After slavery was abolished, amendments were passed and political candidates made promises, we thought that everyone would be treated fairly and there would be justice for all. Instead it’s 2020 and millions of Black, Latino, Native Americans, and women around the world still face inequality and discrimination. These people face injustice at work, education centers, healthcare facilities, in their homes, and doing daily activities. So is there really justice for all?
This injustice has only heightened in the 21st century due to archaic mindsets, but also because of a natural phenomenon that will take a lot of power to stop. Climate change has become a global threat and 97 percent of scientists agree that climate change is a real anthropogenic problem. A survey, conducted by The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, involved 26 countries; 13 countries out of those 26 stated that climate change was their prime threat.
Especially for minority groups, who deal with the consequences of this crisis in their daily lives, this isn’t a distant threat, but an everyday reality. As a result of impaired social status and historic under representation in government, these groups are more likely to reside in poverty and have a low-income status. Living in marginalized communities, all over the world, these groups face:
A RISING SEA LEVEL
EXTREME WEATHER EVENTS
LACK OF ACCESS TO WATER
LACK OF ACCESS TO SANITATION
LACK OF ACCESS TO NUTRITIOUS FOODS
INCREASE IN INFECTIOUS DISEASES
AND RACIAL INJUSTICE
THIS IS UNFAIR
Climate change is hurting them right now. It will affect all in the future, irrespective of their color or class. It is affecting the minorities in a disproportionate way now and will continue to do so in the future. Climate change is an obstacle that is becoming more impossible to overcome as time goes on. Starting in the 2030’s, Florida will start to see more than 100 days of 100 plus degrees. These are called “danger days,” days in which the heat index is considered intolerable.
In fact, Miami Dade will have more than the average danger days with an unbearable temperature of 100 degrees. This will only increase the amount of heat strokes and put children and the elderly in a precarious health position. Outdoor workers will find it tremendously difficult to complete their jobs efficiently. Food insecurity will start to increase since the Florida temperatures and soils (harmed by saltwater intrusion) will not be suitable to grow many crops, decreasing the amount of access that citizens will have to food.
This threat is an anthropogenic problem and a significant portion is due to the people who think that climate change will not hurt them. We cannot let companies who are environmentally unsustainable rule the country. Corporations such as Shell, Chevron, and Exxon have been contributing to 10 percent of the world’s global emissions since 1965. We need to demand sustainable companies now because in 11 years climate change effects will become irreversible. Right now you may not realize it, but you definitely will see effects of climate change become prominent in your future.
There are already communities in Miami at the frontlines who are suffering from all the damages due to climate change and ignorant people. Citizens of Little Haiti have been forced to move from their home and into communities which are not high above sea level.
Little Haiti is about 7-14 feet above sea level, making it a great choice for development purposes, but there are people trying to take the property and shove the citizens into places like Miami Beach, only 4 feet above sea level. Not only are the lives of Little Haiti citizens at risk, they are taking away their home and culture.
These statistics show that Miami is especially vulnerable to climate change and it is hard for everyone to ensure a safe place to live in. Our hurricane season this year has forecasted more tropical storm warnings than ever and flooding has increased due to King Tides. Not only are communities in Miami at risk, but also others around the world. These groups live in communities that happen to have a lower quality air index and on land that does not ensure they will be safe from extreme weather events like hurricanes. In a matter of time all of the examples listed in this op-ed will start to affect a significant portion of the world’s population, including citizens of the middle and upper classes.
People are taking their last breaths hoping that there is a way to fight through their problems. Hoping that others will finally see the truth that has been in front of everyone for years. Racial injustice needs to be solved as it is integral and intertwined to our ability to care of the environment effectively. If people don’t realize what racism and inequality means then millions will continue to suffer from an inadequate amount of resources which are necessary for survival.
They won’t have the opportunity to live like we do. After all the damage that has been done in the past, we can simultaneously transition our society into one that takes care of the environment and the people who inhabit it. Humans should be given opportunities and resources because all are equal under the Constitution, not because of their beliefs or their appearance.
EASY WAYS TO GET INVOLVED ARE:
● Join climate action organizations
The CLEO Institute
U.S. Youth Climate Strike
● Sign petitions that will help end climate and racial injustice
● Attend climate strikes
● Educate yourselves and your peers
Join Sunrise School (Sunrise Movement)
Attend informative webinars hosted by the CLEO Institute
Maya Gowda is a 15-year-old at Gulliver Preparatory School in Pinecrest who works with the CLEO Institute, Fridays for Future Miami, and Sunrise Movement Miami. She is a youth activist involved in educating her peers about climate change and its effects. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.