Tag Archives: Justiça ambiental

Crise do clima aprofunda desigualdades e viola direitos humanos, diz ONG (Folha de S.Paulo)

Anistia Internacional aponta efeitos desproporcionais da mudança climática, que prejudica mais grupos vulneráveis

13.ago.2021 às 3h00

Fernanda Mena – São Paulo

A crise climática é uma crise de direitos humanos, cujas emergências já estão afetando de maneira desproporcional os países mais vulneráveis e os grupos sociais mais discriminados e marginalizados, aprofundando desigualdades.

É isso o que indica o relatório “Parem de Queimar Nossos Direitos”, lançado nesta sexta-feira (13) globalmente pela Anistia Internacional.

O documento detalha como emergências climáticas têm consequências injustas entre países, entre diferentes populações e entre gerações e de que maneira elas comprometem a garantia de uma série de direitos fundamentais, como o direito à vida, à água, à alimentação, à moradia, à saúde, ao trabalho e à autodeterminação, entre outros.

O primeiro e mais elementar desses direitos é a face mais evidente e trágica da escalada de emergências climáticas que tomaram o noticiário ao longo do último ano. Tempestades devastadoras, recorde de furacões, ondas de calor e incêndios sem precedentes mataram pessoas da Austrália à Alemanha, passando por Bahamas, China e Canadá.

Segundo o documento, mais de 20 milhões de pessoas foram deslocadas internamente, em média, a cada ano entre 2008 e 2019 por causa de eventos relacionados ao clima. Parte desses eventos afetou a vida de milhões de pessoas ao destruir plantações e casas e queimar florestas e cidades inteiras, além de secar rios. O Brasil, por exemplo, vive a pior estiagem dos últimos 91 anos, o que compromete o abastecimento da população e o fornecimento de energia elétrica.

A ONG internacional reitera um alerta da comunidade científica: a temperatura do planeta já subiu, em média, 1,1ºC desde tempos pré-industriais, e os países precisam evitar que essa elevação dos termômetros ultrapasse 1,5º C. Para isso, precisam reduzir ao máximo, chegando a zero, suas emissões de carbono.

O Painel Intergovernamental sobre Mudanças Climáticas (IPCC) estimou que manter o aumento da temperatura média global em 1,5°C, e não em 2°C, resultaria na proteção de 420 milhões de pessoas em relação a ondas de calor extremas e na redução de 50% no número de pessoas expostas ao estresse hídrico induzido pelo clima, além de diminuir o risco de inundações costeiras.

Estudo publicado na revista Nature calculou que, em 2050, a elevação do nível do mar por conta do derretimento de gelo nos pólos do planeta pode afetar mais de 1 milhão de brasileiros que vivem em regiões costeiras.

“As autoridades públicas no Brasil têm contribuído para que haja um desmonte da agenda ambiental, mas não há mais espaço para o negacionismo. A vida de brasileiros e brasileiras deve vir em primeiro lugar”, explica Jurema Werneck, diretora executiva da Anistia Internacional Brasil.

Segundo Werneck, os Estados têm obrigações legais de enfrentar a crise do clima, de acordo com a normativa internacional dos direitos humanos. “Exigimos que o governo do presidente Jair Bolsonaro e o Congresso Nacional ajam para atenuar os efeitos das mudanças climáticas sobre a população brasileira e implementem políticas públicas de conservação da natureza e proteção dos direitos humanos.”

Para ela, o governo do Brasil não está fazendo o que é preciso para enfrentar a crise climática. “Muito pelo contrário, temos visto decisões equivocadas, perigosas e muita negligência. O governo não se coloca ao lado da proteção do ambiente natural nem dos sujeitos de grupos populacionais como indígenas, quilombolas e moradores das periferias das cidades para mitigar e superar os impactos da crise climática.”

Embora as mudanças climáticas sejam um fenômeno global, elas atingem países pobres e em desenvolvimento de maneira desproporcional, o que configura um aspecto injusto desse fenômeno.

O relatório afirma que os países e blocos que mais emitiram CO2 na história —EUA, União Europeia, China, Rússia e Japão— têm uma responsabilidade histórica e precisam agir em seu território e no exterior, mas não são os únicos que devem responder ao imperativo de mudanças.

“Para resolver essa crise, que é global, é preciso que a responsabilidade de agir seja compartilhada por todos e todas. Todos os países precisam fazer alguma coisa urgente, sejam os países mais ricos do mundo, sejam aqueles em desenvolvimento, como o Brasil, sejam os países mais pobres do mundo. Todo mundo tem o que fazer, todo mundo deve fazer. Se omitir nesse momento é extremamente violador dos direitos humanos”, afirma a diretora-executiva da Anistia no Brasil.

Neste sentido, o relatório da organização aponta que a omissão de países em tomar medidas audaciosas para enfrentar a crise do clima é, em si, uma violação de direitos humanos porque tem impactos concretos sobre direitos com um escopo ainda maior que outros tipos de violações.

Isso porque, além do desequilíbrio entre nações, os efeitos das emergências climáticas também estão ligados às desigualdades e privilégios de parcelas da população mundial.

De acordo com o relatório da Anistia, de 1990 a 2015, os 10% mais ricos da população mundial (cerca de 630 milhões de pessoas) foram responsáveis por mais da metade das emissões acumuladas de carbono, enquanto os 50% mais pobres (cerca de 3,1 bilhões de pessoas) foram responsáveis por apenas 7% das emissões acumuladas.

Estudos já identificaram que existem recortes étnicos, raciais e de gênero nas pessoas mais afetadas, entre elas, mulheres, pessoas negras e povos indígenas, além de outros grupos que vivem em moradias mais precárias, em localidades de risco ou em áreas mais expostas à poluição e menos servidas de saneamento, por exemplo.

Por isso, ao mesmo tempo que o relatório convoca os países a reduzir drasticamente a queima de combustíveis fósseis e a acelerarem suas transições para matrizes energéticas limpas, a Anistia chama a atenção para a necessidade de cuidar das pessoas mais vulneráveis. Para tanto, recomenda a criação de mecanismos de financiamento internacional para que se adote medidas de mitigação da crise e de adaptação das populações a emergências climáticas.

Além disso, de acordo com a ONG, esses projetos de mitigação e de adaptação muitas vezes ocorrem em contextos de violação de direitos, seja no campo do trabalho ou da alimentação, no caso das monoculturas de biocombustíveis.

“Há uma profunda injustiça permeando toda essa crise climática. Porque é uma minoria das pessoas do mundo e dos países do mundo que produzem um excesso de gases de efeito estufa, que estão na origem da crise climática. E são aqueles que são excluídos e marginalizados que já estão pagando o preço mais alto dessa crise”, avalia Werneck.

“Portanto, a resposta à crise precisa ser coordenada e ter enfoque em direitos humanos. Precisa garantir que as medidas de reparação e de correção de rota sejam rápidas, mas também sejam justas.”

Building an Ark for the Anthropocene (New York Times)

CreditJason Holley

WE are barreling into the Anthropocene, the sixth mass extinction in the history of the planet. A recent study published in the journal Science concluded that the world’s species are disappearing as much as 1,000 times faster than the rate at which species naturally go extinct. It’s a one-two punch — on top of the ecosystems we’ve broken, extreme weather from a changing climate causes even more damage. By 2100, researchers say, one-third to one-half of all Earth’s species could be wiped out.

As a result, efforts to protect species are ramping up as governments, scientists and nonprofit organizations try to build a modern version of Noah’s Ark. The new ark certainly won’t come in the form of a large boat, or even always a place set aside. Instead it is a patchwork quilt of approaches, including assisted migration, seed banks and new preserves and travel corridors based on where species are likely to migrate as seas rise or food sources die out.

The questions are complex. What species do you save? The ones most at risk? Charismatic animals, such as lions or bears or elephants? The ones most likely to survive? The species that hold the most value for us?

One initiative, the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services formed in 2012 by the governments of 121 countries, aims to protect and restore species in wild areas and to protect species like bees that carry out valuable ecosystem service functions in the places people live. Some three-quarters of the world’s food production depends primarily on bees.

“We still know very little about what could or should be included in the ark and where,” said Walter Jetz, an ecologist at Yale involved with the project. Species are being wiped out even before we know what they are.

Another project, the EDGE of Existence, run by the Zoological Society of London, seeks to protect the most unusual wildlife at highest risk. These are species that evolved on their own for so long that they are very different from other species. Among the species the project has helped to preserve are the tiny bumblebee bat and the golden-rumped elephant shrew.

While the traditional approach to protecting species is to buy land, preservation of the right habitat can be a moving target, since it’s not known how species will respond to a changing climate.

To complete the maps of where life lives, scientists have enlisted the crowd. A crowdsourcing effort called the Global Biodiversity Information Facility identifies and curates biodiversity data — such as photos of species taken with a smartphone — to show their distribution and then makes the information available online. That is especially helpful to researchers in developing countries with limited budgets. Another project, Lifemapper, at the University of Kansas Biodiversity Institute, uses the data to understand where a species might move as its world changes.

“We know that species don’t persist long in fragmented areas and so we try and reconnect those fragments,” said Stuart L. Pimm, a professor of conservation at Duke University, and head of a nonprofit organization called SavingSpecies. One of his group’s projects in the Colombian Andes identified a forest that contains a carnivorous mammal that some have described as a cross between a house cat and a teddy bear, called anolinguito, new to science. Using crowd-sourced data, “we worked with local conservation groups and helped them buy land, reforest the land and reconnect pieces,” Dr. Pimm says.

Coastal areas, especially, are getting scrutiny. Biologists in Florida, which faces a daunting sea level rise, are working on a plan to set aside land farther inland as a reserve for everything from the MacGillivray’s seaside sparrow to the tiny Key deer.

To thwart something called “coastal squeeze,” a network of “migratory greenways” is envisioned so that species can move on their own away from rising seas to new habitat. “But some are basically trapped,” said Reed F. Noss, a professor of conservation biology at the University of Central Florida who is involved in the effort, and they will most likely need to be picked up and moved. The program has languished, but Amendment 1, on the ballot this November, would provide funding.

One species at risk is the Florida panther. Once highly endangered, with just 20 individuals left, this charismatic animal has come back — some. But a quarter or more of its habitat is predicted to be under some three feet of water by 2100. Males will move on their own, but females will need help because they won’t cross the Caloosahatchee River. Experts hope to create reserves north of the river, and think at some point they will have to move females to new quarters.

Protecting land between reserves is vital. The Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative, known as Y2Y, would protect corridors between wild landscapes in the Rockies from Yellowstone National Park to northern Canada, which would allow species to migrate.

RESEARCHERS have also focused on “refugia,” regions around the world that have remained stable during previous swings of the Earth’s climate — and that might be the best bet for the survival of life this time around.

A section of the Driftless Area encompassing northeastern Iowa and southern Minnesota, also known as Little Switzerland, has ice beneath some of its ridges. The underground refrigerator means the land never gets above 50 or so degrees and has kept the Pleistocene snail, long thought extinct, from disappearing there. Other species might find refuge there as things get hot.

A roughly 250-acre refugia on the Little Cahaba River in Alabama has been called a botanical lost world, because of its wide range of unusual plants, including eight species found nowhere else. Dr. Noss said these kinds of places should be sought out and protected.

Daniel Janzen, a conservation ecologist at the University of Pennsylvania who is working to protect large tracts in Costa Rica, said that to truly protect biodiversity, a place-based approach must be tailored to the country. A reserve needs to be large, to be resilient against a changing climate, and so needs the support of the people who live with the wild place and will want to protect it. “To survive climate change we need to minimize the other assaults, such as illegal logging and contaminating water,” he said. “Each time you add one of those you make it more sensitive to climate change.”

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault, beneath the permafrost on an island in the Arctic Ocean north of mainland Norway, preserves seeds from food crops. Frozen zoos keep the genetic material from extinct and endangered animals. The Archangel Ancient Tree Archive in Michigan, meanwhile, founded by a family of shade tree growers, has made exact genetic duplicates of some of the largest trees on the planet and planted them in “living libraries” elsewhere — should something befall the original.

In 2008, Connie Barlow, a biologist and conservationist, helped move an endangered conifer tree in Florida north by planting seedlings in cooler regions. Now she is working in the West. “I just assisted in the migration of the alligator juniper in New Mexico by planting seeds in Colorado,” she said. “We have to. Climate change is happening so fast and trees are the least capable of moving.”

People of color live in neighborhoods with more air pollution than whites, groundbreaking U.S. study shows (Science Daily)

Date: April 15, 2014

Source: University of Minnesota

Summary: A first-of-its-kind study has found that on average in the U.S., people of color are exposed to 38 percent higher levels of nitrogen dioxide outdoor air pollution compared to white people. The health impacts from the difference in levels between whites and nonwhites found in the study are substantial. For example, researchers estimate that if nonwhites breathed the lower NO2 levels experienced by whites, it would prevent 7,000 deaths from heart disease alone among nonwhites each year.

This shows the difference in population-weighted mean NO2 concentrations (ppb) between lower-income nonwhites and higher-income whites for U.S. cities (448 urban areas). Credit: University of Minnesota

A first-of-its-kind study by researchers at the University of Minnesota found that on average in the U.S., people of color are exposed to 38 percent higher levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) outdoor air pollution compared to white people.

Nitrogen dioxide comes from sources like vehicle exhaust and power plants. Breathing NO2 is linked to asthma symptoms and heart disease. The Environmental Protection Agency has listed it as one of the seven key air pollutants it monitors. The researchers studied NO2 levels in urban areas across the country and compared specific areas within the cities based on populations defined in the U.S. Census as “nonwhite” or “white.”

The health impacts from the difference in levels between whites and nonwhites found in the study are substantial. For example, researchers estimate that if nonwhites breathed the lower NO2 levels experienced by whites, it would prevent 7,000 deaths from heart disease alone among nonwhites each year.

The study entitled “National patterns in environmental injustice and inequality: Outdoor NO2 air pollution in the United States” was published in the April 15 issue of PLOS ONE, a leading peer-reviewed scientific journal.

“We were quite shocked to find such a large disparity between whites and nonwhites related to air pollution,” said Julian Marshall, a civil engineering associate professor in the University of Minnesota’s College of Science and Engineering and co-author of the study. “Our study provides a great baseline to track over time on important issues of environmental injustice and inequality in our country.”

Other U.S. studies have documented disparities in exposures to environmental risks, including air pollution, but this research goes beyond previous studies of specific cities, communities or regions within the nation. This new study is the first to use satellite observations, measurements by the Environmental Protection Agency, and maps of land uses to explore disparities in exposure to air pollution for the U.S. nationwide, including both rural and urban areas, with comparisons by city, county, state and region.

The new research builds on a recently published University of Minnesota study that used satellite data and land use information to look at nitrogen dioxide pollution throughout the continental United States (excluding Alaska and Hawaii), including all 448 urban areas defined by the U.S. Census. In the present study, the researchers overlaid the pollution information with U.S. Census data about where people live. The results provide groundbreaking evidence of environmental disparities nationwide.

The researchers found that in most areas, lower-income nonwhites are more exposed than higher-income whites, and on average, race matters more than income in explaining differences in NO2 exposure. They also found that New York, Pennsylvania and Illinois had the largest exposure gaps between whites and nonwhites, irrespective of income. The urban areas with the largest exposure gaps between whites and nonwhites were New York/Newark, Philadelphia and Bridgeport/Stamford, Conn.

The 15 states with the largest exposure gaps between whites and nonwhites were (from highest disparity to lower):

  • New York
  • Pennsylvania
  • Illinois
  • Michigan
  • New Jersey
  • Rhode Island
  • Massachusetts
  • California
  • Wisconsin
  • Connecticut
  • Missouri
  • Ohio
  • Kentucky
  • Indiana
  • Minnesota

Note: The list above reflects disparities by race alone, irrespective of income. The map below reflects disparities by race-income.

The 15 urban areas* with the largest exposure gaps between whites and nonwhites were (from highest disparity to lower):

  • New York–Newark; NY–NJ–CT
  • Philadelphia; PA–NJ–DE–MD
  • Bridgeport–Stamford; CT–NY
  • Boston; MA–NH–RI
  • Providence; RI–MA
  • Detroit; MI
  • Los Angeles–Long Beach–Santa Ana; CA
  • New Haven; CT
  • Worcester; MA–CT
  • Springfield; MA–CT
  • Rochester; NY
  • Chicago; IL–IN
  • Birmingham; AL
  • Hartford; CT
  • Milwaukee; WI

* As defined by the U.S. Census

Note: The list above reflects disparities by race alone, irrespective of income. The map below reflects disparities by race-income group.

Visit the University of Minnesota Marshall Research Group website for the full listing of states and urban areas studied.

“Our findings are of broad interest to researchers, policy makers and city planners,” said Lara Clark, co-author of the study and civil engineering Ph.D. student in the University of Minnesota’s College of Science and Engineering. “The next step in the research would be to look at why this disparity occurs and what we can do to solve it.”

Journal Reference:

  1. Lara P. Clark, Dylan B. Millet, Julian D. Marshall. National Patterns in Environmental Injustice and Inequality: Outdoor NO2 Air Pollution in the United StatesPLoS ONE, 2014; 9 (4): e94431 DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0094431