Why do we care about about environmental causes like air quality, organic agriculture, genetically engineered crops, and chemical fertilizers and pesticides? If melting polar ice caps, damaged and destroyed ecosystems and loss of biodiversity doesn’t hit close enough to home, consider this:
According to the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard University Medical School, climate change over the coming decades is likely to increase rates of allergies, asthma, heart disease, cancer, and other illnesses. Environmental factors play a central role in human development, health, and disease.
Are we really surprised that the pesticide-laced foods we eat, the smokestack-befouled air we breathe, the chemical-based products we use and the contaminated water we drink negatively affect our quality of life? Of course not, but many of us choose to turn a blind eye to the many unhealthy and unsustainable products and services that we use every day.
Because the effect of the environment on human health is so great, protecting the environment became a mainstay of public health practice in the late 1800s. While vast improvements were made during the first half of the 20th century – decreased lead poisoning, improved water treatment practices, increased legislation regarding hazardous waste disposal, among many other advancements, we still have a long way to go. Unfortunately, many of the same government agencies that are designed to protect our environmental health are allowing the use of untested chemicals and pesticides on our soil and permitting dangerous levels of toxins in our air and drinking water. As a result, it becomes our personal responsibility to make healthy and responsible lifestyle choices. Perhaps if we had a better understanding of the connection between our personal health and environmental negligence we would take those choices more seriously.
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