In 2017, when interviewers asked Latino community members in San Antonio, Texas, about their top environmental concerns, the answers took researchers by surprise.

Poverty. Inequality. Education. Racism.

“They started bringing up things that don’t typically come up in environmental studies,” said Neil Lewis Jr. ’13, assistant professor of communication in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. “So we decided to conduct a survey to see if this was something unique to the group in San Antonio, or if it’s a broader phenomenon.”

The survey – conducted among more than 1,100 U.S. residents – found that there were, in fact, demographic differences in how people viewed environmental issues, with racial and ethnic minorities and lower-income people more likely to consider human factors such as racism and poverty as environmental, in addition to more ecological issues like toxic fumes from factories or car exhaust.

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