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Justice for All


So, we're in the cinema but we are not here for the latest James Bond - we are fulfilling our civic duty.


We have been called to Jury Service, but like so much else, it's being done in a new way. The jury is sitting - socially distanced, of course - in the cinema and watching proceedings on the screen. We're not allowed to tell you anything about the case of course, but let's just say, it is more entertaining than some films we have sat through but not quite the best thing we have ever seen.


And while we are glad to be doing our bit as responsible citizens, it got us thinking about another type of justice.


Environmental Justice


Environmental justice emerged as a concept in the US in the early 1980s. It's a social movement that focuses on the fair distribution of environmental benefits and burdens.


Of course this is a global issue but don't be fooled into think of it as something that only happens far away.


Isn't it our consumerist society that is driving the need for more and more manufacturing, which in turn is leading to - for example - the destruction of the rainforests to provide our wood, soya, palm oil?


We need to consider carefully the extraction, consumption and disposal of the earth's resources.


And not just in the Amazonian rainforests. Plans to open the first new deep coal mine in the UK in 30 years are now being reviewed by Cumbria County Council following controversy about the proposal.


Councillors will reconsider the mine application in the next few weeks in the light of the climate change evidence that wasn't available last time the considered it. Definitely one to keep an eye on.



Environmental justice deals explicitly with the distribution of environmental benefits and the burdens people experience at home, at work and at leisure.


What do we mean by environmental benefits?

  • clean air

  • clean water

  • attractive and extensive green space


And the burdens? They are primarily the risks and hazards from pollution

  • industrial pollution

  • transport-generated pollution

  • municipal pollution


There's a lot to think about here

- who causes the pollution

- who suffers most from the pollution

- how do environmental conditions affect people's health and day-to- day living

- can those affected make their voices heard



There is no doubt that some groups suffer disproportionately. Environmental inequalities are more commonly found in deprived communities and socially excluded groups. And that's here in Scotland just as much as in developing countries.


In our own community deprived groups may experience different access to green spaces which is detrimental to their wellbeing. Certain groups are more exposed to environmental risks while they are also disproportionately more vulnerable to its effects.


We must seek to address the inequitable distribution of environmental hazards among the poor and minorities. Everyone deserves to live in a clean and safe environment free from industrial waste and pollution.


And, as always, we can all do our bit. We suggest that we all need to keep ourselves informed and to keep the issue of environmental justice at the forefront of our minds as we make our everyday decisions.


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