Living Downstream Northern California Public Media presents Living Downstream: The Environmental Justice Podcast, produced in association with the NPR One mobile app. Living Downstream explores environmental justice in communities from California to Indonesia and is hosted by NCPM News Director Steve Mencher. The podcast features some of the most experienced environmental reporters in the public radio system, as well as a handful of talented newcomers.
Living Downstream

Living Downstream

From KRCB-FM

Northern California Public Media presents Living Downstream: The Environmental Justice Podcast, produced in association with the NPR One mobile app. Living Downstream explores environmental justice in communities from California to Indonesia and is hosted by NCPM News Director Steve Mencher. The podcast features some of the most experienced environmental reporters in the public radio system, as well as a handful of talented newcomers.

Most Recent Episodes

The Little Town That Would Transform the World

On this episode of Living Downstream, we take you to a little city with big plans for changing the world. While we're there, we ask what role local governments can play in the movement for climate justice — that's where climate activism and the fight for social justice meet. Ithaca, New York sees itself as a living laboratory for climate justice. Climate justice is based on the recognition that the people whose lives are most disrupted by climate change — the people who tend to die in the storms and heat waves, or to lose their homes in the fires and floods — are generally the people with the least money, the most precarious jobs, the least access to health care, the shabbiest housing, and the least reliable transportation. So if you want to do something about the climate emergency, the thinking goes, you can't just focus on things like reducing greenhouse gas emissions and preparing for disasters. You need to address long-standing social and economic inequities at the same time. Climate justice is the big idea behind the Green New Deal — the resolution that Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez first introduced with Senator Ed Markey in 2019 and re-introduced in April of 2021. Congress hasn't formally adopted the Green New Deal, but many local governments around the country have gone ahead and passed their own versions. Ithaca is one of them. And it's brought in a man with a global vision to lead the charge. Veteran public radio reporter — and long-time Ithaca resident — Jonathan Miller takes us there.

The Little Town That Would Transform the World

Degrees of Injustice: The Social Inequity of Urban Heat Islands

On this episode of Living Downstream, Texas Public Radio's Yvette Benavides takes us to Central and South Texas where summer days are frequently in the upper 90's, but where in many low income neighborhoods the mercury climbs even higher. And with climate change, these areas will be experiencing more extreme temperatures, more frequently and for longer durations. New research shows how these hotter temperatures are taking a toll on the people who live in some city neighborhoods — typically in communities of color. The heat is affecting their bodies and minds — effectively shortening their lives. We'll be hearing from some Spanish-speaking residents as they explain how they coexist with the heat. Yvette will translate, but we'll make room for these Texans to have their voices heard in their own language. What's the connection between longstanding racism in our cities and the built environment there? What can be done to reverse what the EPA and many researchers call "the Urban Heat Island Effect"? The answers will demand that we untangle a complex web of issues, reject some of our prejudices and think creatively. That's essential if we want to save lives and come to grips with the changing planet and our place in the community of people inhabiting it. Yvette Benavides reports.

Degrees of Injustice: The Social Inequity of Urban Heat Islands

Chicken Country, North Carolina: Justice on the Factory Floor

On this episode of Living Downstream: The Environmental Justice Podcast, Victoria Bouloubasis visits a rural county where the multicultural workforce kept America fed during the pandemic. We'll meet Esmeralda, who has become a community health worker, and her mother Marta, who works in a poultry plant. In the face of blatant mistreatment and inadequate protection, food factory workers in North Carolina became sick, and died, in unacceptably high numbers. This mother-daughter team stepped up to protect the health of their neighbors and coworkers, efforts they continue today.

Chicken Country, North Carolina: Justice on the Factory Floor

West Oakland's 'Diesel Death Zone'

For decades, community members and allies have complained about the diesel truck traffic around the Port of Oakland. People who live in this neighborhood, between several freeways and backing up to one of the busiest ports in the nation, have elevated instances of asthma, and shorter life spans, than others in the county. We meet the activists who are trying to change this reality, and we hear about the complex politics and alliances that have resulted in some hope that change is coming. The phrase "diesel death zone" is used more often with areas in Southern California, but we believe it applies here as well. Sarah Holtz reports.

Generations in Houston's 5th Ward Contend With Contamination, Cancer Clusters

On this episode of Living Downstream, we visit Houston's Greater Fifth Ward, to learn how creosote contamination has degraded the health of people living near a rail yard. We talk with residents, who describe all the cancer cases in the neighborhood and with Dr. Robert Bullard, widely considered the father of environmental justice. Residents have organized to advocate for compensation from the railroad company that owns the yard. What will stay with you is the story of "Mister" — a young neighborhood resident who dreams of becoming a veterinarian. Laura Isensee reports.

Generations in Houston's 5th Ward Contend With Contamination, Cancer Clusters

New Growth in the Birthplace of Environmental Justice - Encore

The 40th anniversary of PCB protests in North Carolina is about to be commemorated. To mark the occasion, we revisit one of the most listened-to episodes from our first season. This story comes from Warren County. In the early 1980s, Warren County became a flash point in the fight for something that didn't even have a commonly used name at the time: environmental justice. These days, members of this community are not only marking that history, they are taking new approaches to raising environmental awareness. Their work begins with support for small farmers, particularly those of color. Jereann King Johnson and Joe O'Connell have teamed up to tell the story of local environmentalism in the present day. As we continue this second season of Living Downstream, make sure to subscribe, wherever you get your podcasts. Please leave comments and rate us on your favorite app - it helps others to find us.

New Growth in the Birthplace of Environmental Justice - Encore