What is environmental justice?

May 29, 2008 at 8:38 pm (PERRO) (, , , , , , , , )

Pilsen and pollution

Image from Flickr by Senor Codo

This is the question posed by Green Daily blogger, Leslie Wolcott.

Wolcott asks: “So what is a fair way to deal with the seemingly inevitable pollution that results from the way we live?”

One American environmental organisation, located in the Pilsen neighbourhood of Chicago, is fighting to create the answer to that question.

Pilsen Environmental Rights and Reform Organisation (PERRO) is a grass roots community formed in 2004, by a group of local residents who wanted to challenge the amount of pollution in the area they live .

The group aims to:
  • raise awareness about the levels of pollution in Pilsen and reduce them
  • promote a clean and healthy environment for all, regardless of race or class
  • encourage residents, businesses, industry and social and religious organisations to communicate, in order to create a healthier community for all to live in
  • achieve this without causing jobs or business to be lost
Concern over pollution levels

Wolcott says: “Pilsen is a middle to low income neighborhood in Chicago, and PERRO began in 2004 when local residents wanted to voice their concerns about the Kramer facility, a local brass and bronze smelting plant located in the area.”

PERRO conducted tests for lead and other toxins in the soil and on surfaces in Pilsen and found very high levels in some samples.

This prompted a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency investigation into lead levels in and around the H. Kramer facility.


In 2006, the EPA reached an agreement with the H. Kramer and Co. on alleged clean air violations at the company’s brass and bronze manufacturing plant.

Wolcott got to speak with Dorian Breuer, a representative from PERRO, after attending a presentation about coal at the Chicago Green Fest.

Wolcott asked Breuer for his definition of environmental justice and in reply he said:

“How environmental justice works from our perspective at least as a community that lives right in amongst two coal plants in the city of Chicago is…if these 2 coal plants, the largest single sources of pollution in all of Chicago…were located in a different neighborhood–there are other neighborhoods in Chicago, for example one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in Chicago is Lincoln Park, which happens to be predominantly white, or Caucasian American– if the coal plant was located in the middle of that neighborhood, we end up wondering, would there be as much difficulty in the community…

Environmental injustice

“Questions like why is it that simply because it is located in a lower income community, in a community of color… is it so difficult to get [these polluted areas and plants that continue to pollute] cleaned up? That’s what we think of as environmental injustice.”

For ways you can help, including making a donation to PERRO or offering your skills, visit their website where there is also information about joining a PERRO committee.

Sources: Green Daily blog by Leslie Wolcott and PERRO

For further environmental news stories visit ENO – www.environmentalnewsonline.com


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Greenpeace opposed to burying CO2 under the seabed

May 25, 2008 at 4:19 pm (Greenpeace) (, , , , , , , , , )

Image from Flickr by goandgo

Image from Flickr by goandgo

Is ‘CO2 Capture and Storage‘ the answer to beating global warming?

The Norwegian Sleipner gas platform in the North Sea has been successfully burying CO2 under the seabed for the past 12 years in a pioneering project.

The Gas group, StatoilHydro undertook the project for financial reasons: the company could save money on carbon tax by ‘injecting’ CO2 rather than releasing it into the atmosphere.

CSS technology is however, still being debated amoung environmentalists.

Greenpeace published a report earlier in May entitled, ‘False hope. Why carbon capture and storage won’t save the climate.’

Greenpeace‘s arguement
  • an efficient and affordable version of the technology will not be ready in time to contribute to the global CO2 emissions reductions the UN – based International Panel on Climate Change says must start by 2015 in order to limit global warming to a two-degree increase.
  • the method consumes alot of energy in itself
  • the method is expensive
  • there will always be the risk of leaks

Greenpeace considers the research on CSS as a waste of limited scientific and financial resources and says it would prefer to see more focus on energy efficiency and renewable energies.

“The real solutions to stopping dangerous climate change lie in renewable energy and energy efficiency that can start protecting the climate today,” it wrote in its report.

Shawn Schuster, a blogger for Green Daily, agrees with Greenpeace.

“Locking away our toxicity hasn’t worked for us before…it only postpones the harmfulness for our future generations.

“That’s certainly not saving the earth. “

Sources: Yahoo News , Greenpeace and Green Daily blog by Shawn Schuster

For further environmental news stories visit ENO – www.environmentalnewsonline.com

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Hong Kong seas in deep trouble

May 24, 2008 at 3:51 pm (Uncategorized, WWF Hong Kong) (, , , , , , , , )

Image from Flickr by Tom Weilenmann

The World Wildlife Fund urges people to sign a petition to save what’s left of Hong Kong’s natural marine life.

WWF Hong Kong launched the Save Our Seascampaign in 2004, but it’s waters are still suffering.

The campaign aims to:
  • protect marine biodiversity
  • restore fisheries
  • create new alternative jobs for fishermen
Ecological system on verge of collapse

Hong Kong’s seas were once abundant with marine life, including 80 species of hard coral and approximately 1,000 species of fish.

However, they are now suffering from overfishing and pollution caused by human beings.

WWF claims that Reef sharks are almost extinct, whilst Manta rays and the Green turtle have not been seen in years.

WWF‘s proposed solution:
  1. stop fishing in existing Marine Parks, turning them into real sancturies that can truly protect marine life.
  2. operate 10% of Hong Kong’s waters as ‘no-take zones,’ banning fishing and other disturbances in these areas
  3. stop uncontrolled fishing, by licensing all commercial fishing boats and setting catch quotas.
Take Action

Sign the petition and ask the Chief Executive of Hong Kong, Mr. Donald Tsang Yam – kuen to stop Hong Kong’s ecological system from collapsing.

Sources: WWF Passport and WWF Hong Kong

For further environmental news stories visit ENO – www.environmentalnewsonline.com

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