Thursday, February 04, 2010

Lisa’s Murky-Air Proposal: Let’s Create Some Jobs By Killing Thousands Each Year

I know, I know…SOL rarely takes on state or national figures, but Lisa Murkowski has written a few opinion pieces in the local rags lately that offer poorly thought through ideas. Since Lisa has invaded my turf, I think a SOL response is order.

I wish I could say that I was using a bit of hyperbole with my headline, but unfortunately that’s what will happen if the US goes along with Lisa Murkowski’s proposal that’s before the Senate. Lisa wants to relax the EPA’s toxic emissions standards regarding greenhouse gasses and then give politicians, you know, those folks that you love and trust so much, the ability to decide how many American lives we can eliminate so that big business can become even bigger. That’s right, Lisa wants to create a real-life Senate death panel that will determine what the proper balance is between preserving fossil-fuel related jobs with the number of people who will die or become sick due to the increasing amount of hazardous gasses emitted into the atmosphere.

Lisa, what ratio do you propose? Create two jobs per death? Ten new asthma cases for each new job?

While greenhouse gasses alone don’t immediately kill people, according to the World Health Organization, they are directly responsible for the nearly 140,000 annual worldwide deaths.

Let’s connect some dots.

The more fossil fuels we burn – especially coal, the more toxins like mercury we put in the air. By reducing the greenhouse gas emissions, we also reduce those amounts of dangerous particulates that are also produced in the process. There’s no dispute that the increased incidents of asthma, bronchitis, and other lung diseases go along with releasing poisonous toxins into the atmosphere. And then consider the brain damage to kids that is caused by the increased mercury levels in the air that we breathe.

Worldwide, illnesses that cause death such as dysentery, malaria, and dengue are on the rise as the pathogens that trigger these diseases and the carriers that transmit them and are all increasing their range due to global warming. One Alaskan example is the number of deaths and hospitalizations due to allergic reaction to yellow jacket stings. These incidents have increased as dramatically as the yellow jacket population has.

And then there are the increased world-wide deaths from malnutrition as the number of areas experiencing severe droughts expands. The resulting crop failures and the loss of arable land is causing tremendous suffering in Africa right now.

The limits that the EPA wants to set would cut greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 13 % and annually stave off 64,000 premature deaths according to a study conducted by Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. The regulations would also prevent over 60,000 cases of chronic bronchitis and 37 million days of work loss by 2020.

Lisa says that the proposed EPA emission limits, currently based on indisputable scientific evidence, will eliminate jobs and destroy the economy. The coal and petro-chemical industries would certainly have to adjust, but won’t those jobs be absorbed by the increased demand for truly clean energy and those industries such as solar, wind, tidal, and etc?

But Lisa says that permitting even more greenhouse gasses emissions will create jobs.

What jobs?

More undertakers? More coffin and tombstone makers? More health workers to take care of the increasing numbers of people suffering from the effects of these gasses? More pharmaceutical and health-insurance executives?

And the costs? She speaks of the added costs of cleaning up the fossil-fuel industries, but is silent about skyrocketing medical costs that those industries cause.

It’s also curious that in Gov. Parnell’s State of the State address (you know the speech where he announced that Alaska is at War with the Feds) he says that the TransCanadian Pipeline needs to be built because Alaska gas burns cleaner (and would be better able to meet the EPA Guidelines than natural gas produced from oil shale fields). If Lisa gets her way, there will be less of a need for that clean, Alaskan gas. Lisa, Sean…do you guys talk?

Save me from the denials of those that loudly shout that global warming is a hoax. Despite the noise, there is scant evidence to the contrary. But even if it turns out that the consequences of climate change aren’t as dire as they probably will be, let’s say we create a country and a planet that provides for energy independence through the development of clean renewables, creates sustainability with green jobs, provides for more clean water and air for all, and reduces the costs of medical care due to toxins in our environment.

In other words, what if we create a better world – even if the consequences of global warming are exaggerated (and they are not).

Would that be such a bad thing?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If she really wants jobs, she should vote yes on Health care reform...
If everyone on the Kenai had medical coverage (disproportionately subsidized by the feds as usual);
#1 Construction would see a boom as docs, medical professionals moved in to treat the new consumers.
#2 Our workforce would become more reliable & more efficient.
#3 In the US, we use 18% of our Gross National Product for medical, our costs DWARF other countries! (If we don't do something NOW, this growing imbalance will hurt us & hurt us bad!)
#4 Illnesses could be treated before they required a trip to the ER & preventative care could cut down on expenses.
#5 Small business accounts for most job growth, but business owners who provide health insurance for their employees must now compete with companies who do not provide Health Insurance. (walk into the new Wal-mart when it opens & count the employees with Company insurance) IF HEALTH CARE REFORM passes, some businesses near the brink may fail (fail quicker?), but most will enjoy having a more level playing field!
#6 Workers forced to stay in dreadful jobs to keep benefits will be able to get better jobs or go into business)
#7 Your comments are right on; we are trading health for short term jobs with huge environmental costs being shifted to the taxpayers! (we are great at repeating history; the gold miners in Colorado took the gold, left the pollution & people born 100 years later pay taxes to clean it up)

Large Visitor Globe