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The Return of Social Justice to the Causes of Environmentalism

The Trump Administration's politics could provide a nudge to bring environmentalism back to its roots in social justice.
December 19, 2016, 6am PST | Casey Brazeal | @northandclark
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Environmental activism will enter a new phase with the election of Donald Trump, a prospect that will bring new challenges and opportunities. "Activists will have to decide whether to cultivate alliances with other movements that have sprung up in recent years: The Movement for Black Lives, which has called for divestment from fossil fuels and pointed out that incinerators, waste facilities, and other pollution sources are often concentrated in poor and heavily non-white neighborhoods, or whatever comes after Bernie Sanders’s campaign, which blamed the fossil-fuel industry for blocking climate progress," Jedediah Purdy writes in The Atlantic.

While this would mark a reorientation of the movement, Purdy argues, "Joining environmentalism to movements for economic and racial justice wouldn’t be new." In recent years, the author argues, the movement has become "too white, and too focused on beautiful scenery and charismatic species." It could focus on urban environments under real threat from air pollution, lead and myriad other problems that disproportionately affect the poor. "While more prosperous people tend to take clean and safe living spaces for granted and be able to escape to wild places that feel 'ecological' or 'natural,' poor people often have very little choice but to spend their lives in compromised artificial environments," Purdy concludes.

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Published on Wednesday, December 7, 2016 in The Atlantic
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