Geographies of Nowhere: Smeltertown and the Rising Wave of Environmental Refugees

We don’t often think of modern American communities as places that disappear. But lead pollution erased the tiny Texas community of Smeltertown from the map. And Smeltertown isn’t alone. Across America we’ve scraped communities from the landscape, smudged them from our memories. Pollution made these places unfit for human habitation. It turned the residents of these communities into environmental refugees. Another kind of pollution climate change – threatens to push even more people from their homes. That these communities are gone is tragic. That there are billions of climate change refugees poised to join these environmental refugees is terrifying. What can we do to stop this tide? What can lessons can we learn from the towns that have already disappeared? What lessons can we learn from Smeltertown?

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Kendra Pierre-Louis

About Kendra Pierre-Louis

Kendra Pierre-Louis is a staff writer at Popular Science. Her work has also appeared in Aeon, FiveThirtyEight, Sierra, InsideClimate News, Newsweek, and The Washington Post. Kendra is also the author of the book “Green Washed: Why We Can’t Buy Our Way to a Green Planet.” In addition to her S.M. in Science Writing from MIT, Kendra has an M.A. in Sustainable Development from the SIT Graduate Institute, and a B.A. in Economics from Cornell University. Thesis: Geographies of Nowhere: Smeltertown and the Rising Wave of Environmental Refugees