In what ways has distributive approach to achieving environmental justice been problematic in western nations?
In the 1980’s, emerging environmental justice movements brought with them the promise of a better environmental future for all; unfortunately there were major flaws in their distribution approach to achieving justice. The notion of environmental distribution was created to equally distribute the environments goods and harms of society and to distribute ones chances of living near a hazardous area, equally. However, much to societies’ amazement, this did always occur in western nations.
Throughout the first half of the 20th century, the majority of people who were able to support groups interested in current environmental issues, consisted of the privileged whites initially. In saying that, it can be seen that environmental organisations still continue to reflect these early principals (Silveira 2001). When environment movements were first established they excluded minorities and working class people from their decision making, therefore their environmental issues were ignored. This exclusion of low-income minorities, which included Latino, and Hispanic Americans felt isolated, further leading them into being negatively impacted on by these movements.
Studies over the years have shown that there can be several theories to explain this discrimination toward these particular groups. One of which states “poor and minority communities have lower capacity to resist the development of unwanted land use [as they are targeted for having] … the lowest amount of public and legal resistance” (Driscoll & Edwards 2008: 2).
This problem can be seen in the United States, as race plays a major role in the location of hazardous waste. A study concluded that “three out of every five African-and Hispanic, and over half of all Asian Pacific Islanders and American Indians live in communities situated near one or more uncontrolled toxic waste sites” (Warren). In America the largest hazardous-waste landfill is in Emele, Alabama, of its population, 79.9 percent are African-American proving that environmental discrimination is occurring (Warren 2007). Not only are they subjected to environmental discrimination they experience much more hardship; unequal distribution of environmental harms, which leads to unequal distribution of education, health service and employment. This demonstrates that the distributive approach at times in western nations has not always achieved the environmental justice many desired.
Driscoll, A. R. and Edwards, B (2008) "Economic Efficiency Leads to Environmental Inequality in North Carolina’s Hog Industry" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association Annual Meeting, Sheraton Boston and the Boston Marriott Copley Place, Boston, MA Online Acessed 10-07-2010,
Silveira, Stacy J. (2001), Boston College...