Environment and Health
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.
America’s hallowed “market democracy” has favored us with a cornucopia of shimmering goods and services. At least, if you can afford them. Unfortunately, that system doesn’t work so well for health.
For a Yankee, driving to the West can painfully confirm many previously unverified suspicions. First, of course, one must stifle guilt for driving at all. This burden is fortuitously lightened by discovering that the car, which normally gets 40 mpg around home, ramps up to 45 on the road.
If the recent record-breaking temperatures and freak thunderstorms in Washington were nature’s way of telling Congress that climate change is real, it’s here, and it’s time to do something about it–it didn’t work.