It Impacts the Environment And It’s Good for Your Health Too
The switch to clean energy is positively impacting the United States in many ways. As the movement to renewable, sustainable resources continues to expand, the effects on the environment are numerous. But clean energy is also creating huge health benefits in communities across the country. These benefits come from the installation of renewable energy resources in both big cities to tiny rural communities.
In the past, fossil fuels have dominated the energy market. These fuels emit hazardous waste matter which pollutes the air we breathe and the water we drink. Those contaminants have historically led to sizeable detrimental health effects and a number of associated deaths in America. The movement away from these fuels makes all of our natural resources cleaner and safer, with limitless positive health impacts on the human population.
Overall, the replacement of such fossil fuels with renewable sources such as solar, hydroelectric wind, and geothermal results in a significant drop in carbon dioxide production worldwide. Solar, wind, and hydroelectric each generate electricity with zero air pollution emissions (geothermal emits a small amount), an effect that means a significant reduction in breathing problems, neurological damage, heart attacks, and cancer. That’s great news as until now air pollution has been the fourth leading cause of death worldwide. Cleaner air means healthier people and longer lives.
The positive health effects of renewable energy are multi-faceted. Wind and solar energy require essentially no water to operate and thus do not pollute water resources or strain supplies by competing with agriculture, drinking water, or other important water needs. This opens up a cleaner, safer, and larger water supply for people across the globe, additionally reducing diseases associated with contaminated water supplies.
More wind and solar generation mean much less lung and heart disease, and no region of the United States stands to benefit more than the Midwest. A Harvard study shows the incredible positive possibility for the reduction of everything from asthma to birth defects as clean energy takes over the region. This clearly affects health costs in the region and has a potential savings impact in the billions of dollars.
“[The Midwest] has more natural gas and coal on the grid, and there’s also a lot of people living downwind,” said Jonathan Buonocore, who heads the climate, energy, and health team at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
Though the Midwest is a focal point, the impact of clean energy has no boundaries, and every region of America stands to see an increase in positive public health as a result of reducing carbon dioxide and mitigating climate change and noxious air pollutants. The pollution affects everyone: Harvard also estimates that the life cycle costs and public health effects of coal alone are $74.6 billion every year. That’s equivalent to 4.36 cents per kilowatt-hour of electricity produced – about one-third of the average electricity rate for a typical American home.
Additionally, the move to clean energy has a huge impact on youth. Though children under age five make up only 10 percent of the world’s population, they suffer an estimated 40 percent of all environment-linked diseases. Recent studies indicate the impact of clean energy on youth is significant, especially those from poorer households, who often live in areas affected by the emissions of fossil fuel plants.
Clean energy is also great for one’s mental health, as energy production creates more jobs than fossil fuel technologies, which are typically mechanized and capital intensive. Solar must be installed by humans, and wind farms require maintenance technicians. More jobs mean less financial stress on individuals and families and more physical activity for all. In addition, clean energy jobs are significantly less hazardous, reducing overall stress levels. Jobs in clean energy also have positive economic ripple effects throughout local, city, and state economies. For example, industries in the renewable energy supply chain will benefit, and unrelated local businesses will benefit from increased household and business incomes. As if that isn’t enough, clean energy tends to stabilize energy prices, meaning less massive swings in the cost of heating and cooling, groceries, and other consumer goods.
Clean energy sources are inexhaustible, and the United States continues to embrace more and more solar, wind, and hydroelectric energy. Scientists feel that renewable energy can comfortably provide up to 80 percent of U.S. electricity by 2050, offering a wonderful new by-product: better health for everyone.