A Global Issue

Environmental inequality is a global problem. Vulnerable populations, including low-income communities, indigenous peoples, and residents of small island nations, are often the hardest hit by the effects of climate change. These communities may lack the resources and infrastructure to cope with extreme weather events, sea-level rise, and other climate-related hazards. Latin America in particular is at risk, due to it being one of the most urbanized locations in the world along with having very unequal income distribution (Gouveia, Slavic, Kanai, et al.) There are traditional communities within Latin America, such as indigenous, quilombolas, and other native people who largely sustain themselves by forest gathering, fishing, hunts, among other means (Rasmussen, Pinto). Not only have they had their land be a part of various disputes throughout the years between different groups and industries, but climate change actively harms these communities due to climate change interrupting the ecosystem. Eventually, these communities will begin to run out of game to hunt and things to gather from the forest due to everything dying out as a result of climate change.

Europe also has its problems with climate change and the environment. While Europe is often perceived as a region with relatively high environmental standards and quality of life, certain communities within European countries face disproportionate environmental burdens and lack access to environmental resources. Poorer European regions are often more exposed to environmental hazards that can be harmful to their health, and experience cumulative exposure to multiple environmental stressors (Ganzleben, Kazmierczak). However, the rest of Europe is not faring that much better, with a significant portion of the population residing within the European Union are exposed to levels of air pollution and noise that surpass the guidance levels set by the World Health Organization (Ganzleben, Kazmierczak).

Ganzleben, C., & Kazmierczak, A. (2020). Leaving no one behind – understanding environmental inequality in Europe. Environmental Health, 19(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12940-020-00600-2

Gouveia, N., Slovic, A.D., Kanai, C.M. et al. Air Pollution and Environmental Justice in Latin America: Where Are We and How Can We Move Forward?. Curr Envir Health Rpt 9, 152–164 (2022). 

Rasmussen, M.B. & Pinho P. F. ’Environmental Justice and Climate Change in Latin America’, Lasaforum, 2016