||E t h i c a l E c o n o m i c s
True Cost Clearinghouse
Here you will find articles and reports documenting the economic, health, and social costs of pollution, worker exposures, and resource exploitation, as well as the underreported benefits of remediation and precautionary policies.
Both quantitative economic analyses and qualitative value analyses are included, but our emphasis is on cost of pollution rather than resource valuation.
See LINKS for more information on resource valuation and other helpful organizations and resources.
Read more about the True Cost Clearinghouse.
Contribute to this clearinghouse! Please submit additional reports and suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Accounting--EU beyond GDP
News story: Brussels wants wider measure of well-being than mere GDP
. Agence France-Presse - 8/31/2009
The EU Commission plans to develop wider indicators for Europe's progress, including quality-of-life and environmental factors, deeming the traditional focus on GDP to be outdated. More than two-thirds of EU citizens agree.
Green accounting incorporates environmental assets and their source and sink functions into national and corporate accounts. It is the popular term for environmental and natural resource accounting. This article in the Earth Encyclopedia introduces the concept and provides links. http://www.eoearth.org/article/Green_accounting
Accounting--India greens GDP measurement
News story: Green resources to colour GDP
. The Economic Times (India), June 11, 2009
India is expected to begin the greening of its national income accounting starting next year, making depletion in natural resources wealth a key component in its measurement of gross domestic product (GDP).
Accounting--natural capital valuation
News story: Crunch may put price tag on environment
. Alister Doyle, Reuters, Oct 21, 2008.
Advocates of "eco-nomics" say that valuing "natural capital" could help protect nature from rising human populations, pollution and climate change that do not figure in conventional measures of wealth such as gross domestic product (GDP) or gross national product (GNP). For some the financial crisis spells the end of a system that seeks economic growth while ignoring wider human wellbeing.
ADHD costly for adults
News story: Hyperactivity disorder called costly for adults
, Esther Landhuis, San Jose (Calif.) Mercury NewsSept. 13, 2004
ADHD is blamed for $77 billion in lost household income nationwide each year, ahead of drug abuse and depression.
ADHD costs for children
Article: Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder in Children: Excess Costs Before and After Initial Diagnosis and Treatment Cost Differences by Ethnicity
. Ray et al., Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, October 2006.
Compared with children without ADHD, children with ADHD had mean costs that were $488 more in the second year before their ADHD diagnosis, $678 more in the year before their diagnosis, $1328 more in the year after their diagnosis, and $1040 more in the second year after their diagnosis. 2006
Agriculture-soil erosion costs
News story: Soil erosion
is the "silent global crisis" that is undermining food production and water availability, as well as being responsible for 30 percent of the greenhouse gases driving climate change.
Agriculture-see also Food
Air pollution cost to crops
News story: Farmers' Foe: Smog Damage to Crops Costs Billions
, Anne Chaon, Agence France Presse July 17, 2006
Pollution is inflicting a rising bill in damage to food plants, especially in regions where hot, sunny, windless conditions favor ozone formation.
Air pollution costs Ontario
The Illness Cost of Air Pollution
. Ontario Medical Association, June 2000. Available online at http://www.oma.org/phealth/icap.htm
Air pollution will cost Ontario’s health-care system and economy more than $1 billion and result in approximately 1,900 deaths this year, reports the Ontario Medical Association. The report mentions free software to calculate the illness cost of air pollution available at the OMA site.
Media Release: Air pollution costs Ontario more than $1 billion a year OMA report says
Air pollution--emission permit auction
Blog: Cap-and-Auction: Global Warming’s Big Cash Dividend.
Peter Barnes, Common Dreams, March 23, 2007.
Where carbon permits are concerned we should advocate ‘cap-and-auction’ instead of ‘cap-and-trade’ according to the author of Sky Trust.
Air pollution-Emissions trading flawed
News story: Outsize Profits, and Questions, in Effort to Cut Warming Gases
. Keith Bradsher, New York Times, December 21, 2006
Lucrative cleanup deals distract attention from the broader effort to curb global warming gases, and the lure of quick profit encourages short-term fixes at the expense of fundamental, long-run solutions.
Air pollution indoor and disease-WHO study
Indoor air pollution: national burden of disease estimates.
World Health Organization, June 2007. PDF
In 23 of the 192 countries focused on in the report, more than 10 percent of deaths can be traced to just two risk factors — unsafe drinking water and indoor air pollution because of the burning of so-called solid fuels — including wood, cow dung or coal — for cooking.
News story: Reducing environmental risks could save 13 million lives annually, report shows. Associated Press, June 13, 2007
Air travel true cost
News story: Revealed: The real cost of air travel
, Michael McCarthy, Marie Woolf and Michael Harrison, The Independent (London, UK) May 28, 2005
Soaring growth in CO2 emissions from aircraft that the cheap flights bonanza is promoting will do terrible damage to the atmosphere and make a nonsense of global warming targets.
Arctic melting cost
Arctic melting to cost $2.4 trillion U.S. by 2050: Study.
Gordon Isfeld, Canwest News Service, February 5, 2010.
The global cost of Arctic melting could reach $2.4 trillion U.S. by 2050 if current warming trends continue, according to a study by the Pew Environment Group. The cumulative cost of the melting Arctic in the next 40 years is equivalent to the annual gross domestic products of Germany, Russia and the United Kingdom combined.
Read the news article here
Download the study summary or full report here
Autism environmental causes
Autism epidemic not caused by shifts in diagnoses; environmental factors likely. Marla Cone, Environmental Health News, January 9, 2009.
More than 3,000 new cases of autism were reported in California in 2006, compared with 205 in 1990. In 1990, 6.2 of every 10,000 children born in the state were diagnosed with autism by the age of five, compared with 42.5 in 10,000 born in 2001, according to a study published in the journal Epidemiology. Study authors say it is time to look at environmental factors.
The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) study is a major international initiative to draw attention to the global economic benefits of biodiversity, to highlight the growing costs of biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation, and to draw together expertise from the fields of science, economics and policy to enable practical actions moving forward.
News story: Economic report into biodiversity crisis reveals price of consuming the planet. Juliette Jowit, Guardian, May 21, 2010
Bottled water costs
Bottled Water Pricey in More Ways than One http://www.worldwatch.org/node/5063/print
By Worldwatch Institute, Created May 9 2007 - 12:11pm
Global consumption of bottled water more than doubled between 1997 and 2005, securing the product’s place as the world’s fastest-growing commercial beverage. The beverage industry benefits; the environment and the poor suffer. Bottled water can be between 240 and 10,000 times more expensive than tap water; in 2005, sales in the United States alone generated more than $10 billion in revenue.
BPA and chemotherapy
Bisphenol A at Low Nanomolar Doses Confers Chemoresistance in Estrogen Receptor Alpha Positive and Negative Breast Cancer Cells
. Elizabeth W. LaPensee, Traci R. Tuttle, Sejal R. Fox, and Nira Ben-Jonathan Environmental Health Perspectives, online October 8, 2008. PDF
A chemical widely used in hard plastic drinking bottles and the lining of food cans may reduce the effectiveness of chemotherapy treatment, this study shows. The findings add to a growing list of concerns about BPA.
Abstract in PDF
Blog: Plastic Chemical May Interfere With Chemotherapy. Tara Parker-Pope. October 9, 2008, New York Times.
Plastic Chemical May Interfere With Chemotherapy
By Tara Parker-Pope
Blog: Well -- Tara Parker-Pope on Health, October 9, 2008, 10:54 am
A chemical widely used in hard plastic drinking bottles and the lining of food cans may reduce the effectiveness of chemotherapy treatment, a new study shows.
The findings, reported in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, http://www.ehponline.org/docs/2008/11788/abstract.html adds to the growing list of concerns about bisphenol-a, or BPA, a chemical used to make the hard, clear and nearly unbreakable plastic called polycarbonate. The plastic is also found in the lining of nearly every soft drink and canned food product.
Most of the concern about BPA has focused on children, who are exposed to the chemical when trace amounts leach from polycarbonate baby bottles and the linings of infant formula cans. The worry is based on data from animal studies. Rat pups exposed to BPA, through injection or food, showed changes in mammary and prostate tissue, suggesting a potential cancer risk. In some tests of female mice, exposure appeared to accelerate puberty.
In the latest research, a team from the University of Cincinnati studied human breast cancer cells, subjecting them to low levels of BPA similar to those found in the blood of adults. They found that BPA acts on cancer cells similar to the way estrogen does — by inducing proteins that protect the cells from chemotherapy agents.
"It’s actually acting by protecting existing cancer cells from dying in response to anti-cancer drugs, making chemotherapy significantly less effective," said Nira Ben-Jonathan, a professor of cancer and cell biology who has studied BPA for more than 10 years.
The research may help explain why chemotherapy appears to be less effective in some patients.
"These data," study authors write, "provide considerable support to the accumulating evidence that BPA is hazardous to human health."
The study was funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Defense and the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.
The 2003-4 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found detectable levels of BPA in 93 percent of urine samples collected from more than 2,500 adults and children over 6.
In September, The Journal of the American Medical Association reported that adults with higher levels of BPA in their urine were more likely to have heart disease or diabetes. The Food and Drug Administration has reassured consumers that the chemical appears to be safe, but the National Toxicology Program , which is part of the Department of Health and Human Services, has raised concerns.
In September, the American Chemistry Council wrote this response to concerns about BPA.
And to learn more about our exposure to BPA and the chemical’s effects, read my recent Well column, A Hard Plastic Is Raising Hard Questions.
* Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company
Brain tumor financial impact
Nobody can afford a brain tumor: The financial impact of brain tumors on patients and families
. Harriet Patterson, National Brain Tumor Foundation, May 2007. [PDF]
Among this report's findings: 1) A brain tumor diagnosis is not just a medical crisis; it is a financial crisis. 2) There are enormous gaps in coverage for middle class families. 3) A brain tumor, even more than other cancers,often brings about a significant reduction in income and productivity. 4) Disabled brain tumor patients are not able to receive immediate insurance coverage through Medicare but must wait two years, leaving many without affordable health coverage.
Breastfeeding benefits and risks
Contaminants in Human Milk: Weighing the Risks against the Benefits of Breastfeeding
. M. Nathaniel Mead, Environmental Health Perspectives, vol. 116, no. 10, October 2008. PDF.
This survey of the literature concludes, again, that the net benefits of breastfeeding outweigh risks, even in the context of widespread pollution. But experts say breastfeeding mothers should be helped to avoid alcohol, drugs, and polluted environments.
California climate law economic impact
News story -- Climate law won't hurt California economy, report says. Margot Roosevelt, LA Times, March 24, 2010
Many sectors will prosper under the greenhouse gas limits, an analysis by the state air board finds. A business group disputes the findings.
Carbon credits and cow dung
News story: Cows, Climate Change and Carbon Credits: How a Big U.S. Utility Plans to Use Cattle to Offset Coal
. JEFFREY BALL, Wall Street Journal, June 14, 2007
News story: The methane produced by the manure of a typical 1,330-pound cow translates into about five tons of CO2 per year. That is about the same amount generated annually by a typical U.S. car. American Electric Power hopes to gain carbon credits by spreading tarps over manure lagoons.
Carbon emissions and health costs--EU
Carbon offsets, choosing
News story: The winds of (climate) change.
. Leslie Garrett, Toronto Star, Aug. 23, 2007.
Whatever offset program you choose, use it together with sincere attempts to reduce your carbon footprint.
Carbon social cost
The Social Cost of Carbon. Frank Ackerman, Elizabeth A. Stanton. Stockholm Environment Institute—US Center. April 2010. PDF
US calculations of the social cost of carbon emissions are based on flawed studies, according to this report, and greatly underestimate these costs. An expanded calculation of carbon prices for the United States should at least explore prices in the range of UK calculations, which are at least 4 times higher.
Carbon tax in EU
Carbon trading 2010
News story: Selling the blue sky. David Bielo, Daily Climate, September 8, 2010.
Has the carbon market actually reduced emissions of greenhouse gases? So far not yet. The European emissions trading scheme, the largest in the world, "has reduced emissions by just 2 percent compared to the projected levels."
Carbon trading (see also Air pollution--emissions trading)
News story: Global carbon trading market triples to £15bn
. Mark Milner, Guardian (UK), May 3, 2007.
The World Bank said that on some estimates voluntary carbon offset schemes could rise to 400m tonnes by 2010. It added: "This high potential voluntary sector, however, lacks a generally acceptable standard."
Carbon trading risks (see also Clean Development Mechanism)
News story: The rush to go green could end in the red
. Fiona Harvey in London and Jonathan Wheatley in S„o Paulo, Financial Times, April 26 2007 22:07
Project failures and over-optimism among developers, together with a tendency to exaggerate in applications, mean that 40-50 per cent of the carbon credits anticipated under the Kyoto protocol will never be delivered.
Cell phone and brain tumors-Swedish study
Mobile phone use 'raises children's risk of brain cancer fivefold.'
Geoffrey Lean, Independent (UK). Sept. 21, 2008.
News story: Alarming new research from Sweden on the effects of radiation suggests that children and teenagers are five times more likely to get brain cancer if they use cell phones.
Chevron true cost
News story: Critics' annual report blasts Chevron. David R. Baker, San Francisco Chronicle, May 20, 2010
An alternative annual report by Chevron's critics features a cover photo of an oil spill and warns investors of lawsuits and controversies involving the oil company.
Childhood environmental illness in Massachusetts
Costs of Preventable Childhood Illness: The Price We Pay
, Massey and Ackerman 2003 [PDF]
Preventable childhood illnesses and disabilities attributable to environmental factors impose staggering costs on society; plausible estimates for just a subset of these costs range up to $1.6 billion annually in Massachusetts.
Press release: Preventable childhood illness costs state over $1 billion annually. September 15, 2003
Childhood illness, cost of preventable
Environmental Pollutants and Disease in American Children: Estimates of Morbidity, Mortality, and Costs for Lead Poisoning, Asthma, Cancer, and Developmental Disabilities.
Landrigan et al., Environmental Health Perspectives, May 2002 [PDF]
Landmark estimation of the contribution of environmental pollutants to the incidence, prevalence, mortality, and costs of pediatric disease in American children. Landrigan et al. examined four categories of illness: lead poisoning, asthma, cancer, and neurobehavioral disorders. Total annual costs are estimated to be $54.9 billion (range $48.8-64.8 billion): $43.4 billion for lead poisoning, $2.0 billion for asthma, $0.3 billion for childhood cancer, and $9.2 billion for neurobehavioral disorders. This sum amounts to 2.8 percent of total U.S. health care costs. This estimate is likely low.
Childhood illness, cost of preventable MI
The price of pollution: Cost estimates of environment-related childhood disease in Michigan (PDF) Michigan Children’s Environmental Health Network and The Ecology Center, July 2010
Michigan could save up to 1.5% of its Gross Domestic Product each year by protecting children from environmental exposures. The report estimates that the environmentally attributable costs of lead poisoning, asthma, pediatric cancer, and neurodevelopmental disorders in the state of Michigan is $5.85 billion annually with a range of $3.65 to 6.68 billion.
Press release: Michigan Network for Children’s Environmental Health
July 26, 2010
Contact: Tracey Easthope, 734-761-3186 ext. 109
July 26, 2010, Ann Arbor, MI – Michigan could save up to 1.5% of its Gross Domestic Product each year by protecting children from environmental exposures, according to a new report released today entitled The Price of Pollution: Cost Estimates of Environment-Related Childhood Disease in Michigan. The report, released by a coalition of health and environmental groups, examines direct and indirect costs for just four childhood diseases that are linked in part or whole to environmental toxicants. If all diseases with an environmental link were included, the number would be much higher. The report estimates that the environmentally attributable costs of lead poisoning, asthma, pediatric cancer, and neurodevelopmental disorders in the state of Michigan is $5.85 billion annually with a range of $3.65 to 6.68 billion. This is the first-ever study of the cost of environmentally-related diseases for Michigan.
"A substantial amount of solid evidence shows that children are being harmed by environmental exposures to toxic chemicals," said Ted Schettler, MD, MPH of the Science and Environmental Health Network. "This report demonstrates that there is a cost not only to children and their families, but also to the State from inaction. Increased State and Federal efforts to protect children are long overdue."
Today's report comes on the heels of the introduction of a groundbreaking bill to overhaul the major U.S. law governing the regulation of chemicals. This Thursday, the House Energy & Commerce Committee will hold hearings on the "Toxic Chemicals Safety Act of 2010," a bill intended to overhaul the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) a 34 year old statute that has never been updated, and is widely acknowledged to be ineffective. TSCA has failed to protect Michigan children and the Great Lakes from chemicals that have known links to cancer, learning disabilities, asthma, reproductive disorders, and other serious health problems.
The report is modeled on a famous national report published in 2002 by researchers at the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine. The model was updated and applied to Michigan using current data on childhood disease prevalence and costs in the state. Direct costs, such as hospitalization and medication, as well as indirect costs, such as missed school days and lost earning potential, were taken into account. Several states have applied this method, but this is the first time that a calculation has been done for Michigan. The approach relies on a peer-reviewed method for estimating the percentage of a particular disease that can be attributed to environmental exposures. Environmentally attributable direct and indirect costs are then calculated based on a fraction of total costs.
The environmentally attributable costs of lead poisoning were the highest of the four conditions, estimated at $4.85 billion annually. In young children, lead exposure is associated with decreased IQ and an array of behavioral problems. In 2007, Michigan ranked 6th worst in the nation for percentage of children with lead poisoning.
Neurodevelopmental disorders were the second most expensive environmentally attributable pediatric disease in the state, with an annual cost of $845 million. Three disorders were considered: cognitive impairment, autism, and cerebral palsy.
"While the report offers only an estimation of Michigan's annual costs of diseases due to environmental exposures, it shows the magnitude of how much these toxicants cost every year," says lead author of the report, Aviva Glaser. The important thing to take away from the report, Glaser says, is that the number represents costs for diseases that are preventable. "By removing toxic exposures in our community, we not only improve children’s health, but we can also improve Michigan's economic health."
"Momentum is building to reform our broken chemical laws but Michigan should not wait on Congress to act" said Rebecca Meuninck, Environmental Health Campaign Director for the Ecology Center and Michigan Network for Children's Environmental Health. "Several bills are awaiting action in the Michigan Senate including the Children's Safe Products Act which would give Michiganders a right-to-know whether or not children's products contain hazardous chemicals. These bills would be a good start in protecting children."
A copy of the full report can be found at: http://www.mnceh.org/
Available for Press Interviews:
Aviva Glaser, MS, MPH, Lead author of report, 443-789-0566
Ted Schettler MD, MPH, Science Advisor, email@example.com
The report was published by the Michigan Network for Children's Environmental Health and the Ecology Center. The Michigan Network for Children's Environmental Health is a coalition of leading health and medical organizations, health-affected groups, environmental organizations, and others dedicated to a safe and less toxic world for Michigan's children. The Ecology Center is a Michigan-based nonprofit environmental organization that works at the local, state, and national levels for clean production, healthy communities, environmental justice, and a sustainable future.
Report: Children's exposure to toxic chemicals costs Michigan billions. Karen Bouffard, Detroit News, July 26, 2010
Childhood illness, cost of preventable MN
The Price of Pollution: Cost Estimates of Environment-Related Childhood Disease in Minnesota [PDF]
Kathleen Schuler, MPH, of IATP; Susan Nordbye, MS, RD, LD; Samuel Yamin, MPH, of MCEA and Christine Ziebold, MD, Ph.D., MPH.
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) and the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy (MCEA). July 2006
This is the first study to quantify economic impacts on Minnesota from childhood cases of asthma, learning and behavioral disorders, cancer, lead poisoning and birth defects attributable to environmental contaminants. Pollution costs Minnesota an estimated $1.5 billion each year in costs related to childhood disease.
Childhood illness, cost of preventable MN editorial
In Minnesota alone, environment-related childhood diseases cost $1.5 billion every single year.
Children and chemicals, UN report
Full report (329 pages): Principles for Evaluating Health Risks in Children Associated with Exposure to Chemicals. United Nations World Health Organization, July 2007. PDF http://whqlibdoc.who.int/publications/2006/924157237X_eng.pdf
This is the first UN report to highlight children’s special susceptibility to harmful chemical exposures.
Press release: New WHO report tackles children's environmental health. July 27, 2007, United Nations World Health Organization, Geneva.
Childhood environmental illness cost
Environmental Illness in U.S. Kids Cost $76.6 Billion in One Year. Environment News Service, May 24, 2011.
It cost a "staggering" $76.6 billion to cover the health expenses of American children who were sick because of exposure to toxic chemicals
and air pollutants in 2008, according to new research by senior scientists at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York.
China air pollution health and economic impacts
Health Damages from Air Pollution in China. K. Matus and others, MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change, March 2011.
Researchers looked at long-term economic impacts that arise from pollution-induced morbidity and mortality.
This method creates a comprehensive picture of the cumulative impacts of air pollution on a dynamic, fast-developing country.
Chronic disease costs
Chronic disease overview, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
CDC analysis shows the profile of diseases contributing most heavily to death, illness, and disability among Americans changed dramatically during the last century. Today, chronic diseases-such as cardiovascular disease (primarily heart disease and stroke), cancer, and diabetes-are among the most prevalent, costly, and preventable of all health problems. Seven of every 10 Americans who die each year, or more than 1.7 million people, die of a chronic disease. Chronic, disabling conditions cause major limitations in activity for more than one of every 10 Americans, or 25 million people.
Chronic disease costs-2007
Chronic illness costs the economy more than $1 trillion a year.
Victoria Colliver, San Francisco Chronicle, October 3, 2007
More than half of Americans suffer from chronic disease, including the most common forms of cancer, hypertension, mental disorders, heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and pulmonary conditions such as asthma. The number of cases diagnosed in those seven disease categories is expected to increase by 42 percent in the next 15 years. Prevention is the only affordable approach.
An Unhealthy America: The Economic Burden of Chronic Disease. Milken Institute, October 2007. Access executive summary and full report at http://www.chronicdiseaseimpact.com/
Chronic diseases drive health costs
News article: 15 Illnesses Drive Up Costs: Conditions Linked to 56% of Increase in Health Care Bills
, Ceci Connolly, Washington Post Aug. 25, 2004
Emory University health economist Kenneth E. Thorpe tracked 370 conditions and found that 15 accounted for 56 percent of the $200 billion rise in health spending between 1987 and 2000.
Chronic disease economic perspective
Chronic disease: an economic perspective.
Suhrcke et al., Oxford Health Alliance 2006 [PDF]
Chronic diseases - heart and lung disease, cancer and diabetes - are having a negative economic impact on both the developed and developing world and should thus be adequately addressed by domestic and international policy makers. In low- and middle-income countries chronic diseases currently account for about 40% of deaths and 80% of the disease impact for those aged below 60. Economic reports show the diseases can cost up to 6.8% of a country's GDP.
Executive summary: http://www.oxha.org/initiatives/economics/chronic-disease-an-economic-perspective
Clean Air Act benefits & costs
First Prospective Study, 1990 to 2010
- On November 15, 1999, EPA issued the second in this series of reports, "The Benefits and Costs of the Clean Air Act, 1990 to 2010" This second study, the first of an ongoing series of prospective analyses, was also issued after a six-year process of study development and outside expert review. This first prospective study also finds that the benefits of the programs and standards required by the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments significantly exceed costs.
Second Prospective Study, 1990 to 2020 - On May 12, 2003, EPA released an analytical blueprint for the third study in this series of Reports to Congress. The third report will update and extend the November 1999 prospective study. EPA's Science Advisory Board Council on Clean Air Act Compliance Analysis conducted a public review meeting to discuss the analytical blueprint on June 11-13, 2003. Additional materials were made available in August 2006.
Clean air and happiness
Environment and happiness: valuation of air pollution using life satisfaction data.
Welsch et al. Ecological Economics July 2006.
The effect of air pollution on well-being translates into a considerable monetary value of improved air quality. The improvements achieved in Western Europe in the 1990s are valued at about $750 per capita per year in the case of nitrogen dioxide and about $1400 per capita per year in the case of lead. (Abstract only)
Clean Development Mechanism--macroeconomic impacts
Macroeconomic Impacts of the Clean Development Mechanism: The Role of Investment Barriers and Regulations
. Niels Anger, Christoph Bˆhringer, and Ulf Moslener, Center for European Economic Research [PDF]
Abstract:This paper quantifies the macroeconomic impacts of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) under the Kyoto Protocol. . . . Our numerical results show that the macroeconomic impacts of transaction costs and investment risks are negligible: Given the large supply of cheap project-based emissions credits in developing countries, compliance to the Kyoto Protocol can be achieved at a very low cost. . . .
Climate bill adds jobs
News story: Study: Kerry-Lieberman Climate Bill Would Prompt Decade of Job Growth. Darren Samuelson (Greenwire), New York Times, May 20, 2010
Senate climate legislation would spark a decade of multibillion-dollar investments to overhaul energy production and consumption, adding 200,000 jobs per year.
Climate change and ozone-related disease cost
Climate Change and Your Health: Rising Temperatures, Worsening Ozone Pollution. Union of Concerned Scientists, June 2011.
Higher ozone levels could trigger 2.8 million additional serious respiratory illnesses
and 944,000 extra missed school days in the United States in 2020 that could cost $5.4 billion.
Climate change cost underestimated
Climate change exacts a high price
. Anjali Nayar, Nature, Aug. 27, 2009
Although it doesn't provide concrete new estimates, a new report suggests that the total cost of adapting to climate change could be at least 2–3 times more than the previous estimate from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. That figure, published in 2007, suggested that the annual cost from 2030 would be between US$49 billion and $171 billion.
Climate change costs
News story: 2003 climate havoc 'cost $60bn'
. BBC News Dec. 11, 2003
Climate change costs Alaska
The climate cost calculator: Economics whiz kid Peter Larsen is predicting big costs for adapting to a warming climate.
Erika Englehaupt, Environmental Science & Technology, Policy News – August 8, 2007
Climate change will add 10-20% to Alaska’s infrastructure costs in the next decades, but the cultural costs are incalculable. "There's probably more economic value in a few square blocks of Manhattan than in all of Alaska," says the resource economist. "However, there's an enormous amount of cultural value that we can't, as ethical economists, put a value on."
Summary and full report available here. http://www.iser.uaa.alaska.edu/Home/ResearchAreas/climatechange.htm
Climate change costs by state—CIER study
Climate change costs MI
News article: Change for the worse? Global warming could further damage Michigan's economy
. Elizabeth Shaw, The Flint Journal, April 22, 2007.
This 2007 Earth Day article is an example of the many fine local reports on the felt and foreseeable effects of climate change. For others, see Above the Fold archives.
Climate change costs now
News story: Ecology equals economy: Savvy businesses find opportunities in climate change
. Katherine Reynolds Lewis, NJ Star Ledger, July 19, 2006
Climate change is already influencing fuel costs, insurance rates, cleanup costs and property values.
Climate change cost underestimated 2011
News story: Revised data show feds understate climate costs. The Daily Climate, January 27, 2011.
A preliminary analysis suggests that the number used by federal agencies to help justify emissions reductions is too low – making the cuts appear disproportionately expensive under the cost-benefit analysis required of federal rules.
Climate change--cost of addressing
Summary: IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, Working Group III
This report of the International Panel on Climate Change puts a price tag on what it would take to avoid the worst effects of global warming, concluding that the effort would be affordable and would be partially offset by economic and other benefits. The most ambitious option, aimed at stabilizing the level of greenhouse gases from fossil fuels by 2030, would require measures that would add $100 to the costs associated with each ton of carbon dioxide pumped into the atmosphere. By some estimates, that translates into US gasoline prices from 25 cents to $1 a gallon higher than today's. But in the context of global economic activity, the cost is modest, according to the report. Its most aggressive emissions-reduction scenario would slow growth rates by an average of 0.12 percent a year between now and 2030 – or by roughly 3 percent over the entire period.
News story: Panel Calculates Cost of Global Warming Fix--Nations Could Afford Solutions, Scientists Say. Marc Kaufman,
Washington Post, Saturday, May 5, 2007; A02
Climate change--insurers warn of costs
News story: British insurers warn storm clean-up costs will soar with global warming
. Agence France Presse, June 30, 2005
The worldwide cost of cleaning up major storms could rise by two- thirds to 27 billion dollars (22.35 billion euros) annually unless urgent action is taken to fight global warming.
Climate change--Swiss Re warning
News story: Global warming costs to spiral out of control, warns Swiss
Re. Reuters Mar. 4, 2004
The world's second-biggest reinsurer warns the economic costs of global warming threatened to double to $150 billion a year in 10 years, hitting insurers with $30 billion to $40 billion in claims, or one World Trade Center attack each year.
Climate economics--Tufts publications
The Global Development and Environment Institute at Tufts University is a center of research on climate economics. The following recent publications and others may be accessed at
Debating Climate Economics: The Stern Review vs. Its Critics, a report to Friends of the Earth-UK, by Frank Ackerman. July 2007
British economist Nicholas Stern, in a report to the UK government released in late 2006, found that the benefits of immediate, active climate mitigation measures would be several times as great as their costs. Other economists, many of whom have come to different conclusions, were quick to criticize Stern's conclusions. Frank Ackerman reviews the debate.
Law and Economics for a Warming World, by Lisa Heinzerling and Frank Ackerman, Harvard Law and Policy Review volume 1, no. 2, pp.331-362.
Contrary to implicit conservative assumptions, maintaining the status quo is not an option; "business as usual" will lead to rapidly worsening results as greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise. The causal links between actions and impacts extend across centuries; the most important effects of our actions occur long after our lifetimes.
The Carbon Content of Japan-US Trade, by Frank Ackerman, Masanobu Ishikawa, and Mikio Suga, Energy Policy, volume 35 no. 9, September 2007, pp.4455-4462.
The US, on balance, is a small net importer of carbon from Japan - and both countries are large net carbon importers from the rest of the world.
The Economics of Inaction on Climate Change: A Sensitivity Analysis, by Frank Ackerman and Ian Finlayson, Climate Policy, volume 6 no. 5 (2006), pp.509-526. (Despite the nominal publication date, this first appeared in print in mid-2007.)
Why do economic models of climate change so often find that the "optimal" policy is to do very little about this serious global threat? Ackerman and Finlayson examine the widely used DICE model, focusing on its choice of a discount rate, its somewhat dated science, and its curious assumption of global net benefits from moderate warming. Alternatives to these three assumptions cause significant changes in the model's optimal policy, resulting in a high and rising carbon tax which would stimulate immediate, large-scale mitigation.
News story: In Study, a History Lesson on the Costs of Hurricanes
. Kenneth Chang, The New York Times December 11, 2005
With wealth and property values increasing, and more people moving to vulnerable coasts, by the year 2020 a single storm could cause losses of $500 billion -- several times the damage inflicted by Hurricane Katrina.
Clothing environmental impact
Waste Couture: Environmental Impact of the Clothing Industry
. Luz Claudio, Environmental Health Perspectives Vol. 115 #9, September 2007. [PDF]
The environmental impact of the clothing industry is growing, driven by the "fast fashion" marketing of constantly changing styles to young Americans. Can recycling (itself a global industry) and eco-friendly fabrics help? It's really up to consumers.
Coal ash costly fixes rejected
News story: TVA rejected costly fixes
. Anne Paine, The Tennessean, Jan. 4, 2009.
After a blowout five years ago on the wall of a massive, above-ground coal ash landfill at TVA's Kingston power plant, engineers were under pressure to find a fix that was not only viable, but also economical. Officials rejected comprehensive fixes as too costly.
Coalmine accident & economic pressures
News story: Many pressures led to cave-in.
Vick and Geis, Washington Post, Aug. 20, 2007.
The recent rise in coal prices was a factor in the Utah mine disaster of August 6, 2007.
Coal and carbon sequestration
News article: Dirty king coal
. May 31, 2007, The Economist.
Scrubbing carbon from coal-fired power stations is possible but pricey. "The challenge is to put [the required] technologies together and deploy them at a reasonable cost, and on a scale that can make some impact on emissions. That will take some doing. If 60% of the 1.5 billion tonnes of CO2 that America produces every year from coal-fired power stations were liquefied for storage, it would take up the same amount of space as all the oil the country consumes."
Coal costs West Virginia
News story: Is coal really worth it in West Virginia? Mannix Porterfield, Register-Herald Reporter (Beckley, WV), June 22, 2010
A report concludes that in coming years coal is likely to cost West Virginia taxpayers more than it provides.
Coal true cost
The true cost of coal: How people and the planet are paying the price for the world’s dirtiest fuel
. Greenpeace, November 27, 2008. PDF
Today, coal is used to produce nearly 40% of the world’s electricity. However, burning coal is one of the most harmful practices on the planet. This report reveals and quantifies the true costs that have been left out of the cheap prices. It estimates -- conservatively -- that the damage caused by coal's mining accidents, its global carbon dioxide emissions, and the illnesses it causes adds $451 billion in annual costs to the simple buying price.
Blog: The true cost of coal revealed. Leslie Berliant, December 2, 2008
Coal true cost 2011
Full cost accounting for the life cycle of coal. Paul R. Epstein et al., Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, Feb. 17, 2011.
The United States' reliance on coal to generate almost half of its electricity costs the economy about $345 billion a year in hidden expenses not borne by miners or utilities. Health and environmental damage could triple the cost of power. "The public cost is far greater than the cost of the coal itself."
News story: Coal's hidden costs top $345 billion in U.S.-study. Scott Malone, Reuters, Feb. 16, 2011.
Coalbed methane costs fish and wildlife
News article: To south, Montana sees cautionary tale on energy
. Matthew Brown, Associated Press, Billings Gazette, May 12, 2007.
T.O. Smith, energy coordinator for the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks says, "When we look at Wyoming, we don't want to do development in Montana if we're going to see the same fish and wildlife declines they're seeing."
Coalbed methane costs in Powder River Basin
Easy money, hidden costs: applying precautionary economic analysis to coalbed methane exploitation in the Powder River Basin.
Skov and Myers, Science and Environmental Health Network 2004. [PDF]
Determining the net change large-scale projects bring to the general public welfare requires a more thorough consideration of the magnitude and distribution of benefits, costs, and uncertainties than conventional cost-benefit analysis offers. Decision processes built on the precautionary principle-the notion that prudent measures should be taken to avoid uncertain but likely harmful consequences-add essential ethical and analytic elements to economic analysis. This report subjects the proposal to expand coalbed methane extraction in the Powder River Basin of Wyoming and Montana to qualitative precautionary economic analysis.
Factsheet: Coalbed methane in the Powder River Basin
Coalbed methane water costs 2007
Consumerism global threat
News story--US Cult of Greed is Now a Global Environmental Threat. Suzanne Goldenberg, The Guardian (UK), January 12, 2010
The latest Worldwatch report says the cult of consumption and greed could wipe out any gains from government action on climate change or a shift to a clean energy economy.
Conservation pays in NC
News story: Report: Conservation is paying off. Monte Mitchell, Winston-Salem (NC) Journal, Feb. 24, 2011.
Every $1 invested in buying land for conservation in North Carolina returns $4 in economic value from natural resource goods and services.
Co-operatives in Cleveland
The Cleveland Model. Gar Alperovitz, Ted Howard & Thad Williamson, The Nation, March 1, 2010.
A new model of large-scale green co-ops is beginning to build serious momentum in one of the cities most dramatically impacted by the nation's decaying economy.
Corporations cost environment
News story--World's top firms cause $2.2tn of environmental damage, report estimates. Juliette Jowit, The Guardian (UK), February 18, 2010.
An unpublished report for the UN into the activities of the world's 3,000 biggest companies estimates one-third of profits would be lost if firms were forced to pay for use, loss and damage of environment. http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment
Consumers cause US emissions problems
News story: A Big Sum of Small Differences: Individual Americans Cause -- and Could Cure -- Most of U.S. Emissions Problem
. Jeffrey Ball, Wall Street Journal, October 2, 2008.
U.S. consumers have direct or indirect control over 65% of the country's greenhouse-gas emissions, according to new statistics tallied by consultant McKinsey & Co. The figure for consumers in the rest of the world is just 43%. Americans, largely because of how they drive and how they build and use their homes and offices, lead some of the most energy-intensive lives in the world.
Discounting the Future
Discounting the Future: John Rawls and Derek Parfit's Critique of the Discount Rate.
Luc Van Liedekerke, Ethical Perspectives 11 (2004) 1, pp. 72-83. [PDF]
This is a lucid critique of the practice of discounting in standard cost-benefit analysis. A crude rule of thumb, which is caught between the conflicting objectives of guaranteeing an efficient and fair solution, has been treated as a definitive decision guide. This is worth reading to the end for the discussion of how economists calculated the discount rate for measures to address climate change.
Drug cost control--UK
News story: British Balance Gain Against the Cost of the Latest Drugs
. Gardiner Harris, New York Times, Dec. 3, 2008.
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence has decided that Britain, except in rare cases, can afford only £15,000, or about $22,750, to save six months of a citizen's life. In the US, at the present rate of growth, medical costs will increase to 25 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product in 2025 from 16 percent, with half of the increase coming from new drugs and devices.
Economic valuation of resources
News story: From Beaches to Pine Barrens, a Study Puts Values on New Jersey’s Natural Assets
. Pam Belluck, New York Times, May 21, 2007
This article on economic valuation of natural resources is an introduction to a large body of work not generally covered in this database. See Links for more on this topic.
The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) study is a major international initiative to draw attention to the global economic benefits of biodiversity, to highlight the growing costs of biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation, and to draw together expertise from the fields of science, economics and policy to enable practical actions moving forward.
News story: Economic report into biodiversity crisis reveals price of consuming the planet. Juliette Jowit, Guardian, May 21, 2010
Ecosystem economics—Dow program
News story: Why Dow is putting nature on the balance sheet. Joel Makower, Greenbiz.com, January 24, 2011.
A five-year partnership between Dow Chemical and The Nature Conservancy aims to create a set of tools and methodologies other companies can use to integrate the economics of ecosystem services in business decision-making.
Ecosystem services payment
News story: Dollar trees line conservation road. Richard Black, BBC News, Jan. 6, 2011.
Costa Rica is the prime example of a country determined to pay for—and reap the benefits of—ecosystem services.
But other countries are beginning to follow suit and are discovering that the rewards are far more than monetary.
No charge: Valuing the natural environment
. Natural England, 2009 PDF
Among the suggestions in this report is paying landowners to look after land in a more beneficial way to safeguard the services it provides: "for example, biodiversity provision, flood risk management, water quality benefits and carbon storage."
News story: Priceless assets? David Adam, Guardian, Oct. 28, 2009
Energy--biofuel and dead zone
News story: Ag Expert: Growing corn for green fuel could ignite Gulf of Mexico dead zone
. JANET McCONNAUGHEY/Associated Press, June 14, 2007
Growing corn in the Midwest for green fuel could increase pollution downriver and contribute to a "dead zone" that forms each summer in the Gulf of Mexico.
Energy--biofuel effect on corn prices
Editorial: The price of Corn.
New York Times, Feb. 6, 2007
No matter how high prices go, what will need to change isn't the amount of corn acreage available or even the size of the harvests but the size of our appetites.
Energy--biofuel, farmers skeptical about
Blog commentary: Many Fear the Inevitable Bust of Ethanol.
Alan Guebert, Farm and Food File for week of November 26, 2006
Rapid overbuilding, the lack of coordinated planning, and pie-in-the-sky economics threaten ethanol boom.
Op-ed: UC's biotech-biofuel benefactors: The power of big finance and bad ideas.
Miguel A Altieri, Eric Holt-Gimenez, Guerrilla News Network, Feb. 6, 2007
BP has donated half a billion in research funds to UC Berkeley, Lawrence Livermore Laboratiries, and the University of Illinois to develop biofuel.
Energy--biofuel health effects
News article: Clearing the air on ethanol
. Engelhaupt, Environmental Science and Technology Online, April 18, 2007.
New research predicts that E85 vehicle emissions could cause just as many deaths as gasoline, or more.
Energy--biofuel production requirements
Editorial: Green Plants, Fossil Fuels, and Now Biofuels.
BioScience November 2006
If the entire corn crop were used, it would replace only 6 percent of current petroleum used in the US.
Energy--biofuel outputs and inputs
Ethanol Production Using Corn, Switchgrass, and Wood; Biodiesel Production Using Soybean and Sunflower.
Pimentel and Patzek. Natural Resources Research, March 2005. [PDF]
Findings in terms of energy outputs compared with the energy inputs were:
- Ethanol production using corn grain required 29% more fossil energy than the ethanol fuel produced.
- Ethanol production using switchgrass required 50% more fossil energy than the ethanol fuel produced.
- Ethanol production using wood biomass required 57% more fossil energy than the ethanol fuel produced.
- Biodiesel production using soybean required 27% more fossil energy than the biodiesel fuel produced
- Biodiesel production using sunflower required 118% more fossil energy than the biodiesel fuel produced.
Energy--biofuel ozone increase
News story: Higher ozone levels from renewable fuels
. Catherine M. Cooney, Environmental Science and Technology, May 16, 2007
The Renewable Fuels Standard combined with a rule relaxing requirements on producer emissions will lead to increased ozone levels, particularly in Midwestern states.
Biofuels – At What Cost? Government support for ethanol and biodiesel in the United States
. Prepared by: Doug Koplow, Earth Track, Inc., Cambridge,MA
Prepared for: The Global Subsidies Initiative (GSI) of the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), Geneva, Switzerland [PDF]
Current subsidies to biofuels in the United States are large, between $5.5 and $7.3 billion per year and expected to soon reach $8–11 billion per year. The largest subsidies remain those provided under federal programs, but many state-level programs provide significant amounts of support to the industry. The study suggests they are not a particularly efficient means to achieve many of the policy objectives for which they have been justified.
Energy--cost saving global plan
Energy [R]evolution: A sustainable World Energy Outlook. Greenpeace, October 2008.
Aggressive investment in renewable power generation and energy efficiency could create an annual USD 360 billion industry, providing half of the world’s electricity, slashing over USD 18 trillion in future fuel costs while protecting the climate, according to this comprehensive plan for future sustainable energy provision.
Download the full report and summary at here.
Press release: New global energy strategy tackles climate change saving USD 18 trillion in fuel costs. Greenpeace October 27, 2008. PDF
Energy investment—green overtakes fossil
News story: Green energy overtakes fossil fuel investment, says UN. Terry Macalister, The Guardian, June 3, 2009.
Green energy overtook fossil fuels in attracting investment for power generation for the first time last year, according to figures released by the United Nations. Wind, solar and other clean technologies attracted $140bn (£85bn) compared with $110bn for gas and coal for electrical power generation.
Energy—oil shale water costs
News story: Energy dispute over Rockies riches
. Julie Cart, Los Angeles Times, Dec. 28, 2008.
A trove of oil shale may be a boon. But the science to extract fuel is imperfect, and locals worry about their water supplies, which ultimately feed Southern California reservoirs. Meeting oil shale's energy demands could require more water than Colorado is entitled to under an interstate compact.
News story: The new dirty energy: It's big, it's growing -- and it's bad for the environment.
Drake Bennett, Boston Globe, Aug. 19, 2007.
Touted as alternative energy, the oil-sands industry has "a greenhouse gas footprint much larger than the traditional oil business -- estimates range from 40 percent more to five times the emissions. The process also uses enormous amounts of water: a study by the Pembina Insitute, a Canadian environmental watchdog organization, found that, depending on the method of extraction, every barrel of oil produced requires 2.5 to 4 barrels of water, all of which is then rendered too polluted to return to the water supply. And most oil-sands operations [are] very disruptive to surrounding ecosystems."
Energy--Oil sand costs v. benefits
Unconventional Fossil-Based Fuels: Economic and Environmental Trade-Offs
Toman et. al., Rand Corporation 2008. PDF
The oil that is extracted from Canadian dirt is being portrayed as saving America from energy dependence on the unstable Middle East, or an environmental catastrophe in the making — depending on the perspective. In this study, the RAND Corporation estimated that oil from the oil sands generates about 10 to 30 percent more greenhouse gases than conventional crude.
News story: The Costly Compromises of Oil From Sand. Ian Austen, New York Times, Jan. 7, 2009.
Energy--petroleum addiction cost
News story: Should state haul big oil and auto giants to court?
Stuart Leavenworth. Sacramento Bee, Sunday, October 1, 2006
Terry Tamminen's book "Lives per Gallon" advocates suing big energy companies for fraud.
Energy--petroleum's real costs
News story: Experts count the real cost of oil.
Neue Zurcher Zeitung (Zurich, Switzerland) Nov. 4, 2003
Oil fuels civil wars, sustains corrupt regimes, and causes poverty and environmental degradation.
Energy--renewable costs for developing nations
News story: U.N. reports on developing nations’ energy needs
. Neil MacFarquhar, September 2, 2009
It will cost between $500 billion and $600 billion every year for the next 10 years to allow developing nations to grow using renewable energy resources, instead of relying on dirty fuels that worsen global warming, according to the U.N.’s 2009 World Economic and Social Survey http://www.un.org/esa/policy/wess/
That estimate is far higher than any previously suggested by the United Nations.
Energy’s human costs
Blog: Charting the Human Cost of Different Types of Energy. Nicholas Kusnetz and Marian Wang, ProPublica Blog, March 18, 2011.
Despite the focus on oil spills and nuclear accidents, every-day energy use from fossil fuels kills far more people than accidents.
By one estimate, pollution from power plants results in at least 30,000 premature deaths every year in the United States alone.
Environmental damage costs
Universal Ownership: Why environmental externalities matter to institutional investors. UNEP Finance Initiative and PRI. October 2010. Executive Summary. PDF
The global cost of manmade damage in 2008 was $6.6. trillion, 20 per cent larger than the $5.4 trillion decline in the value of pension funds in developed economies from the financial crisis in the year to June 2008.
News story: Study shows environmental damage in 2008 cost $US6.6 trillion. Kerrie Sinclair, The Courier-Mail (Australia), October 7, 2010.
Environmental disease burden-Canada
The environmental burden of disease in Canada: Respiratory disease, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and congenital affliction. Boyd, D., Genuis, S. Environmental Research. Article in Press, available online September 2007.
Extrapolating from the WHO (see "Environmental disease burden-WHO study" in this Clearinghouse) and other studies, authors found 10,000-25,000 deaths; 78,000-194,000 hospitalizations; 600,000-1.5 million days spent in hospital; 1.1 million-1.8 million restricted activity days for asthma sufferers; 8000-24,000 new cases of cancer; 500-2500 low birth weight babies; and between $3.6 billion and $9.1 billion in costs occur in Canada each year due to respiratory disease, cardiovascular illness, cancer, and congenital affliction associated with adverse environmental exposures.
View the full abstract and purchase a PDF of this article here:
Environmental disease burden-WHO study
Preventing Disease Through Healthy Environments: Towards an Estimate of the Environmental Burden of Disease.
World Health Organization, June 16, 2006 [PDF]
Environmental risk factors play a role in more than 80% of the diseases regularly reported by the World Health Organization. Globally, nearly one quarter of all deaths and of the total disease burden can be attributed to the environment. In children, however, environmental risk factors can account for slightly more than one-third of the disease burden. The environmental risk factors that were studied largely can be modified by established, cost-effective interventions. The interventions promote equity by benefiting everyone in the society, while addressing the needs of those most at risk.
Executive summary: Preventing Disease Through Healthy Environments. [PDF]
Press release: Almost a quarter of all disease caused by environmental exposure
Radio interviews: by Dr Maria Neira, Director, Public Health and the Environment Department, WHO, Dr Annette Pruss-Ustun, Scientist, Public Health and the Environment Department, WHO and lead author of the report Dr Carlos Corvalan, Scientist, Public Health and the Environment Department, WHO and co-author of the report
Video message: Health is the key in motivating to solve environmental problems by Dr Maria Neira, Director, Public Health and Environment Department, WHO.
Environmental disease costs
The Economic Costs of Environmental Diseases and Disabilities
. Kate Davies, Antioch University, Seattle. Rachel's Democracy & Health News, January 2006.
Overview of recent studies of economic costs of environmental illness and the economic case for taking precautionary action.
Environmental disease costs Washington State
Economic Costs of Diseases and Disabilities Attributable to Environmental Contaminants in Washington State.
Kate Davies, Antioch University Seattle, 2005. [PDF]
This study shows environmental contaminants cause $1.6 to $2.2 billion in direct and indirect costs in the state of Washington for childhood conditions such as asthma, cancer, lead exposure, birth defects and neurobehavioral disorders. Adult conditions (asthma, heart disease, cancer and more) run up $2.8 billion to $3.5 billion.
Article: How much do environmental diseases and disabilities cost? Kate Davies, Northwest Public Health, Fall/Winter 2005. [PDF]
News story: Exposure to toxins costs us billions each year, study shows. Bob Condor, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, July 11, 2005
Abstract: Economic Costs of Childhood Diseases and Disabilities Attributable to Environmental Contaminants in Washington State, USA. Kate Davies, EcoHealth Journal Volume 3 Issue 2, June 2006, pp. 86-94. Abstract only. Full article is available by subscription.
Food and climate change
Cooking up a storm: food, greenhouse gas emissions, and our changing climate
. Tara Garnett, Food Climate Research Network, Centre for Environmental Strategy, University of Surrey, September 2008. Summary. PDF
Food contributes to a significant proportion of global greenhouse gas emissions- possibly around a third. In the industrialized nations, the goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and of improving our diets may be compatible. However, for the 840 million people who do not get enough to eat increasing access to nutritious food must be the priority. This will require continued increases in food production, including meat and dairy, and improved technology in food production and distribution. Full report at http://www.fcrn.org.uk/
News story: Meat must be rationed to four portions a week, says report on climate change. Juliette Jowit, The Guardian UK, September 30 2008.
Food--borne illness costs Canada
Up to 13 million Canadians, more than 40 percent of the population, will suffer from food-borne illnesses this year, many related to imported foods. The epidemic is costing $1.3 billion annually in lost productivity and medical expenses.
News story: Canada’s risky business. Carly Weeks, The Ottawa Citizen. August 7, 2007.
Food--external costs of agriculture
External Costs of Agricultural Production in the United States.
Erin M. Tegtmeier and Michael D. Duffy, International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability, vol. 2 #1, 2004. [PDF]
This Iowa State study estimates $5.7-16.9 billion annually in external costs of conventional/industrial agriculture in the U.S. This conservative estimate does not include agriculture subsidies. The tables in this report give a good overview of the range of cost/harms associated with current methods of food production.
Food--gardens for profit in Cleveland
News story: Cleveland's for-profit urban gardens are growing
. Lisa DeJong, Cleveland Plain Dealer, July 6, 2009.
Researchers at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center estimate that urban farmers could gross up to $90,000 per acre by selecting the right crops and growing techniques, Taggart said. At experimental plots in Philadelphia, urban-market gardeners pulled in up to $68,000 in revenue per half-acre.
Food--GMOs and fertility
News story: Why eating GM food could lower your fertility
. Sean Poulter, Daily Mail (UK), November 12, 2008
A long-term feeding trial commissioned by the Austrian government found mice fed on corn engineered to contain a pesticide had fewer offspring and lower birth rates.
Food--Milwaukee urban farm
News story: Street Farmer
. Elizabeth Royte, New York Times, July 5, 2009.
Growing Power provides fresh food for 10,000 Milwaukee residents and Will Allen is the go-to expert on urban farming.
Food--modern agriculture costs
News story: Trading Short-Term Food For Long-Term Environmental Losses: Modern agriculture is depleting earth's long-term potential.
Agence France Presse July 25, 2005
Changes in land use have enabled humans to appropriate an increasing share of the planet's resources, but they also potentially undermine the capacity of ecosystems to sustain food production, maintain freshwater and forest resources, regulate climate and air quality, and ameliorate infectious diseases.
Food--nutrients decline with size
News story: Taste, nutrients decline as size of crops grows.
Andrew Schneider, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Sept. 12, 2007.
By breeding for size and abundance, modern agriculture has produced food that contains dramatically lower nutrients than food of just 20-50 years ago. Even organic crops are not exempt. Scientists are just now noticing and trying to reverse the trend.
Food pathogen costs
News story: Study ranks food pathogens by cost to society. Lindsey Layton, Washington Post, April 28, 2011.
Together, the 10 most expensive pathogens associated with specific foods cost the U.S. economy $8.1 billion a year.
Half are found in meat products.
Food--real cost of cheap imports
News story: Tainted Chinese Imports Common--In Four Months, FDA Refused 298 Shipments
. Rick Weiss,
Washington Post, Sunday, May 20, 2007; A01
For years, U.S. inspection records show, China has flooded the U.S. with foods unfit for human consumption. And for years, FDA inspectors have simply returned to Chinese importers the small portion of those products they caught. So pervasive is the U.S. hunger for cheap imports that the executive branch has repeatedly rebuffed proposals by agency scientists to impose even modest new safety rules for foreign foods.
Op-ed: Amber Fields of Bland
, Dan Barber, New York Times, January 14, 2007
Succinct summary of problems with Federal farm subsidy programs that directly contribute to environmental degradation and adverse impacts on human health.
Food--sustainable v. industrial agriculture
How Sustainable Agriculture Can Address the Environmental and Human Health Harms of Industrial Agriculture
. Leo Horrigan, Robert S. Lawrence, and Polly Walker. Environmental Health Perspectives, vol. 110 #5, May 2002. [PDF]
The industrial agriculture system consumes fossil fuel, water, and topsoil at unsustainable rates. It contributes to numerous forms of environmental degradation, including air and water pollution, soil depletion, diminishing biodiversity, and fish die-offs. Meat production contributes disproportionately to these problems. This article outlines the environmental and human health problems associated with current food production practices and discuss how these systems could be made more sustainable.
Food—urban farm Detroit
Food—urban farm Flint
News story: Flint-area karate school makes urban farming push
. David Runk, Chicago Tribune, Aug. 26, 2009
Getting young people involved in converting vacant urban spaces to grow food is a key part of neighborhood redevelopment efforts across the country.
Fossil fuel hidden cost
Gasoline true cost
The True Price Of Gas: What It Should Really Cost To Fill Up. Morgan Clendaniel, Fast Company, June 23, 2011.
If you follow one gallon of gas from the ground to your car and then to the atmosphere,
the true cost may be close to $15, according to a popular Youtube video put out by the Center
for Investigative Reporting. Article includes links to the video.
Green recovery state by state
Golf course greening saves money
News story: Driven by cost and conscience, Oregon's golf courses are going green
. Torsten Kjellstrand, The Oregonian, July 17, 2009.
Golf is getting greener. Across the United States, but especially in the Pacific Northwest and particularly in the Portland area, golf courses are adopting environmentally sustainable practices. They are using far less water, fertilizer and weed-killer than before and employing grass varieties that can thrive without meticulous care. Cost is a big motivator
Gold true price
The real price of gold.
Brook Larmer, National Geographic, January 2009.
For more than 500 years the glittering seams trapped beneath the glacial ice have drawn people to this place in Peru. Among the first were the Inca, then the Spanish, whose lust for gold and silver spurred the conquest of the New World. Now, as the price of gold soars—it has risen 235 percent in the past eight years—30,000 people have flocked to La Rinconada. Fueled by luck and desperation, sinking in its own toxic waste and lawlessness, this is just one outpost in the 21st century gold rush.
Great Lakes cleanup cost-benefit
Healthy Waters, Strong Economy: The Benefits of Restoring the Great Lakes Ecosystem.
. John C. Austin, Soren Anderson, Paul N. Courant, Robert E. Litan, Metropolitan Policy Program, The Brookings Institution, September 2007. [PDF]
This report summarizes the major findings of a more in-depth study-Developing America's North Coast: A Benefit Cost Analysis of a Great Lakes Infrastructure Program-of the benefits and costs of the federal-state Great Lakes Regional Collaboration (GLRC) Strategy by the same authors. It begins by outlining the major elements of the restoration strategy, and the costs of cleaning and preserving the Great Lakes ecosystem. It then describes the results of a rigorous analysis of the GLRC Strategy, highlighting the economic benefits of its implementation. The report concludes by discussing the policy implications of this analysis, arguing that, because the restoration plan outlined in the GLRC Strategy is likely to produce economic benefits well in excess of its costs, federal and state policy makers should act on its recommendations. Original URL: http://www.healthylakes.org/site_upload/upload/GrtLakesCostBenefit.pdf
News story: Benefits of cleaning Great Lakes cited; $26 billion plan would bring in more, experts say. Dan Egan, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Sept. 6, 2007.
See also "Property value benefits of cleanup-Great Lakes"
Green chemistry economy
Growing the Green Economy through Green Chemistry and Design for Environment
. Green Chemistry Council, National Pollution Prevention Roundtable, and Lowell Center for Sustainable Production at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, November 2009 PDF
This resource guide recommends that states build their economies by promoting safer products, acting in four broad areas: 1) information development, collection and dissemination; 2) economic incentives; 3) recognition programs; and 4) regulation and policy.
Health cost of free market
Vulnerability of Health to Market Forces. Mayer Brezis and William H. Wiist,, Medical Care, Vol 49 #3, March 2011.PDF
"The free market can harm health and health care. The corporate obligation to increase profits and ensure a return to shareholders affects public health. Such excesses of capitalism pose formidable challenges to social justice and public health. The recognition of the health risks entailed by corporation-controlled markets has important implications for public policy. Reforms are required to limit the power of corporations."
Healthcare cost projections
National Health Care Expenditures Projections: 2004-2014.
National Health Statistics Group 2006 [PDF]
Healthcare will account for 1 in 5 dollars spent in the United States by 2015, and health savings accounts are unlikely to help much in containing costs. The U.S. healthcare bill is expected to reach $4 trillion by that year, according to an annual forecast by the National Health Statistics Group at the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
News story: Steep Rise Projected for Health Spending. Lisa Girion and Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, Los Angeles Times, February 22, 2006
Healthcare costs and social determinants
Op-ed: Untreated social ills make for higher medical costs.
Andre Picard, Toronto Globe and Mail, June 22, 2006
In Canada, a former minister of health and welfare says that nation would do far better by spending less on health care and more on keeping people healthy in the first place, preventing disease instead of trying to cure it.
Healthcare costs polluted counties-Canada
Environmental influences on healthcare expenditures: an exploratory analysis from Ontario, Canada.
Jerrett et al.. J. Epidemiol. Community Health 2003 [PDF]
Both total toxic pollution output and per capita municipal environmental expenditures have significant associations with health expenditures. Counties in Ontario with higher pollution output tend to have higher per capita health expendituress, while those that spend more on defending environmental quality have lower expenditures on health care.
Healthcare, economic incentive lacking for prevention
What's a pound of prevention really worth?
David Leonhardt, New York Times, Jan. 24, 2007
A perverse system of incentives nudges doctors and patients toward expensive tests and procedures when cheaper preventive measures might actually produce better results.
Household cleaner toxic chemicals
Household Hazards: Potential Hazards of Home Cleaning Products. Women’s Voices for the Earth
July 2007 PDF
This report examines 5 types of chemicals commonly found in household cleaners. These chemicals are of concern especially to women and children since they are linked to increases in either asthma or reproductive harm such as birth defects or fertility problems. Current U.S. law does not require manufacturers to disclose ingredients in household cleaning products, nor does it require any testing of these chemicals to assess potential health hazards. For fact sheets and further information see http://www.womenandenvironment.org.
News story: Hazard warning on home cleaners: Study says many use chemicals linked to fertility problems. Jane Kay, San Francisco Chronicle, Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Internet carbon footprint
News story: Green I.T.: how many Google searches does it take to boil a kettle?
Matt Warman, The Telegraph (UK), January 15, 2009.
Recent claims that two internet searches may increase your carbon footprint by as much as boiling a kettle are inaccurate, according to the scientist whose research was cited.
News story: Green-collar economy taking root in Chicago. Ted Gregory, Chicago Tribune, January 19, 2009.
An October report by the U.S. Conference of Mayors estimates that about 750,000 jobs are related to the "green sector," in industries such as renewable power and fuels, agriculture and building retrofitting. Fueled by concern about global warming; the untapped potential of and growing demand for alternative energy; growth in "green" construction; and the current stock of energy-inefficient buildings, that number is expected to grow to more than 2.5 million by 2018, the report states.
Jobs v. environment
Jobs Versus the Environment: An Industry-Level Perspective.
Morgenstern et al., Resources for the Future, 2000. [PDF]
Note: a later version of this paper, revised in 2001, appeared in the Journal of Environmental Economics and Management 43: 412-436.
The possibility that workers could be adversely affected by increasingly stringent environmental policies has led to claims of a "jobs versus the environment" trade-off by both business and labor leaders. The present research examines this claim at the industry level for four heavily polluting industries: pulp and paper mills, plastic manufacturers, petroleum refiners, and iron and steel mills. Combining a unique plant-level data set with industry-level demand information, we find that increased environmental spending generally does not cause a significant change in employment. Our average across all four industries is a net gain of 1.5 jobs per $1 million in additional environmental spending, with a standard error of 2.2 jobs-an economically and statistically insignificant effect. There are statistically significant and positive effects in two industries, but total number of affected jobs remains quite small. These small positive effects can be linked to labor-using factor shifts and relatively inelastic estimated demand.
There's gold in them there landfills.
Ed Douglas, New Scientist, October 1, 2008.
With commodities prices rising and land prices are increasing, every square kilometre is worth too much to use for landfill. The dump are being raided. Thanks to a decade of innovation by the recycling industry, the technology to process landfill waste is more readily available.
Testing the Dose–Response Specification in Epidemiology: Public Health and Policy Consequences for Lead.
Stephen J. Rothenberg and Jesse C. Rothenberg, Environ Health Perspect 113:1190–1195 (2005). PDF
ABSTRACT: Statistical evaluation of the dose–response function in lead epidemiology is rarely attempted. Economic evaluation of health benefits of lead reduction usually assumes a linear dose–response function, regardless of the outcome measure used. We reanalyzed a previously published study, an international pooled data set combining data from seven prospective lead studies examining contemporaneous blood lead effect on IQ (intelligence quotient) of 7-year-old children (n=1,333). We constructed alternative linear multiple regression models with linear blood lead terms (linear– linear dose response) and natural-log–transformed blood lead terms (log-linear dose response). . . . We found that a log-linear lead–IQ relationship was a significantly better fit than was a linear–linear relationship for IQ (p=0.009), with little evidence of residual confounding of included model variables. We substituted the log-linear lead–IQ effect in a previously published health benefits model and found that the economic savings due to U.S. population lead decrease between 1976 and 1999 (from 17.1µg/dL to 2.0µg/dL) was 2.2 times ($319billion) that calculated using a linear–linear dose–response function ($149billion). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention action limit of 10µg/dL for children fails to protect against most damage and economic cost attributable to lead exposure.
Lead costs NY
Long-term costs of lead poisoning: How much can New York save by stopping lead?
Katrina Smith Korfmacher, Environmental Health Sciences Center, University of Rochester July 9, 2003. [PDF]
This study, especially the summary table at the end, is a model of how to present more- and less-quantifiable data along with uncertainties. The author explains: "I have asked what costs would the state of New York avoid on an annual basis if lead poisoning due to deteriorated housing were eliminated?"
Lead toy paint cheaper
News story: Why lead in toy paint? It's cheaper.
David Barboza, The New York Times, Sept. 11, 2007.
Paint with higher levels of lead often sells for a third of the cost of paint with low levels. So Chinese factory owners, trying to eke out profits in an intensely competitive and poorly regulated market, sometimes cut corners and use the cheaper leaded paint
Liabilility--companies must report waste
Industry reports show major waste liabilities in asset retirements.
Superfund Report, Feb. 13, 2006.
Companies must examine the future liabilities they face when selling or retiring assets, including buildings that may have asbestos and sites such as electric utility poles containing polychlorinated biphenyls. In addition to including the liabilities in their income statements, the companies are expected to detail actual cleanup costs.
Beneath the skin: Hidden liabilities, market risk and drivers of change in the cosmetics and personal care products industry.
Investor Environmental Health Network, Feb. 2007. [PDF]
Shareholder resolutions, improved health risk information, European and U.S. regulatory changes and growing consumer pressure could drive sweeping changes in the U.S. personal care and cosmetics industry, with significant implications for investors.
News release: What price beauty? Risk posed by toxics in cosmetics could leave unwary investors with a black eye
Liability--Fiduciary guide to toxic chemical risk
Fiduciary Guide to Toxic Chemical Risk.
Investor Environmental Health Network, April 2007 [PDF].
This guide for institutional investors examines the financial dimensions of toxic chemical risk, including how to quantify such risk, the theory behind the danger posed by toxic chemicals to the wealth of shareholders, and a comprehensive set of action steps that can be taken by investors to translate the long-term threats and opportunities associated with toxic chemical issues into prudent portfolio stewardship.
News release: Toxics in your portfolio? Companies facing shareholder resolutions on chemical risks in products jump from just three in 04-05 to 17 in 06-07
Audio (22 min.) of Richard Liroff, Director of IEHN and Sanford Lewis, Counsel, discussing shareholder season here.
Liability from chemicals in products
Cross-Cutting Effects of Chemical Liability from Products.
Innovest, January 2007. [PDF]
Electronics, cosmetics, and pesticide manufacturers are among the many companies that could face loss of market share and access to major markets due to "toxic lockouts." This report was sponsored by the Investor Environmental Health Network. For details on IEHN's shareholder resolutions addressing PVC, PFOA, cosmetics, and other safer chemicals issues, visit the resolutions page at the IEHN website, www.iehn.org.
Press release: Value at risk from toxic chemicals in company products. Feb. 8, 2007.
News story: N.J. seeks 'lost-use' damages.
Tom Avril, Philadelphia Inquirer Apr. 11, 2004
Polluting firms in New Jersey are told to pay for resources once usable, even if nobody wanted to use them.
Liability--underreporting environmental risk is costly
Environmental disclosure: SEC should explore ways to improve tracking and transparency of environmental information
, July 2004 [PDF]
While companies are required to disclose all information considered important or "material" to investors in their annual reports to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), there is currently no standard for reporting environmental risks. Yet, environmental liabilities ranging from hazardous waste contamination to greenhouse gas emissions, can pose significant financial burdens to corporations.
Executive summary [PDF]
News story: GAO Identifies Financial Downside of Underreporting Environmental Risks, Greenbiz.com Aug. 18, 2004
Life value, EPA debate
News story: EPA Plans to Revisit a Touchy Topic -- the Value of Saved Lives. Gabriel Nelson of Greenwire, New York Times, January 18, 2011.
In cost-benefit analysis for new regulations, EPA and other agencies rely heavily on a figure for the value of a human life. EPA officials believe the phrase "statistical life" has caused "needless confusion and controversy, especially among non-economists." A new white paper suggests calling the dollar figure "value of mortality risk reduction."
Mercury and children's brains
Public Health and Economic Consequences of Methyl Mercury Toxicity to the Developing Brain.
Trasande, Landrigan, and Schechter. Environmental Health Perspectives, May 2005
Children with mothers whose mercury levels were at or near the safety level suffer an IQ loss of less than 1 point, while children whose mothers are among the 5 percent of the population most highly exposed suffer IQ losses ranging from 1.6 points to 3.21 points, significantly reducing economic productivity over a lifetime.
News story: Study: mercury costs billions in lost productivity. Joan Lowy, Scripps Howard News Service, February 28, 2005
Mercury cost estimates compared
A Comparison of the Monetized Impact of IQ Decrements from Mercury Emissions.
Charles Griffiths, Al McGartland, and Maggie Miller, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Environ Health Perspect 115:841–847 (2007) 2007. PDF
ABSTRACT: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that the upper bound of benefits from removing mercury emissions by U.S. power plants after implementing its Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR) is $210 million per year. In contrast, Trasande et al. [Environ Health Perspect113:590–596 (2005)] estimated that American power plants impose an economic cost of $1.3 billion due to mercury emissions. It is impossible to directly compare these two estimates for a number of reasons, but we are able to compare the assumptions used and how they affect the results. We use Trasande’s linear model . . . [and] introduce the assumptions that the U.S. EPA used in its Clean Air Mercury Rule (CAMR) analysis and discuss the implications. . . . CONCLUSIONS: The introduction of all the U.S. EPA assumptions, except for those related to discounting, decreases the estimated monetized impact of global anthropogenic mercury emissions in the Trasande model by 81%. These assumptions also decrease the estimated impact of U.S. sources (including power plants) by almost 97%. When discounting is included, the U.S. EPA assumptions decrease Trasande’s monetized estimate of global impacts by 88% and the impact of U.S. power plants by 98%.
Mercury--heart disease, IQ costs
Methylmercury Cuts Could Save The U.S. Millions Of Dollars. Naomi Lubick, Chemical & Engineering News, June 24, 2010
Recent links of methylmercury to heart disease as well as neurotoxic effects suggest that reducing methylmercury intake nationwide could save money by preventing heart disease and IQ drops.
Mercury in women
News story: Northeastern, West Coast women have high mercury levels; Contamination from eating fish varies in U.S.
Marla Cone, Environmental Health News, September 24, 2008
Women in the Northeast are contaminated with the highest concentrations of mercury in the United States, with one of every five exceeding levels considered safe for fetuses, according to a new national study. Researchers theorize that higher mercury levels reflect more frequent fish and shellfish consumption or that some of the fish they are eating are more highly contaminated than fish eaten elsewhere. In addition, women who are more affluent, with family incomes exceeding $75,000, and women of Asian or island ethnicity had the highest mercury levels.
Millennium ecosystem assessment, UN
News story: Report Tallies Hidden Costs of Human Assault on Nature.
Andrew C. Revkin, New York Times, April 5, 2005
See http://www.millenniumassessment.org/en/index.aspx for the UN's 2005 landmark, comprehensive assessment of damage to life-supporting ecosystem services.
Mines v. salmon in Alaska
News story: Alaskan economy faces a fork in the river.
Margot Roosevelt, LA Times, Sept. 1, 2007.
A watershed-the largest sockeye run in the world--and a host of other wildlife could be casualties of one of the world's biggest mines. The Pebble Mine project would entail five earthen dams, of which two would be bigger than China's Three Gorges Dam.
Mountaintop removal--lenders back off
News story: Lenders back off of environmental risks. Tom Zeller Jr., New York Times, August 30, 2010
After years of legal entanglements arising from environmental messes and increased scrutiny of banks that finance the dirtiest industries, several large commercial lenders are taking a stand on industry practices that they regard as risky to their reputations and bottom lines.
MTBE cleanup costs
An Estimate of the National Cost for Remediation of MTBE Releases from Existing Leaking Underground Storage Tank Sites.
ENSR Corporation 2005 [PDF]
Estimated remediation costs for currently leaking underground storage sites is $2 billion. This does not include tanks not currently leaking.
Natural disaster cost 2010
News story: Cost of natural disasters $109 billion in 2010: U.N. Laura MacInnis, Reuters, Jan. 24, 2011.
Costs were three times more than in 2009, with Chile and China bearing most of the cost. Although Haiti's January 12 earthquake was the deadliest event of 2010, its economic toll was $8 billion. The July-August floods in Pakistan cost $9.5 billion.
Noise pollution toll
News article: Noise Pollution Takes Toll on Health and Happiness
. Rick Weiss,
Washington Post, June 5, 2007; HE05
Everyday noise can overstimulate the body’s stress response.
Nuclear power carbon emissions
Nuclear energy: assessing the emissions.
Kurt Kleiner, Nature, September 24, 2008.
While it's understood that an operating nuclear power plant has near-zero carbon emissions (the only outputs are heat and radioactive waste), it's the other steps involved in the provision of nuclear energy that can increase its carbon footprint. Nuclear plants have to be constructed, uranium has to be mined, processed and transported, waste has to be stored, and eventually the plant has to be decommissioned. All these actions produce carbon emissions.
Nuclear power cost
News story: Nuclear power’s new debate: cost
. Mark Clayton, Christian Science Monitor, August 13, 2009.
While estimates vary many experts agree that nuclear power will cost more per kilowatt hour than other energy sources. Much of the difference comes from the investment needed to build new plants.
Nuclear power limits & global warming
News article: European Heat Wave Shows Limits of Nuclear Energy.
. Julio Godoy, OneWorld.net, July 28, 2006.
Nuclear power depends on a lot of water for cooling. But as the weather gets hotter, so does the water—and it gets scarcer, too.
Nuclear waste cleanup costs
Nuclear weapons work cost lives
News article: Rocky: U.S. nuke work afflicted 36,500 Americans
. Ann Imse, Rocky Mountain News, August 31, 2007
The U.S. nuclear weapons program has sickened 36,500 Americans and killed more than 4,000, the Rocky Mountain News has determined from government figures. Those numbers reflect only people who have been approved for government compensation. They include people who mined uranium, built bombs and breathed dust from bomb tests.
Nursing by Numbers: How Breastfeeding Boosts the National Economy
By Olivia Campbell
Web Exclusive, April 2009
Forget about retail therapy, breastfeeding is an economic stimulator that's completely free. According to USDA research, infant formula-feeding exacts a toll on national pocketbooks.
"Breastfeeding and the provision of breastmilk exclusively for the first 6 months" promises the United States improved health of both its citizens and its economy," the US Breastfeeding Committee said in response to the USDA report.
Most people understand how nursing benefits baby's health and parent's finances, yet few people realize the extent to which breastfeeding benefits the mother's health and how this all spells savings for the entire nation. [excerpt]
Research shows breastfeeding decreases the incidence and/or severity of the following illnesses in childhood (and in many cases also into adulthood):
- Ear infections
- Bacterial meningitis
- Respiratory infections and viruses
- Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
- Allergies (nasal and skin)
- Urinary tract infections
- Gastrointestinal infections
- Lymphomas, leukemia and Hodgkin's disease
- Autoimmune thyroid disease
- Type 1 and type 2 diabetes
- Ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease
- Necrotizing enterocolitis
- Multiple sclerosis
- Celiac disease
- Lung disease
- High blood pressure
- Increased intellectual, developmental, and cognitive aptitude
For the nursing mother, breastfeeding can help protect against the following diseases:
- Breast cancer
- Ovarian cancer
- Uterine cancer
- Thyroid cancer
- Type 2 diabetes
- Rheumatoid arthritis
In 2001, the USDA concluded that if breastfeeding rates were increased to 75 percent at birth and 50 percent at six months, it would lead to a national government savings of a minimum of $3.6 billion. This amount was easily an underestimation since it represents savings in the treatment of only three of the dozens of illnesses proven to be decreased by breastfeeding: ear infections, gastroenteritis, and necrotizing enterocolitis.
"Choosing to give your baby formula results in an increased risk for ear infections, for diabetes, for leukemia and so on. We as a nation need to understand that it is not that breastfeeding lowers the rate of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), but that choosing to feed an infant formula increases his risk of sudden infant death syndrome," said Stacy Kucharczk, a certified lactation consultant and pediatric nurse.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's 2008 breastfeeding report card found that since 2000, breastfeeding of newborns has increased from 64 to 74 percent, and from 29 to 43 percent at six months. However, at one year, only 21 percent of babies continue to be breastfed. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends breastfeeding for at least one year. The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding for two years.
The AAP says each formula-fed infant costs the healthcare system between $331 and $475 more than a breastfed baby in its first year of life. The cost of treating respiratory viruses resulting from not breastfeeding is $225 million a year.
"Insurance companies should realize that covering a home visit by a board certified lactation consultant would result in significant healthcare savings down the road," said Kucharczk. "Savings in the short-term for decreased pediatric health care visits for common acute illnesses, such as ear infections, gastrointestinal illnesses, and upper respiratory infections to name a few. Savings in the long-term from lower rates of chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, asthma, certain types of childhood cancers, and obesity—as well as lower rates of premenopausal breast cancer and ovarian cancers in the mother."
Health benefits for the nursing mother include a reduction in risk of many cancers and other serious diseases, during and after lactation. The key to achieving the maximum benefit to the baby, mother, and the economy appears to be extended breastfeeding, which is nursing for more than just six months or one year.
"We need to help mothers understand that extended breastfeeding does matter," Kucharczk said. "I often point out to mothers that the studies demonstrating the benefits of breastfeeding often show a dose-related effect, as in some breastmilk is good, but more is better."
Lactation duration and breast cancer risk are inversely related. The longer a woman breastfeeds the less likely she is to get pre- or postmenopausal breast cancer, even with a family history of the disease.
Re-examination of data from 47 international studies found that for every year a woman breastfeeds, she reduces her risk of breast cancer by an average of 4.3 percent. The risk is reduced a further 7 percent by simply having a baby.
For example, if you had three children and nursed them each for two years, your risk for breast cancer would be reduced by 46.8 percent. In fact, one study found that women who've nursed for six years or more reduced their risk of breast cancer by as much as a 63 percent.
The multi-study report estimated that breast cancer rates could be cut by more than half if women increased their lifetime breastfeeding duration. The National Cancer Institute reported the national expenditure on breast cancer treatment in 2004 was $8.1 billion, meaning extended nursing could save upwards of $4 billion a year.
For each year of breastfeeding, a woman decreases her chances of getting type 2 diabetes by 15 percent, reported a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2005. So if we consider the woman from the aforementioned example, in her six years of breastfeeding she's earned a 90 percent reduction in her risk of developing diabetes.
The National Institute of Health estimates that between 10 and 11 million American women have type 2 diabetes. The estimated cost of their treatment and lost wages is roughly $78 billion a year. This expenditure could be cut drastically by increased extended nursing rates.
For the national Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), supporting a breastfeeding mother costs about 45 percent less than a formula-feeding mother. Every year, $578 million in federal funds buys formula for babies who could be breastfeeding.
A year of purchasing formula can cost a family between $700 and more than $3,000. Many women who go back to work soon after giving birth might think the expense of formula is worth the convenience. The extra medical issues of formula, for mother and child, make the cost more than monetary.
For employers, formula-feeding results in more health claims, more days off for sick children, and decreased productivity. It benefits employers in the long run to provide a time and place for mothers to pump breastmilk. A few minutes off the clock is more than made up for by the lifetime of health enjoyed by nursing babies and mommies.
Jon Weimer, "The Economic Benefits of Breastfeeding: A Review and Analysis," Food and Rural Economics Division, Economic Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food Assistance and Nutrition Research Report 13. (March 2001): 1-4.
United States Breastfeeding Committee, "Economic Benefits of Breastfeeding," United States Breastfeeding Committee. (2002): 1-2.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Breastfeeding Report Card—United States, 2008," Department of Health and Human Services. (August 2008): 1-4.
World Health Organization, "The World Health Organization's Infant Feeding Recommendation," Global Strategy on Infant and Young Child Feeding (A55/15, paragraph 10):
Thomas M. Ball, Anne L. Wright, "Health Care Costs of Formula-feeding in the First Year of Life," Pediatrics 103, (4 April 1999): 870-876.
Lawrence M. Gartner, Arthur I. Eidelman, "Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk," American Academy of Pediatrics Policy Statement, Organizational Principles to Guide and Define the Child Health Care System and/or Improve the Health of All Children
Section on Breastfeeding, Pediatrics 115. (2005): 496-498.
V. Beral, D. Bull, R. Doll, R. Peto, G. Reeves, "Breast Cancer and Breastfeeding: Collaborative Reanalysis of Individual Data From 47 Epidemiological Studies in 30 Countries, Including 50,302 Women With Breast Cancer and 96,973 Women Without the Disease," The Lancet 360. (20 July 2002): 187-194.
National Cancer Institute, "Cancer Trends Progress Report—2007 Update: Costs of Cancer Care," progressreport.cancer.gov/doc_detail.asp?pid=1&did=2007&chid=75&coid=726&mid.
Alison M. Stuebe, Janet W. Rich-Edwards, Walter C. Willett, JoAnn E. Manson, Karin B. Michels, "Duration of Lactation and Incidence of Type 2 Diabetes," The Journal of the American Medical Association 294, 20. (23/30 2005 November): 2601-2610.
National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse, "National Diabetes Statistics, 2007," National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, NIH Publication No. 08-3892. (June 2008).
Kelly Bonyata, "Financial costs of not breastfeeding ... or cost benefits of breastfeeding," (30 November 2005): http://www.kellymom.com/bf/start/prepare/bfcostbenefits.html and "Extended Breastfeeding Fact Sheet," (4 2006 January): http://www.kellymom.com/bf/bfextended/ebf-benefits.html.
La Leche League International, "Can Breastfeeding Prevent Illnesses?" (21 July 2006): www.llli.org//FAQ/prevention.html.
K. Brock et al, "Sexual, reproductive and contraceptive risk factors for carcinoma-in-situ of the uterine cervix in Sydney," The Medical Journal of Australia 150, 3 (6 1989 Feb): 125-130.
E. Karlson, L. Mandl, S. Hankinson, F. Grodstein, "Do breast-feeding and other reproductive factors influence future risk of rheumatoid arthritis?" Results from the Nurses' Health Study. Arthritis Rheum 50, 11. (November 2004): 3458-3467.
K. Dewey, M. Heinig, L. Nommsen, "Maternal weight-loss patterns during prolonged lactation," American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 58 (1993): 162-166.
The treatment of illnesses related to obesity costs America tens of billions a year.
News story [A]: Health Costs of Obesity Near Those of Smoking: HHS Secretary Presses Fast-Food Industry. Ceci Connolly, Washington Post, Wednesday, May 14, 2003
News story [B]: Obesity costs U.S. $75.1 billion, study says: Taxpayers paid half that. Pa. and N.J. paid billions. Marian Uhlman, Philadelphia Inquirer Jan. 22, 2004
Obesity costs 2009
News story: Obesity a crushing weight on US health care
. Carolyn Lochhead, San Francisco Chronicle, August 16, 2009.
Obesity is the elephant in the room of health care reform, a public health catastrophe that kills more than 100,000 Americans a year, cost the nation $147 billion last year and threatens to shorten U.S. life expectancy for the first time since the Civil War.
Oil sands investment risk
News story: Oil Sands Riskier than Gulf Spill, Say Investor Groups. Matthew O. Berger, Interpress Service News Agency, May 17, 2010
Oil sands development is "kind of like the gulf spill but playing out in slow motion", according to an author of a new report. The impact on ecosystems and communities make it a "land-based" version of the gulf disaster.
Parks economic impact
Measuring the Economic Impact of Park and Recreation Services. John L. Crompton, National Recreation and Park Association, 2010. Full report PDF
Researchers at Penn State found that investments in parks and recreational services have a dramatic effect on health and fitness. “There is a strong relationship between how much money is spent to provide such services and the amount of physical activity that people take part in."
Executive summary PDF
News story: Key to Better Health Care May Be a Walk in the Park. USA Today, February 11, 2011.
PFOA and cholesterol (PFOA: see also Teflon)
News story: Panel: C8 levels linked to high cholesterol
. Ken Ward Jr., Charlseston Gazette, October 14, 2008.
Mid-Ohio Valley residents with greater levels of C8 in their blood also tended to have higher levels of cholesterol, according to the first results from a panel studying the chemical's health effects. C8 is another name for ammonium perflurooctanoate, or PFOA. DuPont has used it since the 1950s at its Washington Works plant south of Parkersburg, WV, to make Teflon and other similar nonstick and stain-resistant products that are widely used.
Phthalates and male genitalia
News story: Male, interrupted
. Faye Flam, Philadelphia Inquirer, Oct. 27, 2008.
As more genital birth defects are seen in boys, attention turns to phthalates, chemicals found in a variety of consumer products.
Pollution cleanup in Third World cost-effective
Cost Effectiveness and Health Impact of Remediation Of Highly Polluted Sites in the Developing World.
David Hanrahan, Richard Fuller, Aadika Singh - Blacksmith Institute, May 2007. PDF [PDF]
This study examined four locations where pollution had been causing health problems, and where the pollutants have now (or will soon) been cleaned up. The projects ranged in cost between $1 and $50 per year of life gained. These estimates compare favorably to $35 to $200 per year of life gained for World Bank estimates on interventions related to water supply, improved cooking stoves, and malaria controls. The health benefits gained by the local population are substantial, indicating that remediation of these sites is extremely cost effective. Authors argue that the low cost of this kind of intervention, along with its enormous health impact, justifies strong support for a concerted effort to deal with this issue globally.
Pollution--health costs California
News story: California economy loses $28 billion yearly to health effects of pollution
, Louis Sahagun, LA Times, Nov. 13, 2008.
Most of the losses are attributable to 3,000 annual deaths, a Cal State Fullerton study says. The study underscores the economic benefits of meeting federal air quality standards. Download the report and executive summary at http://business.fullerton.edu/centers/iees/
Pollution, nutrient—freshwater costs
Economic damages from nutrient pollution create a "toxic debt"
. Rhitu Chatterjee, Environmental Science and Technology, Nov. 12, 2008.
A U.S. analysis of nutrient pollution in freshwater reveals annual losses of at least $4 billion, mostly from dips in lakefront property values and loss of recreational use.
For linked version http://pubs.acs.org
Pollution prevention cost effective
An ounce of pollution prevention is worth over 167 billion pounds of cure: A decade of pollution prevention results, 1990 - 2000.
National Pollution Prevention Roundtable, 2003. [PDF]
More than 167 billion pounds of pollution were prevented and 4 billion gallons of water were conserved. Annual savings in programs averaged 5.4 times the budget allocated to implement pollution prevention programs responsible for these results.
Pollution prevention cost effective - New York
News release: ATFF Applauds Spitzer's Budget Initiatives on Pollution Prevention, Environmental Protection Fund and DEC Staff Increases
, Jan. 31, 2007
New York's proposed Pollution Prevention Institute will help New York businesses remain competitive with neighboring states and Europe that have already taken steps to find safer alternatives to toxic chemicals.
Pollution--value of lost lives
News story: What's cost of breathing dirty air?
Mark Grossi, Fresno Bee, Dec. 27, 2008.
The more than 800 people who died prematurely this year from breathing dirty San Joaquin Valley air are worth $6.63 million each, economists say. This represents the amount of money that society would be willing to spend on preventing premature death due to bad air.
Poverty and mortality
News story: Atlas reveals how you are likely to die
. Amelia Hill, The Observer (UK), Oct. 19, 2008.
New maps of mortality in the UK chart how geographical differences influence the main causes of death. What causes most of the variations shown on these maps are not genetic factors, said Dorling, but environmental issues, smoking, drinking, and exercise. "The most important environmental factor today is relative poverty,” the researcher said. “Death rates are higher where people are poorer."
Property value benefits of cleanup - Great Lakes
Economic benefits of sediment remediation.
Braden et al., Great Lakes National Program Office, USEPA Chicago, December 2006. [PDF]
An EPA study finds that cleaning up of the heavily polluted Buffalo River and Sheboygan River would boost property values near and bring other economic benefits.
News story: Restore a River, Boost a Tax Base: Buffalo study finds still more gains from cleanups. Andy Guy, Great Lakes Bulletin News Service, November 2, 2006
News story: With Longer Sentences, Cost of Fighting Crime Is Higher.
Fox Butterfield, NYT May 3, 2004
The cost of fighting crime in the United States, for police, prisons and courts, rose to a record $167 billion in 2001.
Profiting by doing good
News Story: A Company Prospers by Saving Poor People’s Lives. Donald G. McNeil Jr., New York Times, Feb. 3, 2009
Vestergaard-Frandsen’s products are in use in refugee camps and disaster areas all over the third world: PermaNet, a mosquito net impregnated with insecticide; ZeroFly, a tent tarp that kills flies; and the LifeStraw, a filter worn around the neck that makes filthy water safe to drink.
The Economics of Phasing Out Vinyl
, by Frank Ackerman and Rachel Massey, Dec 2003. [PDF]
The economic advantages of vinyl or PVC are overstated, and substituting vinyl with safer alternatives is cost-effective and practical.
Press release: New Tufts report concludes vinyl isn't cheap: Economic analysis supports phase-out for environmentally hazardous vinyl. Feb 5, 2004
Rainforest destruction in Congo
Executive summary: Carving up the Congo
. Greenpeace, April 11, 2007. [PDF]
Predictions for future deforestation in Central Africa estimate that by 2050 forest clearance in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) will release a total of up to 34.4 billion tonnes of CO2, roughly equivalent to the UK's CO2 emissions over the last sixty years. The DRC risks losing more than 40% of its forests, with transport infrastructure such as logging roads being one of the major drivers. Meanwhile the World Bank is blamed for deals in which communities sign away forest rights for 25 years, for next to nothing.
News article: Vast forests with trees each worth £4,000 sold for a few bags of sugar. John Vidal, Guardian (UK), April 11, 2007.
News article: World Bank criticized for ties to timber firm. Pasternak and Gaouette, Los Angeles Times, Aug. 17, 2007
REACH environment benefits 2006
New study evaluates environment and health benefits of REACH.
EurActiv, Feb. 16, 2006
The study concludes that REACH would save a minimum of €150-500 million by the year 2017, at the expected close of its 11-year roll-out period. By the year 2041, the savings would add up to €8.9 billion, mostly in areas such as "purification of drinking water, disposal of dredged sediment and incineration of sewage instead of disposal on farmlands".
REACH health benefits 2005
News story: Huge new health benefits claimed for REACH.
Environment Daily, Oct. 19, 2005
Occupational health benefits could exceed REACH implementation costs in the first 10 years.
REACH industry impacts 2007
Impacts on industry of Europe's emerging chemicals policy REACH. Angerer et al., Journal of Environmental Management, Article in Press, available online Feb. 2007.
Study results "give no indications that REACH adoption will bring significant drawbacks to companies in the NMS [New European Member States]. The emerging regulation will bring challenges for individual companies, especially for small and medium-sized ones, but for the European chemical industry as a whole, there is no question that it will be able to cope with REACh burdens without losing its global competitiveness."
View the full abstract or purchase the PDF here. http://www.sciencedirect.com/
REACH true costs
The true costs of REACH.
Ackerman and Massey, Nordic Council of Ministers 2004. [PDF]
This study provides a bottom-up recalculation of the expected costs of the October 2003 version of REACH, estimating an 11-year total direct cost of "REACH Plus," would restore some features of a previous version of REACH, while increasing the total direct cost only to the chemical industry's sales revenue. Two standard economic models imply that total (direct plus indirect) costs should be no more than 1.5 - 2.3 times the direct costs.
Recycling worth the effort
The truth about recycling
. The Economist, June 7, 2007
As the importance of recycling becomes more apparent, questions about it linger. Is it worth the effort? How does it work? Is recycling waste just going into a landfill in China? Here are some answers.
Regulation benefits--air pollution MIT
Economic Benefits of Air Pollution Regulation in the USA: An Integrated Approach.
Trent Yang et al., MIT, July 2004, revised January 2005.[PDF]
Benefits of air pollution regulations in USA rose steadily from 1975 to 2000 from $50 billion to $400 billion (from 2.1% to 7.6% of market consumption). Estimated benefits of regulation are somewhat lower than the original estimates made by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency because benefits from reduced chronic air pollution exposure will only be gradually realized.
Regulation benefits & costs 2007
Draft 2007 Report to Congress on the Costs and Benefits of Federal Regulations.
Office of Management and Budget, March 9, 2007 [PDF]
The estimated annual benefits of major Federal regulations reviewed by OMB from October 1, 1996 to September 30, 2006 range from $99 billion to $484 billion, while the estimated annual costs range from $40 billion to $46 billion. These totals are somewhat higher than those reported last year. The difference is largely due to the addition this year of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Review of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for Particulate Matter (PM). During the past year, seven "major" final rules were adopted that had quantified and monetized benefits and costs. These rules added $6.3 billion to $44.8 billion in annual benefits compared to $3.7 billion to $4.2 billion in annual costs. One rule, EPA’s NAAQS for PM, accounts for 60 to 89 percent of these estimated benefits and for 67 to 70 percent of the corresponding costs.
Regulation benefits & costs 2007 critique
Comments on Draft 2007 Report to Congress on the Costs and Benefits of Federal Regulations.
OMB Watch, June 11, 2007 [PDF]
OMB Watch's comments point out the process of aggregating costs and benefits is a waste of time producing largely meaningless results: "Aggregation is economically unsound, distorts the virtue of strong federal regulations, and does not provide practical utility for public policy." The comments also include recommendations for improving the transparency of the federal regulatory process.
Regulation benefits & costs 2006
Draft 2006 Report to Congress on the Costs and Benefits of Federal Regulations.
Office of Management and Budget. [PDF]
The estimated annual benefits of major Federal regulations reviewed by OMB from October 1, 1995 to September 30, 2005 range from $94 billion to $449 billion, while the estimated annual costs range from $37 billion to $44 billion. The substantial increase in aggregate benefits since last year is attributable to the addition of the Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Air Interstate Rule.
Regulation benefits & costs 2003
Informing regulatory decisions: 2003 report to Congress on the costs and benefits of federal regulation and unfunded mandates on state, local, and tribal entities.
OMB 2003 [PDF]
OMB reviewed 107 major Federal rulemakings finalized over the previous ten years (1992-2002). The estimated total annual quantified benefits of these rules range from $146 billion to $230 billion, while the estimated total annual quantified costs range from $36 billion to $42 billion. The majority of the quantified benefits are attributable to a handful of clean-air rules issued by EPA pursuant to the 1990 amendments to the Clean Air Act.
Schools, economic benefits of preschool
2006 conference: building the economic case for investments in preschool.
Pew Charitable Trusts 2006
American business leaders overwhelmingly back public funding for pre-kindergarten for all children to keep the U.S. economy globally competitive, according to a survey by Zogby International released at this 2006 conference.
Schools, greening costs and benefits
Greening America's schools: costs and benefits.
Gregory Kats, October 2006 [PDF]
Green schools cost less than 2% more than conventional schools - or about $3 per square foot ($3/ft2) - but provide financial benefits that are 20 times as large to the broader community. Lower energy and water costs, improved teacher retention, and lowered health costs save green schools directly about $12/ft2, about four times the additional cost of going green. For an average conventional school, building green would save enough money to pay for an additional full-time teacher.
Book: Inquiries into the nature of slow money: Investing as if food, farms, and fertility mattered.
Woody Tasch, Chelsea Green Publishing, 2009
Woody Tasch believes that the simple discipline of greening our thumbs for the purpose of nourishing ourselves, of reconnecting with the planet through its soil, is an important step toward "connecting the whole person with the sustainability problem." Do this, he argues, and we might finally change the cultural, industrial and economic systems that accelerate things like climate change or the mortgage-related debt crisis. Tasch's Slow Money movement is, he says, an attempt to make a "step change" in socially responsible investing by focusing on sustainable agriculture.
Read excerpts from this book at:
Subsidies, poor to rich countries
Reverse foreign aid
. Tina Rosenberg, New York Times Magazine, Mar. 25, 2007.
Poor countries are being forced to subsidize rich ones at a skyrocketing rate. According to the United Nations, in 2006 the net transfer of capital from poorer countries to rich ones was $784 billion, up from $229 billion in 2002. In 1997, the balance was even.
Teflon and birth weight
Cord Serum Concentrations of Perfluorooctane Sulfonate (PFOS) and
Perfluorooctanoate (PFOA) in Relation to Weight and Size at Birth.
Benjamin J. Apelberg et al., Environmental Health Perspectives online July 31, 2007. [PDF]
New data link low birth weight and body mass to very low levels of commonly used chemicals found in consumer products ranging from Teflon coated cookware to water and stain repelling textiles.Vital statistics of newborns born at a city hospital in Baltimore, MD such as weight, length and head circumference were measured and these statistics were compared to the levels of these compounds detected in the babies' cord blood. Babies with higher levels of these compounds tended to be slightly but significantly smaller than those with lower exposure.
Toxic chemicals cost more
Five Chemicals Alternatives Assessment Study Executive Summary.
Toxics Use Reduction Institute, University of Massachusetts, Lowell, 2006 [PDF]
Massachusetts-funded study by the Toxics Use Reduction Institute finds that industry could replace hazardous chemicals with cheaper alternatives.
Media Advisory: UMass Lowell's Toxics Use Reduction Institute Five Chemicals Study Reveals Practical Alternatives for Massachusetts Industry and Consumers
News story: Alternatives to Some Toxic Chemicals Have Lower Cost, Study
Finds, Metro West Daily News (MA) Tuesday, July 11, 2006
Trade deficit outsources US emissions
News article: Outsourcing U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions: The U.S. exports greenhouse-gas emissions to China and its other trading partners
. Rhitu Chatterjee, Environmental Science and Technology, June 13, 2007
Between 1997 and 2004, imports into the U.S. increased by 128%, most of which were energy-expensive, pollution-causing products, such as electric and electronic goods, machinery, and equipment. Although consumption in the U.S. has increased, statistics show that U.S. emissions "haven’t gone up proportionately", says the author of a new study [registration required]. He attributes this disparity to the U.S. consuming many goods produced in other countries, a fact that is omitted from calculations to reduce U.S. emissions.
Traffic public health costs
The public health costs of traffic congestion: A health risk assessment. Jonathan I. Levy, Jonathan J. Buonocore, & Katherine von Stackelberg. Harvard University Center for Risk Analysis, 2010. PDF
Estimates that pollution caused by traffic congestion in the nation's largest urban areas led to 2,200 premature deaths in the country last year, with a related public health cost of at least $18 billion.
Transportation health costs
The Hidden Health Costs of Transportation. American Public Health Association, March 2010 (PDF)
This backgrounder addresses how our nation's current transportation system contributes to today's soaring health costs and impedes progress toward improving public health. Increasing sustainable transportation options and improving community transportation designs could significantly improve public health by introducing walking, bicycling, and transit use as convenient and cost-effective ways to integrate more physical activity into the daily habits of all transportation users.
Trees low-cost solution
Trees a 'low-cost' solution to air pollution and biodiversity loss in cities. Ecologist, July 2, 2010
Native woods and trees in urban areas, including gardens, provide haven for wildlife, reduce air pollution, surface run-off and flooding. Reversing the declining numbers of native trees and woods in cities would provide numerous benefits at 'relatively little cost', says a report from the Woodland Trust.
TSCA reform cost savings
The Health Case for Reforming the Toxic Substances Control Act. Safer Chemicals Healthy Families (PDF)
Chemical exposure is a factor we can do something about. By reforming TSCA, we can lessen the role of chemical exposures in causing disease, thereby reducing our nation’s chronic disease burden and helping to control health care costs. In simplest terms, real reform will lead to more healthy babies, fewer women with breast cancer, a return to normal fertility patterns, and lower numbers of people with Alzheimer’s disease. By conservative estimates it could save at least $5 billion in annual health costs.
Wal-Mart and poverty
Wal-Mart and county-wide poverty.
Goetz and Swaminathan, Social Science Quarterly, June 2006 [PDF]
Counties with more initial (1987) Wal-Mart stores and counties with more additions of stores between 1987 and 1998 experienced greater increases (or smaller decreases) in family-poverty rates during the 1990s economic boom period. Conclusions. Wal-Mart creates both benefits and costs to communities in which the chain locates. These benefits and costs need to be weighed carefully by community decisionmakers in deciding whether to provide public subsidies to the chain.
Water, future costs of safe
Water v. energy
Energy versus Water: Solving Both Crises Together
. Michael E. Webber, Scientific American, October 22, 2008.
Water is needed to generate energy. Energy is needed to deliver water. Both resources are limiting the other—and both may be running short. Is there a way out? "We must move away from a long-standing expectation that water should be free or cheap. If we think water is important, we should put a realistic price on it. Without that, we send a confusing signal that everyone can be blase about wasting water. Once true pricing is in place, the U.S. can perhaps go further and show consumers and regulators how much the price of water raises the price of energy and how much the price of energy raises the price of water. These two metrics will bring us face to face with the dilemma of conserving both resources, prompting effective solutions."
Wetlands and carbon capture
Can wetland restoration cool the planet?
Janet Pelley, Environmental Science and Technology, October 22, 2008.
Wetlands are champions at carbon storage, but they also release methane, a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than CO2. Scientists are boosting research efforts to determine whether the cooling power of carbon storage outstrips the global warming potential of methane in wetlands. They are finding that the greatest cooling occurs from saltwater marshes.
Wetland storm protection value
The Value of Coastal Wetlands for Hurricane Protection
. Robert Costanza et al. Ambio Vol. 37, No. 4, June 2008. PDF
U.S. coastal wetlands provide more than $23 billion in annual storm protection services to cities and regions most vulnerable to hurricane and tropical storm surges, according to a study released today. The University of Vermont’s Gund Institute for Ecological Economics prepared the study, which finds that "coastal wetlands provide ‘horizontal levees’ that are maintained by nature and are far more cost-effective than constructed levees." Moreover, the researchers said, "If the frequency and intensity of hurricanes increases in the future, as some are predicting as a result of climate change, the value of coastal wetlands for protection of these storms will also increase."
Workplace exposure costs to children
Developmental neurotoxicity of industrial chemicals.
Grandjean and Landrigan, The Lancet Early Online Publication, 8 November 2006
Landmark case for reducing workplace exposure limits to the many industrial chemicals that can harm the developing fetal nervous system. Includes a long list of agents with documented capacity to cause this harm: solvents, metals, pesticides - with many references. Grandjean and Landrigan recommend a precautionary approach: "exposure limits for developmental neurotoxins should be set at values that recognise the unique sensitivity of pregnant women and young children, and they should aim at protecting brain development." They also discuss in detail the cost of NOT taking a precautionary approach to protecting pregnant women exposed at work to these developmental neurotoxins.
World trade cost
News story-- Time to clean up: UN study reveals environmental cost of world trade. Juliette Jowit, The Guardian (UK), February 19, 2010.
Utilities are most damaging ($400bn annually), followed by the basic materials sector (mining, forestry, chemicals) and consumer goods (around $300 bn each). But the nature of the damage is quite different and public perceptions do not always match the facts.
Zero CO2 economy possible
Executive Summary: Carbon-Free and Nuclear-Free: A Roadmap for U.S. Energy Policy.
Arjun Makhijani, Ph.D. July 2007 Nuclear Policy Research Institute and Institute for Energy and Environmental Research. PDF
"The overarching finding of this study is that a zero-CO2 U.S. economy can be achieved within the next thirty to fifty years without the use of nuclear power and without acquiring carbon credits from other countries. In other words, actual physical emissions of CO2 from the energy sector can be eliminated with technologies that are now available or foreseeable. This can be done at reasonable cost while creating a much more secure energy supply than at present. Net U.S. oil imports can be eliminated in about 25 years. All three insecurities – severe climate disruption, oil supply and price insecurity, and nuclear proliferation via commercial nuclear energy – will thereby be addressed. In addition, there will be large ancillary health benefits from the elimination of most regional and local air pollution, such as high ozone and particulate levels in cities, which is due to fossil fuel combustion. A zero-CO2 U.S. economy without nuclear power is not only achievable – it is necessary for environmental protection and security."
News story: Japan as ground zero for no-waste lifestyle
. Amelia Necomb, Christian Science Monitor December 16, 2008.
Three environmental models: Toyota's Prius factory, an electronics recycler, and a village that recycles 80 percent of its trash. "A ton of earth typically yields five grams of gold. A ton of cellphones, meanwhile, contains 400 grams of gold, along with 500 grams of silver and 4 grams of palladium."
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