An obscure piece of news — a story about a doctor winning an award — caught my eye today.

It wasn’t the startling rate of autism, which has increased exponentially since my son, Sam, was diagnosed almost 20 years ago. (It’s now 1 in 80).

It wasn’t Dr. Philip Landrigan’s beautiful characterization about the brain. (“The human brain is capable of doing calculus and writing symphonies and enjoying the beauty of the sunset, but the cost of that is exquisite vulnerability,” he said.)

It wasn’t that the writer of the article assumed the villain in this unfolding health crises is one or more environmental triggers, though that could ultimately prove to be true.

It was the estimate of how much the U.S. saves each year in health care costs since we removed lead from gasoline: $200 billion.

China thought they could develop like we did, go-go-go, and clean up later. We got away with the “clean up later” model because people didn’t know.

But we’re still paying for it — in ways we cannot even measure. Millions born with brains that mean they must struggle more than their fair share, for one. Health care costs that, in a generation, went from affordable to not.

We should never put the responsibility on another generation, hoping technology will catch up. You always pay, one way or another.

2 Comments

  1. TXsharon on December 14, 2010 at 1:02 pm

    Well, someone always pays. Some people do seem to get off without paying their share of the tab, at least in this realm.

    That quote about the brain–I have to put it here:
    “The human brain is capable of doing calculus and writing symphonies and enjoying the beauty of the sunset, but the cost of that is exquisite vulnerability,” he said.
    Wow!

  2. Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe on December 14, 2010 at 7:54 pm

    People like that good doctor (one of those papers Sandra D. quotes is by him, by the way) have an extraordinary view into our world, and when they are able to articulate it in words, it is such a gift for the rest of us.

    He had me at “hello” with that one.

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