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Black Lives Matter and How Racism Shapes Flood Vulnerability in the US

Over the last few weeks, many of us have watched the video in which a police officer, Derek Chauvin, killed George Floyd by kneeling on his neck. The murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and so many others has become a horrifying encapsulation of the depth of injustice that Black Americans have always lived with. 

As a team, we feel the fierce urgency of the moment and the importance of standing in solidarity and support of the Black Lives Matter movement. Racism and climate change are inextricably linked and must be dismantled together. Racism shapes flood vulnerability in the US directly. 

As a small step, we’re sharing a selection of research and reading on how structural racism drives disproportionate impacts of flooding, representation in geosciences scholarship, and what can be done to address these losses. 

As a company, we are recommitting to elevating and including more diverse voices on our team, in our research, and in the practice of using technology to reduce flood vulnerability around the world. 

Adding to previous work to better understand the role of racism and the impacts of flooding, we recently conducted a nationwide-analysis on how socio-demographics dictate the propensity for loss of life and extremity of property damage at the county scale. The paper is currently in review, but you can access a public preprint here: We welcome comments on this paper as we revise it for final publication. We will also be making the data used in our study available to any climate justice and/or racial justice organization that is interested, and can work with you to use the data in your work. 

Geoscientists in the United States are predominantly white. The environmental movement has focused on the interests of the white and wealthy, while people of color are left exposed to more environmental health hazards than whites. As climate scientists, we must work to amplify Black voices, scholarship, and experiences, to reckon with these objective realities. As environmental scholar Wanjiku Gatheru writes, "Virtue signaling is not enough. What’s really needed is for the environmental community to own up to the slow violence that comes with our erasure.” 

Black lives matter.

Together, we stand,
Cloud to Street

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