It doesn’t take an advanced degree in science or medicine to realize that ingesting heavy metals and ash is dangerous to the health of humans and other animals. It is nearly impossible to control something once it’s in our soil or water supply, including if those chemicals will be ingested through food contaminated by that same soil or water. I think if you asked most people, “Do you think it’s a good idea to poison yourself?” the answer would be “no.” So why are we letting our politicians make laws and rules that allow that to happen?
In the same issue earlier this month, our local secular paper contained articles about a United States Environmental Protection Agency rollback of rules about coal production and the U.S. secretary of state formally announcing to the United Nations that our country was withdrawing from the 2015 Paris Agreement. The EPA was rolling back rules aimed at protecting us from dangerous heavy metal and ash from coal plants, which, in simple terms, means the coal plants are now freer to poison us. The reason? It will save the plants money. Why is the U.S. leaving the Paris Agreement? According to our secretary of state, it’s due to the economic burden the agreement places on our country.
I’m not going to argue here about whether or not climate change is real. In some ways, that’s irrelevant to the problem under discussion. The real problem is easy to describe: money vs. human health, the difference between larger salaries and bonuses for those running industries and the health of the citizens of our country. Perhaps those rolling back protections think they and their families will escape the health consequences of their actions. Maybe they can, at least for a while. But someday there will be nowhere safe from the harm being done to our planet.
In addition, the coal industry is dying. Alternative sources of energy are growing and nothing is going to change that. Automobiles replaced the horse and buggy, and alternative energies are replacing coal. Rather than fighting this, it makes more sense to look ahead and figure out what to do next. Also, when the EPA talks about how rolling back the rules reduces costs, it isn’t including the cost of cleaning our rivers, streams and creeks in that figure. It doesn’t include the health costs for people who are made sick by that water. Unless they are figuring that in, thinking, “Hey, we’ll boost the economy by putting people to work cleaning the water and have to have even more doctors and nurses to treat all the sick people.” I really, really hope that no one is thinking that.
As for the Paris Agreement, all hope is not lost. The agreement says that no country can withdraw the first three years after the agreement was ratified. That means that the withdrawal isn’t complete until the day after the 2020 elections. I’m not certain that will stop President Trump from cutting back as much as he can. Unfortunately, far too often our president feels that agreements and deals are made to be broken or renegotiated after they’ve been set by all parties.
Money vs. human health. As anyone who has suffered health problems or watched a loved one struggle with ill health knows, no amount of money will replace what’s lost. And it’s not even as if the average person will benefit from what’s occurring. There will be no trickle down of money; there will only be a trickle down of medical bills, poisoned water and food, and potential loss of life.