Journey to a sustainable future

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Environmental Issues are People Issues

Many people don't "care about the environment."  They equate environmental issues and policy with strange legal ramifications that would increase cost of living and decrease jobs, all for the purpose of saving the endangered leopard frog.  There is a certain "Maslow's hierarchy of needs" in play with environmental issues. For those us not struggling with mere subsistence, though, there are a multitude of reasons to "care about the environment." 

Perhaps you don't care about the fossil fuels your spouse uses to mow the lawn.  But you probably do care about the benzene your spouse breathes in while piloting around a combustion engine that injures over 9,000 children each year. 

Perhaps you don't care about the declining polar bear populations due to climate change.  But you probably do care that your three year old is bouncing off the walls in Fairfax County, Virginia, because it is simply dangerous for him to play outside when it is 7 degrees Fahrenheit in January...or 105 degrees Fahrenheit in July.

Or maybe you don't care that your kitchen floor is made from linoleum, or your child's sweet strawberry raincoat is made from PVC.  But maybe you do care that PVC (which is what linoleum is made of) releases dixoins, which are the most potent, carcinogenic chemicals humans have yet created.

Maybe you don't care what chemicals farmers pour onto their fields, so long as you get cheap food.  But maybe you do care that farm workers in California now have to wear respirators when tending strawberry fields.  And maybe you do care that the neurotoxins used as pesticides are increasingly linked to ADD, ADHD, and autism.  And that your son has an almost 1 in 80 chance of developing autism.

Maybe you don't have kids.  So maybe you don't care that BPA was originally developed as a pharmaceutical source of estrogen, and you now ingest it on a regular basis via bottles and canned foods.  And maybe you don't care that atrazine (another pesticide) causes testosterone levels in males to plummet, thus decreasing sperm counts and fetal testicular formation.  But maybe you do care that as a female, your chances of developing breast cancer are 1 in 8, partly because of this constant inundation of excess estrogen.

Perhaps you don't care about cars, fossil fuels, and smog.  But maybe you do care that you have to carry around an albuterol inhaler to control your asthma.

Maybe you don't care about local bat extinctions due to a fungus that is widening its spread and virility due to errant weather patterns.  But perhaps you do care that your backyard is overrun by mosquitoes, and you just don't remember it being that bad when you were a kid.

Maybe you don't care about the environment.  Or climate change.  Or fracking.  Or the government's resolute resistance to doing anything about these companies who poison for profit.  But hopefully you care about your children.  At the very least, hopefully you care about yourself.  

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