Environmental justice is one of the major concerns of society today. It presupposes the fair distribution of environmental benefits and burdens to ensure that no communities or groups suffer from unfair attitudes or being exposed to factors threatening their lives and well-being (Abel and Stephan 320). However, regardless of multiple attempts to ensure that no subjective factors affect the decision-making process, there are still numerous cases of environmental racism presupposing that some communities suffer more because of their status or peculiarities of people living there. Under these conditions, there is a need for further discussion of the problem and the creation of practical solutions that will help to improve the situation and ensure that people benefit from fair treatment and the absence of threat to them.
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The proposed paper focuses on the environmental justice issue in Miami, Florida. The given area has always been characterized by numerous questions associated with the unfair distribution of environmental burdens. For instance, Miami is known as the region with one of the poorest air quality not meeting high standards (Ballesteros). It preconditioned the development of multiple adverse effects among the communities of color and deterioration in the quality of their lives (Ballesteros). Thus, today the problem of ineffective waste management remains relevant. After Hurricane Irma, Miami residents accused the government of inadequate waste management and using poor neighborhoods as trash sites for hurricane debris (Ballesteros). Moreover, there is a practice of placing toxic environmental sites near communities of color (Ballesteros). In such a way, at the moment, there is a specific issue of environmental justice that should be resolved.
Another factor evidencing the existence of the problem is the location of the Homestead Shelter for Unaccompanied Children. It remains too close to Homestead Air Reserve Base Superfund Site, meaning that all individuals there face a high risk of being affected by chemicals and suffer from waste (Iannelli). This dangerous situation also shows the topicality of the problem of environmental racism and the existence of undesired or inappropriate practices that might precondition a severe deterioration of the local communities’ health and their well-being. It can also serve as the reason for interference to improve the situation and attain progress.
These issues mean that there is a need for an effective solution to improve the situation. The further disregard of environmental justice and the unfair placement of waste, its poor management, and lack of attention to it might precondition deterioration of the local population’s health and the emergence of multiple adverse effects (Abel and Stephan 321). Moreover, environmental racism results in the increased tension in relations between various social groups and a high risk of social disobedience caused by the inability to meet existing demands (Abel and Stephan 320). Under these conditions, the problem of waste in Miami should be addressed by using interventions that take into account peculiarities of the area and aimed at the improvement of the overall state of communities.
The first possible solution to the problem presupposes the involvement of the local authorities to resolve the issue. The example of Hurricane Irma shows that at the moment, discriminative practices are used to manage waste and use poor neighbors as storing sites for trash (Ballesteros). This attitude should be changed by initiating the discussion at different levels. The local communities’ members can attract attention to their problems by directly addressing the organizations responsible for waste management in the region or touching upon this problem in media. It will help to attract the public attention and emphasize the need for eliminating the factor deteriorating the quality of people’s lives, their well-being, and the health of their children.
Another step towards supporting environmental justice and eliminating racism presupposes elevation of the impacted communities’ voices. In other words, it is vital to provide all affected people with the chance to outline their position and communicate with the authorities to ensure that their demands are considered. It can be organized in different ways, such as creating an organization consisting of local people and protecting their interests or contacting groups already advocating for environmental justice and asking them for assistance (Faiver-Serna 149). This method can be powerful enough as it presupposes the dialogue between the authorities and people who are in a vulnerable position because of ineffective waste management (Faiver-Serna 150). In such a way, elevating the voices of local people and their engagement in discussions can be a potent measure to resolve the conflict.
Finally, the third possible solution to the problem might presuppose examining the role citizens can play in eliminating environmental racism at the local level. In numerous cases, people remain unaware of the environment’s current state and all issues peculiar to the area (Abel and Stephan 320). Moreover, they can disregard them because of the lack of awareness or correct understanding of how they might affect their living. Under these conditions, it becomes critical to ensure that all community members and representatives are accountable for their environmental votes (Abel and Stephan 320). It presupposes active participation in meetings and problem resolving incentives such as mentioned above (Abel and Stephan 320). At the same time, some questions can be managed by using available resources and volunteers. It will also help to attract local authorities and media’s attention and initiate discussion of the problem.
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In such a way, the proposed three solutions can be viewed as potent ways to address the environmental justice issue outlined above. As stated previously, for Miami, unfair waste management is one of the nagging problems, meaning that there is the need to attract attention to the poor state of low-income communities or their employment as placed for storing trash (Iannelli). Adhering to the proposed methods, it is possible to enhance the situation because of the discussion at various levels and the empowered voices of people directly affected by the discriminative policies.
Altogether, regardless of multiple attempts to improve the situation and ensure that environmental burdens and benefits are distributed equally, there are still many cases showing that some groups might suffer from the biased attitude. For instance, in Miami, Florida, poor waste management, including the examples with Hurricane Irma or placing the Homestead Shelter for Unaccompanied Children close to a dangerous area, is one of the topical concerns affecting the health of the local population. For this reason, there is a need for practical solutions. These might include direct communication with the local authorities, cooperation or creation of organizations advocating for environmental justice, or using local resources and to educate people about the existing problems and attain their involvement in decision-making. Such measures can improve the situation and create the basis for new discussions to resolve other concerns.
Abel, Troy, and Mark Stephan. “Streams of Toxic and Hazardous Waste Disparities, Politics, and Policy.” The Routledge Handbook of Environmental Justice, edited by Ryan Holifield, Routledge, 2020, pp. 311-327.
Ballesteros, Carlos. “Groups Accuse Miami of Environmental Racism After Irma.” Newsweek, 2017, Web.
Faiver-Serna, Cristina. “Geographies of Environmental Racism: Capitalism, Pollution, and Public Health in Southern California.” Lessons in Environmental Justice: From Civil Rights to Black Lives Matter and Idle No More, edited by Michael Mascarenhas, SAGE Publications, 2020, pp.147-164.
Iannelli, Jerry. “Homestead Migrant Camp Sits Dangerously Close to Polluted Superfund Sites, Activists Say.” Miami New Times, 2019, Web.