Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

We Must Speak with One Voice about Climate Change

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

We Must Speak with One Voice about Climate Change

Article excerpt

The people who suffer from climate change are often overshadowed by images of polar bears and vanishing ice caps in the public psyche. Their faces can be found, not in the Arctic and not off in the distant future, but today in our schools, churches and communities from Greensboro to Detroit, Atlanta, New Orleans and St. Louis.

In the wake of climate change-fueled extreme weather like Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, I and other faith leaders began recognizing our moral obligation to act and urge action on climate for those communities hit hardest by its impacts low-income families and communities of color.

Climate change has proven to be the greatest threat of our time and it has become a civil rights issue as much as a human rights one, with the African-American community and other communities of color carrying a disproportionate amount of the burden.

According to the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, despite contributing 20 percent less to climate change than white households, the African-American community is more vulnerable to extreme weather events, as well as the economic and health risks associated with climate change and the carbon pollution fueling it.

Sixty-eight percent of African-Americans live within 30 miles of a coal plant, dangerously close for the one in six African-American kids who has asthma, compared to one in 10 nationwide. The American Lung Association also finds that more than 20.2 million people below the poverty line are living in areas that receive at least one failing grade for air pollutants, and 4.5 million in poverty are breathing air that fails all three of the ALA's air pollution tests.

But it's the health risks from climate change, something we can't even see, that are cutting through our communities. Dirty air stemming from carbon pollution increases risk for asthma attacks, which harms black children at a much higher rate. According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health, black children are, in fact, 3. …

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