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Oct 17

Reading Reflection Seven: Environment and Sustainability

By Thursday at 1:30, answer one of these questions… or something else you like related to this reading:

(1) What connections do you see between social justice and environmentalism?
(2) How do you view the idea of virtue ethics in your own life?
(3) How can you “integrate ethics, policy and action” in concern for “ecological citizenship” in our local community?

42 comments

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  1. Patricia Chiu

    Last year, I did a final research paper in my WR 39C class about the food deserts in the Bayview Hunterspoint (BVHP) district in San Francisco. My main focus was the production of food because our class’s topic was America Eats. During research, however, I stumbled upon research articles bringing into question social justice and environmentalism.

    During WWII, BVHP was once home to a Naval Shipyard and a booming battleship industry, which benefited the economy of the small district. However, like many places in the country at the time, it was plagued with racism. When the employers of the Naval Shipyard first set up camp in BVHP, they sought the help of African Americans from across the country because they were cheap labor. As a result, many of the supervisors of the BVHP Naval Shipyard left BVHP after WWII ended without making an effort to clean up the mess that they left. Thus, many of the inhabitants whose livelihood depended on the once burgeoning industry were left unemployed with a polluted city, as the shipyard had served as a cleaning area for ships with toxic residue from the atomic bombs. Consequently, the ocean surrounding BVHP and the air there are highly polluted, though slightly less toxic than it was after WWII. As a result of the pollutants in both sea and air, many children today are born or develop asthma and other health conditions.

    Not only was my paper an analysis of the food desert in BVHP, but my paper was partially a social critique that addressed the role that racism (lack of social justice) and the environment play on the lives of the constituents living there. The research I conducted last year helped me to see, indirectly, how real the problem of social justice and environmentalism are.

  2. Alejandro Barraza

    In my first quarter at UCI I took an environmental class where we read A Civil Justice. This novel was about a cancer cluster in Woburn, Massuchusets, and a mom of one of the children’s quest to find the truth and people responsible for her child’s death. The book begins with the mom, Anne Anderson, suspecting the drinking water of Woburn to be the cause of her child’s death. The reason why she suspected the drinking water because it was known through out the community that the water tasted bad and looked dirty, and this led to many of the families to buy packaged water at the stores. In order to find out if the drinking water killed her child and the other children in Woburn, Anderson looks for a lawyer and her search ends with Jan Schlichtmann. The story then progresses with Schlichtmann prosecuting both W.R. Grace, Beatrice Foods, and a company named Unifirst. Unifirst immediately settles and the rest of the novel documents the challenges of prosecuting both W.R. Grace and Beatrice Foods. Eventually, the case of Beatrice Foods was dismissed and W.R. Grace and Schlichtmann reach a settlement. However, the purpose of the movie was to illustrate the lack of social justice within this case.

    This case that was meant to elicit an apology and find the truth was never accomplished. Beatrice Foods’s case against them was dismissed and W.R. Grace and Unifirst settled, so nobody ever said that they were the ones that contaminated the water. Nobody accepted responsibility even when faced with strong evidence showing that they did contaminate the water. These companies were not punished, forced to accept their wrong-doing, or apologize to the families. The fact that they didn’t do any of these things shows that there was no social justice through out this ordeal.

    I believe this case illustrates a strong connection between environmentalism and social justice within the law.

  3. Brenda Ramirez

    I believe the first two posts give good examples of environmental injustice. Unfortunately, there are many more throughout the world.

    What connections do I see between social justice and environmentalism?

    Well social problems are the abstract restrains or barriers affecting people in their lives. Environmentalism and environmental problems are restraints and barriers on our physical lives.
    Social problems affect society and so do environmental issues.
    Environmental issues are just as important as social problems because we all share the same land, water, and air. What we breath in S. California will be recycled and move down to another part of the world for someone else to breath.
    -Some connections that I note are that the poor and “second class citizens” are the ones that get a worse environment to live in.
    -Power to control natural resources also rests in the elite or the rich.
    While environmental issues affect everyone, some problems are purposefully inflicted on certain minorities or communities, just like social justice problems.

    1. Anthony La

      The reading mentions that environmental issues can’t be separated from questions of social justice- that addressing environmental issues and social inequalities come hand and hand and are complementary rather than contradictory.
      Remembering what Professor Mathews said in class last Tuesday about his travels to Africa, even though Sierra Leone has the revered natural resource of diamonds it is still ranked last in the Human Development Index (HDI). This can be attributed to great social injustice in the country as there is corruption and lacks a government able to garner the belief of the people. Similarly to Albania, the people of Sierra Leone have known so much hardship and pain that they are skeptical, to say the least about the ability of their government to help them. I think this shows that environmental issues, in this case the battle over a country’s natural resource can definitely be linked to social injustice.

      1. David Moghissi

        I agree with you, Anthony. A lot of what we heard last class applies to this conversation. It’s going to be interesting to see if Sierra Leone’s environmental situation improves as its new government grows and begins to battle the social injustices found there

    2. Anthony La

      Your statement about the power to control natural resources rests in the hands of the elite can definitely be supported by the situation is Sierra Leone.

    3. Diana Garcia

      Brenda, I agree with you when you say there is a connection between social status and to what degree the environment affects you. It is no secret and those at the bottom of the socioeconomic class live under conditions most of us cannot even imagine. I always though of environmentalism as “being green” never associated with social justice until I read this article. Most people think of reducing one’s carbon footprint when they think about being aware of the environment not about bettering the life of citizens through promoting poverty alleviation. The truth is that there is a price to pay for being environmentally friendly, if you go to a grocery store a bag of organic tomatos can cost $4 while a regular tomato that has been produced with numerous chemical can cost $.80. Water is a natural resource that has become a commodity. Many underprivileged families drink tap water which can be extremely harmful depending on the area where they live. People are force to be exposed to toxins and pollution if they cannot afford to move out of the industrial cities out to the valleys

  4. Anthony La

    *resting

  5. Christine Thrasher

    This excerpt made a great point when the author wrote that too often, social and environmental justice are seen as mutually exclusive and disconnected — you have to prioritize one over the other, and can’t tackle both. However, this isn’t necessarily true, as many environmental problems directly effect people who rely economically on the quality of the environment around them, and one can see that in the long-term, preserving natural resources actually will help alleviate poverty, even though in the short term it may cost a lot of money and resources to do. For example, the amount of biological diversity housed in the rainforests provides us the resources to discover and create many medicines, and to destroy it for short-term profit would damage our long-term chances of acquiring something even better. Additionally, creating protected area reserves actually stimulates the local economy of those regions by drawing tourism, creating new jobs, and improving the attractiveness and value of the region overall. So although it may seem at first glance that ecological preservation is a money drain that takes resources away from social justice causes, it actually can work hand in hand to improve people’s lives.

    1. Karina Venegas

      I agree with you that ecological preservation can improve people’s lives and even might bring in some money. Unfortunatley though, most of the time deforestation brings in more money than the preservation of rainforests and other types of environments. For example, the Amazon in Brazil is being largely deforested and one of the major reasons is to clear the land for cow pastures since meat production in Brazil is a big part of their economy. Therefore, as great as it would be to preserve the rainforest economically its a hard decision for Brazil since their economy depends on this. More money would come into Brazil from the deforestation than from tourists or new jobs. I don’t agree that the Amazon should be deforested especially since it’s the largest rainforest in the world and therefore important not just for Brazil or other Latin American countries who also have part of the Amazon in their countries, but its important for everybody due to the oxygen produced there and the diversity of animals and plants in the Amazon. When I did my research paper about this topic two years ago there still wasn’t a solution, some land was actually protected and Brazil implemented some policies but for the most part it was still a big issue. I’m not sure how the situation is today, but hopefully there is some social justice to the tribes still living in the Amazon but also to everybody since we all depend on rainforests in one way or another.

  6. Natalie Chau

    As mentioned earlier, the authors of this book, Mark Smith and Piya Pangsapa, state that social justice and environmentalism are not two separate, different issues but that they are interrelated/interconnected.

    Another example of environmental injustice is the use of pesticides. Pesticides are seen as a great thing for farmers because they protect their produce and prevent insects, bugs, etc. from destroying their goods. However, pesticides have a huge side effect. It is known to cause health risks. There was an incident called the Bhopal gas tragedy, which was a leak in a pesticide plant in India. It caused an immediate death toll of about 3,000 people and many others died within three weeks. Quite a lot were affected by the pesticide and died due to gas-related illnesses.

    Agent Orange is another example dealing with herbicides. This was used during the Vietnam War in order to get rid of land to prevent guerrillas from taking cover. However, the herbicide were contaminated with a dioxin which caused serious, long-term health issues. Many people, such as the Vietnamese and U.S. veterans, after the Vietnam War were affected by this dioxin. The Vietnamese’s children were born with defects. Even though this happened a long time ago, this issue has not been completely resolved.

    1. Kellie St. Pierre

      Adding to your comment about pesticides..Many farm-workers in the U.S. are working illegally and because of their political disadvantage, cannot speak out against the toxic pesticides being used to farm. These workers come into face to face contact with this pesticide on a regular bases, however, are unable to do anything because of their social status.

      Environmental inequality and social injustice occur all over the world. For example, the “Roma” or “Gypsy” culture in Europe have been suffering not only from discrimination but also from an unequal share in the country’s environmental resources. Romas have been forced to live in places where there is not efficient running water, or have been given an unequal distribution of education, health service, and employment.

  7. Noelia

    According to the article the premise of virtue ethics is that citizens engage in behaviors that enhance their communities as a result of their beliefs or values. For example, if a member of the community values a healthy lifestyle they might engage in running or exercise and may by example encourage others to engage in this, or some other, health promoting activity. Personally, I can see this with the church I’m a member of. We have different programs and services that benefit our community. Some of the programs that I devote time to include counseling, and youth mentoring. This is one way I think my values have a positive impact on my community.

  8. Elim Loi

    There are many connections between social justice and environmentalism. In addition to the various aspects already mentioned, natural resources and their preservation are vital to societies and everyone’s well-being. In areas with not a lot of clean water, people are suffering as a consequence of unclean water and it leads to illnesses and death. Pollution or other toxins harm the environment and also harm people’s health. If these issues could be solved or improved, it would literally give humans around the world a better quality of life they deserve and literally save lives. People can integrate ecological ethics, policy and action in their local communities by raising awareness for these issues and how they are harmful to the environment and all of us and how we can improve by changing even different aspects of our lifestyles.

  9. Rachel Berman

    There are many great debates on what to do in situations where social justice and environmentalism come into play. Just last year I took a tropical biology course that looked at different sides of some of these issues. One topic was the relationship between biological diversity and aiding developing nations: one group argued that funding agencies that aim to help developing nations can include conservation of biological diversity and this will help to reduce poverty. Another group spoke on damage compensation for communities affected by animals on land preserves. Both sides of these arguments showed me how much has been researched on these interrelated issues and how vast that connection can be.

  10. George Goodman

    I don’t quite see that positive connection between social justice and environmentalism. So environmentalists want corporations to take whatever steps necessary in order to protect the environment from pollution, waste, etc. This will in turn result in corporations having higher costs of production which then means a higher price for cheap goods that people at lower income levels can find at their local Wal-Mart. It seems that this would hurt social justice since individuals with lower income can’t even buy the basic goods they need to live. Environmentalists are telling us to worry about the melting glaciers in the poles or the pristine wilderness and biodiversity under threat, when about 15% of our own country’s population is living at the poverty line wondering if there will even be dinner on the table tonight. If anything, people in desperate need of resources are going to think last about the environment when they are trying to survive. In addition, for our country to become environmentally friendly it would take material sacrifices from all social classes, something that most of us can’t afford in a troubled economy. I don’t think many people right now have the money to trade in their Toyota Corolla for a new hybrid Prius.

  11. Dillon Gamboa

    I like to hold ethics in my life to a high degree because I think it defines who I am as a person. If I didn’t have the ethics that I have today, I don’t think I would be the same person. These ethics are what define me not only as a person, but as someone that is respected among a wide range of people. When I am around groups I try to show that I live by my ethics and try to make sure that people hold to their own ethics as well.

    If a person doesn’t hold to their ethics as strongly, I think they are more apt to do everything loosely without thinking of the consequences that might be at hand. I think everyone needs to implement ethics in all aspects of their life, not just certain parts that they might feel that it is necessary.

    1. Ai-Thuan Nguyen

      I agree with your last statement. People nowadays do not have a strong ethic and will give in to their desires once the right opportunity arises. It might seem wasteful to not take advantage of things but having a strong ethic is much more valuable.

    2. Krystin Uyema

      I also agree with your statement about holding ethics highly in your life. It is an important part of who you are and how people view you in life. To me virtue ethics is all about having ideals such as dedication toward a common good. It is a character trait that one develops in their life that engages us to help out in the community or do something good. I feel like as I grow up and mature I have more concern towards what my community, church, school, and family engage in.

  12. Dulshani BalasuriyaArachchi

    From what I understand from the reading, virtue ethics focus on what type of person you are or what characteristics do you possess that promotes you to engage in activities that help or benefit the rest of the community. According to virtue ethics, personal values and qualities in people is what promotes them to help or volunteer in their community and decide which type of volunteer service they want to engage in, and not the rules and policies set by the authority figures. I agree with this view because not everyone take the time out to help another person or the community. The people who actually do volunteer their time do it because of some quality or interest they have. Personally , I like to volunteer my time for food drives and health related issue because I believe that no one should die of hunger or lack of insurance to get medicine when ill. I think what I learned from this article is that personal values and beliefs, may be unknowingly sometimes, play a significant role in deciding what type of volunteer works a person wants to do.

  13. Natasha Zubair

    Many strong communities are built from strong foundations of people that make that community and along with these people, come their core morals and values. The way I incorporate my values of right v. wrong, respect, and education are with my Little Sister since I am in Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Orange County. We have been matched for about two years now and whenever we go visit her school and friends, or just hang out on our own, I try to instill in her mind the importance of respecting everyone in her community, gaining a good education by trying her hardest, and also having a good sense of her own morals that make up her character. She is in 6th grade now so she will be going through many changes in her life so I tell her to stay true to herself and to always think about her actions and words as well as her presence in her environment.

  14. Hyun Joo Lee

    I recently read a book called Savage Inequality. This book takes back in the early 1990s. The author, Jonathan Kozol, went to different regions in America and he discovered the inequality in the education system. In the book, he witnessed the horror that many children had to live through in Mississippi. Many houses in East St. Louis of Illinois had problems with their water system. These plumbing and sewer problems were mainly caused by the major factory located near the town. Streets and playgrounds where children played were all contaminated with heavy concentration of lead. But no one from that factory came out to fix the problem. Instead, they would pay off citizens of East St. Louis with quick cash in order to avoid any legal trouble.
    Although the book focused more on the inequality existed in American education system, this specific example of social injustice and ruining of environment definitely says a lot about how big corporation wrong treats other people’s children. They do not have a sense of responsibility because those children from East St. Louis reside in a poor region.

  15. Andre Navarro

    I read that social justice is, “based on the principles of equality and solidarity, that understands and values human rights, and that recognizes the dignity of every human being.” I think the world is defiantly lacking this, more so in different parts of the world than others. However, we can see social injustice when we look at our cities. For example when you think about Orange County there are parts that are super nice which the super-rich occupy and there are parts which are really so not nice and mainly lower income households occupy these places. To tie the environmentalism part in; when you think of these nice places you often think of a nice environment (a beautiful home overlooking a pristine lake, green grass and wide open spaces) and suddenly when you think of a low income community that nice environment has changed to maybe a small dirty lot surrounded by a chain link fence. I defiantly see a connection between social justice and environmentalism: the rich get an awesome environment and the poor get what’s left over.
    [wikipeida.org]

  16. Leslie Mendoza

    The idea of virtue ethics is a wonderful characteristic that if everyone held, perhaps there would be little conflict amongst ourselves. But from what I see, in the world of politics and corporate business world, such a thing is not existent. Individuals do not just do the “right” things out of desire, but rather, to obtain popularity among the ranks of its followers. And sometimes, those actions are not even close to following even good samaritan ethics like our chicken food industries (among other farm animals) whose inhabitants live in such poor conditions. As the article mentioned though, the alternate for green energy wasn’t even sought for by the bush administration until the US needed a reason to break off ties with the (becoming hostile) oil companies. Though it’s a good idea nevertheless to go towards change, I think that this is done not by virtue ethics but rather to manipulate acceptance towards their desires.

  17. Amy Sage

    I think the author is correct when stating, “environmental issues can’t be separated from questions of social justice” and that “addressing environmental issues and social inequalities come hand and hand and are complementary rather than contradictory.” It seems that there are too many cases of social injustice due to environmental exploitation in the world, and even in our very own country. I’ve seen first hand the effects of such injustices.

    Coal and uranium mines were opened up on the reservation where I grew up. The government arranged unfair contracts for the Navajo people a long time ago, so the United States could mine unlimited amounts of coal on the reservation at a FLAT RATE. This means that even if coal prices increased, the government would still pay the very small amount that they had contracted out with the Bureau of Indian Affairs (a US government agency) and not directly with the Navajo people! Energy was being gained at the cost of the Navajo people and their land. This was eventually changed, but after many, many years.

    There were also thousands of Uranium mines opened up on Navajo land and eventually they were shut down too. To this day, the government has still not cleaned up all of the mines they opened, and some minute amounts of uranium may be leaking into water tables used by the people. Since the uranium mines opened on Navajo land, there has been a significant increase in cancer in areas surrounding the mines. The land in these areas was ruined and several people suffer ailments as a result. There’s a lot more to the story, but this just shows that our own government is responsible for such social injustices which are directly related to environmental pillage.

  18. Justyne Catacutan

    I do believe environmentalism and social justice go hand in hand. You notice that problems arise in both of them. For one thing, when there is injustice in a certain community, there is bad environmentalism as well. Take for example, a third world country. The only source of water might just come from a river. So this kind of hints that the water is probably very polluted. Is it really the communities’ fault that they cannot afford an adequate irrigation system , while richer parts of their country can plus more? It is also inconvenient to see that supporting environmentalism is costly. I think that since promoting environmentalism is a fairly new topic, it has been pretty costly to research and develop ecofriendly products and solutions. Over time, I believe the solutions for global warming will become less expensive since we will be more familiar with its solutions. It is just a pity to think that people, especially in the US, waste so much while other people in other countries cannot even afford a simple glass of clean water.

    1. David Moghissi

      Good point, Justyne. Although we have instances of social injustice/environmental destruction in our country, this problem occurs at more severe and frequent level abroad. One only needs to look at some socially unjust countries – like Somalia, for example – to see how injustice and environmental disregard often go hand-in-hand. In this African country, for example, decades of failed governance and numerous human rights abuses have left Somalis without sanitation, clean/running water, or a sustainable agricultural infrastructure.

  19. David Moghissi

    Social justice is stongly linked to elements of environmentalism. Because our homes exist in all types of environments, any abuse of the environment eventually constitutes an abuse on our homes which, over time, can build up into a social injustice. Lets look at recent events in the Gulf of Mexico, for example. The massive oil spill that occured there damaged the Gulf Coast and, as the pollution spread, damaged environments that milllions of Americans call home. This equates to an example of social injustice because the people that live in this area were robbed of safe environment. It’s important that when social justice is discussed and pursued, that the environment is taken into consideration. People deserve reaasonable levels of safety where they live, and if they live in an environment where that is absent, it is likely that a social injustice has occured.

  20. Jessica Yen

    According to the article, virtue ethics refers to the altruistic characteristics a citizen posses or how individuals engage in self-improving activities to benefit the community as a whole. Virtue ethics is essential to have because it focuses on helping people develop good character traits, such as kindness and compassion. These traits will, in turn, will allow a person to make good judgments later in life and can be a role model to others. In my own life, I highly value virtue ethics because it motivates me to do good for the community for purely selfless reasons. For instance, since I grew up to a culture where volunteer work is valued and nonprofit is respectable, I have always had the mindset that helping people is the central meaning of life. From this environment, I have grown to volunteer for the sake of genuinely wanting to help others, being involved in my local community, and to try to get others to join the social work movement. Through my works, I have gained a higher respect and profound knowledge about what goes on in my community, kindness and patience for strangers, and a respect for myself that I don’t think I could have obtained elsewhere.

  21. Nirav Bhardwaj

    Virtue ethics is the story of my life. It is something that I truly believe in and honestly do my best to follow. Here is a interesting example I found of the way a virtue ethicist thinks: A virtue ethicist would focus less on lying in any particular instance and instead consider what a decision to tell a lie or not tell a lie said about one’s character and moral behavior.
    In the article specifically, virtue ethics is discussed as a focus of helping individuals develop their character. This is exactly what I am doing with my service learning work at Kidworks. One of my passions in life is to help people become the best they can be, not just in terms of success in the world, but more importantly in terms of being a good person whole heartedly.
    I value morality in individuals almost more than any other character a person can have. Having morals and understanding right from wrong (in my opinion) is absolutely essential in life. Anytime I have to make a decision, I think about the morality of it and whether or not a morally right and sane individual would do the same. Now of course no one is perfect, but I strive to be the best I can.

  22. Cindy Arias

    My freshman year I took an environmental studies course that allowed me to do some research in the Upper Newport Bay testing acidity and pollutin levels. During that time I learned that the city of Irvine does not allow for washing of cars or perfumed soaps to be drained into the bay. When people did, they were fined and it was made into a big deal. I think that was one of the first times i realized that Irvine was such a culture shock to me. Back home, there was no enforcement of what went downthe drains really, much less whether or not we could wash our cars! The result was that many of our drainage centers such as the river beds were ridiculousy dirty and smelled horrible. In Irvine, the equivalent of our riverbeds did not smell and were surrounds by beautiful scenery. It is through this comparison that you see the efffects that social justice and environmental sustainabilty come into view. Irvine, 30 miles away from my home, cared about the environment and the well being of their residents and fought to enforce ways to improve the well being of both entities. Back home, the lack of concern lead to lack of social injustice in terms of no funds to create a healthy enviornmment for their constituents.

  23. Nicole Fulbright

    The best way to promote ethics, policy and action for environmental sustainability is to set an example. As the author says, we can live “low-impact lifestyles with an improved quality of life”. By living a “green” lifestyle for others to see, people can influence others to realize that living green can be easy, fun and effective. This is the easiest way I can think of getting our communities to recognize the issue at hand. Yes, you could lobby for bills or propositions or laws to be passed that would help the environment, but that way isn’t personal. People cannot see the effects firsthand of what those bills would enact and many times, people cannot understand how such governmental policies will affect them or the environment. So the best way to get people involved is to teach and show them. Living the green lifestyle can be extreme, or it can be through taking small steps toward conserving. Living in a green family myself, we take steps towards helping out the environment through simple things. We recycle, compost, never use styrofoam or plastic cups/bottles, drive natural gas vehicles, and are soon planning on putting solar panels on our house’s roof to conserve energy. From growing up this way, I know that my brother and I will continue to live this way as adults and teach our children someday how to be environmentally friendly. Setting examples and teaching the next generation how to respect our Earth is the best way to get our communities involved in going in green, if not in the short-term, then at least in the long term.

  24. Omeid Heidari

    The connection between social justice and the environment lies in our personal responsibility in order to protect the community as a whole. We often think of a community of just the individuals are within it, but it also consists of other factors, including the environment. It is important to note that whether you believe in issues pertaining to the environment, mainly a hot topic issue like global warming, it is still the duty of everyone in the community to do their part in protecting our environment. With such a rapid rate of globalization, industrial advancements are outputting products that are not renewable. Many everyday products are harmful to the environment and will have long term disastrous effects. We would not allow crimes to occur to the individuals in our community, so it is also in our duty to carry out social justice and protect our environment. Simple tasks such as recycling, shutting off electricity and water when not needed, and walking rather than using fast paced transportation when possible will greatly help reduce harms against the environment. This is only possible though when all the members within the community take part in this. Placing pressure on company’s to reform will produce environmentally friendlier products and eventually bring the community to a place where the environment is protected as a form of social justice

  25. Kevin J. Son

    The connections between social justice and environmentalism I believe are inseparable and have a negative toll on our world. The problems in social problems and environment issues greatly affect communities and countries around the world. Many problems and disasters around the world are due to the environmental issues and global warming. Many big corporations are the source of pollution and waste products that cause negative changes in the environment. Environmentalists are the people who take the initiative to inform these corporations to stop these negative factors. When disasters occur the lower income individuals and families are the ones that are affected. When communities with lower income are affected by natural disasters they have more things to worry about than the upper class group. Especially families with children and being a low income family they have to worry about how to sustain shelter, food, and other necessities to survive. This portrays that environmental issues affect mostly everyone as well as social justice problems. For instance, our economy has been in a black hole and has affected many businesses and small income families. Even though few observations were made that our economy is getting better it doesn’t change dramatically and this relates to environmental and social issues because we can do only little steps before big changes occur to better our future in this world. Hopefully in our current time period social justice and environmentalism will change to bring a positive outlook for many individuals.

  26. Symone Magsombol

    After reviewing this brief introduction by Smith, I can definitely see many connections between social justice and environmentalism. They both work hand-in-hand with how the community operates and functions through moral and virtue ethics. For example, nowadays many people are consciously aware of the decline in the environment due to global warming and pollution, to name the most obvious. However, although people may be “aware” of these matters, many still have ignored such problems and have not fully addressed the problem to form a solution to it. For instance, poverty in third world countries do not have clean drinking water and basic sanitation facilities. It is a shame that many of the resources we have here in the US are many times not evenly distributed to these countries with basic necessities that we take for granted for. This comes to the issue of our “virtue ethics” in social justice and environmentalism. I feel it is our ethical responsibility to advocate for progression towards social justice towards the issue of environmentalism.
    In relation to more within our community, I just recently found out about UC Irvine’s “The Green Initiative Fund” (TGIF) that advocates for sustainability projects throughout campus. This is a great way for within the Irvine community to start making the necessary impact for environmentalism, and I hope to participate in it in some way in the near future.

  27. Brenson M Yu

    Social Justice and Environmentalism really depends on how cultures are introduced to understand environmental problems and issues. What good is justice in an environmental problem if it happens again? In other words, social justice and environmentalism needs to identify what is being done to prevent environmental atrocities from happening again especially in third world countries. Social justice’s goal is only relevant in completion when people take initiative to know what environmental consequences are around them. The main issue of social justice and environmentalism needs to educate people and reach world leaders on environmental pollution issues.
    It is my understanding in the United States we have environmental acts and EPA regulations to protect public health. Incidents from United States history like Love Canal, a waste site that dumped chemicals into a local community’s soil and gradually changed the ecosystem. The aftermath prompted tight rules, regulations, and a keen awareness on the activities of chemical companies in the United States. The main social Justice and environmentalism here is the government taking responsibility for actions and making sure it never happens again.
    There are many different opinions on social justice and environmentalism, but how I see it is in relation to governments or authorities doing a better job, making sure that industries follow and are up to date with rules and regulations. The government or authorities need to take it a step further by hearing out any claims from communities on local industries. Working together when a problem arises before its too late, is how the government, people, and industries should look to prevent conflict resolution later.

  28. Nimrah Salim

    Social issues are completely related to environmental issues. Especially when talking about social status. SES plays a huge role in the kind of environment you are exposed to. Many people who live in the low SES communities have houses located near factories that cause them to be exposed to pollution that other communities would not be exposed to. Generally speaking, I believe that you can’t put social justice over environmental factors and vice versa, and everyone (businesses, individuals etc) has a role in how the environment is treated. For example the concept of tragedy of the commons, is caused when individuals seem to think that their actions in the world don’t make a difference because its just one person. However when everyone in the world thinks that way the environment starts to deteriorate.

  29. Ai-Thuan Nguyen

    According to the reading, virtue ethics essentially breaks down to what type of person you are and how your special set of interests can help strengthen the community from which you came from or living in. I believe a lot of people decide where to volunteer based their personal beliefs and interests, if they even volunteer at all.Volunteering is similar to a job in a sense that if you love what you are doing, then it will not even feel like a hassle at all. I have seen many volunteers slack off because they are not motivated in the programs mission. People tend to go out of their way and do more for their volunteer organizations if they truely believe in the organization’s purpose. Volunteers will sometimes host toy drives for the less fortunate if they are associated with programs such as church groups, Lend a Hand, etc. I personally like to volunteer with health related organizations because I hate to see suffering from diseases. My ethics keep me motivated to do as much as I can for the people in need of help. It is sad when I see people lose a sense of their ethics and give in to their greed. In the end, their morals bite them in the behind.

  30. Jennifer Lazaro

    I believe that there is a strong connection between social justice and environmental. When looking at a city such as Los Angeles you can see the contradiction between two different worlds. You can also see the pollution that Los Angeles has in general. Everyone pollutes in Los Angeles, yet not everyone suffers the same contamination. The importance of social class in Los Angeles plays an important role in the way you are going to live. If for example, you come from a poor family living in the poor side of Los Angeles, chances are that you are exposed to the factories, drink polluted water, and breathe polluted air. Yet if you live in the richer side of the city, you have houses with water filters, air filters, and solar power equipment. All these necessities to live a “less polluted” lifestyle cost money, money that not everyone has. There is an unbalance of social justice that deals with the way that environmental policies are carried out in cities where there is a huge economic gap. We can argue that everyone pollutes the same amount, yet not everyone has the luxury of not having to live with it. I feel that it doesn’t matter that policies are put in place to improve the environment, low social economic communities always get the short end of the stick.

  31. Jennifer-Christine Madamba

    Last year, I took E8 which is an Environmental Analysis and Design class. We learned many things that affected our environment. One that really surprised me the most is the fact that toxins and pesticides are put on vegetables, potatoes, animals, and other things that we may eat. I personally already knew this fact. But after taking the class, they taught me the harm that it does not only to the plants and animals but also to human beings. I think that they should make this more aware to the people. I’m sure not everyone knows what is really going into their stomachs. All these toxins are for the farmer’s own good- to produce many products at a single time. If ALL food were organically grown, I highly doubt that it would actually meet the demand of the hungry population. A video was shown where Foster Farms and plant farms were asked to show the public how they treat their animals and how they raise their crops. However, most farmers refused to show the camera. Obviously, because they had something to hide.

    This example definitely has a connection to social issues because this actually raises legal issues. Some companies have been sued for food poisoning. Some food companies have been sued for causing diseases and obesity for individuals.

    I think that environmental and social justice are very relevant because they are both important to protect society. The environment in which we live must be protected. I think that social justice can really play a role in this. By creating laws that offer incentives to protect the environment, more people would be more willing to do it. For example, purchasing a hybrid car is beneficial for the driver because he or she spends less money for gas and for a time. For a while the government was also allowing hybrids to use the carpool lane. Encouraging community service for the students to do allows them to participate in community clean ups, blood drives, and other events.

  32. Alexis Utanes

    Social justice and environmentalism are heavily intertwined. It is the conflict between the two that makes this topic so controversial. For instance, in China the Three Gorges dam was created to produce many jobs and electricity for the country’s booming population. However, the dam flooded ancient and cultural sites, displaced 1.3 million people, and is causing significant environmental changes, including an increased risk of landslides. In another example, the biodiversity of rain forests are abundant. But when people are starving, they would not think twice about slashing an d burning vegetation to make room for farming. They do not care about selling endangered species to wealthy foreign customers because of the high price tag that comes along with it. When people are desperate to make a living, they will find any way to survive—rarely considering the environmental implications of their actions. There needs to be a balance in the way decision makers determine things based on social justice and environmentalism. The way to do this, as the reading discusses, is by “addressing the ways in which civic engagement practices inform policy-making and how citizens understand the reasons for, and ethical assumptions underpinning, being environmentally responsible.” (4)

  33. Stephen Mendez

    I am in the group which is presenting on environmental sustainability and stewardship and during the research I did for my group presentation I found that environmentalism is intricately tied into social justice. I discovered that social status and water usage was correlative and that as social status rose, water usage rose. This was tied in with the fact that these people faced better living standards and used water more for hygienic uses than for simply cooking. I also found that citizens in worse off neighborhoods tended to suffer from problems related to water borne illnesses. If we want to solve the problem of environmental sustainability we will have to tackle issues of social justice. This entails informing people about such issues and assuring that we provide clean hygienic solutions to people who otherwise could not afford them. It is important to care for our environment more than anything because anything we throw into our trash or anything we do to the landscape ultimately ends up in our sink, our shower heads, and in the food we eat.

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