By Samantha Hepburn
In the expansion of its iron ore mine in Western Pilbara, Rio Tinto blasted the Juukan Gorge 1 and 2 — Aboriginal rock shelters dating back 46,000 years. These sites had deep historical and cultural significance.
The destruction of a significant Aboriginal site is not an isolated incident. Puutu Kunti Kurrama And Pinikura Aboriginal Corporation
Not an Isolated Incident<p>The history of large developments destroying Indigenous heritage sites is, tragically, long.</p><p>A $2.1 billion light rail line in Sydney, completed last year, <a href="https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/this-is-a-tragic-loss-sydney-light-rail-construction-destroyed-heritage-site-20190322-p516qk.html" target="_blank">destroyed a site</a> of considerable significance.</p><p>More than 2,400 stone artifacts were unearthed in a small excavated area. It indicated Aboriginal people had used the area between 1788 and 1830 to manufacture tools and implements from flint brought over to Australia on British ships.</p><p>Similarly, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/aug/27/the-rocks-remember-the-fight-to-protect-burrup-peninsulas-rock-art" target="_blank">ancient rock art</a> on the Burrup Peninsula in north-western Australia is under increasing threat from a gas project. The site contains more than one million rock carvings (petroglyphs) across 36,857 hectares.</p><p>This area is under the custodianship of Ngarluma people and four other traditional owners groups: the Mardudhunera, the Yaburara, the Yindjibarndi and the Wong-Goo-Tt-Oo.</p><p>But a <a href="https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Environment_and_Communications/BurrupPeninusla/Report" target="_blank">Senate inquiry</a> revealed emissions from adjacent industrial activity may significantly damage it.</p><p><span></span>The West Australian government is <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2020/jan/29/australia-lodges-world-heritage-submission-for-50000-year-old-burrup-peninsula-rock-art" target="_blank">seeking world heritage listing</a> to try to increase protection, as the regulatory frameworks at the national and state level aren't strong enough. Let's explore why.</p>
What Do the Laws Say?<p>The recently renamed federal Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment is responsible for listing new national heritage places, and regulating development actions in these areas.</p><p>At the federal level, the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (<a href="http://www.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/viewdb/au/legis/cth/consol_act/epabca1999588/" target="_blank">EPBC Act</a>) provides a legal framework for their management and protection. It is an offence to impact an area that has national heritage listing.</p><p>But many ancient Aboriginal sites have no national heritage listing. For the recently destroyed Juurkan gorge, the true archaeological significance was uncovered <em>after</em> consent had been issued and there were no provisions to reverse or amend the decision once this new information was discovered.</p><p>Where a site has no national heritage listing, and federal legislation has no application, state laws apply.</p><p>For the rock shelters in the Western Pilbara, Rio Tinto was abiding by Western Australia's <a href="http://www.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/viewdb/au/legis/wa/consol_act/aha1972164/" target="_blank">Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972</a> — which is now nearly 50 years old.</p>
No Consultation With Traditional Owners<p>The biggest concern with this act is there's no statutory requirement ensuring traditional owners be consulted.</p><p>This means traditional owners are left out of vital decisions regarding the management and protection of their cultural heritage. And it confers authority upon a committee that, in the words of a <a href="https://www.dplh.wa.gov.au/getmedia/11dd5b41-fcf9-4216-a1ac-06ece672c087/AH-Review-Position-Comparison-for-Aboriginal-People" target="_blank">discussion paper</a>, "lacks cultural authority."</p>
Weak in Other Jurisdictions<p>The WA Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972 is <a href="https://www.dplh.wa.gov.au/aha-review" target="_blank">under review</a>. The proposed reforms seek to abolish the committee, ensuring future decisions on Aboriginal cultural heritage give appropriate regard to the views of the traditional Aboriginal owners.</p><p><span></span>NSW is the only state with no stand-alone Aboriginal heritage legislation. However, a <a href="https://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/researchpapers/Documents/aborigines-land-and-national-parks-in-nsw/02-97.pdf" target="_blank">similar regulatory framework</a> to WA applies in NSW under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974.</p><p>There, if a developer is likely to impact cultural heritage, they must apply for an Aboriginal Heritage Impact Permit. The law requires "regard" to be given to the interests of Aboriginal owners of the land, but this vague provision does not mandate consultation.</p><p>What's more, the burden of proving the significance of an Aboriginal object depends upon external statements of significance. But Aboriginal people, not others, should be responsible for determining the cultural significance of an object or area.</p><p>As in WA, the NSW regulatory framework is weak, opening up the risk for economic interests to be prioritized over damage to cultural heritage.</p>
Outdated Laws<p>The federal minister has discretion to assess whether state or territory laws are already effective.</p><p>If they decide state and territory laws are ineffective and a cultural place or object is under threat, then the federal <a href="http://www.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/viewdb/au/legis/cth/consol_act/aatsihpa1984549/" target="_blank">Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act 1984</a> can be used.</p><p>But this act is also weak. It was first implemented as an interim measure, intended to operate for two years. It has now been in operation for 36 years.</p><p>In fact, <a href="http://ymac.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Extracts-from-Evatt-Review-of-the-Aboriginal-and-Torres-Strait-Islander-Heritage-Protection-Act-1984.pdf" target="_blank">a 1995 report</a> assessed the shortcomings of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act.</p><p>It recommended minimum standards be put in place. This included ensuring any assessment of Aboriginal cultural significance be made by a properly qualified body, with relevant experience.</p><p>It said the role of Aboriginal people should be appropriately recognized and statutorily endorsed. Whether an area or site had particular significance according to Aboriginal tradition should be regarded as a subjective issue, determined by an assessment of the degree of intensity of belief and feeling of Aboriginal people.</p><p><span></span>Twenty-five years later, this is yet to happen.</p>
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Ben Knight
Reports that the new coronavirus is disproportionately killing African Americans in the United States are no surprise to the country's public health researchers. Numerous examples, from polluted water in Flint, Michigan, to parasites like hookworm in Alabama, have long shown that African Americans are more exposed to environmental dangers and ill-health than white Americans.
But a study into one of the most enduring of these threats — lead poisoning among children —provides a new measure of what many say is the toxic effect of systematic racism in the US.
The Danger of Being African American<p>Statistically, the increased risk of lead poisoning associated with being black persists even when you correct for all other factors, from poverty to education levels to the presence of smokers in the home, to quality of housing.</p><p>"A lot of people had been saying: 'oh black children are just more at risk because they're more likely to be poor,'" said study co-author Deniz "Dersim" Yeter, an independent academic and undergraduate nursing student in Kansas. "Yeah, poverty's a problem, but it's nothing compared to being a black child in America."</p><p>Yeter was "astounded" by the results of their three-year analysis. "I knew it was bad, but I was expecting something like a marginal increase, something statistically significant, but ... not two to six times higher," they told DW. "That is obscene."</p><p>The study includes some surprising conclusions: The social condition of being African American is a bigger risk than living in an old house. In other words, black children living in buildings built between 1950-1977 are six times more likely to have elevated levels of lead in their blood than white children living in a building of that era.</p><p>That date is important. The US began putting restrictions on the lead content of paint in 1977. But leaded paint was never systematically removed from old buildings, and the US Department of Housing estimates that over 3.6 million homes housing children still contain lead hazards.</p><p>"It's so bad," Yeter said. "It deteriorates, it's little pieces of dust, you inhale it, kids touch stuff, touch their mouths, absorb it. [Before the 1950s] it used to be so bad that kids would go into seizures, go to the hospital and die, because there was so much lead in their blood."</p>
The Consequences of 'Redlining'<p>The figures Yeter unearthed aren't surprising to community workers in areas where lead poisoning is just one of many health hazards that African Americans face.</p><p>"You just have look around you," said Kinzer Pointer, pastor and health campaigner in an overwhelmingly African-American community in Buffalo, New York, a city where most of the housing is older than 1978 and 40% of children tested in 2016 had an elevated blood lead level.</p><p>Buffalo is a prime example of the effects of "redlining" — the exclusion of minorities in the US from everything from insurance, to grocery stores — which offers a clue to how racism leads to poor health. </p><p>Pointer said that in the neighborhood he serves, the nearest supermarket selling fresh fruit and vegetables is over five miles away, and 60% of people don't own their own transport. "People live on fast food," he said.</p>
The 'Color-Blind' Failure<p>David Rosner, co-author of the 2014 book Lead Wars, which traces the post-war history of lead poisoning, said racism has always been part of why lead poisoning has been tolerated.</p><p>As he explained, after the war, the Lead Industries Association even tried to blame black parents for letting their children eat paint: One 1956 letter showed the LIA arguing to government that lead poisoning was a problem of "educating the parents, but most of the cases are in Negro and Puerto Rican families, and how does one tackle that job?" </p><p>With their study, Yeter wants to show that hidden, structural racism can be just as dangerous, and that "color-blind" public health screening only exacerbates the problem. </p><p>Currently, blood lead screening is recommended (by organizations like the American Academy of Pediatrics) when children live in old buildings or belong to a certain economic class. Yeter says not addressing race too, blinds authorities to the endemic discrimination. </p><p>"If you're ignoring black race as a leading risk factor — you're leaving so many black kids at far greater risk out of the local, state, and federal response." He added: "To act like there's no politics behind people being at risk, or what causes that, or how to solve that... it's political!"</p>
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By Derrick Z. Jackson
As much as hurricanes Katrina and Maria upended African American and Latinx families, the landfall of the coronavirus brings a gale of another order. This Category 5 of infectious disease packs the power to level communities already battered from environmental, economic, and health injustice. If response and relief efforts fail to adequately factor in existing disparities, the current pandemic threatens a knockout punch to the American Dream.
Them That Have Get the Test<p>While most Americans have been left hanging in collective anxiety over the Trump administration's abominable botching of the preparations needed to make COVID-19 tests widely available, <a href="https://thehill.com/changing-america/enrichment/arts-culture/490427-chris-cuomo-is-the-latest-of-these-prominent-figures" target="_blank">actors,</a> athletes, college presidents such as Harvard's Lawrence Bacow, and politicians such as Kentucky Senator Rand Paul have gotten tested.</p><p>In terms of math, perhaps the most telling case was the Utah Jazz.</p><p>When it was suspected that one Jazz player had coronavirus while in Oklahoma City for a National Basketball Association road game, the state of Oklahoma conducted 58 tests on the team's entire traveling party. At the time, the United States was so short of test kits that state labs were averaging just <a href="https://www.thedailybeast.com/how-did-the-nba-push-through-58-coronavirus-tests-for-the-utah-jazz-when-almost-no-one-else-can-get-them" target="_blank">55 tests<em> per state</em></a> according to the Daily Beast.</p><p>While that testing thankfully helped trigger a national shutdown of spectator sports, music festivals, and business conventions, it also symbolized the divide between the haves and have nots. Many other <a href="https://www.cbssports.com/nba/news/coronavirus-kevin-durant-marcus-smart-rudy-gobert-among-nba-players-who-have-been-infected-with-covid-19/" target="_blank">NBA teams</a> were quickly tested through official relationships with top medical centers and private services. An NBA official <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2020/03/19/nba-players-celebrities-coronavirus-test-access/" target="_blank">told the Washington Post</a>, "We had, and still have, tests at the ready for our players." The official said that testing was, "One phone call away."</p><p>That level of access rightly angered New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. As he tweeted, "An entire NBA team should NOT get tested for COVID-19 while there are critically ill patients waiting to be <a href="https://twitter.com/NYCMayor/status/1240029424394829829" target="_blank">tested</a>. Tests should not be for the wealthy, but for the sick."</p><p>Or consider the <a href="https://blockclubchicago.org/2020/03/17/hoarders-leave-little-food-for-low-income-and-snap-recipients-who-cant-afford-to-stock-up/" target="_blank">cleaning out</a> of grocery stores in panic buying, a phenomenon that clearly advantages those with <a href="https://nypost.com/2020/03/18/chic-hamptons-food-stores-ransacked-by-the-wealthy-amid-coronavirus-pandemic/" target="_blank">disposable income</a> while leaving empty shelves to the disadvantaged. Ironically, some of those left empty handed are the very farmworkers who picked the vegetables for the cleaned-out shelves.</p><p>In upstate New York, Luis Jimenez, head of the immigrant farmworker group Alianza Agricola, <a href="https://prospect.org/coronavirus/american-farmworkers-essential-but-unprotected/" target="_blank">told</a> The American Prospect magazine and Capital & Main, a California non-profit news organization, "We can't buy food until we get off work, and by then the store shelves are empty — no rice or eggs or meat."</p><p>Selfishness is already on full display in the corporate clamor for bailouts, led by the airline industry's request for <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/03/18/trump-coronavirus-plan-bailouts/" target="_blank">$50 billion</a>. This is despite the industry being <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/16/opinion/airlines-bailout.html" target="_blank">notorious</a> for throwing free cash on stock buybacks to increase shareholder earnings instead of improving consumer service, worker pay or creating rainy day funds. So far, President Trump has said, "We're going to back the airlines 100 percent."</p>
Who Has Workers’ Backs?<p>There is no such pledge of 100-percent backing for workers who keep America humming with honest, <a href="https://www.nbcnews.com/id/38168029/ns/business-careers/t/lowest-paying-jobs-america/#.XnUSo257mfU" target="_blank">humble labor</a>, from cashiers to cleaners in hotels and from farm workers to restaurant servers. Far more needs to be done to take care of these workers who are the backbone of Fortune 500 profits yet are the first to have their backs broken financially in economic crisis.</p><p>The proposed one-time check of up to $3,400 for a family of four does not come close to the <a href="https://livingwage.mit.edu/articles/61-new-living-wage-data-for-now-available-on-the-tool" target="_blank">average monthly living wage</a> of $5,734 in the United States, according to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Living Wage Calculator. Undocumented workers do not get a check at all. The 60-day foreclosure moratorium for homeowners does not cover America's 40 million renters. That is a huge consideration as close to three quarters of white families <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/09/28/black-and-hispanic-families-are-making-more-money-but-they-still-lag-far-behind-whites/" target="_blank">own homes</a>, while less than half of African American and Latinx families do.</p><p>In another arena<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/14/opinion/coronavirus-pelosi-sick-leave.html" target="_blank"> where the working poor are barely backed at all</a>, only about 20 percent of private-sector workers <a href="https://drive.google.com/file/d/1ehDeiDJBCjJublGNOrvwi__oYq2MNxBg/view" target="_blank">are covered</a> in the new coronavirus <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/03/16/paid-sick-leave-coronavirus-house-bill/" target="_blank">paid sick leave</a> legislation. According to the New York Times, a <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/14/opinion/sunday/coronavirus-paid-sick-leave.html" target="_blank">combined 2 million</a> people work at McDonald's, Walmart, Kroger, Subway, Burger King, Pizza Hut, Target, Marriott, Wendy's, and Taco Bell alone and all of them normally lack any paid sick time. In recent days, President Trump has <a href="https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/remarks-president-trump-vice-president-pence-members-coronavirus-task-force-press-briefing-4/" target="_blank">praised</a> many such companies for pledging to offer pick-up meals and parking lot space for drive-through virus testing.</p><p>Many of those companies have temporarily covered their public relations flanks by offering two weeks of COVID-19 sick pay. But if coronavirus is anything like the 1918 flu that killed 675,000 Americans in <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/paloma/daily-202/2020/03/26/daily-202-government-experts-warn-of-a-second-wave-of-coronavirus-cases-as-the-health-system-struggles/5e7c543f88e0fa101a752cd1/" target="_blank">three waves</a>, we need permanent paid sick pay to account for future illness. While 75 percent of Americans receive some paid sick days, only 25 percent of fast food workers do, according to the Washington Post. The United States is also the only nation in the developed world with no form of paid family leave. In a 2013 <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/ehs/ehsnet/docs/jfp-foodworker-beliefs-working-ill.pdf" target="_blank">survey</a> by the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control, 60 percent of food workers said they have worked while ill and 43 percent said they came to work because there was no sick leave policy.</p><p>Congressional Republicans steadfastly refuse to consider making paid leaves permanent, even though science says we would all be better off if low-wage workers had these safety nets. Paid family leave is particularly beneficial to low-income mothers, reducing the incidence of <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0167629615000533" target="_blank">early birth</a>, low birthweight, <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-infantmortality-maternity-leav/paid-maternity-leave-linked-to-lower-infant-mortality-rates-idUSKCN0X51S0" target="_blank">infant mortality</a> and <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29098488" target="_blank">maternal health.</a> It also results in better long-term health for disadvantaged children, with <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/pam.22012" target="_blank">less obesity</a> and attention deficit. One study bluntly said, "Paid maternity leave has particularly large impacts on the children of unmarried and black mothers."</p>
Disparities the Coronavirus Exploits<p>The risk of unequal treatment is embedded in even the seemingly universal "we're-all-in-this-together" advice we are getting to protect ourselves and stop the spread of the coronavirus. One person who sees this clearly is <a href="https://www.michiganradio.org/post/pediatrician-says-poisoned-accurate-description-what-happened-flint-children" target="_blank">Lawrence Reynolds</a>, a pediatrician in Flint, Michigan. He served on the 2016 Michigan task force <a href="https://www.michigan.gov/documents/snyder/FWATF_FINAL_REPORT_21March2016_517805_7.pdf" target="_blank">which determined</a> that the Flint Water Crisis in that <a href="https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/flintcitymichigan" target="_blank">54-percent</a> African American city was "a story of government failure, intransigence, unpreparedness, delay, inaction, and environmental injustice."</p><p>Reynolds retired a year ago but was asked by Flint's mayor to be an advisor for COVID-19 care.</p><p>He said he already sees where daily life for disadvantaged people is not being factored into public health advisories. "Take social distancing," he said. "That is much easier to do for a family that owns a single-family home where they can spread out inside the home and have a backyard to get some fresh air in private. That is much harder for people who live in small apartments in buildings where people are always passing each other in the hallways. No one has come up with a strategy as to how those folks are supposed to 'social distance.'"</p><p><a href="https://www.newschool.edu/public-engagement/faculty/ana-baptista/" target="_blank">Ana Baptista</a>, chair of the Environmental Policy and Sustainability Management Program at the New School's Tishman Environment and Design Center, worries about higher rates of COVID-19 among people of color as they are more likely to have jobs that cannot be telecommuted. While 37 percent of Asian Americans and 30 percent of white Americans told the Census they <a href="https://www.bls.gov/news.release/flex2.t01.htm" target="_blank">can work at home</a>, only 20 percent of African Americans and 16 percent of Latinx respondents say they can work at home. Only 9 percent of low-wage workers in the lowest quartile of wage earners say they can <a href="https://www.epi.org/blog/black-and-hispanic-workers-are-much-less-likely-to-be-able-to-work-from-home/" target="_blank">telecommute,</a> compared 62 percent of those in the highest quartile.</p><p>One of those job categories requiring workers on site, of course is hospital and nursing home care. <a href="https://bhw.hrsa.gov/sites/default/files/bhw/nchwa/diversityushealthoccupations.pdf" target="_blank">One-third</a> of nursing, psychiatric and home health aides and a quarter of vocational nurses who work under the supervision of registered nurses and physicians are black, and a quarter of medical assistants are Latinx — well above their share of the general population. Both Baptista and Reynolds rightly point out that current shortages of <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2020/03/20/coronavirus-healthworkers-cdcguidelines/" target="_blank">protective gear</a> for our health care and other frontline workers mark not only an unconscionable failure by the federal government in its preparations but also one that will disproportionately affect workers of color.</p><p>Social distancing also has created other ironies for the working poor and communities disproportionately breathing in the particulates of pollution. With retail stores closed, Amazon says it will hire 100,000 people to fill the explosion of online shopping. Reports are <a href="https://prospect.org/coronavirus/unsanitized-dangerous-life-of-amazon-worker/?emci=4a098407-206d-ea11-a94c-00155d03b1e8&emdi=ca334f38-236d-ea11-a94c-00155d03b1e8&ceid=4338874" target="_blank">widespread</a> that the frantic pace of teams moving around each other at warehouses makes it impossible for this army of the working poor to observe the dictum of staying six feet apart.</p><p>Workers at <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-amazon-com-warehou/factbox-coronavirus-cases-reported-at-13-of-amazons-u-s-warehouses-idUSKBN21E07V" target="_blank">more than</a> a dozen<a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2020/03/24/amazon-warehouse-workers-coronavirus-positive/" target="_blank"> Amazon facilities</a> in the U.S. have tested positive for coronavirus, and more than 1,500 workers have signed a petition demanding stepped-up safety measures. In the world of immigrant farmworkers, <a href="https://prospect.org/coronavirus/american-farmworkers-essential-but-unprotected/" target="_blank">Jimenez said</a> living conditions also make social distancing irrelevant. "We live 8 to 10 people in a house, so how would we isolate? Some have their own room, but I know one farm where everyone sleeps in bunk beds in a big room. At work we have to help each other all the time, like when we have to move a cow. You can't do this alone."</p><p>The ramp-up in online commerce also means increased truck traffic. Environmental justice advocates fear that the increased exhaust around Amazon facilities will <a href="https://grist.org/justice/as-amazon-speeds-up-a-warehouse-community-braces-for-a-deadly-combo-air-pollution-and-coronavirus/" target="_blank">drive up</a> air pollution in abutting neighborhoods, increasing illness and vulnerability to COVID-19. A <a href="https://www.pnas.org/content/pnas/116/13/6001.full.pdf" target="_blank">landmark study</a> last year found that while white households generate the majority of lung- and heart-damaging fine particulate pollution in the consumption of goods and services in the U.S., African American and Latinx neighborhoods disproportionately breathe it in. That study found that 83,000 premature deaths occur from such commerce.</p><p>"Essentially, all the things we do and all the things we buy are those 80,000 deaths," <a href="https://www.mndaily.com/article/2019/04/n-umn-researchers-find-racial-disparities-in-who-produces-air-pollution-and-who-breathes-it" target="_blank">said</a> study co-author Jason Hill, a biosystems engineering researcher at the University of Minnesota.</p>
Drive – Through Testing – If You Have Wheels<p>Another response that policymakers seem to assume is applicable to everyone is drive-through virus testing. While such drive-through locations seem to have proven effective in South Korea and elsewhere, this diagnostic measure of course requires you to have a car.</p><p>Vehicle ownership is nearly ubiquitous in white America, with 93.5 percent of white households having wheels. But according to the <a href="https://nationalequityatlas.org/indicators/Car_access/By_race~ethnicity:49791/Pittsburgh_City,_PA/false/" target="_blank">National Equity Atlas,</a> Latinx and Native American households are twice as likely as white households to be without a car and African American households are three times as likely to be carless. The percentage of African Americans without a car ranges from around 30 percent to 50 percent in many cities, including Milwaukee, Chicago, <a href="https://nationalequityatlas.org/indicators/Car_access/By_race~ethnicity:49791/Pittsburgh_City,_PA/false/" target="_blank">Pittsburgh,</a> St. Louis, Cleveland, <a href="https://nationalequityatlas.org/indicators/Car_access/By_race~ethnicity:49791/Minneapolis_City,_MN/false/" target="_blank">Minneapolis</a>, <a href="https://nationalequityatlas.org/indicators/Car_access/By_race~ethnicity:49791/Miami_City,_FL/false/" target="_blank">Miami,</a> Atlanta and <a href="https://nationalequityatlas.org/indicators/Car_access/By_race~ethnicity:49791/San_Francisco_City,_CA/false/" target="_blank">San Francisco</a>.</p><p>Compounding the problem, many of these drive-through testing facilities are planned for locations such as Walmart and Target parking lots. But big-box stores are often located outside of urban centers, hard to walk to, and not easily accessible by public transit. Such is the case in Southeast Chicago, said Peggy Salazar, executive director of the Southeast Environmental Task Force. Salazar's group has pushed back against coal ash, manganese dust and lead contamination in neighborhoods squeezed between toxic industries on the Calumet River in Chicago and refineries just over the border in Indiana.</p><p>"It can take me an hour and a half to take public transportation to downtown Chicago," Salazar said. "We're so isolated down here, if you don't have a car, it's tough."</p><p>And, with social distancing, it's not like you can ask a neighbor to give you a lift. In a 2016 column for the Boston Globe, Clayborn Benson, an old friend and founding director of the <a href="http://www.wbhsm.org/about-us/" target="_blank">Wisconsin Black Historical Society</a>, told me he knows of countless African Americans in Milwaukee who "can't get jobs in the suburbs because they can't drive. Even if they can drive, they lose jobs because they can't afford good cars and they break down."</p><p>The COVID-19 crisis gives America an opportunity to avoid another response that breaks down once more along color and class lines to treat the least privileged as expendable. For instance, if the exploding levels of online shopping remain a permanent part of our economy, local and state governments must no longer place warehouses in, and run diesel-spewing trucking routes through, so-called "fenceline communities" <a href="http://www.naacp.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Fumes-Across-the-Fence-Line_NAACP_CATF.pdf" target="_blank">already stewing</a> in pollution. In those communities, respiratory diseases such as asthma are often already off the charts for African Americans and Latinx, putting them at greater risk of severe illness from COVID-19.</p><p>Policymakers must find ways to assure that neighborhoods suffering from food insecurity get security. The lack of quality grocery stores and the oversaturation of fast food chains that <a href="https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/11/the-racial-gap-in-fast-food-marketing/382688/" target="_blank">heavily target children</a> with advertising and free toys has already fueled levels of diabetes and obesity higher than those for the white population. Diabetes is another disease COVID-19 can exploit. Dennis Derryck, founder of the Corbin Hill Food Project, which delivers fresh produce to low-income residents in New York City, said the multitude of health issues makes a broader range of people more vulnerable to coronavirus. "We define the elderly in Harlem as easily being 55 because of health disparities," he said.</p><p>Reynolds said we should also change the way we view water. With everyone being told they must constantly wash their hands, many cash-strapped cities that imposed impossible water bills on low-income residents have said they will not shut off anyone's water for the time being. Reynolds thinks this should mark the end of cutoffs, period, saying, "Water is a human right."</p><p>Perhaps most urgently, as medical centers tell patients that they are postponing "non-urgent" care in preparation for skyrocketing COVID-19 emergency treatment, where does that leave African Americans and Latinx, who are <a href="https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/fair-health-survey-viewpoints-about-er-use-for-non-emergency-care-vary-significantly-by-race-age-education-and-income-300078595.html" target="_blank">twice as likely</a> than white Americans to choose emergency rooms for non-emergency care? Will they be disproportionately displaced?</p><p>The NAACP recently issued a <a href="https://live-naacp-site.pantheonsite.io/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Ten-Equity-Considerations-of-the-Coronavirus-COVID-19-Outbreak-in-the-United-States-FINAL.pdf" target="_blank">resource guide</a> pointing out pitfalls for policymakers to avoid so that the nation's response to coronavirus does not exacerbate inequity. Besides access to testing, worker pay, and protecting frontline healthcare workers and those in essential transportation and service industries, the list includes:</p><ul><li>Ensuring access to <a href="https://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2020/03/05/many-districts-wont-be-ready-for-remote.html" target="_blank">quality online education</a> even in less-resourced public-school districts during long closures;</li><li>preventing the crisis from becoming an excuse for increased incidence of racist attacks (already true for Asian Americans as President Trump <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/03/20/coronavirus-trump-chinese-virus/" target="_blank">deliberately</a> calls coronavirus the "<a href="https://www.nbcwashington.com/news/national-international/trump-notes-photo-shows-corona-crossed-out-replaced-with-chinese-virus/2247102/" target="_blank">Chinese virus");</a></li><li>halting the <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2019/01/31/us-militarized-its-southern-border-once-before-it-didnt-work/" target="_blank">militarization</a> of immigration policies that have already targeted Latinx populations;</li><li>addressing virus exposure risk to inmates who are housed and herded in tight proximity to each other;</li><li>protecting our democracy from being upended by disruptions in Census canvassing, delays in primaries, or <a href="https://www.npr.org/2020/03/16/816092179/as-coronavirus-spreads-states-scramble-to-reassure-public-that-voting-is-safe" target="_blank">relocating</a> voting away from senior citizen centers and their reliable, but vulnerable voters.</li></ul><p>The Center for American Progress and the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at Ohio State University also <a href="https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/race/news/2020/03/19/481962/coronavirus-pandemic-racial-wealth-gap/" target="_blank">called upon</a> the nation to attend to the multiple layers of inequities, urging a moratorium on evictions, foreclosures, penalties on late car payments and credit card debt, and covering all workers with paid sick and family leave. In making the call, the center said, "It's important to note that these communities lack wealth not because of individual choices but instead due to 400 years of collective harms by federal, state, and local governments compounding <a href="https://www.marketwatch.com/story/heres-why-black-families-have-struggled-for-decades-to-gain-wealth-2019-02-28" target="_blank">over time</a>."</p>
Assuring Access to Care<p>Finally, it is crucial that our response to the pandemic does not reverse the gains in health care access won under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) passed during the Obama administration.</p><p>Under the act, the uninsured rate for nonelderly Latinx people dropped from 33 percent in 2010 to 19 percent in 2016, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. It dropped for African Americans from 20 percent to 11 percent, for American Indians and Alaskan Natives from 32 percent to 22 percent and for Asian Americans from 17 percent to 7 percent. But uninsured rates have either plateaued or crept up under the ongoing attacks on the ACA by the Republicans and the Trump White House.</p><p>This is the last thing that should be happening as African Americans, Latinx, and Native Americans are two to three times more likely to be in the <a href="https://nationalequityatlas.org/indicators/Working_poor" target="_blank">working poor,</a> and are still significantly more likely to be uninsured. It is the last thing needed in communities where poor health outcomes are baked into local environments.</p><p>It is also the last thing needed for hard working, but poorly paid Americans who are forced to live in affordable housing, or who must live in <a href="https://www.census.gov/newsroom/blogs/random-samplings/2016/09/grandparents-and-grandchildren.html" target="_blank">three-generation households</a>, with grandparents caring significantly for grandchildren while the mother in the middle goes off to work. This happens more frequent in families of color <a href="https://www.aarp.org/content/dam/aarp/research/surveys_statistics/life-leisure/2019/aarp-grandparenting-study-african-american-black.doi.10.26419-2Fres.00289.003.pdf" target="_blank">and is especially visible</a> in many black neighborhoods badly wounded by mass incarceration and the flight of jobs in the last century. Five times more African American women than white women make it into their 40s having never married.</p><p>"Everybody is each other's lifeline," Bullard said. "The daughter may be working two jobs, but if she gets laid off, there's no paid leave, no health insurance. The grandmother may be 62 and not yet on Medicare. We know that children can be carriers without getting sick, and if the kid comes home and infects grandma . . . you kill grandma you kill childcare. The coronavirus shows what a house of cards these communities are."</p><p>The Trump administration's early complacency and confusion in its response to the pandemic led to a mixture of decisiveness and hesitance by churches, schools, concert halls and museums to close down. Who knows how much that chaos helped spread the virus? We may be all be separated by social distancing far longer than might have been necessary because of this president's distance from science.</p><p>That makes it all the more critical that the people who live the farthest from privilege and the closest to pollution not be lost in the effort to stem the pandemic and return to some sense of normalcy. An ominous sign that the White House could care less about this came in late March when the Environmental Protection Agency announced that it was suspending enforcement of environmental standards during the coronavirus crisis.</p><p>The <a href="https://www.epa.gov/newsreleases/epa-announces-enforcement-discretion-policy-covid-19-pandemic-0" target="_blank">EPA said</a> it was trying to "protect workers." But with the EPA being run by a former coal lobbyist who wants to <a href="https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2020-02/documents/fy-2021-epa-bib.pdf" target="_blank">slash staff</a> down to 12,610 (the agency had as many as 17,000 employees during the Obama administration), it is likely very bad news for communities living next to industry.</p><p>A cliché among African Americans is that when white folks catch a cold, black people get pneumonia. Now that all of America faces down the pneumonia of COVID-19, America should not make the same mistakes it did in Katrina and Maria. Coronavirus is going to batter us far longer than the worst of hurricanes. We must not let environmental justice communities be flattened in the process.</p>
By Robert Reich
Both our economy and the environment are in crisis. Wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few while the majority of Americans struggle to get by. The climate crisis is worsening inequality, as those who are most economically vulnerable bear the brunt of flooding, fires and disruptions of supplies of food, water and power.
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- We Can Solve Water Scarcity in the U.S., New Study Says - EcoWatch ›
Approximately 210,000 gallons of crude oil leaked out of a 16-inch pipeline just south of Staples, MN, in Dec. 2009. MN Pollution Control Agency / CC BY-NC 2.0
By Tara Lohan
The New York Times keeps a running list of all the environmental regulations that the Trump administration has worked to trash since taking office more than three years ago.
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By Wenonah Hauter
Five years ago this week, an emergency manager appointed by then-Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder made the devastating decision to save money by switching Flint's water supply over from Detroit's water system to the Flint River. Seen as a temporary fix, the new water supply was not properly treated. High levels of lead leached from the old pipes, poisoning a generation of Flint's children, and bacteria responsible for an outbreak of Legionnaires' Disease killed more than a dozen residents.
- Michael Moore: 10 Things They Won't Tell You About the Flint Water ... ›
- Legionnaire's Bacteria Found in Drinking Water at Nine Reopened Schools - EcoWatch ›
The Philadelphia Energy Solutions Refining Complex on June 21, 2019 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, after a massive fire erupted that triggered explosions. Eduardo Munoz Alvarez / Getty Images
Emissions of the cancer-causing chemical benzene exceeded federal limits at 10 oil refineries across the U.S. last year, a new report from the Environmental Integrity Project has found.
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- Benzene Pollution from Deer Park Fire a "Real Risk to Human Health" ›
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Sometimes our drinking water systems experience dangerous failures, such as the Flint lead poisoning disaster that made major news beginning in 2014. But outside those headline grabbing crises, how safe is our drinking.
Overall, how safe is drinking water for most people in the United States?<p>I think a lot of people think that because water is tested in the U.S. and it comes out of the tap, it must be completely fine. Probably most of the time it might be, but there still could be pollutants in there that you should be concerned about.</p><p>Many of the federal standards that we do have are not protective enough of health. There hasn't been a new drinking-water regulation passed in nearly 20 years. We still don't have regulations for about half of the detected contaminants and the regulations — or the maximum contaminant level — that we <em>do</em> have for a lot of the contaminants are outdated and based on old science.</p><p>For example, the maximum contaminant level for nitrate was set based on a standard back in 1962. Science has come a long way since then. [Editor's note: The U.S. sets the legal limit for nitrates at 10 milligrams per liter, while some recent research suggests that levels above 5 milligrams increase the risk for certain <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28252454" target="_blank">cancers</a> and <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3764078/" target="_blank">birth defects</a>.]</p><p>So even though the drinking water is legal for them to serve it to us, it might still be associated with some potential risks for health, especially those who are more susceptible like children or pregnant women.</p>
What should people do? We can’t just switch our tap water to another company.<p>That's one of the reasons that we put this tap-water database out. We'd love to start a national conversation about drinking-water quality and how it can be improved. We want people to be informed and we want them to understand more about their water.</p><p>We recommend doing your research, finding out what's in your water and filtering your tap water to eliminate as much of that health risk as you can.</p><p>We want consumers to be empowered to ask their water utility or their elected officials about their water. Why are these contaminants in my water? What are you doing to remove them? What treatment technology is available in my community and how are we creating funding to improve water in our area?</p>
There are about 44 million people in the United States who rely on private wells for drinking water. What do we know about the safety of their water?<p>That's a <a href="https://www.ewg.org/enviroblog/2017/08/using-private-wells-drinking-water-safety-guide" target="_blank">big data gap</a> — we don't have a lot of information on private wells.</p><p>There are actually no federal requirements for private well testing. Sometimes depending on the state that you're in there could be requirements to get a well tested if there's a real-estate transaction.</p><p>But usually in most states it falls on the homeowner to get their well tested. And it just doesn't happen that much. One issue might be that people have a false sense of security if they're drinking the water and it seems fine. But the other issue is that testing also costs money. So unless there's some kind of reason to test for it, most people don't do it.</p><p>And when it comes to public water systems, the most vulnerable are often water systems that <a href="https://www.newsdeeply.com/water/articles/2017/07/05/getting-to-the-roots-of-californias-drinking-water-crisis" target="_blank">serve smaller or rural communities</a> — especially those that rely on just one water source, such as a single well. If you're a larger system with a number of different sources and one gets contaminated, you can shut it off and not have capacity issues. Large systems usually have the resources and scale of economy to deal with problems that come up. But for the smaller systems, that's going to be a little bit more difficult.</p>
Which contaminants are you most concerned with right now?<p>Something that you've likely been hearing about in the news is a group of highly toxic fluorinated chemicals called <a href="https://www.ewg.org/pfaschemicals/" target="_blank">perfluoroalkyl substances</a> (PFAS) [that have been linked to cancer and harm to reproductive and immune systems]. We don't have any enforceable national regulations for them and they are pervasive. Some communities may test for them. <a href="https://www.northjersey.com/story/news/environment/2019/04/01/nj-sets-stringent-drinking-water-standard-cancer-linked-chemicals-pfoa-pfos-pfas/3334281002/" target="_blank">New Jersey</a>, for example, is setting its own levels for certain PFAS chemicals. [California has also just <a href="https://www.latimes.com/projects/california-water-pfas-wells-contamination-map/" target="_blank">mandated testing</a> in high-risk areas.] It is really one of the most notorious chemical groups that needs to be addressed.</p><p>[Cancer-causing] hexavalent chromium is another one where there's no federal standard specifically. California did attempt a state maximum contaminant level, but there were issues [after a <a href="https://www.wateronline.com/doc/california-drops-tough-chromium-standard-0001" target="_blank">legal challenge</a> from a taxpayers group] and they had to go back to the drawing board.</p><p>It can become a hugely political issue in dealing with any of these things. Communities shouldn't have to pay for the pollution in their drinking water if a specific industry caused it, but often it ultimately falls on the ratepayers if industry hasn't taken responsibility.</p><p>So we want people to have all of the information available to them. You do get a consumer confidence report every year [from your water utility], but that might not include information on all of the different contaminants that were tested.</p><p>But all of that information is in our database. And it breaks down all of the health-associated risks with each of the contaminants and what our gold standard health limits would be for each of those.</p><p>Most of our health standards are based California's Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment and their public health goals. Those are based purely on protection of health and no other economic or political factors.</p>
Are you worried that more bad press about tap water will lead people to drink bottled water instead?<p>Bottled water is no safer than tap water. It can also contain contaminants, as well as microplastics. What's more, companies don't have to disclose bottled-water testing results to the public, so you often don't know what you're getting.</p><p>That's why we don't consider bottled water a long-term solution, and recommend it only be used in extreme cases — such as after storms or earthquakes.</p><p>I do think it's easy to look at the information and to panic or to even get desensitized. Drinking water quality is going to vary depending on where you live. In California, or some other areas where there is <a href="https://www.newsdeeply.com/water/articles/2017/07/05/systemic-failure-why-1-million-californians-lack-safe-drinking-water" target="_blank">longstanding legacy pollution</a>, there are situations where there is an acute risk with water quality and you shouldn't be drinking what's out of the tap.</p><p>But that's an extreme situation. For most people there's not going to be that need to panic immediately. We're talking about the risk of drinking this water over your lifetime.</p>
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Since the Flint drinking water crisis erupted five years ago, Americans have realized that many cities and towns struggle to ensure safe water. Currently residents of Newark, New Jersey are drinking bottled water after the city realized lead filters it handed out had failed.
- Inconsistent Water Testing Exposes U.S. Schoolchildren to High ... ›
- Newark's Lead Crisis Escalates - EcoWatch ›
Two Michigan environmental regulators implicated in the Flint water crisis plead "no contest" in a bid to avoid felony charges. As part of their deal, they will also testify against others involved with the scandal, which contaminated the town of Flint, Michigan's drinking water with lead and resulted in 12 deaths from Legionnaires' Disease, The Huffington Post reported Thursday.
The city of Newark has begun passing out cases of bottled water as concerns mount over how effective filters provided to residents with lead water service lines may be.
It's important to remember that one person can make a difference. From teenagers to world-renowned scientists, individuals are inspiring positive shifts around the world. Maybe you won't become a hard-core activist, but this list of people below can inspire simple ways to kickstart better habits. Here are seven people advocating for a better planet.
1. Gail Bradbrook<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTkzNDI3OS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0Njg2NzQwM30.HqmQxbSGpGK0jJ0Wp3O8jVdIL1tnG8_iK4Psbf-5AO0/img.jpg?width=980" id="b1c0b" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c1d2a8194bd21377b377089b2edd2fa6" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Co-founder of Extinction Rebellion Gail Bradbrook addresses the audience at the Marble Arch Extinction Rebellion camp. Several roads were blocked across four sites in central London, by the Extinction Rebellion climate change protests, April 2019.
Phil Clarke Hill / In Pictures / Getty Images<p>Molecular biophysicist Gail Bradbrook is the co-founder of <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extinction_Rebellion" title="Extinction Rebellion" target="_blank">Extinction Rebellion</a> (XR). She's <a href="https://www.gloucestershirelive.co.uk/news/gloucester-news/london-protest-extinction-rebellion-bridge-2710501" target="_blank">been referred</a> to as the "Godmother" of this international environmental movement "that uses non-violent civil disobedience to achieve radical change in order to minimize the risk of human extinction and ecological collapse." Bradbrook first co-founded the group Rising Up!, which then progressed and became XR.</p><p>For more insight into what Bradbrook's all about, check out these articles below: </p><p><a href="https://truthout.org/articles/the-global-extinction-rebellion-begins/" target="_blank"><em>The Global Extinction Rebellion Begins</em></a>, Truthout.<em> </em><u><em></em></u></p><p><em><a href="https://www.gloucestershirelive.co.uk/news/gloucester-news/london-protest-extinction-rebellion-bridge-2710501" target="_blank">Gloucestershire mum is 'Godmother' of group behind naked Commons protests who want to bring London to a standstill today</a>, </em>Gloucestershire Live. </p>
2. Greta Thunberg<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTkzNDI5NS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzMjA0NTMwNn0.AFU9gwyLXjw0OPh-aXVLlC7ZGXkfD2hN07Xc2JItook/img.jpg?width=980" id="3fd36" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="b4e8b9e0ac08d966662ad0cb03856b70" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Greta Thunberg, outside the Swedish parliament.
Anders Hellberg / Wikimedia / CC BY-SA 4.0<p>Sixteen-year-old Swedish climate activist <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/tag/greta-thunberg">Greta Thunberg</a> has inspired an entire generation of kids to participate in her "Fridays for Future" protest movement. <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/greta-thunberg-fridays-for-future-amnesty-human-rights-award-2638728894.html" target="_blank">Just last month</a>, Greta and her movement were honored with an Amnesty International award for their "unique leadership and courage in standing up for human rights."</p><p>Thunberg's speeches are collected in her book<em> <a href="https://www.amazon.com/One-Too-Small-Make-Difference/dp/0141991747" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference</a>. </em>She has said that she hopes the book causes panic. "I want you to panic … I want you to act as if our house is on fire. Because it is." <span></span></p><p>If you're looking for a good place to follow what's going on with the <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/tag/climate-crisis">climate crisis</a>, follow <a href="https://twitter.com/GretaThunberg" target="_blank">Greta on Twitter</a>. </p>
3. Naomi Klein<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTkzNDMwNi9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxNTI1NDE2NH0.9eiGPYOdOjgE3KKQglm3k9CjwwxiX3BBlV4LG2nYkbI/img.jpg?width=980" id="b4acc" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="2082acc2f0da6537e537cb8bcfcb5d64" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Author, social activist, and filmmaker Naomi Klein speaks at the one year anniversary of Hurricane Maria on On Sept. 20, 2018. Hundreds gathered in Union Square demanding justice for Puerto Rico.
Erik McGregor / Pacific Press / LightRocket / Getty Images<p>Naomi Klein is an award-winning journalist, activist and author. Since publishing her New York Times bestseller<em> <a href="https://thischangeseverything.org/book/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate</a>,</em><em> </em>Klein has become a strong force in the environmental movement.</p><p>Klein has a new book coming out in September<em>, <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Fire-Burning-Case-Green-Deal/dp/1982129913" target="_blank">On Fire: The (Burning) Case for a Green New Deal</a>. </em>The book is described as an expansive, far-ranging exploration that "captures the urgency of the climate crisis, as well as the energy of a rising political movement demanding change now."</p>
4. Bill McKibben<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTkzNDMzNy9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwNjAyMzQ3N30.u_cW6aeUu-3rwkjess02ofLgrt2WOAffuHFyAuDuLd8/img.jpg?width=980" id="b7ecd" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="e4cdb1d320e60bfac67614a4fe1e8717" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Bill McKibben speaking with supporters of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders at a student meeting at Southern New Hampshire University in Hooksett, New Hampshire on Jan. 21, 2016.
Gage Skidmore / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0<p>Bill McKibben is an author, environmentalist and activist. He is the founder of <a href="https://350.org/" target="_blank">350.org</a>. Nearly 30 years ago, he published the first book on climate change, <em><a href="http://billmckibben.com/end-of-nature.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">The End of Nature</a>, </em>written for the average person to understand the looming crisis. No climate activist list would ever be complete without acknowledging McKibben's consistent dedication to our planet. </p><p>Vox recently interviewed McKibben and captured <a href="https://www.vox.com/2019/5/3/18307660/climate-change-green-new-deal-bill-mckibben-falter" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">his best advice</a>.</p>
5. Xiuhtezcatl Martinez<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTkzNDM1My9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0NTg0MTA0N30.HiO2O62GGQWkuAHN6mUlM5zfLVmXIXIKgMlU8K5EB3M/img.jpg?width=980" id="be9a3" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="ca24fe8ced828e2c8ac1f9aaafa57805" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Xiuhtezcatl Martinez is pictured in the beautiful foothills of north Boulder on Aug. 11, 2016 in Boulder, Colorado.
Helen H. Richardson / The Denver Post / Getty Images<p>Xiuhtezcatl Martinez is a 19-year-old Indigenous environmental activist, musician and youth director of <a href="https://www.earthguardians.org/" target="_blank">Earth Guardians</a>. He recently <a href="https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-features/climate-change-school-strike-825719/" target="_blank">told Rolling Stone</a>, "I've been protesting since before I could walk."</p><p>He's also one of the plaintiffs on the youth climate lawsuit <a href="https://www.ourchildrenstrust.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Juliana v. United States</a>. In 2015, Martinez and 21 other youths filed a lawsuit against the U.S. federal government. For more on the trial, follow EcoWatch including <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/youth-climate-lawsuit-2638943359.html">this article</a> that discusses what's happening with this lawsuit.</p><p>Martinez recently wrote an <a href="https://www.teenvogue.com/story/climate-activist-xiuhtezcatl-martinez-earth-day-op-ed-bernie-sanders-climate-change" target="_blank">op-ed </a>in Teen Vogue in April that explains the power of young voices. "Young people and marginalized communities are reclaiming our power and our voices in the movements that are shaping our future. From <a href="https://www.teenvogue.com/tag/standing-rock" target="_blank">Standing Rock</a> to <a href="https://www.teenvogue.com/tag/flint-water%20crisis" target="_blank">Flint</a>, from the <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/oct/16/dakota-access-pipeline-bayou-bridge-protest-activism" target="_blank">Bayou</a> to <a href="https://www.politico.com/story/2018/11/13/ocasio-cortez-climate-protestors-push-pelosi-962915" target="_blank">DC</a>, we're beginning to see a different face of environmental leadership," he said.<i></i></p>
6. Bea Johnson<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTkzNDM2My9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY2NjIyODMxM30.LGa6D0eNkb0UH6dpKGfi53PqeGnmgfmiRQneozbMxmU/img.jpg?width=980" id="2cf06" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="09539ad2e7da08da1f3fefb01b5d54f7" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
French-American Bea Johnson shows the waste produced in a year by her family fitting in a bottle of 183 grams, on Nov. 21, 2015 in Lille, northern France. Bea Johnson and her family adopted a behavior tending to "zero waste" and campaign for a "life based on being and not having."
PHILIPPE HUGUEN / AFP / Getty Images<p> Bea Johnson fits a year's worth of trash into a jar. Yes, just one little pint-sized mason jar! She is a pioneer of the zero-waste movement. Refinery29 featured her in a recent article titled <em><a href="https://www.refinery29.com/en-us/2019/01/222362/zero-waste-home-movement-bea-johnson" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Marie Kondo Came For Your Stuff; Bea Johnson Is Coming For Your Garbage</a>.</em></p><p>Johnson's blog, <a href="https://zerowastehome.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Zero Waste Home</a>, and <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Zero-Waste-Home-Ultimate-Simplifying/dp/1451697686/ref=sr_1_3?keywords=zero+waste+home&qid=1563372583&s=gateway&sr=8-3" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">her book</a> by the same name have inspired an entire movement devoted to a minimalist lifestyle. She believes that a zero-waste lifestyle is not only good for the planet, but also for our personal health. The book garnered international interest and has been translated into 26 languages. </p><p><span></span>Johnson was recently interviewed by Here and Now's <a href="https://www.wbur.org/inside/staff/peter-odowd" target="_blank">Peter O'Dowd</a>. Listen below for five tips on how to live a more zero-waste life. </p><iframe width="100%" height="124" scrolling="no" frameborder="no" src="https://player.wbur.org/hereandnow/2019/05/20/zero-waste-family"></iframe>
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Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Nick Lyon will be the highest ranking official to go to trial so far as a result of an investigation into the Flint water crisis, The Associated Press reported Monday.
Judge David Goggins ruled Monday there was probable cause for Lyon to stand trial for involuntary manslaughter in the deaths of Robert Skidmore and John Snyder that prosecutors say were due to a Legionnaires' disease outbreak that Lyon was aware of a year before he alerted Michigan's governor, Michigan Live reported. Lyons is also charged with misconduct in office.