Is Great Salt Lake Dust Racist?

Scott Giebel | July 9, 2024
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We live in a world where people often interpret many things as racist and make a huge effort to explain why they perceive them that way. Dust at the bottom of the Great Salt Lake in Utah is the latest subject to be labeled as such.

While the KSLTV article doesn't explicitly state that dust is racist, it is based on a study that reportedly demonstrates how restoring the lake to a healthy water level could reduce disparities in harmful dust exposure among different racial/ethnic and socioeconomic groups.

“We frame it the converse. Lake levels rise, overall levels of dust go down during the dust events, and the gap, especially between Hispanic and Pacific Islander people, narrows with respect to the level of dust exposure for non-Hispanic white people,” Sara Grineski, a professor of sociology and environmental studies, explained.

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Grineski emphasized that environmental justice is a significant issue in the study.

“People here in Utah are concerned about the lake for a variety of reasons — the ski industry, the brine shrimp, the migratory birds, recreation — and this study adds environmental justice and the equity implications of the drying lake to the conversation.”

It's not surprising to see an environmental issue tied to racial concerns, as this tends to align with left-leaning perspectives, and this study follows that pattern.

How drought affects the lake, animals and people is certainly an area worthy of study. A study leaning heavily on how dust is not equitable when impacting people of color, sounds a little ridiculous.       

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