In a recent article, Krystal Vasquez, PhD Candidate at the California Institute of Technology, wrote about her experience studying air pollution from wildfires and her experience as a disabled researcher. She wrote, “while the fires themselves don’t discriminate, there are systems in place that do.” Krystal joined Climate for Health Director, Rebecca Rehr, and Adriane Griffen, Senior Director of Public Health and Leadership at the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD), to discuss disability rights as an important tenet of environmental justice, climate solutions, and disaster planning.
Throughout the conversation, Adriane and Krystal provided concrete and tangible advice for a more inclusive planning process: start conversations with people you know and can help create change, include alt text for all early warning systems, engage diverse stakeholders including disabled people early, partnerships are key, and get more comfortable with being corrected (or, simply asking rather than asserting).
Adriane asked us to think about an important question as we continue to build equitable climate solutions: “Is what I’m doing for all?” Start with this question and ask it at every step. And, Krystal challenged us to look around the table and ask, “Who is not here that should be?” If we can take these steps and follow this advice, we’ll be closer to a more equitable future.
Krystal’s article for Environmental Health News: A disability should not be a death sentence during a natural disaster
Resources from the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD)
Resources from ecoAmerica and Climate for Health