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Think globally, act locally: neighbourhood pollution and the future of the earth
Local Environment (2017)
  • John I. Gilderbloom, University of Louisville
  • Gregory D. Squires, George Washington University
  • William W Riggs
  • Stella Čapek, Hendrix College
Each year governments and industry around the globe spend billions of dollars in search of treatments and cures for diseases that shorten lives, which often means gadgets, implants, radiation and pills. These “cures”, do not get to the root of the problem. Perhaps it is time for us to adjust our thinking to be more proactive instead of reactive in public health. Perhaps we need to consider confronting environmental pollution of air, soil and water at a local level. As the Physicians for Social Responsibility point out, we should be “preventing what we cannot cure”. One such preventive measure is ensuring that our communities, including our poor inner-city neighbourhoods, enjoy a clean environment. We challenge local and national policy-makers to respond to the global call and to take action to address environmental toxins; to take local action to ameliorate the pollution of the air, water and soil in so many of our nation’s neighbourhoods. A person’s neighbourhood, and the proximity of dangerous environmental contaminants within it, is a powerful predictor of how long s/he will live. While situations like the poisoning of the water in Flint, Michigan have gotten some attention, they are generally treated as the exception rather than a reflection of real environmental hazards that exist in the west. Moreover we wonder why more endemic issues of neighbourhood environmental contamination that shorten human lives are not a priority for local action or that it is not linked to disproportionate production of greenhouse gases that cause climate change/warming/chaos.
  • urban planning,
  • environmental quality,
  • contamination,
  • climate action
Publication Date
Winter 2017
Citation Information
John I. Gilderbloom, Gregory D. Squires, William W Riggs and Stella Čapek. "Think globally, act locally: neighbourhood pollution and the future of the earth" Local Environment (2017)
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