed by 194 countries, is focused on “[strengthening] the global response to the threat of climate change” and it “aims to strengthen the ability of countries to deal with the impacts of climate change.” Pulling out of the agreement and ridding the United States of environmental regulations will rollback environmental progress made by the Obama Administration.
Too many of us live in a bubble. We choose to disregard the existence and effects of climate change, which is not a difficult task when we are fortunate enough to live in areas not disproportionately affected by the issue. For some, the steps we have already taken are detrimentally affecting many children and their families, and their mere ability to put meals on the table. One day, however, the steps we take now will affect all of us, regardless of location, race, gender, or economic stability.