Our friends at Grist have an excellent post: it explains that the ways to fight pollution and global warming and the ways to fight heart disease (#1 cause of death in the US and probably in most western countries) and other health problems converge. Researchers are discovering that statistically your street address is a very good way to predict your level of risk to heart disease, diabetes, hypertension and so on. People who live in densely populated areas with sidewalks and neighborhood shops are in much better shape than people who live in the world of urban sprawl where you have to rely on cars. The conclusion is simple: We need to pay more attention to urban design and create "heart-friendly" communities... and these just happen to also be nature-friendly. No surprise there.Dave Roberts of Grist asks:
Now, what do you think is more likely to bring about that result: a) guilting people out for driving big cars and demanding that they reduce their CO2 emissions, or b) educating them about what's best for their health and the health of their families?
Not that the second choice will be easy to implement, but we've seen what the status quo leads to in the past half-century, and that isn't nice. Not for nature, and not for humans (which just reminds us that we're a part of nature).
Dean Ornish says in a newsweek article:
Connections with other people affect not only the quality of our lives but also our survival. Study after study find that people who feel lonely are many times more likely to get cardiovascular disease than those who have a strong sense of connection and community. I'm not aware of any other factor in medicine -- not diet, not smoking, not exercise, not genetics, not drugs, not surgery -- that has a greater impact on our quality of life, incidence of illness and premature death.
Dave Roberts concludes (rightly or wrongly, the future will tell):
The broad public movement to fight global warming that everybody's waiting for is never gonna happen. The subject is too abstract, too distant, too tinged with guilt and fear and sacrifice. What might happen is a public movement behind a healthier lifestyle, safer, more compact cities, and a turn from insatiable materialism to more rooted, community-based pleasures.
If it is to be solved at all, the riddle of global warming will be solved indirectly, as a side-effect of our efforts to solve humanity's modern malaise.
::Want to tackle global warming? Start with heart disease