Letter to the Editor: Healthy Planet, Healthier People – Door County Pulse

Door County PulseDoor County Pulse
By , June 17th, 2022
I often find myself wondering why more people, both in government and the general public, don’t find keeping our planet healthy to be a crucial priority or even something to worry about.
Recently, I have come to conclude that part of the problem is many people’s choice not to view themselves as part of nature. Somewhere along the way, we began to view our species as a separate entity from the natural world. This shift in thinking has caused us to lose sight of the link between the planet’s health and our health. We continue to live as if slowly killing the planet is not also causing great harm to ourselves, not to mention the other species that call Earth home. 
An excellent example of activity that harms the planet while also jeopardizing human health is the continued burning of fossil fuels and the resulting air pollution. We mostly equate air pollution with the greenhouse effect and warming temperatures, but it also causes poor health, death and, consequently, high health care costs. 
A study performed by UW-Madison researchers found that, in the United States, air pollution has, on average, resulted in 50,000 premature deaths every year. Additionally, pollution-related illnesses, including asthma and cancer, result in annual health care costs of $600 billion. And these problems are not ours alone. A study published in The Lancet Planetary Health journal found that air pollution results in 9 million deaths annually around the globe. 
Yet fossil-fuel emissions continue to rise. In the U.S. alone, energy-related carbon-dioxide emissions rose 6.2% in 2021. Even from a purely selfish, human-centric perspective, we cannot let these emissions continue to rise. We need to realign ourselves with nature and remember that we cannot be healthy if our planet is not healthy. An excellent step toward this goal would be for our government to put a price on carbon, with a carbon cashback paid to the public. 
Anna Schuh
Seymour, Wisconsin
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