Air Pollution is A Civil Rights Issue: Here’s Why

By path2positive

It's no surprise that excessive rates of asthma occur in populations living near coal-fired power plants. This is one reason communities of color show heightened prevalence of asthma. When Madeleine Taylor, Executive Director of the Memphis Branch of the NAACP spoke at the "Climate Change and Our Health" event at the University of Memphis, she drew a parallel between marching for the right to vote and speaking out for the health of these vulnerable communities. Regrettably, point-sources such as coal-fired power plants are are not the only disproportionate health exposures these communities face  from environmental threats. Climate change is another one. As Ms. Taylor writes in the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy blog below, "Changes in our climate are happening worldwide and those impacted most severely are the poor and the disadvantaged." As health professionals, it's our obligation to speak up for the people and populations that do not have the resources to defend themselves. Are you inclined to get involved? Climate for Health can guide you along the way.

Climate Change and Our Health – Protecting Our Most Vulnerable Communities

Southern Alliance for Clean Energy

By Madeleine Taylor I August 31, 2015

Just as we march to preserve our right to vote and to ensure that our children have access to good schools and a quality education, we also march to preserve our rights to clean air, clean water and to communities less impacted by climate change. That is why I applaud President Obama’s introduction of the Clean Power Plan and it’s focus on ensuring everyone will benefit as we transition to a clean energy economy.

When folks think about climate change, the first things some people think of are melting ice caps and suffering polar bears. However, many fail to make the connection in terms of the direct impact on our own lives, families, and communities.

The NAACP has examined the impacts of energy production on our communities and we have found that African American communities across the country are victims of excess exposure to the toxic pollution from coal-fired power plants.

In fact, almost 68% of African Americans live within 30 miles of a coal-fired power plant of smoke stack.  This exposure is responsible for birth defects, asthma, lung disease, learning difficulties and heart disease. In Memphis, we continually suffer from increasing asthma rates.  In fact, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America named Memphis the 2015 Asthma Capital.

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