Where politics is personal not partisan

Time for Environmental Policy to Focus on Public Health

Saving the planet is useless if we don’t focus on saving ourselves. People need to demand environmental policy focused on public health.

Whenever the term “environmentalist” comes up, it typically causes a strong response, regardless of where someone is on the political spectrum. That’s because of the highly politicized nature of environmental science, primarily because most research is at least partially subsidized by either the government or industries that have an interest in protecting their business from regulations.

Somewhere in the middle are the people like Erin Brockovich, who are battling against pollution not for the sake of an endangered species of animal or to save the planet, but to save human beings. Since Julia Roberts made Brockovich’s work famous on the silver screen, the battle has continued without much effect. According to recent numbers, up to two thirds of Americans are in danger of contracting illnesses and cancer from the Chromium-6 and other chemical waste from primarily the energy industry.

Of course, most people are aware of arguments that have been made against natural gas harvested through hydraulic mining, or “fracking.” Like the waste involved in the electric power generation industry, the primary problems with fracking involve issues with waste water getting into municipal water supplies and wells. We’re regularly told that this should not be an issue, assuming that the the mining is done properly. Because we do see cases of water supplies being contaminated, we must assume that the industry is not always taking all the precautions it should to contain toxic chemicals.

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Dealing with industrial waste in general is an environmental issue that has impacts on people, as opposed to wildlife or the planet as whole, so there really shouldn’t be much disagreement when it gets to the point where people are being poisoned as a result of poor practices in toxic chemical disposal. There is no reason why two thirds of the people in this country should be worried about whether or not there is poison coming out of the spigots in their homes.

There is a very obvious reason why politicians and bureaucrats are happy to see the public focus on “saving the planet” or “undoing climate change.” If they are too busy worrying about those issues, then they are less likely to notice the fact that the government is not doing its job when it comes to protecting the people from real harm. The people won’t notice that the government regularly fines companies for failing to handle toxic chemicals properly, then turns around and gives those same companies permission to handle even more. That shouldn’t be surprising, because the EPA itself has been responsible for polluting at least one waterway.

But, the people continue allowing the dialogue to be steered toward manufactured issues surrounding climate change and saving species of animals that simply may not be meant to survive in the first place. While the government talks about carbon caps and taxes, it doesn’t mention the fact that it may not be necessary at all. Most of the public is aware of the alarm over carbon emissions, but relatively few realize that the pollutants the government wants to stop could be recycled into biofuel. This kind of science is also showing promise as a solution for managing municipal wastewater.

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Truly protecting the environment is not the goal of any government leader or agency, once they start talking about climate change or otherwise saving the planet. It is all about control, primarily over the growth of industry and innovation. While they talk about being “all in” on renewable energy, that’s actually referring to the kinds of energy the government wants to promote. It has nothing to do with research and development into addressing real problems, like reducing carbon emissions without harming industry. Given the poor track record of government in dealing with pollution that directly effects people and their health, it certainly isn’t concerned with public safety either. Unfortunately, activist organizations that focus on helping people demand action on environmental issues that are an immediate hazard to human life are few and far less vocal than their counterparts that are focused on saving the planet as a whole. Perhaps the government would be more likely to concern itself with pollution in drinking water and in people’s backyards if those people would start organizing, and stop allowing anyone to silence them.

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Liz Harrison
About Liz Harrison 45 Articles
Political commentator, former campaign operative, media executive, legal and medical writer, literary editor and publisher. Founder at Vigilant Liberty Radio, podcaster and radio talk-show host, and a sexual freedom activist.

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