Reflections on Environmental Justice

Amanda Benjamin, Environmental Justice Intern
June 9, 2011
Columban Center outreach advocacy intern

Amanda Benjamin

Although I am not an expert on the issues related to environmental justice, I have written a few papers during my collegiate career related to the subject and because of those papers, I am aware of its importance in our world.  Environmental justice is not traditionally associated with social justice issues and it is sometimes difficult to see how caring for the environment is connected to issues such as combating global poverty, inequality and violence.  When you look closely however it is easy to see that in addition to being God’s creation and thus being worthy of our respect and care, the earth is our shared home and it provides everything we need to survive such as water, air, food, and shelter.

Therefore, when people are unable to obtain the things necessary for survival because the environment is threatened or destroyed by pollution, climate change, or even the unequal distribution of natural resources, it is a social justice issue. Under “Rights and Responsibilities” in the Catholic Social Teaching it says that “every person has a fundamental right to life and a right to those things required for human decency.”  Having access to our shared natural resources while living in a safe and clean environment is essential for living a life with “human decency.” It goes on to say in “Care for God’s Creation” that it is our faith that calls us to care for the environment because the environment is a reflection of God the Creator.  If we are called to respect the Creator, we are also called to respect the creation.  The brief text I read from the Catholic Social Teaching has been enlightening and made me even more excited about working with CCAO this summer.  I’m looking forward to learning more about the issues and also working toward finding and advocating for solutions.