Environmental Justice: A Practical Prospective


Environmental Justice: A Practical Perspective


            When anyone reads a newsmagazine or turns on a major network, there always seems to be one item up for debate: climate change. Whether the speakers are liberal/conservative means nothing—the argument persists, and neither side is giving ground. Yet, regardless of the points being made, someone needs to clear the table and look at this issue from a practical standpoint, and there’s no time like the present.

            First off, replacing fossil fuels is a wonderful idea, something all can hopefully agree on to some extent…but there’s a question green energy fans haven’t answered to date: what exactly is replacing them? There’s been arguments for decades about new carburetors, and former President George W. Bush, in the State of the Union Address that led to his declaration of hostilities against Iraq, mentioned putting money into R&D for hydrogen-powered cars. However, despite all that, nobody’s even hinted at a replacement. The obvious answer is something that’s either completely clean or 100% biodegradable, plus easy to produce and cost effective for all consumers to use—but the table’s still empty.

            In the meantime, alternatives are being constantly offered as a means of helping the environment…but their viability is shaky. Windmills and solar panels are nice supplements, but don’t replace anything. The former relies on it being windy in the first place, plus the mills themselves not being frozen to inoperability. People have since claimed they’ll place hundreds of thousands of them, but that only creates more problems. For example, where will they be placed? Windmills can’t exactly go in a city, and zoning laws may not allow them. Moreover, a lot of the best land is privately owned, meaning it’ll have to be leased/purchased for use, but that’ll drive down the price of the rest of the property in the long run, forcing many prospective landowners to up their price to allow construction. Some have talked about using batteries, but those can only hold so much, plus they can also fail, break, and require maintenance, all of which entails higher costs delivered to consumers. As for solar panels, they require the sun, making them useless at night (even more so above/below given latitudes, where the sun stays down for lengthy periods in winter), when it’s stormy, or if the panels are obstructed by things like dust or snow. Extremely cloudy weather can also limit their effectiveness, namely in places like England, where it annually rains more than its sunny. Batteries have been brought up here too, but the same issues with windmill batteries apply once more. Finally, there’s ethanol, fuel based on corn-byproduct, but this won’t help either: many cars can’t use it, and diverting massive resources to turn corn into fuel will merely restrict food for consumers, causing prices to spike.

            That brings us to electric cars, which look nice on paper…until you look below the surface. They’re prolifically expensive, and an investment most can’t afford when they’re barely able to afford groceries and utilities. While they don’t require gas, the few hundred dollars a month buyers save at the fuel pump will be more than erased by the higher costs of registration, insurance, maintenance, and repairs; remember, the more expensive the vehicle, the pricier it is to own it. Another problem is recharge stations—not all places have them, and some kinds only work for certain vehicles. This heavily restricts travel for consumers, making things harder for people who need to drive for their job, especially when one factors in the limited range some models possess.

            Another alternative is just use public transportation…but this fails as well. Not all places have it readily available, and some don’t have the luxury of relying on it. For example, home health aides often have clients in different towns, so they need to be able to drive to reach them. Also, even if a person commutes to a city to work, there may not be a train/bus station they can use, and relying on a cab to get to/from work would be very pricey in the long term. Another factor is the weather: if a disaster hits and public transportation is disabled/damaged, what can/will those relying on it do then, especially without their own means of transportation as ……

            One could go on about this longer, but this should be enough for the moment. Bear in mind, this is a common-sense summation of the facts, not a political opinion or argument, so it shouldn’t be taken as such. As was mentioned at the beginning, it’s meant to clear the table, thereby helping everyone cool their heads and stop waving fists long enough to try and come up with a mutually beneficial solution. Just declaring the end of fossil fuels without a viable replacement solves nothing, especially when no one seems to have one in the first place, and the alternates being presented won’t serve such a purpose either. Some won’t like hearing this, but the best present option is this: fossil fuel use should continue at its former capacity, and the money being wasted emphasizing alternates that don’t fulfill the literal meaning of the term should be redirected into R&D until something viable is finally found. Remember, you put the horse before the cart, not the other way around.   


Andrew Nickerson

Andrew is originally from Massachusetts, and started writing in high school with poems/short stories. He moved to novellas while earning his BA in History (English minor) at UMASS Lowell and JD at Mass. School of Law, and never looked back. Since then, he has self-published a novella on Amazon, printed one article apiece on Polygon and Anime Herald, and recently printed a short story in Evening Street Review. He will have another article coming out in Academy of Heart and Mind on 1/19, and is finalizing a new article on Pipeline Artists as we speak.            


  1. less talk about the environment and more setting examples. as evidenced by the most recent poor example we got a Dept of Transportation Secretary who flies more private air polluting jets than anyone in the world. And he likes to lecture about the environment too.

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