Climate Warming Could Deepen Environmental Injustice in Urban Areas

While we can’t change the behaviour of other countries, we can change our own behaviour! One of the major causes of pollution is transportation. We are growing more dependent on cars, increasing traffic congestion, and polluting more than we should. We can walk, bike, or take public transportation, which reduces pollution, saves us money, and is healthier for our bodies.

Climate change is affecting the world.

Climate change is happening, and it’s happening fast. The Earth is heating up, sea levels are rising, ice is melting, and extreme weather events are becoming more and more common. It is no longer something that happens to someone else—it’s moving closer and closer to us every day, affecting everyone, everywhere in the world.

Climate change is also affecting urban areas.

Lots of people are worried that global warming and climate change are causing dire consequences, from rising sea levels and more intense storms to increasing pests and shifting weather patterns. In the midst of all this, it’s easy to forget that climate change is also affecting urban areas, from increased flooding and erosion to more frequent and severe heat waves.

Climate change could lead to increased health risks.

Climate change can potentially increase the frequency and severity of extreme weather events, and the resulting floods and droughts could have a major impact on human health. For example, floods can cause drinking water contamination, while droughts can increase food shortages. Heat waves can cause heat-related illnesses, and climate change-related changes in the frequency and intensity of storms can lead to flooding and erosion of coastal areas.

Climate change could lead to further economic inequality.

This will be especially true for those countries that are also food exporters. Many global food prices could rise significantly if climate change causes droughts in currently food exporting areas. The rise in food prices could lead to rising unemployment in exporting countries. This will lead to more migration, which may increase migration flows, leading to more migration. This could create a vicious cycle, leading to further economic inequality.

Urban areas already experience environmental problems like deteriorating infrastructure, degraded air quality, and extreme weather events. Still, climate change’s impacts may worsen these problems, putting more pressure on already vulnerable communities. This new research suggests it will be essential to recognize the existing environmental injustices in urban areas and work to solve them for the benefit of all.

The impacts of climate change are already being felt in urban and rural areas alike. As the Earth warms, flooding and coastal erosion are expected to increase, and heat waves and drought will become more frequent. However, some communities have a higher propensity to experience climate impacts than others. 

For example, low and middle-income neighbourhoods are more likely than higher-income neighbourhoods to be located near airports or highways, where emissions often increase due to vehicle traffic. Furthermore, communities of colour are more likely to live near polluting industrial facilities than their white counterparts. These disparities expose environmental injustices, where disadvantaged communities suffer disproportionate impacts from environmental hazards because of their geographic location.

Climate change disproportionately affects people who already bear the brunt of toxic pollution and extreme weather events. Global warming is already destabilizing the global climate and could disproportionately affect urban poor communities. This warrants more aggressive efforts to mitigate climate change.

Climate change could increase the health disparities of minorities. Evidence suggests that despite making similar strides in health, minorities are at greater risk of dying from climate-related illnesses. Furthermore, climate change and lack of access to well-functioning cities exacerbate existing health disparities. Because climate change disproportionately affects minority populations, it could lead to worsening health disparities.