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Environmental Justice as Social Movement


Today, people continue making multiple attempts to create a fair and equal society and improve the conditions under which they live and develop relationships. Sometimes, it does not take much time or effort to implement a policy and consider the interests and needs of communities. In some situations, many organizations, individuals, and resources have to be involved in achieving the desired results. The concept of environmental social justice is commonly used in modern philosophies and programs. Still, its main ideas, developments, and impacts remain poorly investigated. On the one hand, environmental justice is defined as a part of social justice, focusing on environmental and economic benefits. On the other hand, it is correct to reflect on environmental social justice as a specific field where people cooperate to protect the environment using available resources and knowledge. This paper aims at analyzing this type of justice to conclude if it is valuable for American society and from the global perspective. Equitable treatment of all people without biases and judgments turns out to be a significant element of environmental social justice leading to understanding the issues of climate change, pollution, and resource distribution.

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The Essence of the Concept

When people need to examine the existing attitudes toward environmental social justice, there are three concepts that should be taken separately, meaning the environment, society, and justice. In his book, David Pellow introduces critical environmental justice to determine the level of commitment to experimentation that occurs at multidisciplinary levels (Armiero, 2019). White-Newsome et al. (2018) investigate climate and health work equity through the prism of social and environmental justice. There is no clear definition of environmental social justice, but professional agencies and organizations offer their visions of how to combine these two types of justices. The US Environmental Protection Agency explains environmental justice as a meaningful involvement of individuals of all races, colors, and national origins to demonstrate their contributions to the enforcement of environmental policies and regulations (McLean, 2021). Social justice is a general concept that is not focused on environmental issues only but all problems that affect the quality of life. Therefore, it is correct to state that environmental social justice is a critical view of wealth and health distribution within the environmental frames.

Examples of Environmental Social Justice

There are many reasons for people to be seriously involved in the promotion of environmental justice movements and programs. This idea means that it is possible to remove demographic differences like age, color, race, and even the level of income in order to create a strong community. Belina (2021) informs that struggles for the planet’s condition and racial justice are always intertwined because as soon as people learn how to respect nature, they will be ready to respect each other. Taking such a statement into consideration, it is important to admit that environmental and social issues are closely related. Americans need more data to learn how to create and protect the environment and gain benefits as equal members of society. There are three main aspects for analysis, including climate change, pollution challenge, and resource distribution.

One of the main environmental social justice issues is the necessity of fighting climate change. Some people mistakenly believe climate conditions have to be discussed by environmentalists only. In fact, the climate is also a serious social question that has to be answered. Social inequalities and the existing institutional powers are the drivers of climate injustice (White-Newsome et al., 2018). Governmental leaders and healthcare providers have to remember their responsibility to work in the sphere of climate change, education populations, and support specialized organizations. Michael Snyder is one of the social activists who uses his regular sphere of work, which is photography and documentary film-making, to illustrate the connection between media, environmental sustainability, and social justice (“Merging media, environmental sustainability and social justice,” 2020). He concludes that if there is a chance to look closely at some environmental issues, it should be used to understand how to consume natural resources and achieve sustainability (“Merging media, environmental sustainability and social justice,” 2020). At this moment, there is a big gap between what society wants to see and what is actually seen. People know that their activities provoke negative climate changes and cannot find a way to stop themselves.

Social and environmental justice also depends on the quality of air and other natural resources, and pollution remains a serious problem. Environmental agencies and governments introduce air and water pollution regulations to solve respiratory problems in underserved communities. The people of color and low-income communities have to deal with health and pollution risks (McLean, 2021). Many American families cannot afford to buy houses or live in environmentally friendly areas. Their households are mostly located in urban areas with heavy traffic or regions where industrial waste is regular. Some small towns do not have access to clean water and fresh air, provoking health problems and infections that require proper assessment, specific diagnosis, and not cheap treatment. At the same time, people need factories, plants, and cars to earn a living, which means all these sources of environmental pollution have to be used and enhanced. The dilemma of pollution in the environmental social justice discourse is impossible to solve, and Americans, as well as societies across the world, have enough arguments for taking different sides.

Finally, talking about just relationships and opportunities, it is important to find out how to distribute resources and avoid racial or other social differences. Environmental justice is never easy to achieve, which makes it a significant social problem. People point out various reasons why they cannot live in an environmentally sustainable world and use the overconsumption of natural resources as one of the common problems (“Merging media, environmental sustainability and social justice,” 2020). Social injustice because of racial or ethnic diversity undermines economic stability that provokes health issues and more serious challenges. In other words, it is expected to create a system according to which all members of society may use the necessary number of resources to meet their needs. However, it sounds crazy for all people to get what they want, which also proves that environmental social justice is impossible to establish in modern populations.

Justice Foundation

It becomes clear that environmental sustainability is a goal for many organizations and individuals who promote social and environmental justice in today’s world. Millions of people around the globe are interested in developing new policies and plan to contribute to the formulation of a just society. Students and researchers demonstrate their level of knowledge and readiness to eradicate racial injustice and solve at least some sustainability problems (“Opinion,” 2021). Three major beliefs have to be specified: equity as a background, collaboration as a method of action, and positive change as an outcome (“Opinion,” 2021). Social and environmental justice is always complex, but people should never lose hope to make some transformation and achieve success. For example, research and teaching should be supported to build well-informed communities. Strong links between histories of oppression and environmental degradation must be detected (“Opinion,” 2021). There were many positive and negative experiences in the past, and it is necessary to mention all achievements to stabilize the present and improve the future. Regardless of their ethnic, gender, or racial characteristics, all people need the same degree of protection against environmental threats and equal access to information.

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Environmental justice is a social movement that promotes fair treatment and equal opportunities for all populations. It is a step that should be taken to understand how to create and maintain a safe environment for all regions. Many burdens exist in American society and worldwide, including climate change, air and water pollution, and the inability to properly distribute resources. As a result, communities have to investigate the existing benefits of their participation in environmentally friendly programs and notice that some challenges just cannot be successfully solved. Environmental justice should never be treated as a goal to achieve but a style of life that cultivates certain knowledge and enhance knowledge. People need to make many environmental and social decisions, demonstrate their readiness for change, and investigate new opportunities. It is impossible to impose justice either on people or the environment. Therefore, it has to be a contribution of every person to creating a safe environment and equal society.


Armiero, M. (2019). What is critical environmental justice? By David N. Pellow. Ethics & the Environment, 24(1), 109-119. Web.

Belina, M. (2021). No environmental justice without social justice. The Advance-Titan. Web.

McLean, M. (2021). Environmental justice. Rock Products. Web.

Merging media, environmental sustainability and social justice. (2020). The Dickinsonian. Web.

Opinion: Environmental justice must be foundational to the new school of sustainability. (2021). The Stanford Daily. Web.

White-Newsome, J. L., Meadows, P., & Kabel, C. (2018). Bridging climate, health, and equity: A growing imperative. American Journal of Public Health, 108(S2), S72-S73. Web.

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