Conference highlights links among climate change, health, racial justice

By Brian Roewe
March 24, 2022

The ways pollution, health, climate change and racism blur together were in sharp focus last week during Loyola University Chicago's conference on climate.

The virtual event, held March 14-18, featured seven panel discussions spread across five days that all touched on ways that increasing global temperatures impact people's ability to live healthy lives, but often in disproportionate ways.

“The pope clearly says some forms of pollution are part of people's daily experience, and they're constantly being exposed to atmospheric pollution, pollution of the water, pollution of soil, but it all yields these health impacts,” said Sylvia Hood Washington, an environmental epidemiologist and historian, referencing Pope Francis' 2015 encyclical Laudato Si'. “So that is the goal of fighting against environmental racism, because these communities have found that they are not in a resilient space. They are not living in an environment where their bodies are being protected.”

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