10 Apr 2014

Let them eat cake

Air pollution in the UK has been bad enough that people in London were advised not to cycle. The government are keen to crack on with fracking – which will not improve air quality and is likely to poison our water. Climate change threatens our food supplies and collective long term health.

The dominant health story in the news this week has been eating 7 portions of fruit and veg a week, and cutting sugar intake to stay healthy. The week before that, we were talking about obesity. We get plenty of public information about smoking, alcohol consumption and exercise, as well. What these stories do, without exception, is to put the responsibility for health squarely on the shoulders of the individual.

We aren’t talking about the 38% of sick leave from work being caused by work stress. It was in the chief medical officer’s report, but didn’t make the news. We aren’t really talking about the implications of air pollution even though we know it’s a killer. We know that water pollution nearly rendered otters extinct in the UK – being predators at the top of a food chain, they are where the toxins collect. We don’t talk about what those pollutants in our rivers might have been doing to the human population in the same time frame.

Health and the environment are not different issues. What we eat, drink and breathe impacts on our bodies. What is in our clothes, in our buildings, in the plastic bottles we drink from? What’s in our soil?

If you care about your health, then you need more than the efforts you can make on your own behalf. You need political action to safeguard your food and water, and to tackle the smog. There’s not much point giving up cake if a sick work culture is undermining your mental health. An extra portion of fruit and veg might not be so good if the TTIP forces genetically modified plants on us.

There is nothing more precious than health. Our personal health, and the health of our eco-systems are one and the same. If we poison our air, then we poison ourselves. If you care about your health, you need to vote Green. We can have a better future.

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