Energy Policy and the Skyrocketing Rates of Certain Childhood Diseases

Over the years, I’ve learned that the most productive way to deal with climate change deniers is to point out that global warming is only one of half-a-dozen reasons to knock off our dependence on coal and oil. “Just pick your favorite,” I smile.

How about the obvious and growing damage to human health? It would seem to me that this would be a fact that even the most fanatical of the anti-government types couldn’t argue. Don’t we need some empowered body to protect our health from those who are indifferent?

One of the very clearest – and saddest – indications that we’re on the wrong road with respect to environmental regulation is our skyrocketing rate of respiratory disease, e.g., asthma, in children. In this story, I learned that Dr. Sylvia Brandt, who’s spent a good deal of her adult life studying this issue, now faces it at a personal level. Her school-age daughter (along with 40% of her contemporaries) suffers from asthma. 40% is about four times the national average (10%) which itself has doubled from 5% since 1980, according to the CDC; the anomaly facing the Brandt family is accounted for by the fact that their hometown, Amherst, MA, is bordered by two large freeways and lies near a coal-fired power plant.

How people can look at this pain and destruction and argue for the removal of environmental regulatory bodies is beyond me.



Posted in Fossil Fuels Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
One comment on “Energy Policy and the Skyrocketing Rates of Certain Childhood Diseases
  1. I have long wondered if there were other effects besides just the asthma that Craig mentions. I have read studies that claim that fossil fuels and the byproducts formed by burning them leads to alterations in hormone levels, the most notable of which is estrogen. The effects of fossil fuels are now pervasive throughout our food chain, which is how it makes it into our systems. Pregnant women are already warned not to eat more than a certain amount of fish due to mercury content which can affect the development of their child. These levels become elevated through a process known as concentration. For example in the case of mercury, coal is burned emitting waste into the atmosphere, it settles on the ground and is washed away by rainwater or is cleansed out of the atmosphere by rain. Some of it runs into streams and is absorbed by algae, which is eaten by fish, which in some cases are then eaten by larger fish. This concentrates the mercury in the fish since mercury is a heavy metal, which is not cleansed out of the body and builds up steadily over the course of the fish’s life. The fish is eaten by humans, which absorb the concentrated mercury in the fish. This same effect can be noted in cattle which eat plants that have absorbed toxins that have settled or been cleansed out of the atmosphere by rain. Other toxins from the burning of oil products have been shown to reduce the fertility of animals that are exposed or to even stop them from becoming sexually mature at all. Some studies have postulated that the increase of infertility in humans can be related to the increase of these toxins in our environment the same as it has in animals. There has been a noted decrease in sperm count among males. Perhaps there is a connection. I have often wondered if other things like perhaps autism, which has risen dramatically, or even homosexuality could be caused by the increase in these toxins in our environment negatively affecting hormone levels in the mother during critical development phases of the fetus. One can’t be sure of these effects due to other factors such as better diagnosis and increased reporting in the case of the former and more relaxed attitudes leading to more truth in the case of the latter, but I can’t help thinking that polluting our environment is having a greater effect than we realize. I would find it sadly ironic if it were discovered that the homosexuality that one of our political parties rails so hard against were to be caused by that same party’s drill baby drill philosophy.

Download a free e-copy of Craig’s first book, a #1 best-seller in energy on “Renewable Energy–Facts and Fantasies.”

Want to understand the thorny challenges in technology, economics, and politics that face the clean energy industry? Download the book.