Home > Uncategorized > Not In My BackYard vs. Not In Anyone’s BackYard

Not In My BackYard vs. Not In Anyone’s BackYard

The film, “A Village Called Versailles” depicts the struggles of a group of Vietnamese refugees living in a housing project in New Orleans East before, during, and after Hurricane Katrina. One focus was the communities’ resistance to the opening of a toxic debris disposal facility placed near their neighborhood by Mayor Ray Nagin in order to cope with all the destruction from the Hurricane. They argued that the facility was opened without an environmental impact study, without protective lining on the bottom of the dump, and exactly next to the body of water that provides for them. After several protests and determination, the people of Versailles won the battle and the landfill was shut down.

Among other issues, Environmental Justice deals with the unequal distribution of environmental burdens and benefits in regards to race, income,  Our study of the subject thus far has presented countless cases, like the one given above, of local residents’ opposition of an environmentally hazardous facility sited near their community, such as landfills or confined animal feeding operations. These examples often take the “Not In My Backyard” (NIMBY) approach in which the communities are arguing against the location of the facility. However, this raises the question: If not there, then where? Although environmental racism should not be present in deciding who should be subjected to it, there is never going to be a “good” location for environmentally hazardous operations. Acknowledging this has led to a Not In Anybody’s Backyard (NIABY) attitude becoming more popular.

There are both some pros and cons with this attitude. The positive side is that without addressing the point source of the undesirable material, there will always be cases in which environmental injustice is of focus. For example, with more recycling there will be less debris and pollution and will lessen our need for these huge unwanted facilities. Also, if meat consumption and demand were to decrease, animals the use of concentrated animal feeding operations to increase efficiency and meet the huge demand would be unnecessary. However, is NIABY realistic in our current way of life? Moreover, some point source solutions are unwanted in peoples “backyard” as well. For example, a solution to decrease our dependency on coal would be wind energy; however, local communities have often been against wind turbines in their area because of how they disrupt the aesthetics of the region.

In conclusion, I believe in order to solve the NIABY problem, the modern habits of the world population need to change. This is inherently difficult to do, if not unfeasible. And if that is in fact not possible, there will always be unwanted facilities and environmental hazardous operations that will need to be located or deposited somewhere. There will never be a globally ideal place, and people will always be arguing “Not In My BackYard”.

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