traffic air quality asthma medical research

It's Official Now ...

Traffic Pollution Can Cause Asthma In Children

If you need another reason to prefer breathing clean air, here's one. We excerpt this 2013 article from the Los Angeles Times, Mar 21.

By Julie Cart

Researchers in Europe have confirmed scientifically what parents in traffic-congested Southern California have known anecdotally for years: Poor air quality associated with busy roads can cause asthma in children.

It is the first time that medical researchers have made such a direct link — previous studies stopped at saying that traffic pollution is known to trigger asthma, not cause it.

In light of all the existing epidemiological studies showing that road-traffic contributes to the onset of the disease in children, we must consider these results to improve policy making and urban planning.

To read more

JJS: To combat air pollution, University of Oregon Law professor Mary Wood has been working for years to develop a legal theory around an atmospheric trust. The theory is based on the premise that all governments hold natural resources in trust for their citizens and bear the fiduciary obligation to protect such resources for future generations. For you lawyers out there, atmospheric trust litigation is rooted in the Public Trust Doctrine, an evolution of old British Commons Law that has been used successfully in the past to preserve and protect natural resources -- like air and water -- for public use.

Yet it's hard if not impossible for law to stand up to economic demand. The solution must be more than words on paper. It must be a custom, a part of the majority's worldview, and a tangible good or service that one could benefit from.

To get people out of their cars, you must offer them a better alternative and also make driving less necessary. The latter you can do by shortening trip distances, allowing people to walk or ride a bike. The former you can do by providing efficient mass transit, including car “libraries” in which members can use any of a fleet of cars.

Mass transit becomes more efficient and attractive when the region it serves is settled more compactly, when land use is devoted to humans -- bike lanes and plazas -- and not just to automobiles -- noisy streets. Thus using land efficiently both makes driving less necessary and enables more efficient modes of transportation. And better land use comes from charging people for land use, rather than taxing their buildings.

That is, where owners must pay land dues according to the value of their location, there they don’t waste land. They take as much as they need, no more, and use that wisely. Those choices tend to develop urban areas that are compact and squeeze out cars. Less traffic, less asthma. All courtesy geonomic morality and policy.


Editor Jeffery J. Smith runs the Forum on Geonomics and helped prepare a course for the UN on geonomics. To take the “Land Rights” course, click here .

Also see:

State Of The Air 2012 -- ALA Report

How to Break Up With Big Oil

Humans Did It Once, Can They Do It Again?

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