The researchers examined more than 170 published studies and analyzed the influence of systemic inequalities on ecology and evolution.

The paper in Science calls on the scientific community to focus on environmental justice and antiracism practices to transform biological research and conservation.

“Racism is destroying our planet, and how we treat each other is essentially structural violence against our natural world,” says lead author Christopher Schell, an assistant professor of urban ecology at the University of Washington Tacoma.

“Rather than just changing the conversation about how we treat each other, this paper will hopefully change the conversation about how we treat the natural world.”

The paper cites other studies that have found racism and other inequalities are reducing biodiversity, increasing urban heat island effects and augmenting impacts of climate crises across the United States.

For example, several studies the authors included found fewer trees in low-income and racially minoritized neighborhoods in major cities across the US. Less tree cover means hotter temperatures and fewer plant and animal species.

Additionally, these areas tend to be closer to industrial waste or dumping sites than wealthier, predominantly white areas—a reality that was put in place intentionally through policies like redlining, the authors explain.

Fewer trees, over decades, has led to pockets of neighborhoods that are hotter, more polluted, and have more disease-carrying pests such as rodents and mosquitoes that can survive in harsh environments. These ecological differences inevitably affect human health and well-being, the authors say.

The main purpose of the paper is to show the scientific community that fundamental practices in science are based on systems that support white supremacy and perpetuate systemic racism, the authors say. They hope their colleagues in science fields will begin to dig into the history of the various laws and practices that built present-day inequalities—such as redlining and Jim Crow laws—and then start to reevaluate how they run their labs and conduct their research.

Read the full article about the impact of racism on biodiversity by Michelle Ma at Futurity.