A study by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that blames whites for causing air pollution that blacks and Hispanics disproportionately breathe is being challenged by talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh.
“This is absurd! This is what liberalism gives us! This is what the Drive-By Media reports. I guess by this token, yeah, Mexico would have to be one of the cleanest places on earth. No litter, no pollution, no inequities whatsoever. The air that Americans breathe isn’t equal. Pollution is disproportionately caused by whites, but disproportionately inhaled by black and Hispanic communities,” he said Tuesday.
“‘These findings confirm what most grassroots environmental justice leaders have known for decades,'” he continued. “What is an environmental justice leader? What is environmental justice? These are just code words for community organizing leftists.”
The study, in fact, is littered with words such as “estimate,” “attribute” and “weighted.”
But it leaves no doubt about its conclusion.
“Blacks are more exposed than whites/others to pollution from every emitter group (Fig. 2). The same holds for Hispanics, with the exceptions of PM2.5 originating from agriculture, from coal electric utilities, and from residential wood combustion, for which they are exposed to 11%, 40%, and 14% less, respectively, than whites/others. Those three types of emissions are concentrated in regions of the United States with relatively low Hispanic populations (Fig. 1). Whites/others consume more—and cause more exposure—than do blacks and Hispanics across all seven end-use categories; the end uses representing the greatest differences in consumption-caused exposure are food (for which whites/others cause 61% and 49% more exposure than blacks and Hispanics, respectively), transportation (74% and 93%), and services (118% and 114%).”
Limbaugh said: “Since we’re talking about wacko things, try this. You didn’t hear about this, either? Well it’s a good thing I came back from vacation.”
He quoted from USA Today.
“While the air pollution the U.S. has gotten cleaner in the past decade, pollution inequity has remained high. The air that Americans breathe is not equal. Blacks and Hispanics disproportionately breathe air that’s been polluted by non-Hispanic whites, according to a study. This new research quantifies for the first time the racial gap between who causes air pollution and who breathes it.”
He questioned a sentiment attributed to “environmental justice leaders” that “whites are dumping their pollution on poor people and people of color.”
“You know who said this? ‘Texas Southern University Public Affairs Prof. Robert Bullard, who was not involved with the study’! Robert Bullard, often called ‘the father of environmental justice,’ is African-American. A professor. ‘These findings confirm what most grassroots environmental justice leaders have known for decades, ‘whites are dumping their pollution on poor people and people of color,'” Limbaugh said.
“OK. So how are you white people doing this? Because I know I’m not. I’m not dumping my pollution anywhere. … What are you white people doing to do this? You white people know who you are. You pollution dumpers, you know who you are. How are you getting this done — and how were you found out? How did they discover you in the act?” his blast continued.
He said, portraying the message from the study, “the more you consume, the more you pollute. The more you consume, the wealthier you are. The less you consume, the poorer you are. So the less you consume, the less you can pollute. The more you consume, the more you pollute. Classic, classic socialism.”
He continued: “The formula scientists used in their study is driven by disparities in the amount of goods and services that groups consume and in the exposure to the resulting pollution. On average, whites tend to consume more than minorities because of wealth.’ That’s right. It’s because of selfishness and greed. This is how absurd these people have become. This is how absurd they are.”
USA Today said there are about 100,000 deaths per year from air pollution.
The study focused on particulate matter, generally produced from car tailpipes, power plant smokestacks and burning.
It said the report documented: “Blacks are exposed to about 56 percent more pollution than is caused by their consumption. For Hispanics, it is slightly higher – 63 percent.”
The study was called “Inequity in consumption of goods and services adds to racial-ethnic disparities in air pollution exposure.”
The authors began with the assumption that “racial-ethnic disparities in pollution exposure and in consumption of goods and services in the United States are well documented.”
They said they explored the issue by “investigating links among pollution, the parties responsible for its emission, and the health impacts that result.”
Then they estimated “mortality impacts” “using spatially explicit emissions data.”
The result was an “estimate” of premature deaths.
Then they estimated a population-weighted average pollution.
Then they used an E-I-E-I-O model to relate air pollution emissions, concentrations and health impacts with economic activity.