Matters

Air Pollution matters because it affects everyone. Although it affects people in different ways, some more prominently than others, it is something that has the ability to affect anyone, whether it be through harm of the body, climate change, etc.

Air Pollution is something that, although it may not seem like it would be, is related to racial minority and low income politics. These groups suffer disproportionate effects of the urban environmental problems. In her book, Noxious New York, Julie Sze analyzes the culture, politics, and history of environmental justice activism in New York City, within the larger context of privatization, deregulation, and globalization. Sze tracks urban planning and environmental health activism n the neighborhoods of sunset park and Williamsburg, west Harlem, and the south bronx.

She inspired me to go about my ecology in this way, rather than my original broad topic. I am now focusing on the racial minorities and lower income communities, and how they are affected by air pollution. Being able to be part of the change that “fixes” air pollution is a privilege, and that’s why my ecology matters.

Media and mass awareness is one way to not only understand, but try and learn how to fix this problem, or at least how to relate tho people who may be more greatly affected by air pollution due to their personal, unchangeable circumstances. In Brian Massumi’s reading, “The Autonomy of Affect”, he states that “the simultaneous participation of the virtual in the actual and the actual in the virtual, as one arises from and returns to the other. Affect is this two-sideness as seen from the side of the actual thing, as couched in its perceptions and cognitions” (96). The virtual is directly related to human perception of real life. Affect, according to Massumi, is the “virtual as point of view… affects are virtual synesthetic perspectives anchored in the actually existing, particular things that embody them”.

Air pollution is a difficult subject, especially because it is something that is hard to see, until it is too late and the damage is too late. That is why it is important that my ecology shines a light on it, using the virtual world. I read a book, Noxious New York, written by Julie Sze, which studies how “Racial minority and low-income communities often suffer disproportionate effects of urban environmental problems. Environmental justice advocates argue that these communities are on the front lines of environmental and health risks.” (Sze) 

My ecology matters as an environmental justice investigation. There was a study done by one of interview subjects, George Thurston, about racial minorities and air pollution..  The objectives of this investigation were a) to determine if racial minorities are more adversely affected by ambient air pollution than their white counterparts and b) to assess the contribution of socioeconomic status to any observed racial differences in pollution effect.” The study found that these statuses did indeed contribute to the amount affected by air pollution. This is why my ecology matters. This issue, while a problem to the entire world, is more acutely an issue for people of minority, who have no control over this. According to this study, poorer communities are more likely than affluent communities to be located close to environmental hazards such as landfills, medical waste incinerators, diesel bus depots, and Superfund sites. (Thurston)

Even outside of non-white and impoverished communities, air pollution and its consequences are wide spread- especially in a city like New York. In fact, it is estimated that 7 billion people die from air pollution each year. Another reason that air pollution is a racial, subcultured issue, is because of public health as a broader issue. Insurance, hospital visits, etc. are all things that relate to air pollution, but are affected and malleable due to a person’s socioeconomic status.

works cited:

Gwynn, R. Charon, and George D. Thurston. “The Burden of Air Pollution: Impacts among                  Racial Minorities.” Environmental Health Perspectives 109.S4 (2001): 501-06. Web.
Massumi, Brian. “The Autonomy of Affect.” Cultural Critique 31 (1995): 83. Web.
 Sze, Julie. Noxious New York the Racial Politics of Urban Health and Environmental Justice.
            Cambridge, Mass.: MIT, 2007. Print.
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~ by siobhanlynch on March 26, 2017.

One Response to “Matters”

  1. She explains why air pollution matters and affect everyone in New York, especially the minority ones. The post has a clear structure from how she is inspired by the book written by Julie Sze and gave many outside evidence to support her points, like she talked about George Thurson’s interview subjects. She also explains the her ecology very well that affect not only the minority but also to everyone in New York.

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