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Building a School in the Polluted Environment Essay

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Updated: Aug 23rd, 2022


The construction of a K-8 school near a toxic waste site at Greenpoint in Brooklyn, New York, has caused an uproar. The site for the new school is situated on the southwest corner of Franklin and Dupont Street and is directly opposite a site designated by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation as a superfund location. This means that the site is toxic and unsuitable for settlement. Despite the inherent danger in building a school at the location, the city’s mayor is keen to see the project progress. The extent to which the former occupant of the site polluted the environment is astonishing. The deposited chemicals have led to the loss of non-human life in addition to threatening the biodiversity of the neighboring streets. This is an important environmental issue owing to the fact that the degraded environment poses serious health risks to the people in the area. Taking a stand against the construction of a learning institution in a polluted site will save people from catastrophic illnesses and ensure that the area recovers its natural essence.

K-8 School Construction

The proposed school is located across the street from NuHart Plastics, which is considered one of the most environmentally toxic places in Brooklyn. The degree of the area’s toxicity designated it uninhabitable given the number of hazardous chemicals deposited at the site. The NuHart Plastic processing building and the adjacent structures were used to process vinyl plastic. The site is believed to house underground plumes of highly volatile chemicals that have percolated to the surrounding streets. It is worth noting that these agents have been associated with a myriad of illnesses such as vital organ damage, central nervous system damage, and congenital illnesses.

Building a school in a toxically polluted environment disregards the mental and physical well-being of people who would be involved in the facility. The developer brokered a deal with the city, which stipulated that the project will only commence if the area will be cleaned (North Brooklyn Neighbors). The process is expected to include the extraction of the contaminants after the plant is completely demolished. In addition, wells will be constructed on the sidewalks to pump toxic chemicals from under the street. There is, however, some concern that the cleaning exercise would expose residents to toxic substances. The construction of an underground barrier aimed at preventing the spread of toxic chemicals to the surroundings is a step in the right direction. Despite the potential health risks associated with the location of the school at the toxic site, the city and the School Construction Authority (SCA) are adamant about proceeding with the project for fear of making losses.

The young generation must be protected from the health hazards and mental challenges associated with environmental degradation. It is the elected leaders’ responsibility to ensure that the sites chosen to construct schools are safe. While ensuring that the required changes are implemented may not be easy, the adoption of radical measures may facilitate the rehabilitation of the polluted site and the protection of innocents from exposure to dangerous chemicals.

Radical Environmentalism

The contemporary political environment demands that environmentalists are understood on the basis of their departure from mainstream environmentalism. Their views are vital in shaping responses to institutions focused on promoting commercial entities that ignore the environmental impact of their activities, such as New York City’s mayor. These environmentalists embrace the concept of “deep ecology” while supports the rejection of bureaucratic change models and advocates for reforms that go beyond the simple exploitation of nature (McKibben 154). In addition, it supports the development of a “biocentric” viewpoint which is focused on the re-integration of human beings into nature through various forms of ethics and values. Deep ecology aims to address the challenge of human alienation from nature and anthropocentrism.

Humanity’s immediate future is under threat from the devastating effects of human activity against nature. The reforms needed to health the ailing planet are revolutionary because they are far-reaching and systemic. As such, organizations must re-examine decisions that could potentially expose people to toxic substances. Environmentalists must be willing to adopt an alternate conceptual paradigm that defines new values and different social institutions. The adoption of radical actions is perhaps the only way to ensure society adopts measures aimed at limiting environmental degradation.

It is vital to note that revolutionary ideas and radical strategies change as the rate of environmental destruction increases and mainstream initiatives fail to defend the planet. As a result, radical groups separate from their parent organizations. For instance, the Earth First movement, which originated from the Sierra Club in the 90s, evolved to become an institution focused on preserving the environment (McKibben 152). Environmentalists are increasingly adopting radical tactics in a bid to stop the rapid degradation of the planet. It is worth noting that these organizations are fueled by the scientific community’s findings in climatology, and arctic ecology demonstrates the destruction of habitats and the extinction of species.


Effective revolutions must have a clear political message that resonates with the people. Contemporary environmentalists are yet to master this skill, given that they present an inarticulate political message. Their communication lacks a well-defined framework aimed at heralding social change. Bill McKibbens’s “The End of Nature” proposes a deep ecology argument that defined shallow ecology as the political and cultural struggles over resource scarcity and pollution (McKibben 154). It remains inextricably linked to anthropocentrism, which posits that human existence is central to the universe.

Deep ecology is premised on the rejection of human-centered ideas of the relationship between the environment and society. Humanity must recognize and accept nature’s intrinsic value in order to ensure its preservation (McKibben 154). Therefore, deep ecology advocates for the adoption of a system of ethics based solely on biocentrism and the extension of justice and equality to nature. The principle requires the abolition of consumerism and the pursuit of individualism. As such, the construction of a school with the intent of making a profit on a toxic site that could pose real health and mental risks to students and personnel is ill-advised. Deep ecology also advocates for the purposeful reduction of the human population. This, they believe, will limit the strain on the earth’s finite resources and promote sustainability. Proponents of deep ecology argue that humanity must direct its material and technological progress towards the respect of biodiversity.

The Earth First! movement embraces the biocentric philosophy of deep ecology. They target ski resorts, timber factories, and animal testing facilities. Their political message, which has its basis on deep ecology, highlights the fact that nature must be valued and accorded rights seeing as biodiversity is more important than consumerism. Radical environmentalists caution against the looming adversity in humanity’s immediate future. The adverse events can be divided along biocentric and anthropocentric lines (McKibben 148). Revolutionary environmentalists fight for all nature and the preservation of the evolving natural world.

The Earth First Movement argues that their aggression is informed by the fact that there is value in non-human life, a catastrophic loss of biodiversity is underway, and corporate institutions exercise extensive power over the government. The catastrophic loss of life is captured in Cormac McCarthy’s description of a desolate and lifeless landscape (McCarthy 2). While radical environmentalism proposes varied strategies to save the planet, it has failed to suggest an alternative to global capitalism.

The scientific community is keen to highlight the extent of environmental degradation. The evident loss of biodiversity and pollution are changing the planet. For instance, the damage caused by the chemicals released by the NuHart Plastics plant in Brooklyn is capable of affecting both non-human and human life. Such acts of human-induced environmental damage should be captured by the media so that radical environmentalists are viewed as heroes rather than terrorists. Individuals championing the abolishment of the K-8 school’s construction plans and the cleaning up of the area should be lauded for their actions. It is essential to defend nature and reserve it for future generations.

The level of change in human society required to ensure that people share the planet with other inhabitants is immense. Revolutionary environmentalists remain focused on ensuring that the necessary changes are made to see their dreams become a reality. The toxic soil under the NuHart Plastics building is unsuitable for biodiversity. Plant and animal life is incapable of thriving under the conditions. However, the elimination of the poisonous substances may see a return on non-human life at the site.

Silent Spring

Racheal Carson’s book titled “Silent Spring” highlights the interconnectedness of nature. It argues against the belief that human beings must control nature and use it to fulfill personal needs. The author notes that humanity’s desire for control is fairly recent, given that in the past, living organisms interacted with the environment rather than effect changes to their surroundings (Carson 13). The irresponsible use of power upsets the delicate balance that governs nature. Carson posits that the effects of human activity are often long-lasting. For instance, the chemicals deposited by the vinyl company in Brooklyn are likely to interfere with the soil’s composition and biodiversity of organic life forms. The loss of insect life is likely to impact plant life, especially among species that depend on insect vectors for pollination.

Carson views environmental protection as a moral responsibility that must be taken seriously. It is irresponsible to use chemicals indiscriminately, especially in situations where alternatives are available (Carson 33). It is evident that carrying out practices that clearly hamper life demonstrates humanity’s greed, irresponsibility, and immorality. Her views echo the condemnation of the construction of the K-8 school next to a toxic site. The mayor’s focus should be directed towards the rehabilitation of the area to facilitate a return to normalcy. The construction of buildings will not only endanger people’s lives but strain the environment leading to further degradation.

The condemnation of the proposed k-8 school is informed by Carson’s view that conscious individuals must not accept risks as inevitable. She insists that people have the right to understand the risks to their well-being and the environment. It is vital to explore the scientific evidence findings on issues regarding environmental pollution. For instance, the proposed school will be built on a site laden with trichloroethylene and uncontrolled phthalates, which are associated with a myriad of diseases such as end-organ damage, obesity, and low sperm count (North Brooklyn Neighbors). Business and science benefit from accountability, especially when the public demands accurate information and challenges suppositions. The actions of individuals force businesses to seek alternatives. The mayor and the New York School Construction Authority must find an alternative site to construct the school and rehabilitate the polluted area by stopping the spread of chemicals to adjacent streets and neutralizing the toxins in the soil.


The decision to construct a school in close proximity to a toxic site is shocking. It demonstrates how greed has driven corporate entities to prioritize profits at the expense of human life. In addition, the environmental degradation that resulted from irresponsible industrial activities has not been effectively addressed. It is essential that the public prioritizes environmental conservation and promote the harmonious existence of other life forms. It is vital to note that nature does not exist to serve humanity’s needs. Unfortunately, the belief that humanity must control the natural world has led to consumerism and the wastage of finite resources. Recognizing nature’s inherent value is essential because it allows people to develop a relationship that ensures the extension of justice and equality to all aspects of nature.

Attribution Sheet

Topic: Local Environmental Issue


Title: Brooklyn school to be built next to hazardous waste?!

Author: North Brooklyn Neighbors

Brief Summary: The article discusses the construction of a K-8 school on a toxic site. The petition is intended to stop New York City’s mayor from implementing plans that could potentially expose children to poisonous chemicals.

Statement of suitability: Since my issue is “environmental issues,” this article is suitable because it identifies an environmental issue and highlights the dangers associated with exposure to dangerous chemicals.

Statement of credibility: This article is credible because it is sourced from a reputable organization called change.org.

Key quote: Locating a school near these dangers represents a thoughtless disregard for the physical and mental well-being of the future school’s occupants.

Address: N/A

Title: The end of nature.

Author: Bill McKibben

Brief Summary: The book gives a detailed account of the earth’s environmental degradation and the manner in which human activity contributes to the destruction.

Statement of suitability: The book is suitable given that it addresses key environmental issues relating to human activity and their impact on biodiversity.

Key quote: We used to think that the earth changes in an infinitely slow pattern.

Statement of credibility: The book is credible given that it is authored by a renowned environmentalist who has a wealth of experience with regard to global warming and the impact of human activity on the planet.

Address: N/A

Title: Silent Spring

Author: Rachel Carson

Brief Summary: The book is the genesis of the world’s grassroots environmental movement. It focuses on the negative impacts of chemicals that were a significant element in American agriculture. The author highlights the need to take up an active role in environmental preservation.

Statement of suitability: The book is suitable because it highlights key issues with regard to the dangerous nature of chemicals on the environment and on human health.

Key quote: Man undoes the built-in checks and balances aimed to hold species within bounds.

Statement of credibility: The book is credible in view of the fact that the author was a respected marine biologist who was passionate about environmental preservation.

Address: N/A

Title: The Road.

Author: Cormac McCarthy.

Brief Summary: The book gives details of a tedious journey a father takes with his young son over several weeks across a landscape plagued by an unspecified catastrophic event that destroyed civilization and most of life.

Statement of suitability: The book is suitable in view of the fact that it highlights the potential dangers associated with environmental degradation. It shows what the world would look like if measures aimed at preserving the planet are not implemented.

Key quote: Charred and limbless trunks of trees stretching away on every side.

Statement of credibility: The book is credible because the author is a respected novelist and screenwriter credited with highlighting humanity’s plight in creative ways.

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1. IvyPanda. "Building a School in the Polluted Environment." August 23, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/building-a-school-in-the-polluted-environment/.


IvyPanda. "Building a School in the Polluted Environment." August 23, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/building-a-school-in-the-polluted-environment/.


IvyPanda. 2022. "Building a School in the Polluted Environment." August 23, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/building-a-school-in-the-polluted-environment/.


IvyPanda. (2022) 'Building a School in the Polluted Environment'. 23 August.

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