TruthToTell April 16: EARTH DAY AND JUSTICE: Challenges Bloom - AUDIO PODCAST BELOW

On-air date: 
Mon, 04/16/2012

 

 

 

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Earth Day is upon us again.

Most previous Earth Days have attempted – often quite successfully – to raise awareness of our individual responsibility to protect the environment, to protect the planet from global warming and other climate change issues, reducing the carbon in our lives – our air and water and atmosphere.

We’ve seen efforts at encouraging energy audits of our homes and businesses toward conserving energy and work us away from fossil fuel consumption and on to use of solar and wind alternatives on massive and neighborhood scales.

We’ve seen local community groups zero in on urban and community gardening as another way of achieving organic dominance over processed farming and foods.

What we have likely not spent enough time on is advocating for, nay, demanding, polluting corporations and governments to stop fouling the air and water in the most poverty-stricken of our neighborhoods and communities, invariably dominated by families and businesses of color. That’s the American Way – and it has ever been thus. It has and always be a matter of environmental justice.

Dating to the beginnings of the industrial revolution – the mid-19th Century – our cities’ and rural manufacturing might and energy production have been placed where they knew you’d find the least political power and organized resistance to the foul air and water created by their operations. This, of course, resulted in wide disparity in the health of families raised and reproduced in the shadow of those facilities pouring hundreds of killing chemicals into the essential elements of life: the air our children breathe and the water they need to survive and lead healthy lives.

Any wonder why there’s been a 600-700% increase in asthma rates among children over the last 30 years and an exacerbating rate of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) among older people, who, for several generations were already on their way by smoking those oversold cigarettes. (Check out the maps - the industrial northeast has the highest rates of asthma.)

But these were often, nevertheless, the job-producers in many towns and cities. So, just as the mining initiatives and waste-burning facilities of today and yesterday hold the promise of employment, so did they more assuredly promise the highest of risks to the health of their workers and those community members and politicians who believed themselves tied to their success. They still do.

This year for Earth Day, we take on the subject of environmental justice and the manner in which official state, county and municipal government continue to ignore the effects of their environmentally dangerous decisions on their less-powerful constituents’ health and wellbeing and the will they lack to curtail the pollution destroying all of living matter in all of our rural and urban areas – in Minneapolis, currently, the Hennepin County garbage burner (HERC) and Northern Metals Recycling. We look, too, at the complicity of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) and Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) in either ignoring or actually aiding the permitting of such facilities to continue their deposits of dangerous chemicals into the air and/or waters of our urban and rural living venues.

Still, organizations concerned with our sustainability and safety are making some strides toward resolution at the community level as well as policy advocacy in lawmaking and rulemaking circles locally and statewide. An event celebrating the day and those efforts will be held on Earth Day itself, April 21st(22nd in some places), at the Urban League in North Minneapolis, Its organizers and speakers join us Monday morning.

TTT’s ANDY DRISCOLL and MICHELLE ALIMORADI talk with several advocates taking our elected representatives and their corporate collaborators to task for the damage that never seems to end for those living in and around the worst of them.

On-air guests: 

KAREN MONAHAN – Environmental Justice Community Organizer, Sierra Club North Star Chapter

LOUIS ALEMAYEHU – Environmental Justice Advocates of Minnesota (EJAM) officer; Board member, North American Water Office; Writer, educator, activist, poet, father, grandfather of African and Native American heritage

SAM GRANT – Principal, Ujima Consulting and Movement Center for Deep Democracy; Founder and consultant with Full Circle Community Institute and Afro Eco