The recent climate accord offers us hope. Reacting to the COP21 agreement, Bill McKibben, Co-founder of 350.org, said “This didn’t save the planet but it may have saved the chance of saving the planet.” But environmentalists are not the only ones feeling encouraged. With the climate accord in hand, health professionals can envision the benefits of a world with less pollution. With less oil and gas drilling, fewer carbon emissions and lower levels of ozone, medical professionals expect to see longer, higher-quality lives. If we're smart about it, these health improvements will aid communities that are most affected. As the Center for Public Integrity discusses below, "acute hazards that threaten people in large sections of Philadelphia, Houston, Los Angeles and other cities may be phased out." Of course, there are many other cities that can expect public health advancements. The accord itself only marks the beginning. With current environmental health tracking tools, it should be interesting to see how the health of communities across the country improves.
By Jim Morris I December 13, 2015
Saturday’s 196-nation climate pact is aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions, whose effects on the planet already are being seen. Another beneficiary, however, will be public health.
If, in fact, the accord marks a true shift away from dirty fossil fuels like coal and oil, people from South Texas to South Philadelphia should expect to live longer, higher-quality lives.
Start with areas of heavy oil and gas drilling, like the Eagle Ford Shale region south of San Antonio. Last year the Center for Public Integrity, along with InsideClimate News and The Weather Channel, reported in “Big Oil, Bad Air” that chemicals released into the air during hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, were making people sick as regulators did little or nothing. Longer term, there are worries about cancer, given that potent carcinogens such as benzene are being spewed into the atmosphere.
If oil production — currently in a funk because of low prices — tapers off over the long haul, residents of beleaguered places like Karnes County, Texas, should see their health improve.
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