Despite big polluter supported messaging that carbon standards would raise prices, Green for All's 2014 "Climate Change and Communities of Color" poll found that 76 percent of minority voters agree that new carbon standards will spur innovations that keep costs down, as Nikki Silvestri's article mentions below. Minority voters, among other populations, understand the connection between climate change and health issues, and they refuse to be hoodwinked into believing they have to choose between good health and their pocketbooks. The health sector can be a steward for climate solutions and, fittingly, help protect the most vulnerable populations from pollution. The health sector can also help to highlight the fact that a healthy environment has many cost saving outcomes. As EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy has highlighted, “for every dollar we invest in the Clean Power Plan, families will see $7 dollars in health benefits." If you're a health professional who cares about climate change, join our movement. Climate for Health is here to guide you.
By Nikki Silvestri I April 1, 2015
In a March 19 opinion in the Hill’s Congress Blog, civil rights luminary and Southern Christian Leadership Council (SCLC) leader Charles Steele offered a good piece of advice: “Don’t treat one problem by creating another, potentially more serious challenge.”
It's good advice, coming from an organization that has inspired me since childhood, and an organization that continues to fight for the health and wealth of African Americans. Unfortunately, Steele was sadly off target about what solution was creating a more serious challenge for communities of color, unwittingly supporting those who would harm those he's spent a lifetime protecting.
Steele is buying into an emerging and false narrative pushed by big polluters and their allies in Congress. This narrative would have African Americans and other communities of color believe that protecting them from dangerous pollution will create economic hardships, and that these hardships are worse for them than the pollution-caused asthma and other health problems, not to mention the rising health care costs that go with them.
Contrary to Steele’s assertions, American power plants are not “far cleaner.” He’s also mistaken when he says they “are no longer the largest source of carbon emissions.” Power plants (particularly coal fired power plants) are by far the biggest contributor of the carbon pollution causing the most significant climate impacts for minority communities, including disproportionately higher rates of asthma and increased vulnerability to extreme weather like Superstorms Sandy and Katrina.
It’s vitally important that our Civil Rights institutions have accurate information about the issues affecting minority communities. That's especially true for the issue of climate change, where there is a great deal of misinformation out there from big polluters and climate deniers who would try to divide and conquer communities of color in the same way that they try to divide and conquer all Americans on the issue of the climate crisis. So let’s set the record straight, about both public opinion and the economic projections.
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