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Environmental Justice

  • By: Jason Byrne
  • In: Encyclopedia of Geography
  • Edited by: Barney Warf
  • Subject:General Geography, Earth & Environmental Science

Environmental justice is both a social movement and a research frame. Rooted in the U.S. civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s, the idea of environmental justice gained traction in the United States during the early to mid 1980s. Proponents of environmental justice seek to ameliorate circumstances where people of color (e.g., African Americans, Asians, Latinos) and low-income earners (i.e., people below the poverty line and the working poor) are disproportionately exposed to environmental harms and/or lack access to environmental benefits. Advocates of environmental justice believe that all people—irrespective of race, ethnicity, gender, or class—have the right to live in a clean, healthy, and safe environment and to enjoy equal access to safe and healthy workplaces, schools, and recreation areas and to safe and ...

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