February 2011: Environmental Justice

Lets Have a GREEN February! This month’s topic will focus on Environmental Justice!

“Environmental Justice is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies. EPA has this goal for all communities and persons across this Nation. It will be achieved when everyone enjoys the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards and equal access to the decision-making process to have a healthy environment in which to live, learn, and work.” ~Definition of the US federal government

I chose to start with environmental justice after reading an article referencing the Dalai Lama’s concern for climate change issues. Tha Dalai Lama recently spoke out about the importance of focusing efforts on climate change perhaps over other publicized issues.

The Dalai Lama argued that the political agenda should be sidelined for five to ten years and the international community should shift its focus to climate change on the Tibetan plateau. Melting glaciers, deforestation, and increasingly polluted water from mining projects were problems that “cannot wait.

Increasing concern has been focused on the Tibetan region because of its extremely fragile ecosystem. Qin Dahe, the former head of the China Meteorological Administration, stated:

“Temperatures are rising four times faster than elsewhere in China, and the Tibetan glaciers are retreating at a higher speed than in any other part of the world.” “In the short term, this will cause lakes to expand and bring floods and mudflows.” “In the long run, the glaciers are vital lifelines for Asian rivers, including the Indus and the Ganges. Once they vanish, water supplies in those regions will be in peril.

As Qin Dahe states above, climate change will affect all other social issues in the coming years unless we join together to work towards treating the world we live on with the same respect as we treat each other. Climate Change will not take just a lifestyle change globally. It will not just disappear until global leaders and global citizens alike have a mentality switch and truly focus on nipping this issue in the butt and quickly.

I personally have always been interested in the environmental social movement since I was a sophomore in high school.  I was a participant on an alternative break to Costa Rica to work on a sea turtle reservation, playing the role of the stork for the unhatched babies, moving the sea turtle eggs to the hatchery in a safe place on the beach.  On that trip I had the opportunity to learn about rainforest reforestation in the middle of the Central American rainforest! It was an AMAZING experience and that was my turning point.

Upon my return, I flew my Green flag higher than anyone I knew. Then slowly like most people who join social movements, I became bored, too lazy to separate my recyclables, and would leave the faucet running while I brushed my teeth.  After reading the words from the Dalai Lama, I decided to reevaluate for myself am I truly an active citizen when it comes to environmental justice and living a sustainable life.  So join me this month in learning about how we can contribute to our globe on a positive sustainable level.

I’m not here to join a movement…I’m here to make a positive lifestyle change! Take this as your invitation to join me on my journey this month 🙂


About bbanville12

I am a Youth Program Director at Excel Youth Zone based in San Diego, CA. We work with students and educators to implement service-learning projects in after-school and in-school programming. I love social justice of all kinds and I am excited to start a social justice minded blog at Wordpress. Follow me each month as a dive into a new social topic educating not only myself but the general public on ways they can contribute to these critical social issues!
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