Toxic Cities - Atlanta Wins! Public Apathetic.

Toxic Atlanta

Toxic Atlanta

I just learned that Atlanta was named by Forbes as the most toxic city in America!  The article states: "...the city's combination of air pollution, contaminated land and atmospheric chemicals makes it the most toxic city in the country."  Since I live in this city, you could say I'm pretty angry.  Well, angry and disappointed.

Begin rant....

Why does the public allow pollution to happen so haphazardly?  How do we see pollution and just say, "Oh well, not my problem".  Well surprise, surprise, it is our (in the collective sense) problem. And like it or not it is affecting your health, and the only person responsible for your health is you.

I'm not a parent yet, but when I am you can be damn sure that I am not going to sit back and be satisfied that someone else is looking out for the health of my child.  Yet so many parents do just that. They assume pollution isn't a problem because some government official or business person says so and that their kids are just fine.  Parents, let me promise you that the only person responsible for the health of your child is you.  And sitting back idly while pollution could be affecting your family is a shame.

Ask yourself:  What level of toxicity is acceptable for me and my family? Most people would say zero. But that's not what we live with. We live with what the government tells us is a safe level. But are you willing to let the government make decisions for you that impact your health and that of your children?

From an AJC article on the same topic:

Environmental advocates blamed weak regulations for Atlanta's problems.

"We struggle to have strong environmental leadership," Jenette Gayer, policy advocate for Environment Georgia, told the magazine. "For a lot of the chemicals people reported dumping, there are alternatives we should be helping them switch to."

If there are alternatives to chemicals that are known to damage our environment, why aren't companies mandated to use them?  Why do we say, "Yes neighbor, you can pollute my air/land/water and impact my health, but please try to keep it to a minimum if you don't mind."

I drive on the highways a fair amount and live right off Atlanta's 285 perimeter where all the big-rigs circumnavigate the city. Often time these transfer trucks send up plumes of black soot when they are accelerating up a hill. Why are these trucks allowed to gratuitously pollute the air that I breathe?  Who's looking out to ensure that our air is not compromised and contributing to my city's highest toxicity rating?  Atlanta's Clean Air Campaign does a great job, but they aren't all powerful. They need the public to influence the law makers.  They need people like you  to get mad and take action.

People have to realize that nobody is looking out for their safety. Most businesses aren't looking out for your safety, they are just looking to comply with government regulations and make money.  Who makes the government regulations:  Politicians. What do politicians care about?  Staying in office.  How do they do that?  Either cater to the polluting business owners or cater to the public who's health is put at risk. You can help decide which.

Business people say environmental compliance costs too much. I call B.S.  I say businesses have no right to pollute society's shared resources no matter what it does or doesn't cost.

I'm reading Ray Anderson's new book, Confessions of a Radical Industrialist: Profits, People, Purpose--Doing Business by Respecting the Earth. As the CEO of Interface inc., Ray helped the company commit itself to sustainable business practices and realized that polluting less ( much less) didn't cost, it paid. By sending less to landfills, using less oil as a raw material, and less water and energy they realized they saved money, improved employee morale, and improved public image which increased sales. Why don't more companies quit making excuses carried over from the industrial revolution and follow Interface's lead?

What started the sustainable ball rolling at Interface?  Customers just like you and me.  Customers started asking Interface what they were doing for the environment.  We have the power to cause business to take action.  We just have to use it.  Check out this link for one simple thing you can do to get business to start thinking about sustainability and polluting less.

I'm sick of the apathetic approach so many take to pollution and toxicity around them.  It's impacting our environment, your health and that of your family.  Sure, you may not have to go to the hospital or die from it (well, that's not true if you have asthma and we have a red-alert smog day), but would any parent say it is fine as long as their kid's health is only damaged a tiny bit by pollution.

Hell no they wouldn't.

If asked, parents would say that no level of pollution is tolerable that negatively impacts the health of their children.  So instead of just saying so, why don't we take action?

I don't want to live in one of the most toxic cities and unlike most people, I'm not just going to lay down and take it.

What about you?

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Thanks Alex, and your post is really wonderful. I encourage everyone to read it. I agree with you that it all comes down to individual action. Until the "tipping point" is reached in society that we all must take action to make this world more sustainable, we will continue down this path. It really is up to us (those who care about energy conservation) to preach its merits and hope that we can reach critical mass!
Chris You ask the question I have just spent the last 4 weeks agonizing over, and then writing on. You say "So instead of just saying so, why don’t we take action?" - my conclusion follows. In my article <a href="" rel="nofollow">Increase your Home Energy Awareness</a> we conclude that the real issue is denial, and a refusal to see that the underlying cause of energy waste, pollution, and failure to take action is the old enemy - Mr Me - or what I know as selfishness. It is not affecting me, so I am going to carry on as I want. That someone else cannot breathe, one day "they" will wonder what our generation was thinking - not my problem! I would so prefer that the issue was lack of tools, information or such - but it is not. We all know at some level what we are doing. Keep up the postings, it may be one reader at a time for a while, but change will happen eventually!

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