This collection displays student projects from the Spring 2016 class ENV 434: Environmental Justice.
Marrissa S. Ballard
Humans are continually connected and divided by labels, systems, and hierarchies that determine how much power and status is available to each individual person. These hierarchies often aid in upholding the heteropatriarchal structure of society, which holds male dominated heterosexuality as the default and most powerful position. Because our society is structured to pander to heterosexual men, the exploitation of woman is often used to advertise and sell products. The exploitation of women also mirrors the exploitation of the environment, and this parallel serves as the basis of Ecofeminism. This paper aims to utilize ecofeminism to critique the use and brutalization of women in PETA advertisements. A brief explanation of ecofeminism is provided, as is a survey of the current conversations happening about both ecofeminism and PETA itself. A review of the past criticism of advertisements is also given to explain the stakes of exploiting and brutalizing women. The paper culminates in a close-reading of several of PETA’s video and print ads. PETA often focuses their message on heterosexual men by promising sexual benefits as a reward for a vegan lifestyle. The promise of sexual prowess is coupled with violence, and thus PETA deliberately panders not only to male heterosexuality but also to violent and dominant masculinity. This paper argues that in using women in this way, not only is PETA damaging its capability to inspire change, but the organization’s message becomes one that calls for the end of animal cruelty at the expense of women.
Colleen E. Cloonan
While discussing the imagined world order, it is evident that the world is not perfect. Over the course of the centuries, the earth has been maimed by humans, whether it be during the agricultural age or throughout the process of industrialization into the modern era. Humans must realize that sooner, rather than later, we must address the environmental destruction we are causing. A specific case, with that such as hydraulic fracturing of shale, otherwise known as fracking, provides as an example of one of the environmental justice issues that is plaguing the earth. However, there are complications. In the consumer capitalist world of today, economic profits are swaying individuals away from protecting the environment and leading people to exploit it. This must change. With a reexamined mind through critical ecological thinking, one can notice the multiple violations of basic human rights caused by fracking, as well as its destruction of the environment and health of individuals. This research will encourage and inspire readers to think critically about the environment. Furthermore, this information can also be used to inspire individuals to read the literature surrounding both their legal and human rights and work towards improving the corrupt imagined world order.
Alexander V. DiMauro
Abstract: The world is being destroyed. We do not care about the mistreatment of animals in factory farms because of our consumeristic taste buds, but this gluttony is even more problematic than we think. It is blinding us from an even larger factor at stake. Our factory farming methods are a leading contributor in the causes of global warming. What this means for us is that our consumption has a direct impact on our destruction. We need to think big, and act. The only way to combat this issue is through taking courses of action that will force people to open their eyes and understand the injustice. Once we get the support of the general public (there is strength in numbers), we will have the necessary tools to combat the larger system at play here which is raping our planet, namely capitalism.
Blanca Vaneza Guzmán
This paper examines the placement and impact of landfills within Guatemala City, Guatemala. By examining the municipal cite and its accessibility to policy taken on towards proper waste management, the recurring theme of lack of information will be obvious. It specifically looks at the lack of information provided and describes the landfill communities by looking at the minimal scholarship and media attention offered. This paper will also interrelate the importance of all beings, living and non-living with its surroundings and highlight ideas of ecological thinking. An emphasis on environmental racism will be stressed, particularly with the enormous impact it has had on indigenous populations, of whom are subjected to living in these landfills without proper access to education, resources or representation in government.
The research of the Lao government, its hydroelectric dams, and its responses to its project was done through an environmental justice lens. It is an interdisciplinary research that explores the political corruption, the role of media, and the environment in order to frame the Lao government and the reasoning behind their unjust activities.
Hannah N. Lussier
This paper presents a close analysis of the Mapuche Conflict and its implications from an Environmental Justice perspective. It serves to outline the plight of the Mapuche, a South American indigenous group, in their continued struggle to gain the rights to autonomic control over their ancestral territory from the Chilean government. By utilizing a holistic approach to research, this paper serves to provide a background on the conflict as well as to incorporate claims to justice. It chronicles the depth and breadth of media attention on the issue by incorporating perspectives from scholarly articles, news sources and social media platforms. In addition, the paper places emphasis on the importance of being aware of cultural diversity and epistemic differences through the incorporation of interdisciplinary approaches like history and psychology. Throughout the paper, it is evident that the Mapuche are a distinct ethnic group with a unique history and a unique set of values. However, the work highlights the fact of the Chilean government’s continued disregard for and misrepresentation of Mapuche problems in its legislation. Finally, the work utilizes the Mapuche conflict as a microcosmic example of the effects a greater global problem in which capitalists overvalue the accumulation of wealth to a point of detriment of actual human bodies.
Kristin L. McDermott
The global throwaway culture has created a cross-ecosystem plastic pollution injustice. The first to suffer this injustice will be the most vulnerable. Our oceans have become our dumpsters. The throwaway culture has created a disrespect of material goods that has turned the earth’s resources into rubbish after a single use. Eighty percent of the yearly 8 million tons of plastic that enter the ocean is single use plastic, such as plastic bottles, plastic shopping bags, or cigarette lighters. Plastic has destroyed ecosystems, robbing impoverished communities of natural resources and of a healthy and safe living environment. First to suffer the injustices of plastic pollution are marine life living in the dumping ground of throwaway culture. This paper will discuss the Albatross, a population seabird who are suffering starvation from plastic pollution in the most remote regions of the world. The Albatross will serve as a metaphor, or more accurately a warning, of how humans will soon be affected. It is already known that plastic micro-beads enter the food chain by fish that then pass on the plastic particles for human consumption. Humans are consuming more and more plastic from fish but are also consuming the toxins absorbed by the plastic micro-beads. The injustice of throwaway culture and plastic pollution is heavily supported by scientific evidence, but often facts need to become feelings in order for social change to occur. Every person has a right to access to an environment free of plastic debris and toxins associated with its improper disposal. The issue of plastic pollution in its scale is debilitating. Cleanup is not an option because the plastic pollution is scattered through out the ecosystem. Recycling adds to carbon emissions. Our best option is to convert our culture and halt production and use of plastic, and most urgently single-use plastic. Radical change is needed. We need to go beyond tweaking our imagined order but instead reconnect our throwaway culture to nature so that we reestablish the appreciation of earths resources.
 John Tibbetts, "Managing Marine Plastic Pollution: Policy Initiatives to Address Wayward Waste" EHP Environmental Health Perspectives, April 2015: 3
Abstract: Environmental Racism has been around for a long time. Looking at its history of key movements like the Civil Rights Movement can help provide a framework for why it has become what it is today and could potentially look like in the future. The way in which people have presented it has changed as culture has changed. Not only does environmental racism involve issues of the environment, but it also includes issues of race. Hence, the name of this subcategory of environmental justice. In fact, studies have been conducted showing that those who live in underdeveloped or poor areas (where pollution, toxic waste, etc.) tend to be in the minority population or non-white (Latinos, etc.). Los Angeles has one of the highest populations of Hispanic and or Latino people in the USA. As such, many of the people in this population have faced issues related to environmental pollution, waste, etc. and have not gotten the help they needed to support these problems. The issue examined in this essay deals with the explosion at the Exide Battery Recycling Plant in Vernon, which is part of Los Angeles County in California. Those who are taking action against the environmental injustice seem to be the local people who are affected by the environmental hazards. The issues here, both environmental and social are very inherent and have been around for a long time and as such will not change unless action is taken against them.
In December 2014, President Barack Obama announced that his administration will be working towards normalizing relations between Cuba and America for the first time in sixty-four years. This announcement was followed by loosened regulations on travel and talks of reopening commerce for the near future. The prospect of deregulating trade and travel between Cuba and the United States has many individuals concerned for the various tensions that juxtapose the two countries. Primarily, many are concerned with the tensions between Cuba’s socialist values and those of American enterprise. Questions are being raised about the ways these two conflicting values can coexist and work with one another. Secondarily, and most importantly to this paper, many are concerned that the value of profit will be placed before the freedom and well-being of native Cubans and the Cuban ecology. This paper aims to examine the structures which currently make for the Cuban tourism industry, the way tourism has historically and presently affected Cuban natives, and then extrapolate what the state of Cuba tourism will be with American influences in the near future.