A Solution-Oriented Approach to Environmental Equity

Environmental researchers discuss the link between the environment, ethics, and human health while outlining ways to live more sustainably.

Photo by Marina Logvin on Unsplash

By Katherine Gianni and Molly Gluck

As the old adage goes, it’s easy to wake up and feel the weight of the world on your shoulders. On a global scale, people continue to face a crippling health pandemic, challenge the deep roots of institutional racism and oppression, fight the environmental crisis, and deal with an uncertain political climate. And while many have the best intentions for positive change, finding a clear path forward to a healthier, more equitable, and more sustainable way of living can feel overwhelming.

This is why Boston University Environmental Health researchers Jon Levy and Pat Kinney recommend a solution-focused approach to explore, generate, and implement sustainable solutions to help combat some of the most pressing issues facing our world today. With more than four decades of environmental justice expertise between them, we spoke with the professors to learn more about their research, how environmental and individual health is deeply interconnected, and what we can do on an individual level to achieve a more sustainable future.

What first inspired your research and what factors motivate you to continue?

Pat Kinney: Like most scientists, I’ve been motivated by a basic desire to understand how the world works, in my case with a focus on charting a path towards a world that is healthy for both humans and for the environment more broadly. We need to figure out how to nudge our modern way of life back into better balance with nature, so that both we and the environment that sustains us can continue to flourish for at least a few more thousands of years without major disruptions. My research has tried to untangle the links between environmental change and human health, helping to identify win-win solutions that can be translated into sustainable policies for the long-term.

How are climate and health connected?

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash.

Is the health burden of climate change equal?

What are the fundamental concepts of environmental justice?

How are air pollution, climate change and health connected?

Photo by Patrick Hendry on Unsplash.

What are some of the gaps at a federal and individual level that limit action to address environmental injustice?

From a research standpoint, why is a solution-focused approach critical for achieving environmental health and equity?

Photo by Nareeta Martin on Unsplash.

What next-steps would you recommend from both a policy level and an individual level to improve our climate and health?

For additional commentary by Boston University experts, follow us on Twitter at @BUexperts. Follow Professor Levy on Twitter at @jonlevyBU. Follow Professor Kinney at @PatrickKinney20. For research news and updates from BU’s School of Public Health, follow @BUSPH and the Department of Environmental Health at @busphEH.

Cutting-edge research and commentary out of Boston University, home to Nobel laureates, Pulitzer winners and Guggenheim Scholars. Find an expert: bu.edu/experts

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