Environmental Inequality

"...the gravest effects of all attacks on the environment are suffered by the poorest."

- Pope Francis, June 18th, 2015

What is Environmental Inequality?

"The expression of an environmental burden that would be borne primarily by disadvantaged and/or minority populations or by territories suffering from a certain poverty and exclusion of these inhabitants [1]."

This means minorities (ex. Lower Income Communities) are subject to worse environmental conditions such as higher pollution rates in comparison with more entitled communities.

  1. https://www.encyclopedie-environnement.org/en/society/environmental-inequalities/

Negative Effects of Environmental Inequality

Systematic Racism & Cycle of Poverty

"For decades, many low-income communities have been fighting for their basic human rights to breathe clean air, drink clean water, eat nutritious food and live a safe, healthy life....they have historically been left out of conversations and decision making around the very environmental issues that are directly affecting their lives." [1]

Many of the areas that are targeted with these environmental burdens are areas of poverty and minorities. These living conditions allow for systematic racism (racism and discrimination due to a system such as lacking waste disposal) and a cycle of poverty (a continuous cycle which a family is in poverty and can't make their lives better due to lack of opportunities). People living in these conditions can suffer from health problems from air pollution and lack of clean drinking water. Children grow up in an unhealthy environment and don't get the opportunities that many others are given. This is one way they are discriminated against, most of the time denying them the future they deserve.

Therefore, the worse environmental circumstances these minorities are put under are trapping them in a cycle that is abolishing many of their opportunities.

  1. https://www.weact.org/2016/11/863/

Ocean Pollution

Believe it or not, most of the waste found in the ocean comes from poverty stricken areas of the world.

The reason?

Those areas do not have the resources or money for proper waste collection. Therefore, the areas are not only full of waste, but also contribute to ocean pollution. And it is all because of the inequalities that their poverty status brings them. We can help stop this cycle by supporting organizations that want to eliminate such inequalities in these areas. One of these is OceanHero. This organization has created a system in poor areas where people can bring in plastic waste for money, school tuition, and sanitation. This not only supports people who make less than $1 per day, but also allows for these areas to be cleaned, stopping the waste from making its way into the ocean [1]. Check out OceanHero's website to support their cause.

Learn more about this topic: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2018/06/90-of-plastic-polluting-our-oceans-comes-from-just-10-rivers/

  1. https://about.oceanhero.today/how-it-works

"Natural" Disasters

We all know that climate change is taking hits around all of the world. But some places are getting hit more than others and it isn't even their fault! Flooding, storms, rising sea levels, and melting glaciers hit millions in Asia and Latin America. In addition people in sub-Saharan Africa experience sustained droughts. These people are getting heavily affected by climate change, yet, the majority Co2 emissions come from the global North. 15% of the population lives in this area and yet it is responsible for 75% of annual emissions.

Now, these emissions are contributing to climate change which is largely affecting people around the world.


  1. https://thesocietypages.org/papers/environmentalinequalities/#:~:text=Climate%20change%20is%20another%20example,the%20brunt%20of%20climate%20disruption.