Environmentalism, Now a Public Health Issue

coal-spill-disaster-2Its not just for vegan, birkenstock-wearing, tree hugging, hippies anymore.  While many are concerned about environmental degradation on a global scale and its impact on the world’s ecology, it may be locally encountered health problems that spur people to action. Humans are hard wired through aeons of evolutionary development, to respond to imminent threats.  Yet longer-term threats do not similarly spur our “fight or flight” adrenaline reaction.   Since ancient times we have been wired to fight or flee from the sabre-toothed tiger in our path.  But for threats that may arise in the next six months to a year, we are not so immediately motivated to react.  This is perhaps why there is far more interest paid to short term economic pain than the far more devastating effects of something as dramatic as the effects of global warming.  However, as environmental degradation begins to have real, immediate, negative effects on people in the communities where they live, we may begin to see a more urgent reaction from people who have been largely unmoved by the dire global warnings of the scientific community.  After all, it is difficult and honestly, unpleasant to even try and contemplate what life will be like in the majority of coastal communities should the sea level rise by 5 feet in the next 50 years.  However, for folks in communities like the eastern Tennessee town recently buried under a sea of coal ash from a failed coal burning power plant, the realities of serious, environmentally triggered health emergencies can be strong motivators to act and act swiftly.  In residential neighborhoods adjacent to industrial areas, where residents report abnormally high levels of asthma and other respiratory ailments, folks are being spurred to action.  And while they may not consider themselves “environmentalists”, they find themselves aligned closely with those who would proudly adopt that “crunchy” categorization.  The more people begin to make the correct correlation between degradation of air, water and food quality, the more they will be inclined to reexamine the ways we live, work, and produce and consume food.

3 Responses to “Environmentalism, Now a Public Health Issue”

  1. Rose Ribboni

    It is always the case that until something comes really close to home, people are apathetic about it. Hopefully, enough people will begin to recognize more and more the need to be proactive about the ongoing and devastating degradation of the air, water and food quality that an ever-growing world population must rely upon on the planet. If not for themselves, then certainly for their children and their children’s children.

  2. Janel Connelly

    I recently read an article on a site devoted to asthma which also discusses environmental degradation, albeit, pertaining specifically to air pollution. I agree wholeheartedly with both your article and theirs. I hope that others begin to realise that until we have wholesale changes, we are in very serious trouble. If you’re interested here is the link: Catch Your Breath Now

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