We try to live our lives to the fullest, enjoy experiences with family and friends, eat amazing food and see things that excite us! When it comes to living a life we all very much want the same things. We’re not only similar in our own wants and needs our physiology is alike. Our bodies grow and function in the same manner, yet there are slight differences in our facial features and dialect. Our brains give us a sense of identity and facilitate psychological growth like our bodies, they’re also physiologically alike. If an untrained eye compares brains from different parts of the world, it would be clearly seen they’re not that different. The brain’s connections and circuits are all acting under the same principals and fundamentally most react the same. We are one! But we’re not the same! I love that song!! Neuroscience is a fascinating study of the mind which is fine-tuned by generations of evolution, genetics, and our environments, creating characteristically different people. While searching for answers to end poverty and poor health this science connects the dots and gives us a root cause.
The overall cost of poor health
The children of the twentieth-century are watching the world undergo a physical transformation that affects the health of people around the world. Neuroscience suggests genetics are responsible for shaping our temperaments which in turn create our unacknowledged assumptions of how the world works. How is the world working right now? Would you rate it as poor…? fair…? or good? This question is answered differently depending on where you live! Recently a team of investigators from the University of Harvard and the Australian University of Queensland had taken the insurance data of forty-five million people to analyze the effect of people’s genes and their zip code! It’s the first time that an experiment of this magnitude has been done and it’s proven that both genes and the environment are equal drivers when calculating the costs of monthly health care spending. According to the World Bank report, air pollution costs the global economy five trillion dollars annually in health welfare. That number would make anyone’s head spin and is a very good reason to change our spending habits! It’s true some things can be bought cheaply, but the true cost of its carbon footprint is found in the annual costs of health care directly associated with air pollution.
Air pollution not only kills…
Consequently, six and a half million people around the world, die prematurely from air pollution every year! Half of those deaths happen from outdoor air pollution caused by factories, powerplants, agricultural processes, and cars. The other half of these deaths are linked directly to indoor air pollution in the poorest communities of the world. Our central nervous system shapes behavior and effects are cognitive ability to make decisions. A few neuroscience studies have found air pollution lowers the ability to attain higher education and therefore reduces productivity. So, it really makes sense that folks having to endure long periods of exposure would rather hide under a rock than do anything productive! The poor around the world are fighting a losing battle for better healthcare, education and equal rights. It could very well be that if the local environment and air quality were cleaned up, they wouldn’t needlessly suffer.
Who is affected?
Almost half the world’s population lives in poverty and out of 2.2 billion children living on Earth one billion of them live in poverty every day. That’s one in every two kids living a life in poverty with their parents! As a Canadian, I feel pretty darn lucky! Like most people in the developed world, I’ve won the genetic lottery by just being born into a rich and peaceful place. The above studies help to define the issues faced by humans and healthcare, but it won’t solve the world’s pollution policies, preventing corporations from dumping, polluting and over packaging.
Evidence of corporate ignorance
Unfortunately, the government’s ignorance or inability to change the way businesses run leads one to believe that there is either no hope or consumer choice is our only hope. A simple example of corporate dumping doesn’t have to be earth or air contaminants. It could also be food! When a company handles a skid of packaged food, in this example let’s say the product is chocolate bars. Someone finds evidence that suggests the food has become contaminated from rat droppings. Instead of donating the food the entire skid of chocolate is thrown into the trash. The kids living in poverty are hungry and would’ve loved to eat chocolate… Regardless, the company loses money and the product either being fine either totally or in part is needlessly thrown away because it has become unsalable.
Estimates show that Earth will be home to ten billion people by 2050! If humanity cannot be socially responsible and carry the responsibility to help the ones with less then what will the world look like in thirty years from now? Even though we in the Western world don’t necessarily see the ugly side of life it’s important to know that we have the power to change the lives of the poorest people by changing how we shop. The reduction of energy consumption is important because it will reduce air pollution keeping our brains and genetics healthy. Neuroscience suggests the environment and our genetics are interrelated so if we continue to hold on to our old habits of buying the same over packaged products we will continue on the cycle of creation to trash. Reduce plastics, pick products that aren’t over packaged buy Organic. This will slow the amount of trash being burnt into the atmosphere, dumped into landfills or worse yet tossed into our natural environment.