Extreme weather events. Rising sea levels. Water scarcity. Melting polar ice. Warming oceans. Extended heat waves. Declining biodiversity. Flooding. Catastrophic storms. Drought. Wildfires. All these environmentally damaging activities disproportionately impact vulnerable people — and in America, that’s often the poor and people of color. And this is where environmental justice comes in. The field was previously called “environmental racism,” which mostly took on industrial pollution and racist environmental policy. Environmental justice, though, is a broader, multipronged movement that tackles everything from food justice (think food deserts and food sovereignty) to relinking Black and Indigenous people to outdoor spaces.
If you are interested in learning more about environmental justice issues, including how climate change disproportionately impacts ethnic minorities and economically disadvantaged people, we have put together a reading list of books that are generally acknowledged to be of particular significance in the field.
Abate, R. (2019). Climate Change and the Voiceless. Cambridge University Press.
Abate, Randall. (2016). Climate Justice: Case Studies on Global and Regional Governance. ELI Press.
Alinksy, S.D. (1971). Rules for Radicals. New York: Vintage Books.
Bullard, R. (2000). Dumping In Dixie: Race, Class, And Environmental Quality. Routledge.
Cole , L.W. and Foster, S.R. (2001). From the Ground Up: Environmental Racism and the Rise of the Environmental Justice Movement. New York: New York University Press.
Finney, C. (2014). Black Faces, White Spaces: Reimagining the Relationship of African Americans to the Great Outdoors. The University of North Carolina Press.
Flowers, C. (2020). Waste: One Woman’s Fight Against America’s Dirty Secret. The New Press.
Friere, Paolo. (1970). Pedagogy of the Oppressed. New York: Herder and Herder.
Glave, D. (2010). Rooted in the Earth: Reclaiming the African American Environmental Heritage. Chicago Review Press.
Incite! Women of Color Against Violence. (2009). The Revolution Will Not Be Funded: Beyond the Non-Profit Industrial Complex. Cambridge, Mass: South End Press.
Johnson, A. and Wilkinson, K. (2020). All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis. One World.
Kimmerer, R. (2015). Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants. Milkweed Editions.
Lee, C. and Miller-Travis, V. (1987). Toxic Wastes and Race in the United States. United Church of Christ.
Mohai, P. and Saha, R. (2015). Which came first, people or pollution? Assessing the disparate siting and post-siting demographic change hypotheses of environmental injustice. Environ. Res. Lett. 10 115008.
Mohia, P. and Saha, R. (2015). Which came first, people or pollution? A review of theory and evidence from longitudinal environmental justice studies. Environ. Res. Lett. 10 125011
Pell0w, D. (2004). Garbage Wars: The Struggle for Environmental Justice in Chicago. The MIT Press.
Rothstein, R. (2017). The Color of Law. A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America. New York ; London: Liveright Publishing Corporation.
Taylor, D. E. (2016). The Rise of the American Conservation Movement: Power, Privilege, and Environmental Protection. Durham: Duke University Press.
Taylor, D. E. (2014). Toxic Communities: Environmental Racism, Industrial Pollution, and Residential Mobility. New York University Press.
Taylor, Dorceta E. (2010). Environment and Social Justice: An International Perspective. Edited by Dorceta E. Taylor.
Taylor, Dorceta E. (2009). The Environment and the People in American Cities: 1600s-1900s. Disorder, Inequality and Social Change. Durham: Duke University Press.
Washington, H. A. (2019). Terrible Thing to Waste: Environmental Racism and Its Assault on the American Mind. New York ; Boston ; London : Little, Brown Spark.
Zimring, C. (2017). Clean and White: A History of Environmental Racism in the United States. NYU Press.