The Latest On: The Right to Breathe
Remember the anti-drug commercial where illicit drugs (played by butter) fried a brain (played by an egg)? Over the action, a gravelly voice intoned "This is drugs. This is your brain on drugs. Any questions?"
Those PSAs were a fixture of my childhood. Now, well into adulthood, I wonder if it is perhaps time for a redux. But in the sequel, instead of playing drugs, butter would play the part of dirty air.
Once upon a time, a valley known for being so fertile that it could grow much of America's produce came to be known for something else entirely: air pollution. The people of California's San Joaquin Valley needed help because the polluted air was making them sick with asthma -- at rates three times higher than the entire nation. Thousands were dying each year because of the smog, particulate matter, lead, arsenic and toxic gases in the air.
Imagine two tiny figures perched on a politician's shoulders—one scientific, the other political.
The scientist whispers in the politician's ear: "You can save 6,500 lives every year with these health protections!"
The tiny politician counters, "You can save those lives, but who will save you from the powerful industry lobbyists outside your door?"