In California’s Inland Empire, dozens of mega-warehouses for Amazon, UPS and other companies are choking the cities with traffic and air pollution. Some argue that the jobs warehouses provide aren’t worth the cost, while others say it’s online shopping that’s the real problem.
Despite the boiler-plate promise of adding jobs to the community, warehouse-laden tracts have been dumping an increasing amount of pollutants into the atmosphere in the form of increased truck and air cargo traffic and propelled in part by a sharp rise in online shopping. Amazon opened its first fulfillment center in San Bernadino in 2012. Today, the company operates more than 30 in the area alone.
Southern California’s Inland Empire is one of the most polluted regions in America. One study from the University of California, Riverside revealed an 11% increase in Covid-19 deaths related to the number of particulates in the air. Around 85% of the population that lives within half a mile from a warehouse identify as people of color.
“We’re dealing with smoggy summers that are getting worse and worse,” one Riverside resident told The Guardian in April. “We’re sick of getting alerts that say avoid being outside because of dirty air. This is not normal.”