I'm on my way to a discussion with Majora Carter, creator of Sustainable South Bronx and the woman who taught my seven year old how to take action against environmental racism. Here's a clip of Carter speaking at the New School:
I also just found this essay by Marcellus Andrews, an economist, on being Black and Green.
The comment that really caught my eye was this -
"As you can see, I am struggling with the uneasy relationship between sustainability and equality in a market and technology driven world economy, where economic and social innovation must now redesign capitalism to make it cleaner and ecologically viable, yet where the mechanisms of social/racial inheritance threaten to reinforce bio-political and social power in unacceptable ways."It is the essence of thinking across systems that raises both the inherent incompatabilities between environmentalism and economic justice, and the opportunities for bringing them together that Carter demonstrates.
There is also a noteworthy piece in the October issue of Scientific American on this topic - Conservation for the People (Subscription req'd)
I believe that working on sustainability without including economic justice issues will damn the movement to the same short-sighted, resource extractive/destructive fate that our historical environmental/energy/economic systems are destined to meet. It is reductionist and short-termism to do so. Sustainable resources and justice are inextricable. To address them separately, or focus on one without the other - environment and not people, sustainable jobs and not inequality, poverty but not renewability - is to design an effort for failure.