Highly cited and featured articles of the journal Environmental Justice available
Free access to articles through March 3 and 9, 2020 respectively
By Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., 2020-02-26

Once again, the journal Environmental Justice (jEJ) provides access to a number of articles that were selected either due to their impact factor in the field of enviromental justice research.

The jEJ is one of the most relevant pioneers in the field of Environmental Justice Research. The peer-review journal is published bimonthly, covering the impacts and environmental burdens that affect marginalized populations all over the world. Interdisciplinary repports on communities, industry, academia, government, and nonprofit organizations are considered in its editions including human health and the environment, natural science, technology, land use and urban planning, public and environmental policy, environmental history, legal history as it pertains to environmental justice, environmental sociology, anthropology of environmental, health disparities, and grassroots activities.

The jEJ is under the editorial leadership of Editor-in-Chief Sylvia Hood Washington.

The following articles are available until March 3, 2020:

Dorceta E. Taylor (2018): Racial and Ethnic Differences in Connectedness to Nature and Landscape Preferences Among College Students

An extensive body of environmental psychology, outdoor recreation, and landscape preference research reports that blacks are alienated from nature, fearful of it, and prefer urbanized and developed landscapes to wild or natural environments. But, are these responses and preferences as widespread as reported? Most of the studies in these genres focus on black–white differences. This article provides a more complex analysis by incorporating an environmental justice framework in the assessment of the ways in which blacks, whites, and other minority college students reflect on and think about nature. It also examines how they perceive their connectedness to nature, their curiosity about nature, and their landscape preferences. The participants are students taking part in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics programming at a large public midwestern university, a mid-sized private university in the mid-Atlantic region, and a small historically black university in the deep south. The sample of 157 participants contains 46 whites, 43 blacks, and 68 other minorities. None of the respondents say they are disconnected from nature. Most say that, first and foremost, they think about trees, forests, and plants when they think of nature. The study found that black students prefer naturalistic landscapes more than urbanized settings and their perceptions of nature and landscapes mirror that of students of other racial and ethnic groups. None of the study respondents reported a generalized fear of nature either. Instead, students expressed situational fear, object-specific dislike, and simultaneous contradictions when viewing landscape images.

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Zachary A. Morris, R. Anna Hayward, and Yamirelis Otero (2018): The Political Determinants of Disaster Risk: Assessing the Unfolding Aftermath of Hurricane Maria for People with Disabilities in Puerto Rico

An environmental justice (EJ) framework identifies that the most vulnerable in society are also the most likely to be at risk to extreme weather events attributable to climate change. Among the populations frequently identified as disproportionately exposed to disaster risk are persons living with disabilities. In this article, we highlight three models for understanding the impact of extreme weather events on people with disabilities: a physical vulnerability model, a sociopolitical model, and an EJ model. Drawing from sociopolitical and EJ frameworks, we explore the increased disaster risk experienced by people with disabilities in Puerto Rico during Hurricane Maria. Our analysis serves to demonstrate the relevance of social and environmental protection as foundational elements for disaster risk mitigation and thus the political determinants of disaster risk.

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Grace A. Akese and Peter C. Little (2018): Electronic Waste and the Environmental Justice Challenge in Agbogbloshie

This article explores the promise and politics of environmental justice (EJ) in Agbogbloshie, a scrap market in Accra, Ghana, that has become a popularized zone of electronic waste (e-waste) advocacy and science. In the absence of direct engagement with EJ theory in much of the e-waste research on Agbogbloshie, the article probes how and to what extent the “environmental justice framework” fits in this postcolonial and toxic urban space. In particular, we examine and problematize the conventional EJ framing—developed countries dumping waste on vulnerable communities in the global south—that underwrites the research and advocacy work on the e-waste problem in Agbogbloshie. In doing so, we contend that an important dimension of the EJ challenge at Agbogbloshie is that conceptions of injustice and thus interventions are geared toward amending the visible aspect of harm from e-waste processing without considering the broader postcolonial terrain of plural injustices and violence producing the toxic urban landscape of Agbogbloshie in the first place. Consequently, as Ghana explores a sustainable e-waste policy, we argue for engagements with what we term a “situated e-waste justice”; a contextualized EJ frame that recognizes the differences and histories implicated in producing a landscape of violence and toxicity as evidenced and experienced in Agbogbloshie.

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Robert Todd Perdue (2018): Linking Environmental and Criminal Injustice: The Mining to Prison Pipeline in Central Appalachia

Environmental justice continues to expand as an organizing concept and goal for scholars and activists around the globe, challenging our very understanding of “environment.” The redefinition of environment to where we live, work, and play has, however, largely failed to include the more than 2 million people in the United States living behind bars. The lack of attention paid to the incarcerated may not be surprising, but here I argue that prisons and the penal system fall squarely within the purview of environmental inequality scholars. I begin by outlining the legal underpinnings that have made our incarceration nation possible. I then discuss the rural prison boom of the 1990, and how local policymakers, believing prisons might serve as economic lifelines, welcomed them into their struggling communities. We then turn to the case of incarceration in central Appalachia, a space where resources and wealth have long been funneled away, leaving those living in the coalfields to countenance severe ecological and human health degradation. As coal reserves dwindle, the region is now seen fit as a suitable place to deposit societal “refuse” in the form of inmates in what I term the “mining to prison pipeline.” Linking criminal and environmental injustices in this way, I aim to encourage other scholars to explore the prison and environmental nexus.

To access the article, please click here.

Garett T. Sansom, Katie R. Kirsch, Kahler W. Stone, Thomas J. McDonald, and Jennifer A. Horney (2019): Domestic Exposure to Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons in a Houston, Texas, Environmental Justice Neighborhood

Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are a class of >100 chemicals that naturally occur in coal tar, crude oil, and gasoline and can be manufactured as part of dyes, plastics, and pesticides. PAHs are complex environmental toxicants and exposure to them have been linked to adverse health outcomes including cancer, as well as diseases of the skin, liver, and immune system. Residents of the environmental justice neighborhood of Manchester, located on Houston's East End, are disproportionally exposed to toxic pollutants from both industry and transportation infrastructure. Based on a longstanding community engagement partnership with the research team, neighborhood residents sought to better understand their domestic exposure to PAHs. Particulate wipes were used to collect dust from a marked area within the entryway of randomly selected homes to assess for the presence of PAHs. Nineteen of the 61 PAH analytes, including the Environmental Protection Administration's 16 priority PAHs and the subgroup of 7 probable human carcinogens, were found in the sampled homes. Residents of the Houston neighborhood of Manchester potentially have significant domestic exposure to PAHs from combustion sources. More research is needed to assess the source of the PAHs and to better understand the potential health impacts of these exposures.

To access the article, please click here.

Additionally the journal gives access to two articles as recent as of 2019:

Cassandra Johnson Gaither (2019): Socioecological Production of Parks in Atlanta, Georgia's Proctor Creek Watershed: Creating Ecosystem Services or Negative Externalities?

For decades, grassroots activists have engaged in efforts to resurrect the integrity of Atlanta, Georgia's Proctor Creek Watershed, by creating a narrative about the value of the ecological and sociohistorical worth of the watershed. These efforts have resulted in both small- and large-scale adaptive reuse green space projects in Proctor Creek, intended to mitigate flooding and to provide recreational opportunities for socially disadvantaged residents. This kind of place making is consistent with Henrik Ernstson's ecological services model that theorizes that environmental justice is produced when actors coalesce to create and articulate the ecological and social value of urban spaces. However, Ernstson's model does not account for the possibility of negative externalities, that is, gentrification/displacement of residents resulting from the value articulation process. In the case of Proctor Creek, displacement may occur for two reasons—one, the relative lack of property ownership and two, because of the lack of clarity of real property ownership. At least two-thirds of residents in most of Proctor Creek's neighborhoods are renters, and it is likely that a high percentage of resident owners hold titles classed as “heirs' property.” This article discusses unintended consequences resulting from participatory justice and place-making activities and the need to widen the scope of value articulation to include displacement cautions.

To access the article, please click here.

Habibollah Fasihi (2019): Urban Parks and Their Accessibility in Tehran, Iran

EParks play a vital role in the well-being of communities. The spaces covered by parks and their distribution within a city should therefore observe certain standards to provide a fair access for its residents. The purpose of this research was to investigate public parks and their accessibility in Tehran, Iran. We used a comparative evaluation method for the research, in which, along with descriptive statistical methods, a buffering technique in Geographic Information System was also applied. The findings of this study revealed that the indexes of “park ratio” and “per capita” for Tehran parks are below Iran standards. High disparities in the distribution of parks have contributed to unequal access of the inhabitants of the city to these parks. While some residents live within the vicinity of 11 parks, a large part of the city, about 26% of the city's area and 18.67% of the population, is not within the access areas of any park. Creation of smaller parks in certain parts of the city should alleviate the inequality.

To access the article, please click here.

Read more from the journal Environmental Justice here.

Image: © Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.