Peter Wenz, "Just Garbage"
1. I. INTRODUCTORY
2. Environmental justice asks whether our current distributions of env. hazards are just
3. Env. hazards: Include toxic chemicals in factories, toxic herbicides/pesticides in agriculture, radiation from uranium mining, lead from paint in older buildings, illegally dumped toxic wastes, legally stored toxic wastes, air pollution, etc.
4. Env. racism: Practices that expose racial minorities and people of color to disproportionate shares of env. hazards
5. II. DEFENSE OF CURRENT PRACTICE OF DISTRIBUTING ENV. HAZARDS TO RACIAL MINORITIES: IT'S ECONOMIC, NOT RACIAL DISCRIMINATION
6. This defense relies on the Doctrine of Double Effect: An effect that would normally be wrong to cause is permissibly caused if it is an "unintended (though known) byproduct" of a morally justifiable effect you intend to cause
7. Racial effects of toxic waste sitings are blameless because they are unintended side-effects (of siting env. hazards in poor communities)
8. III. WENZ REJECTS THIS DEFENSE: It is still unjust for racial minorities to suffer disproportionate env. hazards, even if it is accounted for by economics and not race
9. Because it is wrong/unjust for the poor to suffer disproportionate env. hazards
10. Unlike the hysterectomy case where the intended effect is morally permissible (to prevent cancer), it is not morally permissible (because it is unjust/unfair) to place disproportionate env. hazards on poor people
11. But what if the poor are targeted not because they are poor but because economic reasons suggest this is a better policy?
12. Another (better?) response to economic justification is to reject the doctrine of double effect and argue that people are responsible for the known effects of their actions even if they don’t intend them
13. IV. PRINCIPLE OF COMMENSURATE BURDENS AND BENEFITS: Those who get the benefits should get the burdens as well
14. People who benefit from a harmful activity should be the ones suffering that harm
15. Principle of CBB applied to env. hazards: The burdens of ill health associated with env. hazards should be related to the benefits derived from the processes and products that create these hazards
16. V. CONSUMERISM IS RESPONSIBLE FOR TOXIC HAZARDS
17. Toxins released into our env. in greater quantities than ever before because we have a consumer-oriented society, where acquisition, use, disposal of individually owned items is greatly desired
18. Wenz's diagnosis of our consumer society
19. VI. WENZ'S CONCLUSION ABOUT WHO SHOULD GET THE ENV. HAZARDS
20. Those who benefit most from the production of waste should shoulder the greatest share of burdens associated with its disposal
21. Consumption of goods is the principal benefit associated with generation of toxic wastes
22. This consumption is generally correlated with income and wealth
23. So, justice requires that people's proximity to toxic wastes be related positively to their income and wealth: Wealthy get more toxics
24. Unjust to expose poor people to vital dangers whose generation predominantly benefits the rich
25. VII. WENZ'S LULU POINTS PROPOSAL
26. LULUs (locally undesirable land uses) include not only toxic wastes dumps, but also
27. Assign points to different types of LULU
28. Require all communities to earn LULU points
29. Wealthy communities would be required to earn more LULU points than poorer ones because their wealth/consumption creates more LULUs
30. VIII. Implementing this proposal (LULU points) would ameliorate injustice of disproportionately exposing poor people to toxic hazards and largely solve problems of env racism
31. IX. LULU Proposal would benefit life on earth by reducing generation of toxic hazards: When wealthy are exposed to env. hazards, culture will quickly evolve ways to eliminate their production.
32. Proposal would not eliminate pollution entirely, since to live is to pollute
33. Approach should be applied internationally: Rich countries should not ship their toxic wastes to poor countries
1. What is environmental justice? What is environmental racism?
2. What are the reasons for thinking it is true that nonwhites face a “disproportionate” amount of environmental hazards in this country? Do they?
3. What is the doctrine of double effect and how does Wenz use it in his critique of environmental racism?
4. Using examples, explain Wenz’s principle of commensurate burdens and benefits. How does he use this principle in his analysis of environmental justice?
5. Why does Wenz discuss consumerism and how does it fit into his argument concerning environmental justice?
6. Who does Wenz believe should receive the lion’s share of env. hazards and what is his argument for this conclusion?
7. Explain Wenz’s proposal concerning the awarding of LULU points. How does he think this suggestion would lead to a drastically reduce production level for environmental hazards?
8. What is the free market approach to the distribution of environmental hazards? Why does Wenz reject this? Do you agree with his reasoning?