Tuesday, July 7, 2009

New Links Between Environment, Economy, Public Health

Over at Grist, Dave Roberts reviews some recent studies on the economic impacts of environmental issues and concludes:
One thing they all have in common: an environment-degrading practice often defended as necessary to economic health is revealed, upon closer inspection, to be uneconomic. I wonder how many other allegedly economic environment-degrading practices would also be revealed uneconomic if examined with a fresh eye?

It’s almost like the economy is embedded in an environment, and degrading the latter ultimately degrades the former.

And in today's Washington Post, David Fahrenthold reports:

The same pollution problems that afflict the Chesapeake Bay's fish and crabs -- high levels of mercury in fish, neon-colored algae blooms and voracious bacteria -- can also threaten the health of people who fish, boat and swim in the estuary, according to a new report.

The report, released today by the nonprofit Chesapeake Bay Foundation, pointed out that the threat of infection from pollutants that wash into the bay from onshore is great enough that health authorities recommend not swimming until 48 hours after a significant rain.

You know that old myth about how you can put a frog in water and slowly turn up the heat and the frog won't notice until it's boiling? That's us when it comes to the Bay. We've been sitting here, not noticing the minor changes as the Bay slowly degrades. Now we can't even swim in our own Bay after a heavy rainfall.

It's happened gradually enough that what should be a shocking change is received not with outrage but with resignation.

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