Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Guest Article by Alex Johnson

This week we have a guest article by a reader, Alex Johnson, on the role of environmental Science in US policy, using the case of asbestos and other issues. I hope everyone enjoys! And thanks Alex for the contribution.
Robert Oceans
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Environmental Science
As the world’s population continues to grow, so does the demand on the planet’s natural resources. Increased consumption of these resources contributes to a decline in the environment, while ensuring energy depletion for future generations. 

For example, once fossil fuels are depleted that source of energy is gone for good.  Therefore, countries such as the United States are stepping up efforts to develop sources of green energy that are both efficient and affordable for the general public.

Prime Example

The use of asbestos highlights the importance of environmental science for future generations.  Although the use of asbestos actually dates back to Greek and Roman ancient history, more recent information regarding asbestos helps us understand the impact of this natural mineral substance.
At the beginning of the twentieth century, the use of asbestos began to steadily increase in America. Because of its fire-retardant nature and insulating qualities, the material was used by construction workers, industrial workers, shipbuilders, and military personnel in the daily performance of their duties.  Although manufacturers and company officials were aware of the potentially hazardous qualities of asbestos, profits exceeded their concern for the environment and the workers that were constantly exposed to asbestos.

It wasn’t until years later that the workers began paying the price for mining and using asbestos.  The microscopic particles that polluted the air embedded in the mesothelium, the lining that surrounds many internal organs, of individuals who breathed in dust from this environment hazard. Decades later, those same particles are responsible for men and women developing mesothelioma, which is an aggressive cancer with a poor prognosis.

Because the cancer cells may lie dormant for decades, and the symptoms are very subtle, individuals are do not frequently show the mesothelioma symptoms, until the cancer has moved from the point of origin, making several treatment options unavailable.  Physicians are left with treatments necessary to reduce the symptoms and improve quality of life for the time remaining.

Another example of why environmental science is so vital to the future of America, and the world, is Dana Reeves.  Famous for her fight to find better treatments for spinal cord injuries, she died of lung cancer.  Dana did not smoke.  She was not a former mine worker. She was probably not exposed to asbestos.  Yet, she passed away from lung cancer at a relatively young age.

Environmental science is dedicated to improving the relationships organisms have with the environment (which includes people), in the hopes that it will improve the lives of this and future generations.

Alex Johnson