Thank you again to David Radcliff from New Community Project for recently hosting a webinar regarding Environmental Justice. In this webinar, Radcliff covered a vast array of topics. He began by introducing the organization he’s a part of, New Community Project, explaining the organizations three goals are global justice, environmental sanity, in referral to the realization that there is not Planet B, and the third goal being experiential learning, drawing in action to learn rather than just speaking.
The main message Radcliff emphasised throughout his speech was that we impact other living things and there is a detrimental unfairness in not considering the ripple effects of our decisions. if we don’t begin to take care of earth, it reflects back on us in various ways, including flooding, watershed and air quality, droughts, etc.
Radcliff touched on many important topics in this webinar beginning with the talk of oil infrastructure displacing the native people in the surrounding areas. He continued by elaborating on environmental racism in which infrastructure is placed around native people where the directors of such projects care less about who's around and more so on what’s underground. In countries like East Africa, girls are taken out of school to perform daily tasks such as collecting wood, water, etc. whereas in developed countries such as the United States, such goods are provided with an abundance. Further, Radcliff discussed how oil leaks into the Ecuadorian streams and how one native reported “We’re getting diseases, we can’t drink the river’s waters and 20% of freshwater comes from the amazon, and it’s killing the animals that we hunt and in turn affecting our food storage.”
The injustice of oil production wasn’t the only thing Radcliff touched on, however. He then went on to discuss climate and how our anthropogenic ways of warming our earth's climate are affecting different aspects of every species lives. For instance, climate affects livestock and in several countries the availability of livestock affects marriage because they use livestock to pay for marriage dowries. Not only does the warming climate affect livestock in humans, but it also greatly affects other mammal and marine life. Radcliff mentioned a specific example being the wolf population, which has been observed to be decreased from lack of hunting; there’s not as much snow which results in prey being able to get away much easier. Added, the warm climate makes diseases spread more quickly; disease carrying insects travel further and live longer. Aside from food and illness, climate also affects water availability and the filtration of available water.
Radcliff also touched on deforestation and cutting down of forests for human civilization, an extreme injustice served by the human population which goes far beyond our species. We keep cutting into the rainforest and within decades, this could be reflected in its conversion of becoming a savannah, in turn, negatively impacting carbon sequestration and biodiversity. When asked exactly how the rainforest converting into a savannah would affect the human population, Radcliff responded by discussing that the weather patterns in American midwest are actually affected by eastern patterns in the rainforest and the lack of rainforest would result in more dry and arid land affecting food and water and of course we know that a decrease in carbon sequestration affects climate change added more carbon and other greenhouse to the air which has countless ripple effects in and of itself.
Radcliff later closed by emphasizing that while his organization, New Community Project, completes a a number of restorative projects, our individual decisions domatter. The way we go about our daily lives, makes more of a difference than many people realize. All it takes is being mindful and standing up for these injustices that stretch far past our local community. Many people fail to change because they are not directly affected by their actions. Sure, temperatures change and we see evidence of flooding, wildfires, and ice shrinkage, but because it’s not happening in our own backyards, many don’t visualize it as critical enough to change behaviors. But that couldn’t be farther from the truth and this webinar made that clear. As Radcliff says, “If we don’t begin to figure this out and change our ways it’s going to figure us out.” There is no second earth and wit that said, on behalf of Green Allies, thank you David for shedding light on such important topics, it was a pleasure to hear what you had to say.
Learn more about New Community Project and the projects they tackle at: http://www.newcommunityproject.org