Baltimore Organizers Say Climate Justice Is Also Health, Housing, and Transit Justice

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The Baltimore People’s Climate Movement says that climate isn’t just an issue for our natural world; it also impacts our infrastructure and most vulnerable communities

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Story Transcript

DHARNA NOOR: The Baltimore People’s Climate Movement, a coalition of environmental and community groups, held their first town hall at The Real News headquarters to explore the relationships between housing, transit, health and climate justice.

YINKA BODE-GEORGE: When we think about climate change, I think that most people tend to keep the conversation centered around natural spaces. So, the way it impacts our water quality, the way it impacts our air and trees and things like that, but it’s really important to think about the ways that climate change impacts our health, as well, because it certainly does.

DHARNA NOOR: Moderated by The Real News Network’s Khalilah Harris and Marc Steiner, the forum brought together advocates and experts in each of these fields.

SILVIA LAM: The reason I’m here today is to talk about how climate change affects indoor air quality and public health issues as it relates to sewage backups in the city.

SIDNEY BOND: You want the neighborhood to be safe. You want it to have green.

DHARNA NOOR: Panelists stressed that climate change puts strain not only on what’s commonly thought of as our natural world, but also on our city’s infrastructure.

SILVIA LAM: Baltimore right now has an issue with its sewage infrastructure. Residents have been facing sewage back into their basements, into their homes.

DHARNA NOOR: And the effects on our infrastructure can in turn affect public health.

SILVIA LAM: Direct contact with sewage is very dangerous. It can cause internal infections and also skin infections. You’re not supposed to touch sewage with your bare hands or your bare skin.

SAMUEL JORDAN: Baltimore has the highest asthma in the state. When you have global warming, when the air warms, it actually holds more glutens in suspension, and transit contribution to that amount actually can grow if we don’t hold the spread of, for example, highways rather than investing in mass transit.

DHARNA NOOR: Though climate change is a global phenomenon, it hits some harder than others.

YINKA BODE-GEORGE: If you’re living in housing that experiences a lot of challenges because the housing quality isn’t the best, climate change is just going to make that worse. If you’re already experiencing asthma because of the way your community is shaped, the pollution that exists in your community, the pests, the mold in your community, climate change is going to make that worse.

DHARNA NOOR: The advocates know that they’re facing an uphill battle, especially since the Federal Government is rolling back environmental protections.

JENNIFER KUNZE: Well, I think that the really horrifying and troubling actions that we’re seeing our federal government taking are just putting a finer point on what was always true and already true. And that’s that change comes from the bottom up, change starts in communities and starts with individuals working together.

CORTEZ ELLIOTT: So, it’s up to us as grassroots organizers to help get that message out.