With the debt crisis being a hot topic, I’m surprised to find that the Republican Party is putting a grand effort into attacking environmental protection policies. Granted, the GOP is just making a statement, but what is their message? Yes, they want to support businesses and they would rather achieve optimal “money making” without restrictions, but do they truly believe that environmental restrictions are hindering their potential to save the American economy? I fear that they have naïve hopes of big businesses stepping up to make smart choices out of their own moral accord and not have the single-minded goal of making as much money as possible no matter what (because it happens all the time).
I like to think of it as having a buddy on your quest to be more healthy. Of course, you’re not going to want to go running every day or will want to eat delicious red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting (mmm, I’m hungry). Sometimes you may even hate that person, but after the food cravings pass, you’re glad you had someone to help make the right choice. It’s all about long term. Some people don’t need the push, but many others do. (Side note: obesity is a problem; people should get more “buddies”).
Some may say it’s a question of freedom. “If I want to sit at home, watch TV and eat, then I have the right to.” Well the problem with that is this isn’t a closed system. If you pollute the water, or dump coal ash on my town, no matter how healthy I am trying to live, I’ll get sick. What happened to my freedom to be healthy? One of the important factors that separate developing and developed countries is public health. Our problems have moved on from trying to get clean water to everyone to improving education and the economy. So, then how does it make sense that the next step would be to say “Alright, it’s ok to throw trash in lakes and rivers, it’s really not that important,” or even worse “Go ahead oil companies, don’t worry about spills, just keep on pumpin’.” People enjoy nature. It’s scientifically proven (check out research by Kaplan, Ulrich, Moore and many others) so quit it, Sarah Palin, with all the “I love the smell of emissions” crap.
Obviously, there is a general consensus that we prioritize health; look how much doctors and nurses are getting paid. So let’s shift the paradigm to preventative care. Instead of curing the sick, let’s try not to get sick in the first place. There are two ways people get sick, genetics and the environment, so then naturally, if we can have control to positively influence the environment we should seize the opportunity.
Environmental protection isn’t just the conservation of a bird I’ve never heard of, or a tree I have no particular connection to. It’s about the conservation of public health and our home. It’s ideal to live in a house that’s nice and clean (people even pay big bucks to have someone either live there permanently or come over once a week to clean), and even though there aren’t four walls and a roof on the neighborhood park, it’s still where we live. So, investing in the protection and conservation of the environment is investing in the protection and conservation of public health (the health of your children, the health of your parents, the health of your beloved dog; get the point?) In the words of someone famous “don’t shit where you eat and sleep.” Where do we get our food and where do we sleep? All part of the environment.
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