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Green for the Common Good: Sustainability's connection to Human Rights

This presentation focus specifically on debunking the myth that work for sustainability is not also work for the common good, human rights and anti-oppression work.

Oliver Goodrich

on 16 October 2013

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Transcript of Green for the Common Good: Sustainability's connection to Human Rights

Where do we go from here?
care for
Why are you here?
• Perhaps you’re into sustainability...
• Perhaps you’re into Catholic social teaching...
• Perhaps you’re into human rights and curious to know more about environmental racism...

Wangari Maathai
"Green Belt Movement"
For those who come from the background of environmentalism, we want for you to become more aware of the way in which your work is for the common good
For those who come from the background of human rights, we want for you to become more aware of the connections between anti-oppression work and sustainability
For those who come from the background of Catholic social teaching, we want for you to be equipped to make better practical choices around environmentalism

the problem(s)
...sad polar bears...
the problem is not
sad polar bears.

the problem is that when we see sad polar bears,
we only see sad polar bears.
3 examples of environmental problems that impact all of creation
climate refugees
weather events
environmental racism
environmental action
that results in segregation or discrimination
One of the most contentious issues surrounding this definition relates to the question of intent.
A significant factor in creation of effective environmental segregation is the fact that low-income communities often lack the organization and political power to resist introduction of dangerous technologies, as well as greater mobility of richer citizens away from areas falling into industrial and environmental decline.
New Orleans, Lower 9th Ward
Chef Menteur landfill and the Vietnamese community
Electronic Waste in Guiyu, China
Chicago, Illinois
Altgeld Gardens
1. Environmental racism is the geographic relationship between environmental degradation and low-income or minority communities.

2. The people populating areas within 2 miles of our nation’s hazardous waste facilities are by majority of color.
3. Racial disparities of color exist in 9 out of 10 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regions.
4. Existing laws and land-use controls have not been adequately applied in order to reduce health risks for those living in or near toxic "hot spots."
5. African Americans are 79 percent more likely than whites to live in neighborhoods where industrial pollution is suspected of causing the greatest health dangers.
6. A Commission for Racial Justice study found that 3 of the 5 largest waste facilities dealing with hazardous materials in the United States are located in poor black communities. This study also showed that 3 out of every 5 African American and Latinos live in areas near toxic waste sites, as well as live in areas where the levels of poverty are well above the national average.
7. Poverty-stricken Native American communities face some of the worst toxic pollution problems in the country.
8. “Approximately half of all Native Americans live in communities with an uncontrolled toxic waste site," according to the Commission for Racial Justice.
9. Living near toxic waste facilities and in low income housing affects almost every aspect of life including food, water, and air. Homes, schools, and workplaces are deemed unsafe because of environmental hazards in the buildings, which are dilapidated and outdated.
10. Children of color who live in poor areas are more likely to attend schools filled with asbestos, live in homes with peeling lead paint, and play in parks that are contaminated.
11. These same children are nearly 9 times more likely than economically advantaged children to be exposed to lead levels so high they can cause severe learning disabilities and neurological disorders. 96 percent of African American children who live in inner cities have unsafe amounts of lead in their blood.
Adapted from http://www.dosomething.org/tipsandtools/11-facts-about-environmental-racism
care for the
human person
"cura personalis"
the "whole" person cares for the whole world
Majora Carter
"Greening the Ghetto"

Port Campaign
The Common Good
Catholic Social Teaching
The Concept of "Creation"
At its core, global climate change is not about economic theory or political platforms, nor about partisan advantage or interest group pressures. It is about the future of God's creation and the one human family. It is about protecting both "the human environment" and the natural environment. It is about our human stewardship of God's creation and our responsibility to those who come after us. With these reflections, we seek to offer a word of caution and a plea for genuine dialogue as the United States and other nations face decisions about how best to respond to the challenges of global climate change. "Global Climate Change: A Plea for Dialogue, Prudence, and the Common Good"
God destined the earth and all it contains for all people and nations so that all created things would be shared fairly by all humankind under the guidance of justice tempered by charity. "The Church in the Modern World"

Where have you seen
examples of this?
What are some ways that you have worked toward the common good?
presented by Oliver Goodrich and Susan Haarman
Campus Ministry, Loyola University Chicago
Full transcript