It’s easy to focus on what’s wrong, but there’s also a lot to be grateful for.
PITTSBURGH — As a journalist who covers environmental health, much of my job revolves around shining a light on difficult problems.
This year alone I’ve written about oil spills in a river that provides drinking water to millions, dangerous train derailments and gaping loopholes in the laws meant to protect us from harmful pollution.
But I also cover solutions to environmental challenges — partly because it’s good for my mental health, and also because paying attention to the people devoting their lives to solving our biggest problems, highlighting the ways they’re protecting human health, and spreading the word about their successes begets more solutions and resources for them.
In 2023, I covered a study that found reducing air pollution in many cities could lower cancer rates as much as completely eliminating smoking would, and I wrote about how health advocates across the country who understand this are pushing regulators to further strengthen federal clean air laws. Several states took action that will lead to clearer air in urban areas with clean transportation laws in 2023, including California, New York, New Mexico, New Jersey and Delaware.
Last year I also wrote about how healthcare leaders across the country are working together to find innovative ways to reduce pollution, tackle climate change and advance environmental justice in their communities. I highlighted the ways that hospitals in Pittsburgh, a self-proclaimed “eds and meds” city, are contributing to the movement, and investigated whether the healthcare industry divesting from fossil fuels could help curb climate change. Since then, the National Academy of Medicine has committed to divesting from fossil fuels.