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Environmental justice

Visit us (http://www.khanacademy.org/science/healthcare-and-medicine) for health and medicine content or (http://www.khanacademy.org/test-prep/mcat) for MCAT related content. These videos do not provide medical advice and are for informational purposes only. The videos are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of a qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read or seen in any Khan Academy video. Created by Arshya Vahabzadeh.

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  • male robot donald style avatar for user Dan
    Don't environmental benefits mentioned in this video only benefit when they are used? For example, what if someone made the argument that more affluent people could afford PS4 so their kids spent all day inside playing video games whereas less affluent children did not have video games and so spent more time outside playing. How would having un-used parks benefit the rich in this case?
    (2 votes)
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    • purple pi purple style avatar for user devonwh
      You have to remember choice. Higher income, well-educated individuals with environmental benefits can choose whether they would like to ride a bike, go to a clean park, etc. Many individuals living in poverty or in polluted, congested areas do not have a choice regarding whether they live near a park, eat clean foods or hold a job that will not harm them. They either do not make enough money, aren't educated about the issues or are not welcome in the cleaner, less polluted places to live due to social exclusion and segregation (usually hidden). It is not solely their fault they live in areas with higher health risks. As addressed in the video, those with more power tend to improve their own situations - meaning the underrepresented, lower class individuals do not receive improvements such as clean air, parks, bike paths and reduced congestion.
      (32 votes)
  • male robot hal style avatar for user Brett Kramer
    There might be a confounding variable here. What if people with high SES status move away from areas with low environmental benefits/high environmental burdens?
    (4 votes)
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    • piceratops ultimate style avatar for user spencersck
      That's a good point! I think the main idea behind environmental justice is that people who have less access to societal resources (social, economic, political, etc.) have less efficacy over where they are living. So you're right, people who have a high SES have the power to move away from these undesirable areas while people with a low SES are left in them since they don't have the resources to move away or fight against the negative change. Hope that helps!
      (5 votes)
  • aqualine ultimate style avatar for user Sean Collin
    I don't understand his argument. He's saying a lot of work still needs to be done in the area of "environmental justice". Obviously you are going to have a better quality of life if you are more wealthy. What's the purpose of climbing up the latter of success if you don't? If you live in a poor area you still have the opportunity to become a successful person, advocate changes, or simply leave.
    (0 votes)
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    • ohnoes default style avatar for user Dong Hu
      I think you are completely missing the point of the video and the concept of social inequality as a whole. You mentioned that someone who is in a poor area should advocate for change or simply leave however this is easier said then done. A person living in a poorer community has considerably less access to societal resources such as education, finances and social power to make the same impact someone who has a high SES would be able to do. They are not only at a disadvantage environmentally based on their location but socially based on their class.
      (11 votes)
  • mr pink orange style avatar for user Danusha aka Dee
    In your video it seemed to really speak of the two extremes (either high poverty or high economically powerful). Would individuals in the middle class society experience both the benefits and burdens in "equal" proportional since they aren't technically economically powerful but also not considered in high poverty; thus placing them right in the middle of your "theoretically drawn line"?
    (2 votes)
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  • starky ultimate style avatar for user Jordan Christopher
    I may be misinterpreting the idea behind the environmental justice spectrum, but I do understand environmental justice. (Correct me if I am wrong - environmental justice is the equal or unequal distribution of benefits/burdens across all groups and is correlated to segregation and/or social exclusion.) My question is what or where is the line drawn between benefit or burden? As stated in the question below, when does a Benefit (PS4) become a burden (keeping one from the park and limiting social interaction)? The answer stated choice and availability, and yes, I see how availability relates to environmental justice, but does 'choice' have to do with environmental justice? Or is this another topic/idea altogether? [Does environmental justice also include the desire (choice) to utilize the surrounding benefits or stray from the surrounding burdens?]
    (1 vote)
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  • blobby green style avatar for user Lubin Deng
    It wouldn't make sense if environmental benefits and burdens were evenly distributed. If you've played any SimCity game, you'd know that the rich will only move into areas with low air pollution, lots of parks, etc, while the poor naturally get limited to the highly polluted areas. This is at least partially representative of real life. The rich choose to live in environmentally good areas, which also have high land values, so the poor have to live in the bad areas.
    (0 votes)
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  • starky sapling style avatar for user Will
    Economicly speaking, isnt there a great monitary benifit to life in these more urban areas? Low SES areas are generally cheeper for all the reasons stated in the video. All else being equal and being force to choose between high and low SES areas, if someone starts with X amount of money and chooses to live in a low SES area wouldn't they be gaining a monitary benifit equal to that of the benifits that are not avalible in the low SES area? There is another comment mentioning confounding variables and I belive those varibles which are not mentioned in the video and should be are how personal economics force these sitiuations.
    (0 votes)
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  • piceratops ultimate style avatar for user tian1di2 jax
    isn't environmental riches an excuse for the rich to waste finite resources?
    (0 votes)
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Video transcript

- Where we live in society plays a huge role in the environmental benefits and risks that we're exposed to. And, I'm gonna actually draw in different parts of society by using this line which represents a spectrum of society. On the right hand side I'm gonna draw part of society that experiences higher poverty and also incorporates the often disadvantaged racial and minority groups. On the left hand side I'm gonna draw a much wealthier part of society. One of the things that we know is that living areas that experience high poverty and have a lot of racial minorities often have few environmental benefits compared to the wealthier part of society. What do I mean by environmental benefits? I mean green spaces, parks, recreational areas. What does that look like? Well let me draw it for you, using this triangle. This is supposed to represent environmental benefits. And one of the things we can see is that the wealthier part of society has much higher benefits than the high poverty and racial minority part of society. And as I mentioned, those benefits include things like parks, bike paths, and other green spaces. So one part of society seems to be getting a lot of benefit while another part of society seems to not be getting as much benefit. But what the high poverty and racial minority part of society does get, it does get something, and what it does get, it gets a lot of environmental burden. So what does that look like? This line is actually supposed to represent increasing burdern. So compared to the high income part of society the high poverty and racial minorities get increasing burden. And this includes things like waste facilities, manufacturing and factories, energy production, and transportation facilities such as airports. And one of the things we have to consider is that these are disadvantaged populations, they are really at risk because they're disadvantaged in many ways. They often have few alternatives in terms of where they work and where they live. They may have little awareness of the risks they may face being exposed to various environmental risks or pollutants or chemicals. They may also have other pressing issues, meaning that environmental issues are low on their agenda and let us contrast that to the wealthier population. The wealthier population may very well be more politically powerful, they can also be economically powerful, literally being able to demand that the environmental beneficial facilities are placed close to them, and the burdensome facilities are placed far away. And being able to control things like laws and regulations to benefit them more so than the other communities. And they can also be better represented in environmental groups or lobbying groups. Now this is all of significance when we consider that the high poverty groups and racial minorities may have health problems such as asthma or obesity, because we know conditions like asthma have got strong correlations to environmental issues such as pollutants, particles and ozones, and these are part of the environmental burdens that these populations face. And also when we consider obesity, obesity can be thought of as a lack of access to safe recreational facilities where people can exercise. So a lack of access to environmental benefits, and lack of access to affordable grocery and shopping facilities. The big concept here, that I want to write down is the concept of environmental justice. And what this concept really looks at is that there is a fair distribution of the benefits and burdens, of the environmental benefits and burdens within society, across all groups. And as we can see here, that is clearly not happening at the moment, and much action still needs to be taken.