Thursday, April 30, 2009

Forget Global Warming - Clean Air Means Clean Health

I have been arguing that you don’t have to believe in global warming to understand that we need fundamental changes made to our energy policy.  Folks can deny global warming all they want, but ultimately, a change will save money, not only in energy bills, but with the country’s health expenses.

Want proof?  Look no further than Sheboygan County, Wisconsin.

Sheboygan County is one of 17 Wisconsin counties given a failing grade for ozone pollution in an American Lung Association report released Wednesday.

The grade means Sheboygan County averaged nine or more days with air quality classified between “unhealthy for sensitive groups” and “hazardous” each year from 2005 to 2007, according to the ALA Web site. Sheboygan County has now received an F each of the last six years.

Wow, six years in a row!  Why?

Past studies have rated Sheboygan as one of the most polluted counties in Wisconsin, and experts say that is due in part to pollution that drifts northward from industrial areas like Chicago. Sheboygan is especially affected by this air particle drift because it juts farther into Lake Michigan.

I understand this to mean that it’s not necessarily their fault.  Pollution has drifted north and they are negatively effected.  While this is a small, isolated example, There are a lot of industrial cities all over the country.  It’s everybody’s problem. 

So what kind of problems does this poor air quality cause?  “High ozone levels can lead to symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pain when inhaling deeply, coughing and increased asthma attacks.”

Shocker. 

I’m going to run something past you.  Feel free to check my logic.  We order up a new energy policy that forces polluters to clean up their emissions.  We also order up cleaner, more efficient cars.  Air quality improves and people have less respiratory ailments.  As a result, people are healthier, see the doctor less, and don’t need medication to control their problems.  Therefore, we don’t spend as much on health care and prescriptions, which ultimately keeps costs down and saves money!

Look, global warming shouldn’t even be the argument.  Yes, it is a big deal and by no means am I trying to diminish climate change.  However, those who argue that global warming doesn’t exist don’t see the bigger picture.  Every step we make to fix the problem has larger implications than just the overall temperature of the earth.  Every environmental improvement has one conclusion, it ultimately saves money.

3 comments:

  1. We need only look to Denmark for example. And I know you're absolutely right.

    Unfortunately, I don't the pharmacutical companies with be very keen on your idea, and they have connections. Of course they won't have to worry about it for quite a while, concidering it's going to be a long hard haul till we finally get there.

    If anything, I think the bad economy is helping. People are using less and buying less. Of course they are also buying older cars,so... but you know what I'm saying.

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  2. Yes, I do know what you're saying!

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