Com­mon­wealth en­vi­ron­men­tal re­spon­si­bil­ity

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - NEWS -

Some­thing is hap­pen­ing in Penn­syl­va­nia. Grass­roots are join­ing with small gov­ern­ment to ap­peal to the ‘top roots’ to fo­cus on re­duc­ing emis­sions from fos­sil fuel pow­ered en­ergy plants. The risks to our health are con­sid­er­able, as physi­cians say that pol­luted air will be the ma­jor cause of ill­ness in the fu­ture. The risks to global health are great, as these pol­lu­tion-emit­ting sources of en­ergy cause in­creases in green house gases in our at­mos­phere caus­ing rise in tem­per­a­tures, and caus­ing acid­ity and re­duced health of the oceans and wa­ter­ways.

Penn­syl­va­nia is said to be sec­ond only to Alaska in its water wealth, has beau­ti­ful open spa­ces, and has an agri­cul­tural in­dus­try that is work­ing to be­come less pol­lut­ing. The im­pair­ments to our water sources, al­most 23,000 miles in Penn­syl­va­nia ac­cord­ing to the Penn­syl­va­nia of­fices of Ch­e­sa­peake Bay Foun­da­tion, are a loss that we still can pre­vent and re­pair if we work to­gether. There is a grow­ing con­sen­sus in Penn­syl­va­nia that we must move away from dirty en­ergy sources. The only con­cerns heard at pub­lic hear­ings held by the Depart­ment of En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion are fears of job losses. New train­ing for ex­ist­ing jobs, and new jobs with en­vi­ron­men­tal skills, can be cre­ated in the Com­mon­wealth that fo­cus on many ar­eas of en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tions, from meth­ods to bet­ter mon­i­tor toxic re­leases, to creat­ing in­no­va­tions in more ef­fi­cient and safer en­ergy ex­trac­tion from re­new­able sources, to iden­ti­fy­ing ways to de­velop re­new­able en­ergy and pre­serve the en­vi­ron­ment on site, rather than hav­ing to pipe or sur­face trans­port en­ergy around the coun­try, which is a ma­jor source of en­vi­ron­men­tal degra­da­tion.

Econ­o­mists who an­a­lyze the eco­nomic pa­ram­e­ters and costs to in­dus­try find that putting re­sources into the en­vi­ron­ment ac­tu­ally in­creases in­dus­try-level em­ploy­ment (“Jobs ver­sus the En­vi­ron­ment: An In­dus­try-Level Per­spec­tive”, 2000), and this anal­y­sis did not consider the new skill ar­eas that are grow­ing. Cor­po­rate en­vi­ron­men­tal re­spon­si­bil­ity en­hances the sta­tus of the com­pany both for its con­sumers and its share­hold­ers.

We all need is to in­crease the pri­or­ity that we give to our con­sciously made de­ci­sions to pol­lute. The other side of not iden­ti­fy­ing the sil­ver lin­ings in

Penn­syl­va­nia is said to be sec­ond only to Alaska in its water wealth, has beau­ti­ful open spa­ces, and has an agri­cul­tural in­dus­try that is work­ing to be­come less pol­lut­ing.

in­vest­ing in en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion and re­newal, is the se­ri­ous and in­creas­ing risk to the health of our chil­dren, and ul­ti­mately, of the hu­man pop­u­la­tion. For the first time in 100 years of mod­ern IQ mea­sure­ment, IQ has de­creased af­ter slowly in­creas­ing in a predictable way. Many of the myr­iad of chem­i­cals that we are re­leas­ing into the en­vi­ron­ment have ef­fects on brain de­vel­op­ment (e.g., “Ex­am­in­ing Child­hood De­vel­op­ment in Con­tam­i­nated Ur­ban Set­tings”, 2000, and “Haz­ardous Waste and Neu­robe­hav­ioral Ef­fects: A De­vel­op­men­tal Per­spec­tive”, 1997). Also, the health risk from ac­ci­dents and longterm en­vi­ron­men­tal degra­da­tion af­fect all ci­ti­zens, in­clud­ing the work­ers and union mem­bers who are at great­est risk for work­place ac­ci­dents and un­seen dis­charges.

De­ci­sions we make to keep in­dus­try the way it is in our state should be tem­pered by the many risks that we take on if we ignore en­vi­ron­men­tal ef­fects, and keep Penn­syl­va­nia be­hind in its de­vel­op­ment of new jobs that in­clude en­vi­ron­men­tal train­ing. An im­me­di­ate op­por­tu­nity is the Clean Power Plan in Penn­syl­va­nia, which has strong bi­par­ti­san sup­port to de­crease car­bon emis­sions from fos­sil fuel pow­ered en­ergy plants by 26 mil­lion tons an­nu­ally by 2030, as com­pared to lev­els in 2012. Progress is be­ing made to ac­com­plish this by tran­si­tion to clean en­ergy economies, and we are about 1/3 of the way to this goal, but the plan will need to cover both ex­ist­ing and new power plants to achieve our goal. Carol L. Arm­strong, Ph.D.


Mnem Neu­ropsy­chol­ogy

Adj. As­so­ci­ate Pro­fes­sor

Univer­sity of Penn­syl­va­nia Perel­man School of Medicine

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