Environment and Health
Here in my home state of Texas, we’re suffering from withdrawal pains.
Remember the joy shared by millions around the world as we watched as the Chilean miners were rescued one by one? Celebrating their survival made me wish that the global mining industry could find itself in the spotlight too, with lights glaring at each aspect of its destructiveness and criminality.
President Barack Obama recently announced plans to modernize our crumbling roads, rails, and airports while providing jobs for the construction industry. While we certainly need to fix our nation’s transportation infrastructure, there’s another form of infrastructure begging for a similar level of attention in the United States: that for our water.
It’s been 25 years now since an AP poll revealed that a majority of Americans thought terminally ill patients should have the right to die. Assuming, of course, that they wanted to. Fat lot of good that poll did. Not one state legislature has followed it.
It got so hot in downtown Los Angeles the other day that the thermometer broke. The National Weather Service’s device hit 113 degrees at about noon (the highest temp ever recorded in LA), then just quit. Climate change hawks were quick to seize on this as evidence that global warming is revving up and we ought to do something about it before it’s too late.
The Great Recession may be officially over but the United States is stuck in a prolonged economic crisis, with joblessness hovering around 10 percent. Millions of unemployed and underemployed Americans are fed up. They want jobs. But many lawmakers are reluctant to invest more revenue in job creation because of concerns over the national debt.
BP is everywhere in the media vowing “We will make it right.” Pardon my skepticism, but BP has a long and dishonorable history of greenwashing, even prior to its Deepwater Horizon disaster.
Not to worry, Congresspeople, for I have the perfect cure for your job grievances: Become coal miners for a while.
Moments of crisis offer two options: You can respond out of fear by hunkering down, arming yourself, and planning to shoot anyone that comes near your end-of-days outpost. Or you can embrace a smarter option by banding together and taking creative action toward a positive transition.
Paul Kysel and his family didn’t know it when they moved in, but their house was only a mile from a closed dump site where for almost 20 years, the Northern Indiana Public Service Company (NIPSCO) dumped its toxic coal ash. Coal ash is the by-product of burning coal for electricity and it’s loaded with toxic heavy metals, including arsenic, selenium, lead, mercury, cadmium, chromium, boron, thallium, and aluminum. Coal ash is also known to be radioactive.