In light of our current ecological transition, the Rachel Carson Council believes it is important to deepen relationships with our partner grassroots organizations to ensure that everyone has the right to environmental justice, articulated by the North Carolina Environmental Justice Network as “the right to a safe, healthy, productive, and sustainable environment…where ‘environment’ is considered in its totality to include the ecological (biological), physical (natural and built), social, political, aesthetic, and economic environments.”
Climate change is not a distant disaster. Caused by the burning of fossil fuels such as coal and natural gas, unsustainable agricultural practices, the destruction of forests, and excessive levels of consumption, the effects of climate change are now unmistakable in the United States, and even more so in the developing world. We are witnessing increased temperatures, more severe hurricanes, extended droughts, changes in agricultural patterns leading to food scarcity, loss of biodiversity, melting glaciers and rising sea levels, public health epidemics, and forced migration. These adverse impacts of global warming are disproportionately borne by communities of color and low-income communities in the United States and around the world. Thus, the Rachel Carson Council works to build strong links between traditional environmental organizing, national advocacy, and the climate justice movement, which has led the effort to underscore that communities and countries exploited through racial and economic inequality are the most vulnerable to climate change. The Rachel Carson Council aims to support and join the mobilization of communities most affected by climate change and to work to reduce income inequality by advocating for the creation of jobs in clean energy, sustainable agriculture, and energy efficiency. See our forthcoming publication, The Atlantic Coast Pipeline: Fracking, Environmental Justice, and Civic Action, which will be distributed in Fall 2017.
Food, at its purest, connects humans to the natural world natural world. Unfortunately, the industrial scale of meat production and agriculture gives us the impression that we as consumers are far removed from production. Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), corn and soy monocultures, subsidies, and unfair labor contracts become invisible, or too removed to seem worrisome.
In our recent publications, Pork and Pollution and Fowl Matters, we reveal the consequences of swine and poultry waste on consumers, frontline communities, and the environment. Cheap beef, barbecue, and chicken wreak havoc on the air, water, soil and on the health and well-being of communities, workers, farmers, and consumers across the country. We address our unsustainable food system through policy change and building social movements, as well as by amplifying smaller-scale alternatives. Together, we can work for a more decentralized, democratic, and cooperative agriculture system—one that has been practiced by traditional farming communities for millennia.
The healthiest communities enjoy the right to clean air, land, water, food, and energy. This means that they are free from exposure to nuclear testing, pesticides, toxic chemicals, and hazardous wastes. In the last four decades, the failure to regulate toxic substances has put human health and reproductive justice in jeopardy. As we know from reports like Toxic Waste and Race at 20, the concentration of waste disproportionately impacts low-income communities and communities of color.