Minding the gap of climate change disparities
Almost gone are the days of solely relying on the news to follow the forecast, as it also seems more necessary to keep out all seasons of clothing due to the unpredictable nature of weather. While climate change may be a subject of jest for some people, it’s a severe matter of detriment for others. Communities of color are particularly vulnerable to the extreme effects of climate change due to natural disasters, poor air quality, and extreme heat, to name a few (Princeton Student Climate Initiative, 2020). Within these communities are diverse mixtures of low-income individuals, children, older adults, and those without stable housing. Coupling these things with unequal infrastructure access and food insecurities, we see more people being traumatized by these things beyond their control (Climate Psychology Alliance North America, n.d.). One prominent example is how poor air quality can affect an individual’s mental functioning, with exposure being associated with worsening neurodegenerative disorders and increasing one’s risk for mood and thought conditions (Climate Psychology Alliance North America, n.d.). Regarding extreme heat, there is an unfortunate association with increased hospitalizations, violence, suicide risks, and poor sleep quality.
Let’s now explore the why and what can be done about it. It is estimated that 68% of Black Americans live within 30 miles of a coal-fired power plant (Princeton Student Climate Initiative, 2020). Consider the many others that live in a fly zone near airports where pollutants are emitted at higher rates, both of which contribute to or worsen pre-existing health conditions. Minding the gap to improve these effects in the future could look like advocating for effective policies and programs. These self-care practices improve one’s well-being, and learning means that it reduces negative physical impacts on the environment, seeking mental health resources, and gaining economic power – a genuinely unshakeable control.
My jam: coconut butter smoothies
- Climate Psychology North America (n.d.). Climate Psychology 101. Retrieved from https://www.climatepsychology.us/101
- Princeton Student Climate Initiative (2020). Racial disparities and climate change. Retrieved from https://psci.princeton.edu/tips/2020/8/15/racial-disparities-and-climate-change