Climate Change, it's More Intersectional Than You May Have Thought
You may have read about the DNC deciding that having a single-issue debate about climate change would not be fair to the other groups who would like to see their specific issue debated by the Presidential candidates. The predicted implications of climate change in this decade will leave the most vulnerable dead, increase the percentage of the population facing malnutrition, and stimulate conflict between countries as resources diminish. Issues regarding climate change disproportionately affect those in marginalized communities and we cannot afford to wait until its effects encroach on the wealthy before solutions are implemented.
Blue Uprising was inspired by Hampton Roads, VA’s local government and community’s approach to addressing climate change and sea level rise. So much so, Blue Uprising decided to host “The Climate Change Candidate Forum” in Virginia Beach. At the forum it became increasingly clear that as sea levels rise, communities, jobs, schools, our basic functions of society will be swept away with the tide. While sea level rise of an inch may sound harmless, the practical consequences on everyday life are dire. Communities with old pipes and inadequate drainage capacity will flood - an all too common reality for low-income neighborhoods disproportionately affecting people of color. There are countless other examples of how every aspect of our lives stands to be affected by climate change. The issue that is upon us is how to talk to communities in all regions across the country about the effects of climate change.
There has been an apocalyptic tone to the conversation surrounding climate change - that the problem is so vast that nothing we do will stop it so why bother. What we have not seen or heard in the mainstream media and in political discourse are solutions to these problems already affecting primarily impoverished neighborhoods. The seven candidates at the forum shared their views on how to address particular issues specific to their district.
A recent geographical study from NPR and The University of Maryland’s Howard Center for Investigative Journalism compares average income and temperature across 97 urban populations in the United States. This study shows that in more than three quarters of the cities, there are increased temperatures in lower income areas. A lack of greenery and in particular an excess of black pavement absorbs and holds heat, keeping the area as much as 22 degrees warmer then surrounding areas. Higher income neighborhoods remain cooler with more greenery, particularly trees which cool the environment not only with shade, but with evaporation from their foliage. Consider the impact of Redlining in the early 20th century and systemic effect keeping people of color in poverty through schools funded through property tax. Local taxes affect the government’s disproportionate investment into local greenery as well, decreasing these communities access to local parks and thus resulting in higher temperatures.
The forum in Virginia Beach was a success and Blue Uprising is committed to continuing these discussions through a series of forums with candidates and policy makers across the United States. Our future topics will include how to address climate change in black and brown communities, the role political organizations can play in the fight against climate change, how to address a problem today when the worst of the problem won’t be felt for years, and when the damage will be too big to address.
Thank you to the Virginia Beach community for welcoming us and showing up! We are committed to helping elect these wonderful people and supporting their goals to preserve the community in Richmond, VA.