By Reginald Swift, founder/CEO, Rubix LS
Looking from space, our Earth appears exquisitely small and fragile. While we might have a different perspective about its size as we move about the planet’s land, oceans, and rivers during our day-to-day lives, it’s hard to argue with the idea that our environment and ecosystem are indeed vulnerable.
“It’s time to think ten years into the future about how we advance environmental justice and include healthcare in that action plan,” says Reginald Swift, Ph.D., founder/CEO at Rubix Life Sciences. “We have to look at health equity as inextricably linked to environmental justice for people everywhere,” he adds.
Swift will be a featured speaker on July 20 at “Prioritizing Environmental Justice in a Changing Climate Forum,” along with a panel including Matthew Tejada, Director, Office of Environmental Justice, Environmental Protection Agency, Miles O’Brien, Science Correspondent, PBS NewsHour, and Steve Ambrose, Chief Climate Scientist, SAIC. The program is sponsored by the Potomac Officers Club (POC).
Climate Change has elevated environmental justice, equity, and diversity to everyday conversations notes the POC. The key to environmental justice effectiveness is to identify, engage, educate, and ultimately resource those disadvantaged communities to ensure climate change mitigation, resilience, and adaptation are applied equally to those communities.
The July 20 forum will focus on the impacts of climate change on disadvantaged communities including a discussion of the federal government’s Justice40 initiative and the tools to better understand at-risk people and communities. The Justice40 Initiative is the government’s effort to deliver at least 40 percent of the overall benefits from certain climate-related federal investments to disadvantaged communities.
“Environmental justice is about more than planting trees and keeping plastic out of our oceans,” Swift says. “Obviously, those are important things, but we have to think more broadly about improving the environment, particularly in less affluent areas of the country,” he says. “The condition of the environment – from the availability of safe, clean drinking water to cleaning toxins out of the sky and ground – have and will continue to have a major impact on human health.”
“We have to think and act big,” Swift says. He calls on policymakers, industry leaders, and others to take a more proactive approach to both improving the environment and human health.
It’s a well-documented fact that cancer and other diseases disproportionately impact low-income communities. https://www.cancer.gov/news-events/cancer-currents-blog/2020/persistent-poverty-increased-cancer-death-risk
“We need to get to a preventative state,” Swift says, advocating an expansion of clinical research and medical expertise across wider swaths of the nation, a commitment to improving tap water in poorer communities with older pipes and infrastructure, and a more careful examination of the American diet including a dangerous reliance on processed foods that contribute to poor health via heart conditions and other medical maladies, especially among less affluent and traditionally underserved patient populations..
“The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), among others, must work together” to advocate a proactive approach to the environment and human health, Swift says.
“Pollution and a negative environment encroach on our future on a number of levels,” Swift says. “It’s well past time for us to roll up our sleeves and devote our best outside the box thinking to fuel the actions that will preserve our environment and our planet for generations to come.”