Climate Change is a human rights issue. It influences the lives of all humans on Earth, but it has a greater impact on the lives of minorities and indigenous peoples.
Indigenous people are known as people who inherited a land first and have a close connection with that land. For example, the native people of Napa County include the Onastis (Wappo), Miwok, and Hokan (Pomo) people. The Napa Valley is known to be one of the longest inhabited areas of land in Northern America. As the Europeans invaded northern America, they spread disease and pushed the native people out of their land. Native people have faced many difficulties the European invaders have inflicted upon them, and continue to, due to how poorly we have been treating their land.
Climate Change affects minorities and indigenous people in many ways. Often, minorities live in areas that are more prone to destruction due to Climate Change. Governments have discriminated against minorities by making it difficult for them to live safely in their environment. They often live in poverty, in parts of cities that are not well taken care of, compared to other parts of cities where wealthier people live in luxury. As an example, after Hurricane Katrina hit, there were major floods that followed. New Orleans, Louisiana, received 10 inches of rain before the hurricane even surged over the city, leaving 80% of the city underwater after it hit, according to Encyclopedia Britannica. In a briefing written by Rachel Baird for the Minority Rights Group International, she wrote, “A Brookings Institution report on the disaster found that ‘those areas hit hardest by the flood were disproportionately non-white. Overall, Blacks and other minority residents made up 58 percent of those whose neighborhoods were flooded, though they encompassed just 45 percent of the metropolitan population.’” It is not a coincidence that non-white communities were of those hit the hardest by the hurricane, yet people fail to realize it as an issue, including their government, that should be doing everything in its power to keep them safe.
Indigenous people and minorities have been fighting for decades for people in power to help them against their fight against Climate Change, but they haven’t been listening. How we can help is to listen to them, learn from them, and promote their message. Our government has the power to make legal change when it comes to climate change, but it’s our job to get them to listen to us, so every human has the right to live safely on our Earth.
Learn more about the Suscol Intertribal Council, a local non-profit organization that advocates for social and climate justice: https://www.suscolcouncil.org/