Are you looking for an interesting topic to spur some debate during the holidays? According to a report by The Lancet Commissions on pollution and health, pollution killed 9 million people in 2015. Most of the deaths occurred in low-to-middle income countries, which have not introduced the pollution controls common in richer nations. Cities like Beijing and New Delhi, which are often cited in the news for air pollution, are not even in the top ten most polluted cities based on 2016 World Health Organization data. This report also noted that the pollution does not stay in one place. For example, at least eleven percent of black carbon pollution in the western US states originates in China. Furthermore, at least 20 percent of China's pollution results from producing goods for the USA. This is a serious problem. A recent study reported by CNN noted that 1-in-6 deaths can be linked to pollution! Now read this Tampa Bay Times opinion column about informing the public about pollution. What do you think? Do you think you have the right to know if industry is causing pollution that harms health? What if the pollution directly harms your health? So what can you do about pollution? As a consumer, you can make decisions about the goods you buy.
Conduct some online research about the companies behind products you buy. Do any of these companies have bad reputations for pollution? If so, are there any other substitute goods that you would consider? Check out the Forbes infographic on pollution. Create a poster or infographic about this issue to inform others so they can be aware and informed for the new year. This is your year to vote with your purchases.
SS.4.FL.2.5 Explain that costs are things that a decision maker gives up; benefits are things that a decision maker gains. Make an informed decision by comparing the costs and benefits of spending alternatives. The costs of buying a popular item aren't always obvious. Conduct some research on products before you buy them. What is the reputation of the company? Does the company cause harm to the environment or people? Make an evidence-based decision based on facts.
SS.8.FL.2.2 Analyze a sources incentives in providing information about a good or service, and how a consumer can better assess the quality and usefulness of the information. What are a corporation's incentives for providing information about pollution? What happens if a company knows it is spewing out harmful substances and does nothing or hides the fact? Before you buy something weigh the costs and benefits of the purchase. The costs of buying a popular item aren't always obvious. Conduct some research on products before you buy them. What is the reputation of the company? Does the company cause harm to the environment or people? Make an evidence-based decision based on facts.
SS.912.FL.2.7 Examine governments establishing laws and institutions to provide consumers with information about goods or services being purchased and to protect consumers from fraud. Read the above articles. Then read this Tampa Bay Times article on how a cruise ship company polluted and covered it up. Based on the article, what laws and government agencies protect people from the potential harm that corporate pollution can cause. Conduct some research on government agencies and laws that protect consumers. What do you think?
Deborah Kozdras, Ph.D.