At first glance, the headline above may seem puzzling. What do hospitals have to do with climate change? Let me explain.
California’s Central Valley contains six of the 10 most polluted cities, according the American Lung Association. Sadly, Orlando (pictured above) is just one of the many residents of the Valley who suffers from asthma that is largely caused or worsened by the poor air quality. Orlando uses a nebulizer, a device that administers medication in the form of a mist, to treat his asthma during school recesses. In the Fresno Unified School District, almost one in five students have asthma.
In response to this epidemic, Kaiser Permanente donated $20,000 to help the school district buy more nebulizer tubes to treat students. We applaud Kaiser’s leadership on this, but it’s only a start. More not-for-profit hospitals need to act similarly, and most importantly, they need to go beyond short-term assistance and target the root causes of poor air quality in the Central Valley, from car emissions to fuel industry polluters. If Orlando had clean air to breathe, he wouldn’t need that nebulizer so often.
The Governor’s budget includes a $16.2 billion plan for the state’s transportation needs, with $3.2 billion in proposed new revenue. Unfortunately, the Governor’s transportation plan is business as usual, at the expense of public health and reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The $3.2 billion in proposed new funding replicates the Governor’s plan introduced in August last year during the transportation special session. The majority of those funds will go towards repaving roads and expanding trade corridors, doing little to expand active transportation and advance transportation mode shift. Details of the proposal include:
On Friday, CPEHN and 17 diverse public health, environmental, and climate change related organizations signed onto a joint letter to the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research commending the recently revised 2015 General Plan Guidelines, which includes new chapters on Healthy Communities and Social Equity, Environmental Justice, and Community Resiliency as well as an updated Public Engagement and Outreach chapter. The revised Guidelines show promise in directing cities and counties to consider health and social equity in future development.
In addition to the strong support for these chapters, the joint letter outlined several recommendations for strengthening them. For example, we call upon OPR to more prominently acknowledge the changing racial, ethnic, economic, and aging demographics of California. By understanding these demographic shifts, our cities and counties can better consider existing and future needs, especially in historically under-resourced communities. We also recommend the document define key terms, such as health and equity, to build awareness and understanding at the outset of the planning process and to utilize visual representations of key concepts or frameworks within the Guidelines.
The specific chapters on which our groups focused our analysis included Public Engagement and Outreach (Chapter 3), Healthy Communities (Chapter 5), and Social Equity, Environmental Justice, & Community Resilience (Chapter 6). The comment letter also reflected feedback from community workshops hosted by CPEHN in partnership with OPR in Oakland, Fresno, Los Angeles, San Diego, and Orange County in November 2015.
Welcome to This Week in Equity Engagement on Twitter (TWEET) for the week of November 2, 2015. Once again, we have a bunch of great social and environmental justice discussion to highlight. Let’s get to it!
California’s prison spending continues to pace the country.
As part of our weeklong recognition of Mental Health Awareness Week, today we will talk about how the environment in which we live impacts our mental health. In particular, we’ll focus on the most pressing environmental crisis confronting California – the historic drought we’ve experienced over the past few years.
A couple weeks ago, The Fresno Bee published a terrific feature on how the drought is impacting mental health in East Porterville, an unincorporated community in Tulare County. The article does a great job of highlighting some of the health repercussions of the drought in a community of roughly 7,500 residents, three-quarters of whom are Latino. The main thrust of the piece, however, is about the mental health impact of the drought on this community.
“In a town whose problems already include air pollution, water contamination and poverty, the drought has spurred a growing health crisis, worsening respiratory conditions and burdening those with other illnesses.
It gets worse.
… In 2010, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other federal agencies published a guide about protecting public health during a drought. The guide refers to studies in Australia and India that showed elevated levels of suicide among farmworkers living in rural areas affected by severe and extended droughts.
Among those most at risk for drought-related health effects, it says, are “people living in rural or remote areas who depend on water from private wells and small or poorly maintained municipal systems, the quality of which is more susceptible to environmental changes.”
This originally appeared on TransForm's blog, TransForum.
With two days left in the legislative session, Governor Jerry Brown and leaders of the Legislature announced Wednesday night that they would remove the provision from SB 350 that would have set a goal for the state to cut petroleum use by 50% by 2030.
Oil industry front groups had been fighting hard against SB 350 to protect their profits, spreading lies through expensive advertising campaigns and lobbying around the state. We're extremely disappointed that not enough of our state leaders stood up to pressure from the oil industry.
Yet even as the Sacramento Bee calls this "a major setback for Governor Brown's climate agenda," there are two significant silver linings to note.
First of all, we know that TransForm's efforts made an impact in the debate about SB 350. Thanks to emails from people like you, state leaders had recently strengthened SB 350 to include investing in ways that make it easier and safer to get around without a car (like bike lanes, safe sidewalks, and reliable buses and trains).
Senator De Leon made SB 350 better as a result of our involvement. We will continue to press for better public transportation, safer walking and biking, and more affordable homes near transit to be a focus of California's climate protection initiatives.
As most of California endures near-record high temperatures this week, it seems like an appropriate time to discuss the intersection of the state’s historic drought, climate, and equity. A new report from Wendy Ortiz at the Center for American Progress, Lessons on Climate Change and Poverty from the California Drought, makes these connections and shows that low-income areas and communities of color are disproportionately impacted by the ongoing drought and climate change in general.
In her report, Ortiz summarizes the inequities faced by communities of color and low-income people and discovers that climate change serves as an escalating factor for these conditions:
The enduring effects of racial segregation and the underinvestment in low-income communities — in California and elsewhere — have placed people of color and low-income people in environments that threaten their physical and emotional health. Low-income communities and communities of color are most vulnerable to the effects of climate change due to poor-quality housing and infrastructure, proximity to environmental hazards, and economic instability. Because these communities have been institutionally excluded from accruing wealth and assets — which are prominent indicators of a family’s ability to prepare for unexpected shocks — they are less able to survive and recover from disastrous events.
Ever wonder what Californians are getting out of the more than $1 billion invested in energy-saving programs, buildings codes, and appliance standards every year? A new NRDC and Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2) report contains the answer - a lot!
Ten years ago this weekend, the world watched as Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast and laid bare the inequities that are deeply ingrained in American society. Perhaps no single event has ever highlighted the intersection between race, poverty, climate, and health as clearly as the devastation in New Orleans.
Katrina put a spotlight on an uncomfortable truth: that millions of people in this country live in abject poverty and that communities of color are far more likely to experience the consequences of the country’s entrenched inequality. In 2005, nearly 40 million Americans (roughly 1 in every 7) lived in poverty. A decade later, there has been hardly any change in the nation’s poverty rate. In Louisiana, 34% of Blacks live in poverty compared to 10% of Whites. High poverty rates have made housing less affordable, and as a result, low-income populations and communities of color often live in areas of concentrated poverty in substandard housing with the constant threat of eviction. Even though Katrina took place nearly 2,000 miles away from California, the underlying social factors that exacerbated the destruction experienced by low-income communities of color – particularly African Americans – are evident here and throughout the country.
This post originally appeared on TransForm's blog, TransForum.
Across the state, a dozen different agencies are doling out millions of cap-and-trade dollars to hundreds of communities. But who’s counting?
Last week, we launched ClimateBenefitsCA.org, a new website that lets you see what projects California’s cap-and-trade program is funding, and how these investments are making our state’s communities more sustainable, healthy, and fair.
Climate Benefits for California is a searchable online map that shows how California’s climate program is improving people’s lives. You can use the map to see what projects are funded; filter them by geography, program, or year; and add up the benefits.
With the help of the data wizards at GreenInfo Network and a team of collaborators, we’ve collected the grant information released by multiple state agencies and transformed it into a one-stop shop. Here you can find, view, and assess the impacts of investments funded through the California Climate Investments Program (CCIP, formerly the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund or GGRF).
The map also tells the stories of the people and communities who are turning these investments into solutions to our state’s most pressing environmental, social, and economic issues.