The ecology of environmental justice: relationships to ecological theory.
Pickett, Steward*,1, Cadenasso, Mary 2, Boone, Christopher3, 1 Institute of Ecosystem Studies, Millbrook, NY2 Yale University, New Haven, CT3 Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ
ABSTRACT- Environmental justice is an empirical concern that has emerged from relationships between social status and identity, and environmental risks. We propose a theoretical relationship between ecology and environmental justice based on the resonance with the ecological concepts of stress, disturbance, avoidance, adaptation, and response. Without such an ecological foundation, ecologists are left with an informal understanding. Environmental justice is the differential allocation of environmental risks and exposure to environmental hazards. A just allocation would 1) allow the ability to avoid hazards, 2) provide the ability to respond effectively to hazards, and 3) be based on adequate social, human, material, and financial capital. An ecologically informed theory of environmental justice would identify the kinds of environmental risks of concern, help identify ways to avoid or respond to risk, support models of the interaction of human and natural risk and exposure factors, and act as a framework for public information and dialog. Human sources of risk involve such factors as toxics, infrastructure, infectious disease, and design of settlements. Natural sources of risk involve such factors as floods, fires, windstorms, earthquakes and mass wasting, and windstorms. The interaction of natural and human generated risk and exposure factors is crucial to an ecologically informed theory of environmental justice. The social concerns of environmental justice can be supported by 1) knowing the risk and exposure factors that apply to a particular place, 2) an ability to forecast interactions of human capacity to avoid, adapt, or respond to risk and exposure, 3) providing information to permit compensation for risk, and 4) supplying information to communities at risk and to the larger society. We briefly illustrate how this framework can explain the ability of people to differentially avoid and respond to urban disturbances and stresses.
Key words: environmental justice, urban, conceptual framework
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