We hear statements such as, "environmental issues are the last thing the public is thinking about during a difficult economy." Or "policy solutions for a healthier environment face increasing political resistance in Washington as leaders from both parties focus on ways to create jobs."
It's as if these people are stuck in a 20th Century bubble.
Fortunately, with prominent credible health organizations like the American Lung Association now getting it, the dominant media framing of environmental issues is poised to change. As a recent press release from this esteemed organization stated:
“The Road to Clean Air” is a new report by the American Lung Association in California showing that California could avoid $7.2 billion in health and societal costs and reduce all major air pollution-related health impacts by 70 percent if the state adopts a strong set of new passenger vehicle standards, which are being drafted now.
That's just in California.
At the national level, a 2009 report by the National Academy of Sciences titled "The Hidden Costs of Energy" estimated that dirty energy costs Americans $120 billion per year in largely health costs alone. Another study explored effects of air pollution on worker productivity and concluded that:
We find robust evidence that ozone levels well below federal air quality standards have a significant impact on productivity: a 10 ppb decrease in ozone concentrations increases worker productivity by 4.2 percent.
More and more, we are realizing that the solutions to our environmental problems are also solutions to the great economic, health and quality of life challenges of our times.