February 14, 2021 Editor

Earth Matters: Fossil fuels kill 8.7 million people a year; climate crisis an eco-justice issue

Fossil fuels kill 8.7 million people a year; climate crisis an eco-justice issue

Earth Matters is a weekly compendium of wonderful, disturbing, and hideous news briefs about the environment.

WN: As many point out. Even if one discounts the all the ACD/ACC science, the earth’s beauty would blossom astoundingly; cityscapes would clear remarkably; and species on the brink of extinction would stand a chance not to disappear . . . That only for starters!


MAKING ENVIRONMENTAL GIVING EQUITABLE: close the fundraising gap in climate activism

Ashindi Maxton

The Tishman Environment and Design Center at The New School found in a study last year that between 2016 and 2017, a dozen national environmental grant-makers awarded $1.34 billion to organizations in the Gulf and Midwest regions. Of that total, however, just $18 million—a paltry 1.3%—went to groups focused on environmental justice, leaving them chronically underfunded. Ashindi Maxton saw a consequence of this when she toured one of Michigan’s most polluted neighborhoods in Detroit. In the 48217 ZIP code of the majority Black city, residents must breathe the chemical stench from nearby industrial sites and children throughout Detroit have one of the highest incidences of asthma in the country. For Maxton, a co-founder of Donors of Color Network, which promotes racial equity by funding environmental projects and other racial justice movements across the nation, this chronic situation spurred the launch of the Climate Funders Justice Pledge last Thursday. The campaign seeks to get donors to award 30% of their climate-related contributions to Black, Indigenous, and people of color-led organizations.

“What we’re asking for is everyone to collectively acknowledge that 1.3% is a systemic failure,” Maxton told the Associated Press. “We haven’t met anyone … who thinks that is a sign of a healthy or winning climate movement.” The 30% goal provides “a metric to strive for. We felt it was really important for people to set a baseline of what racial equity should look like when it lands in a budget. It should show that you are investing in the communities that are most impacted by the climate crisis.” The campaign wants donors to shift 30% of their grants over the next two years to groups with boards and senior staff that are at least half people of color, and with activism focused on communities most afflicted by environmental impacts. Among the six top funders who have expressed support for the pledge is the Kresge Foundation, which awarded $30 million in 2020 to 60 such racial justice organizations. At the same time, the foundation boosted its funding of climate justice groups led by people of color from about 5% to 7% in 2012 to more than 30% in 2019 and 2020.


According to a new study by researchers at Harvard and three British universities, 8.7 million people died because of burning fossil fuels in 2018. That’s double the World Health Organization’s 2017 estimate of deaths caused by air pollution. And it is one of every five people who died worldwide. “There’s a perception in the United States that we have this under control, but that’s a mistake,” Joel Schwartz, a Harvard professor and one of the study’s authors, told the Boston Globe. The annual U.S. death toll from fossil fuel-caused air pollution? 350,000. Eloise Marais, a geographer at University College London and a study co-author, told The Guardian, “We were initially very hesitant when we obtained the results because they are astounding, but we are discovering more and more about the impact of this pollution. It’s pervasive.”


While the majority (84%) of Americans agree that climate change harms some people more than others, identifying impacted groups who bear the burden indicates that some have not yet made the connection. Most Americans (75%) accurately recognize that young people and future generations experience disproportionate harm and 67% understand that low income, rural, and labor communities do as well. A look at political affiliation shows differences in understanding or recognition of climate change harms. 66% of Republicans said they do not believe climate change disproportionately harms any of these groups, roughly 30 percentage points more than Democrats (35%) and Independents (36%).

Please click on: Climate Crisis An Eco-justice Issue

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Wayne Northey was Director of Man-to-Man/Woman-to-Woman – Restorative Christian Ministries (M2/W2) in British Columbia, Canada from 1998 to 2014, when he retired. He has been active in the criminal justice arena and a keen promoter of Restorative Justice since 1974. He has published widely on peacemaking and justice themes. You will find more about that on this website: a work in progress.

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