This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Saturday, December 4, 2010

Populations at Risk in Ecuador and Alabama

This week brought news of two different kinds of populations at risk, although in both cases they share the theme that it is socially vulnerable populations who are in the path of environmental danger. In Ecuador, the Tungurahua volcano, 85 miles southeast of the capital of Quito, appears to be on the verge of erupting, forcing the evacuation of nearby villagers, most of whom are indigenous Quechua speakers.

People living on the slopes reported the ground and buildings shaking, and a rumbling sound coming from the volcano.
Hot gases and rocks started flowing down the western side of the mountain at mid-morning and ash has been raining down on the villages of Pondoa and Patate.
Meanwhile, back in Alabama, a mound of coal ash sludge shipped in from Roane County, Tennessee is piled up in the Arrowhead landfill in Perry County, Alabama. According to The Economist:
Coal ash has a number of industrial uses—cement, concrete and highways among them. Businesses fear that regulation would hamper such use; environmental groups say coal ash is full of toxic metals and tends to leach into groundwater.A thornier problem than what Arrowhead contains, however, is where it is. Perry County, where it is located, is 67.5% black; nearly a third of its residents live below the poverty line. Roane County, where the accident happened, is richer and whiter.
Despite numerous federal government efforts to avoid these instances of environmental injustice, they continue for the obvious reason that the poor are relatively powerless to protect themselves.

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