Don’t Believe in Climate Change? So Long, Rural South!

A Texas State Park police officer walks on the cracked and drought-wracked lakebed of O.C. Fisher Lake, in San Angelos, Texas. Tony Gutierrez / AP

New Orleans  A peer review study published in the weekly journal, Science, would give any policymaker pause about the future of huge parts of the United States by the end of this century, if they were willing to read it and heed it. One would think Republicans interested in the future of their party would be rushing to the newsstand and firing up their computers to get a look at the granular detail on their maps to plot their own district lines.

Normally, that would be the case, but the notion that this might be the biggest transfer of resources and wealth from the poor to the rich, might have them high fiving in the aisles despite the dimming prospects for much of their base and their homelands. In the words of Solomon Hsiang, the lead author from the University of California,

If we continue the current path, our analysis indicates it may result in the largest transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich in the country’s history. Combining impacts across sectors reveals that warming causes a net transfer of value from southern, central and mid-Atlantic regions towards the Pacific Northwest, the Great Lakes region and New England.”

The scientists say that in some parts of the South average temperatures will be up between 6 and 10 degrees Fahrenheit per year. Crops won’t grow and money won’t flow.

The New Orleans Times-Picayune highlighted the bad news for the city as one example. They noted that the study says that by 2100 storm surges “caused by a hurricane with a 1 percent chance of occurring in any year – a so-called 100-year storm will be able to top all levees along the Mississippi River throughout the area and most of the area’s east bank hurricane levees.” The reporter quickly noted that coastal planners are already trying to raise the levees for a 500-year storm and flood and these projections are based on current levels. That was reassuring, but lawmakers are already tearing their hair at how to pay the bills for this, and Washington may not be as willing to help.

It goes on and on like this. At lot of the cost involves the fact that people will just plain die of the heat, especially the elderly, in these poorer areas, but this will be part of the 1 to 3% loss in the GNP by the end of the century. You wonder if some will be starving when the projection involves a 50% decrease in agricultural production in Louisiana for example. It just gets worse from there in places like the South with the temperature rising. Seven of ten of the hardest hit areas will be poor counties in Florida with Texas and other southern states taking the rest of the heat. Of course energy costs will be 10 to 15% higher as well. Interestingly the study argues that low-risk labor will be workers employed inside and out of the heat, but their cost will rise. High-risk labor will be workers exposed to the heat, which now is about 23% of the workforce in construction, mining and agriculture, but hours would be reduced, because the work would be unbearable. Warmer days and less winter everywhere also means that violent crime will be likely to increase. There the north finally takes a harder hit than the south with an increase of 3 to 6%.

If it weren’t for bad news though, there wouldn’t be any news in this report.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Thinking about Teeth

New Orleans   Maybe it’s personal. Several weeks ago, I had a root canal. It’s shocking how much those bad boys cost, and talking to a friend in the northeast, he had to pop for another $500, so I guess it’s time to stop my whining.

On the doors last week though it wasn’t personal. One of my comrades cracked wise, as we were debriefing, that we needed to keep some kind of teeth-to-tattoo count in order to figure the ratios. I laughed then, but the next day in Akron the first three doors my team hit, the count was zero teeth on the first two (with some tattoos!) and ten or so in the front on the third door with three or four tats.

Why don’t we do better in making sure low and moderate income families have dental care?

Reading a newly published book by Mary Otto called Teeth: The Story of Beauty, Inequality, and the Struggle for Oral Health in America, provided chapter and verse while detailing one horror story after another of death and debilitation in lower income communities. Here are some startling facts from Otto’s book:

· For reasons including poverty, isolation, and the lack of private insurance and providers available to treat the poor, roughly one-third of the people living in America face significant barriers to obtaining dental care
· More than 35 million poor children are entitled by federal law to dental benefits under Medicaid, but more than half go without care. Fewer than half the nation’s roughly one hundred fifty thousand working dentists participate in the program.
· Approximately 49 million Americans live in communities that are federally designated as dental professional shortage areas.
· Private and even public dental benefits can help defray the cost of services. But more than 114 million Americans lack them entirely
· Among U.S adults who struggled with unpaid medical bills, 12 percent reported dental bills made up the largest share of the bills they had problems paying, a 2015 survey found.
· Medicare, the nation’s health care program covering roughly 55 million elderly and disabled Americans, does not cover routine dental services.
· Nationwide, a total of 61,439 hospitalizations were primarily attributed to periapical abscesses during the nine years between 2000 and 2009.
· In 2013, only 35 percent of private practice dentists reported treating any patients on public assistance, down from 44 percent in 1990, a separate ADA survey of dental practices found
· one-third (31 percent) of white toddlers and primary school–aged children (aged two to eight) have decayed teeth, the disease afflicts closer to half of black and Hispanic children (44 percent of black children and 46 percent of Hispanic children). And minority children are twice as likely as white children to go without treatment for the decay.

You get the message. Otto’s book makes it clear that the dentists bear a huge share of the responsibility here. They make more per hour than doctors. They have fought allowing dental hygienists doing more, including in public schools. They recommend costly procedures, rather than sealants. They opposed expansion of dental benefits in the original Medicare legislation. They drug their feet until the 1970s to integrate their state associations and, as you can see, they still do not provide service equitably to non-whites or those on public assistance.

How are they allowed to get away with this?

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail