Frontline Communities Deserve Special Attention
In the effort to mitigate the effects of climate change, they simply need more support. Not only are these communities affected by climate change more, they often have fewer resources with which to recover.
May 17, 2021Updated 3 days ago
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In some cases, the impact on frontline communities is arbitrary, simply due to its close physical proximity to an observable climate change phenomenon. Being born and raised near natural resources such as glaciers, rivers, or oceans—may simply be bad luck given the worsening climate crisis.
In other cases, the impact is due to the community having underprivileged constituents with fewer resources. Whether because of redlining or poor infrastructure, sometimes the lack of resources people face during a crisis stems from greater inequalities.
For example, African American youth in redlined Baltimore neighborhoods have the highest asthma and heat-related health problems in the country. A lack of resources combined with reduced access to healthcare have led to a spate of chronic breathing issues.
Or outside the US, Bangladesh is an example, with its extreme cyclical flooding. This nation is often at the mercy of extreme weather, which has only been worsened by climate change.
The rise of low-income housing in floodplain areas has contributed to this phenomenon. Putting under-privileged people in high-risk areas can be disastrous to their livelihood.
One research study by the KSCE Journal of Civil Engineering showed that lower-income people are more likely to live in areas that are prone to flooding. When that happens, they often do not have the resources to repair their homes
Additionally, many do not have the means to prepare for flooding before it happens or to pay for secondary housing in the event of evacution. The refrain of, "if it's flooding, just move", does not take into account individual's financial means or support systems in other locations that could make moving impossible.
In at least one instance in Austin, Texas, the trend of low-income families living in flood-prone areas came as a result of a shift in housing developments. Many floodplains areas were specifically developed for multi-family housing and mobile homes in the period between 1990–2000, making them especially attractive to low-income communities
Taken together with the fact that more FEMA aid does not often prioritize low-income areas, this means that frontline communities are often hit harder and take longer to recover.
Ensuring Equity in Disaster Response - U.S. Chamber of Commerce discussion on frontline communities
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