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Journal of African American Studies

, Volume 18, Issue 3, pp 305–314 | Cite as

Climate Justice, Hurricane Katrina, and African American Environmentalism

  • W. Malcolm ByrnesEmail author
ARTICLES

Abstract

The images of human suffering from New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina remain seared in our nation's collective memory. More than 8 years on, the city and its African-American population still have not recovered fully. This reality highlights an important truth: the disturbances that accompany climate change will first and foremost affect minority communities, many of whom are economically disadvantaged. This paper: (1) describes how Hurricane Katrina, an example of the type of natural disaster that will become more prevalent with intensifying climate change, has impacted the black community of New Orleans; (2) explores the notion that African Americans, in the midst of racial oppression, have developed a unique and powerful brand of environmental thought that has much to contribute to mainstream environmentalism; and (3) argues that the voice of the black community, which has a vested interest in climate outcomes, is critically needed in today's climate debate.

Keywords

Climate change Environmental justice Hurricane Katrina African American environmentalism 

Notes

Acknowledgments

The author would like to thank Dr. Kimberly K. Smith of Carleton College for helpful comments on an earlier draft of this article.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, College of MedicineHoward UniversityWashingtonUSA

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