Friday, May 13, 2016

We're All Downstream

So read a sign at a protest gathering in Northern Minnesota, covered on PBS, in which Native Americans and allied citizens are organizing to try to protect the health of the lakes that the tribes have fished for centuries. The safety of the local ecosystem is being threatened by industrial chemicals.

That little handwritten sign said it all. As slogans go, it's a good one, well-suited for t-shirts and bumper stickers and Internet memes. Which is not to say it's trivial. When it comes to environmental degradation we are all in this together. Wealthier people, however, are better insulated from the harm, so they tend to think about it less. Pollution is always hardest on poor people. That's a fact. So those of us who are somewhat protected need to put ourselves in the shoes of the disadvantaged. And we need to internalize that in the long run none of us are immune.

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