Award-winning Investigative Journalist Robert Parry (1949-2018)

Award-winning investigative journalist and founder/editor of, Robert Parry has passed away. His ground-breaking work uncovering Reagan-era dirty wars in Central America and many other illegal and immoral policies conducted by successive administrations and U.S. intelligence agencies, stands as an inspiration to all in journalists working in the public interest.

Robert had been a regular guest on our Between The Lines and Counterpoint radio shows -- and many other progressive outlets across the U.S. over four decades.

His penetrating analysis of U.S. foreign policy and international conflicts will be sorely missed, and not easily replaced. His son Nat Parry writes a tribute to his father: Robert Parry’s Legacy and the Future of Consortiumnews.

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Women of Color Bear Brunt of Climate Change Effects

Posted Feb. 7, 2018

MP3 Excerpt of an American Public Health Association conference presentation by Jacqueline Patterson, director of the NAACP’s Environmental and Climate Justice Program, recorded and produced by Melinda Tuhus


The 145th American Public Health Association conference drew 12,000 people to their annual gathering in Atlanta, Georgia for four days in early November 2017. The conference theme was “climate change and public health,” where dozens of workshops, panels and plenaries were organized to address that topic.

One of the conference panels was titled “Women and climate change” – where three women made presentations on various aspects of how climate change impacts women first and worst, both in the U.S. and globally.

One of the speakers was Jacqueline Patterson, director of the NAACP’s Environmental and Climate Justice Program. Her talk dealt with the double jeopardy of race and gender that women of color face in human-induced natural disasters, such as hurricanes, droughts and floods. Between The Lines' Melinda Tuhus attended the panel discussion and brings us this excerpt of Patterson’s talk.

JACQUELINE PATTERSON: The historical roots of climate change rooted in patriarchy include the rampant extraction and exploitation of both human and natural resources. And then we see it institutionalized in our trade, manufacturing and finance policies that benefit corporations and industrialized nations as opposed to really looking at human rights for all.

So when we talk about some of the impacts of this in terms of frontline communities who are feeling these impacts now, we know that extraction, whether we’re (talking) about extracting coal – which, in the context of mining, 76,000 coal miners have died of black lung disease since 1968, while year after year the National Mining Association fights against the very regulations that would have protected those workers from coal mine dust so they can continue to maximize profits without any regard (for) human rights or human life at all.

And even as we make this transition, we talk about transitioning to natural gas, which has its own perils as we all know in terms of fracking, and all these practices disproportionately affect women. So we talk about the effects of pollution – air pollution, water pollution, soil contamination; (it) all gets into our bodies from what comes out of the smokestacks, what gets into our waterways through runoff or releases, and also what gets into our soil whether it’s through acid rain or runoff or otherwise, and this all impacts our bodies in different ways, and particularly women’s bodies as it relates to what comes out of smokestacks, particularly coal plants and oil refineries and so forth, include endocrine disrupters, which have an impact on our reproductive systems.

I want to really root us in not just statistics and the general story, but who is being impacted. This (photo) is a woman named Annie, who lived in North Carolina and she was doing her own independent health survey in her neighborhood where she was going around speaking to her neighbors and making notations about illnesses that she was finding in her community. And on that notepad you see a list of names and next to them you might see a little notation, and are those who, over time are “Ds,” for deceased, as she was doing the survey. Three months after I met her, when I showed her picture there was a kind of rumble in the crowd and I asked what was going on, and they said that just a couple weeks before she herself had passed away. And she had told me when she was talking to me that she was also feeling the health impacts of coal ash in her community. And when her husband walked in, she started talking lower, because he worked for the company that ran the coal-fired power plant in the community. So we see in terms, both the physical health impacts, but even relationship and mental health impacts, of living in those situations and being a defender of human rights in those contexts.

This is another image that tells a story from the Four Corners region in New Mexico, where this family talks about the coal-fired power plant, behind them being one of four coal-fired power plants within a 50-mile radius of where they live. And as you see, it’s all women in the picture except for the little boy, and that’s because when the coal plants came in they came with the promise of jobs, but they actually didn’t come with the number of jobs they promised, and there were people in those jobs. So the men are not actually living in the home; they’re having to work in other states because that’s the only places they can get jobs, and they only get to come home every few months. Meanwhile, these women in this community are living in the shadows of these smokestacks and they’re ingesting these fumes, and they’re holding a picture of someone in their family who has passed away and they talk about the other people in their family who have various health impacts from ingesting the chemicals from those smokestacks. And then they also talk about a woman in the far left who is pregnant, and we know that mercury is one of the things that comes out of the smokestacks, and it is tied to birth defects and as I said before the endocrine disrupters are also a challenge as well. So we just start to see how disproportionately women are impacted.

In the Flint water crisis, we saw female-headed households who were significantly impacted by not being able to move, being the caretakers for their families – particularly single-women-headed households – and this is one family (photo). This is a woman with three kids, and they’re relying on 151 bottles of water per day to just do their daily activities for life. So there were story after story that were similar, in terms of the physical as well as the mental health burdens that women face in this context.

And another situation that we talk about in the oil extraction process, people may have heard of the “man camps” in North and South Dakota – camps where people come together for the oil and gas extraction industry, and it’s all men living in those places. What often doesn’t get told is the story of the women – largely indigenous women, largely women of color – who are disappeared in those situations or face sexual assault in those situations often as well. So this is another piece along the climate change continuum – both the drivers and the impacts that disproportionately impact women.

And so as we talk about the results of climate change – whether it’s sea level rise that’s displacing folks in coastal regions – places like Pinellas County in Florida; Thibodeau, Louisiana; Kivalina in Alaska, are also facing imminent displacement within 20 years because of sea level rise. And already one community – the Ile de Jean Charles band of the Biloxi-Chittamacha-Choctaw tribe is also displaced because of sea level rise.

And as we see shifts in agricultural yields, we know that women in the U.S. and across the world are more likely to be food insecure, particularly female-headed households are more likely to be food insecure. That actually has deadly impact because women are facing extreme increases in domestic violence because agriculture is seen as the role of women in some societies and it is resulting in violence against women that they aren’t able to fulfill their roles because of the shifts in agricultural yields.

For more information, visit NAACP’s Environmental and Climate Justice Program at

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