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Recent & Recommended Books on Environmental Justice

Environmental Justice and Environmentalism: The Social Justice Challenge to the Environmental Movement by Ronald Sandler and Phaedra C. Pezzullo
Although the environmental movement and the environmental justice movement would seem to be natural allies, their relationship over the years has often been characterized by conflict and division. The environmental justice movement has charged the mainstream environmental movement with racism and elitism and has criticized its activist agenda on the grounds that it values wilderness over people. In ten original essays, contributors from a variety of disciplines consider such topics as the relationship between the two movements’ ethical commitments and activist goals, instances of successful cooperation in U.S. contexts, and the challenges posed to both movements by globalization and climate change.

Environmental Justice: Concepts, Evidence and Politics by Gordon Walker

Environmental justice has increasingly become part of the language of environmental activism, political debate, academic research and policymaking around the world. It raises questions about how the environment impacts on different people’s lives. This book explores the diversity of ways in which environment and social difference are intertwined and how the justice of their interrelationship matters. It has a distinctive international perspective, tracing how the discourse of environmental justice has moved around the world and across scales to include global concerns, and examining research, activism and policy development in the US, the UK, South Africa and other countries. The widening scope and diversity of what has been positioned within an environmental justice ‘frame’ is also reflected in chapters that focus on waste, air quality, flooding, urban greenspace and climate change.

The Promise and Peril of Environmental Justice by Christopher H. Foreman

Are we environmentally victimizing, perhaps even poisoning, our minority and low-income citizens? Proponents of “environmental justice” assert that environmental decision-making pays insufficient heed to the interests of those citizens, disproportionately burdens their neighborhoods with hazardous toxins, and perpetuates an insidious “environmental racism.” In the first book-length critique of environmental justice advocacy, Christopher Foreman argues that it has cleared significant political hurdles but displays substantial limitations and drawbacks. Activism has yielded a presidential executive order, management reforms at the Environmental Protection Agency, and numerous local political victories. Yet the environmental justice movement is structurally and ideologically unable to generate a focused policy agenda.

Sustainable Communities and the Challenge of Environmental Justice by Julian Agyeman

Popularized in the movies Erin Brockovich and A Civil Action, “environmental justice” refers to any local response to a threat against community health. In this book, Julian Agyeman argues that environmental justice and the sustainable communities’ movement are compatible in practical ways. Yet sustainability, which focuses on meeting our needs today while not compromising the ability of our successors to meet their needs, has not always partnered with the challenges of environmental justice.

Sustainable Communities and the Challenge of Environmental Justice explores the ideological differences between these two groups and shows how they can work together. Agyeman provides concrete examples of potential model organizations that employ the types of strategies he advocates. This book is vital to the efforts of community organizers, policymakers, and everyone interested in a better environment and community health.

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