The environmental justice movement began in the 1980s which address the unfair exposure of poor and marginalized communities to harms associated with resource extraction, hazardous waste, and other land uses. It’s often closely tied with environmental racism. Dr. Robert Bullard first defined environmental racism in his 1990 book Dumping in Dixie, and is now serving on the White House Environmental Justice Council to develop a screening tool to determine which communities get priority for new climate investments.
Environmental racism typically isn’t taught in high school science classes, and often the socio-political aspects of the climate crisis are left out of environmental science education altogether. One effort to fill this gap is Youth on Root, which supplements existing STEM education with a curriculum kit on environmental justice, a youth-directed conference program that brings California kids together, and an animated explanatory video series.