James K. Boyce is a professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and director of the environment program at the Political Economy Research Institute. His latest book is Economics, the Environment, and Our Common Wealth (2013). His previous books include Reclaiming Nature: Environmental Justice and Ecological Restoration (2007); Natural Assets: Democratizing Environmental Ownership (2003); and The Political Economy of the Environment (2002). He is president of Econ4: Economics for People, the Planet and the Future.
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The tragic crisis in Flint, Michigan, where residents have been poisoned by lead contamination, is not just about drinking water. And it’s not just about Flint. It’s about race and class, and the stark contradiction between the American dream of equal rights and opportunity for all and the American nightmare of metastasizing inequality of wealth and power.
Distributional Considerations in Climate Change Mitigation: Policy Design as if the Present Generation Matters
Using data on industrial air pollution exposure in the United States, we compute three measures of environmental inequality: the Gini coefficient of exposure, the ratio of median exposure of minorities to that of non-Hispanic whites, and the ratio of median exposure of poor households to that of nonpoor households.