"Climate Change from the Streets" by Michael Mendez

Climate Change from the Streets How Conflict and Collaboration Strengthen the Environmental Justice Movement Michael Mendez

Publication date:
11 Feb 2020
Yale University Press
304 pages: 235 x 156mm
20 b-w illus.

An urgent and timely story of the contentious politics of incorporating environmental justice into global climate change policy
Although the science of climate change is clear, policy decisions about how to respond to its effects remain contentious. Even when such decisions claim to be guided by objective knowledge, they are made and implemented through political institutions and relationships—and all the competing interests and power struggles that this implies. Michael Méndez tells a timely story of people, place, and power in the context of climate change and inequality. He explores the perspectives and influence low‑income people of color bring to their advocacy work on climate change. In California, activist groups have galvanized behind issues such as air pollution, poverty alleviation, and green jobs to advance equitable climate solutions at the local, state, and global levels. Arguing that environmental protection and improving public health are inextricably linked, Mendez contends that we must incorporate local knowledge, culture, and history into policymaking to fully address the global complexities of climate change and the real threats facing our local communities.

Michael Méndez is assistant professor of environmental planning and policy at the University of California, Irvine. He previously served in California as a senior consultant, lobbyist, and gubernatorial appointee during the passage of the state’s internationally acclaimed climate change legislation.

"A crucial addition to the climate change literature. Avoiding the normal view-from-on-high, Mendez gets down into the nitty-gritty of environmental justice campaigning, with all its tradeoffs, frustrations, and hard-won successes."—Bill McKibben, author of Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out?

"Mendez's argument is both urgent and fascinating: at the scale of the places where most people live, global warming can only be addressed as part of a broader public-health crisis."—Mike Davis, author of Ecology of Fear: Los Angeles and the Imagination of Disaster

“This timely book tracks the narratives and actions of multiple stakeholders in their responses to climate change in California. Amplifying the voices of environmental justice activists, Mendez skillfully interrogates their strategies to ensure climate solutions tackle both the global problem and local needs."—Julian Agyeman, author of Introducing Just Sustainabilities

“Mendez moves fluently between local communities, state-level policy debates, and international dimensions. His smart take on health, risk, and social movements is the account of climate justice that we so urgently need now.”—Julie Sze, author of Environmental Justice in a Moment of Danger

"Focusing on environmental justice, Mendez vividly illustrates the need to link environmental protection with poverty and health. In the process, local climate action is shown to be critical to a multi-level approach. I highly recommended this book."—Frank Fischer, author of Climate Crisis and the Democratic Prospect