Energy Policy and the Skyrocketing Rates of Certain Childhood Diseases

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Over the years, I’ve learned that the most productive way to deal with climate change deniers is to point out that global warming is only one of half-a-dozen reasons to knock off our dependence on coal and oil. “Just pick you favorite,” I smile.

How about the obvious and growing damage to human health? It would seem to me that this would be a fact that even the most fanatical of the anti-government types couldn’t argue. Don’t we need some empowered body to protect our health from those who are indifferent?

One of the very clearest – and saddest – indications that we’re on the wrong road with respect to environmental regulation is our skyrocketing rate of respiratory disease, e.g., asthma, in children. In this story, I learned that Dr. Sylvia Brandt, who’s spent a good deal of her adult life studying this issue, now faces it at a personal level. Her school-age daughter (along with 40% of her contemporaries) suffers from asthma. 40% is about four times the national average (10%) which itself has doubled from 5% since 1980, according to the CDC; the anomaly facing the Brandt family is accounted for by the fact that their hometown, Amherst, MA, is bordered by two large freeways and lies near a coal-fired power plant.

How people can look at this pain and destruction and argue for the removal of environmental regulatory bodies is beyond me.

About Author

Walter’s contributions to CleanTechies over the past 4 years have been instrumental in growing the publications social media channels via his ongoing editorial and data driven strategies. He is the founder and managing director of Sunflower Tax, a renewable energy tax and finance consultancy based in San Diego, California. Active in the San Diego clean technology community, participating in events sponsored by CleanTech San Diego, EcoTopics, and Cleantech Open San Diego, Walter has also been a presenter at numerous California Center for Sustainability (CCSE) programs. He currently serves as an adjunct professor at the University of San Diego School of Law where he teaches a course on energy taxation and policy.

  • Clarissa Hope

    I believe your last line is keystone: “How people can look at this pain and destruction and argue for the removal of environmental regulatory bodies is beyond me.”

    A vast number of Americans shelter themselves from bad news, undesirable scientific conclusions, pain of others not geographically proximal to them and environmental destruction that is outside their backyards. For the most part, these people do not investigate issues themselves but rather they tend to believe what they are TOLD. Hence, they do not permit themselves to be TOLD of bad news and only allow themselves to be TOLD of good news. I call these people: Fat, Dumb and Happy or FDH for short. Now, set Mr. and Mrs. FDH in front of some news dispensing machine that is owned, operated and programmed by the Koch Brothers and they will believe everything they are TOLD by that machine and they will continue to watch and listen to that machine because it never TELLS them anything but good news. But what about personal responsibility and reverence for the well being of planet Earth, you ask. That one is simple, you see, Mr. and Mrs. FDH are also regular church goers and through their church, they have been TOLD, since they were children, that God created Earth for man to exploit at will. So armed with permission to exploit resources at will, that news dispensing machine now TELLS them more good news: our planet is abundant with unlimited resources. Unlimited resources, created by God, for man to exploit at will; clearly then, the only reverence due planet Earth is to show it respect by fulfilling God’s will: exploit its resources to the maximum extent possible. Makes perfect sense, especially in consideration of the core value of our nation’s economic system: capitalism. Make no mistake about it, if capitalism can be summarized in three words, those three word would most aptly be: Greed is good. Of course it is! We know it is, or rather Mr. and Mrs. FDH know it is because so many good things happen to greedy people: nice fancy cars, mansions, expensive weddings, grand vacations, no real job to have to report to, magnificent dinner parties…the list is endless…so TELL Mr. and Mrs. FDH that greed is bad and they will laugh in your face. To them, the facts do not lie: greedy people get rich, are rich and stay rich; good things happen to rich people; bad things happen to poor people and God put unlimited resources on this planet for ‘me’ to exploit at will and in so doing, for ‘me’ to also get rich. What pain? What destruction? ‘My’ friendly Koch Brothers news machine never TELLS ‘me’ anything about any pain or destruction so ‘I’ do not believe there really is any, or if there is any, it is not very much and that little bit is nowhere close to ‘me’.

    I am not sure I effectively communicated the point in my head that motivated this written response to your blog entry but at this point, late on this Friday night, about the only thing I can add in hopes of clarification is this:

    People who have spent their entire careers in preserving air quality know that of all regulated environmental media: air, water, toxics and waste, air is the most politically manipulated, infected and saturated. Why? People like Mr. and Mrs. FDH are influenced in a manner other than being TOLD good news. What they see, smell, hear, feel and taste. Garbage can be and is seen and smelled, water can be tasted and toxics? Well, they can be both sensory evident and hidden. With air, at the acute level, by the time one can sense airborne poisons, it is often too late to be saved (ex: H2S, anhydrous ammonia, CO…) and the dead never tell what happened. On the chronic level, it has been difficult to prove the direct connections of poisoned air with health detriment. Good news will never TELL Mr. and Mrs. FDH that the air quality is bad and if it looks and smells okay then it must be okay.