Extreme Weather and Climate Justice

Hurricane Katrina aftermath

Some people are more vulnerable than others to intensifying weather and climate extremes. People of color, Indigenous peoples, low-income communities, and people who are old, young, or already sick are at greatest risk.

Hurricane Katrina is a prime example: the poor and elderly lost the most because of where they lived and their limited ability to get out of harm’s way. More than 50 percent of New Orleans’s African American population was displaced, the largest number of any group.

More and more Americans will be living in places highly vulnerable to weather and climate extremes as population continues to grow rapidly in cities, along the coasts, and in the South. Racial and ethnic minorities will be disproportionately impacted because their populations are concentrated in these places. For example, 56 percent of African Americans live in the Southern United States or in urban areas. Furthermore, global warming will add further stress to existing problems in urban areas, in particular poverty, inequities in access to health care, aging infrastructure, and air pollution.

We must take action to reduce global warming pollution now, while there is still time to avert the worst impacts. Investing in a clean energy future is the essential path forward that will help communities nationwide, especially the most vulnerable. It can also create new economic opportunities for underserved communities at this critical time. One analysis estimates that transitioning to clean energy could create over 430,000 jobs for African Americans in America by 2030. At the same time, we need to prepare our cities, coastal areas, and emergency management and public health systems for those climate changes that we can no longer avoid.

Read the Full Report: More Extreme Weather: Implications for Public Health and Social Justice (2009) (2.79 Mb, PDF help)



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