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Environmental Justice and Sustainability Seminar

via Nate Steiner on Flickr

Co-sponsored by the Woods Institute for the Environment, the Bill Lane Center's seminar meets several times a quarter on Fridays at noon. The workshop's mission is to promote scholarly works and dialogue on environmental justice and sustainability in disadvantaged communities. It features speakers of various academic disciplines from both within and outside Stanford working on different aspects of environmental justice and inequity such as air and water quality, vulnerability to extreme weather, climate change, mitigation measures, access to affordable energy, and the like.

Register here or email Iris Hui for more information.

Friday, October 30, 12 PM: The Haves, The Have-nots, and the Health of Everyone: Implications for Environmental Sustainability and Justice
Rachel Morello-Frosch, Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management, University of California, Berkeley

Abstract: Legacies of structural racism, discriminatory market forces, and biases within environmental decision-making have created a disproportionate prevalence of environmental hazards among communities of color and the poor in the US.  Evidence indicates that the cumulative effects of environmental hazard and chronic social stressor exposures play an important role in the origins and persistence of health disparities. In addition, research suggests that more unequal societies have more polluted and degraded environments, perhaps helping explain why more unequal societies are often less healthy.  This talk will discuss scientific assertions regarding how social inequality shapes environmental health disparities and implications for novel strategies that integrate sustainability and environmental justice goals.

Bio: Rachel Morello-Frosch is Professor in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management and the School of Public Health at UC Berkeley. Her research examines social determinants of environmental health disparities among diverse communities in the US with a focus on environmental chemicals, air pollution and climate change. 

Friday, November 13, 12 PM: Disparities in PM2.5 Air Pollution in the United States
Jonathan Colmer, Department of Economics, University of Virginia

Abstract:Air pollution at any given time is unequally distributed across locations. Average concentrations of fine particulate matter smaller than 2.5 micrometers in diameter (PM2.5) have fallen over time. However, we do not know how the spatial distribution of PM2.5 has evolved. In a recent study published in Science, Professor Colmer and co-authors, provide early evidence. Combining 36 years of PM2.5 concentrations measured over ~8.6 million grid cells with geographic, economic, and demographic data from ~65,000 U.S. census tracts they show that differences in PM2.5 between more and less polluted areas declined substantially between 1981 and 2016. However, the most polluted census tracts in 1981 remained the most polluted in 2016. The least polluted census tracts in 1981 remained the least polluted in 2016. The most exposed subpopulations in 1981 remained the most exposed in 2016. Overall, absolute disparities have fallen, but relative disparities persist. Professor Colmer will discuss this research alongside other work that the Environmental Inequality Lab has been doing exploring the consequences of air pollution disparities on economic opportunity and social mobility. 

Bio:Jonathan Colmer is Assistant Professor of Economics at the University of Virginia's Department of Economics and Director of the Environmental Inequality Lab. His research combines data with insights from economic theory and environmental science to understand how society and the environment influence one another.


Friday, January 29, 12 PM: David Konisky, School of Public and Environmental Affairs, University of Indiana, Bloomington