Environment and Health
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.
Crisis breeds opportunity. And in this case there could be a double opportunity. It turns out that buildings are responsible for about half of America’s emissions of greenhouse gases that are heating our planet.
With BP’s well capped and CEO Tony Hayward exiled to Russia, perhaps you thought that the BP horror story is coming to a close, that surely there will be no additional revelations to enrage you. But now comes this: Prison labor.
This week’s editorial package includes an op-ed by Daphne Wysham about an innovative concept for slashing greenhouse gas emissions from buildings while helping to avert some of the fallout from the coming commercial real estate crisis.
Imagine putting solar panels on your roof for no money down. You partner with your city or municipality to cover the up-front cost of your new renewable energy system, which you pay back to the city as an add-on to your property taxes. You spread your payments out over 20 years and most likely the savings from your lowered electricity bill more than cover your higher property tax.
Remember the hullabaloo over so-called “death panels,” last summer? Faced with screeching right-wing opportunists who tried to kill healthcare reform by accusing the Obama administration of being out to snuff out our grandparents, the folks responsible for writing the legislation excised a sensible provision that would have made it easier to stop wasting money on the exorbitant, painful, and often futile tests and procedures that tend to make the last months of Americans’ lives miserable.