LETTER: Agencies need help defining health
Originally addressed Dear United States Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service:
As a physician I am observing the large-scale experiment being conducted on the health of the people, lands, forests, grasslands, air quality, watersheds and creatures of Colorado and this nation with extreme fossil fuel extraction techniques including fracking.
I understand you are requesting public comments regarding this issue in relation to an area near my home called Thompson Divide. I also understand you are requesting any perspectives that have been overlooked as you make decisions regarding existing and future leases.
This current experiment reminds me of earlier experiments conducted in America with asbestos, radiation, tobacco and toxic chemicals.
I would suggest you both carefully read your mission statements, with which you are collectively charged to make decisions and behave in ways to sustain the health, diversity and productivity of public lands, forests and grasslands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. I share your multigenerational responsibility, as do all parents.
Although health would seem to be a word easily understood, as we know from these earlier experiments, it can be easily overlooked in states of enthusiasm for substances and methods which seem to promise benefits, but which over time prove to destroy diversity and productivity of public lands and in fact the public health. The current dictum for multi-use of land and resources is unhealthy, if a use destroys health and diversity and a wasteland results.
I read your missions to be ones of sustaining and, although proof of toxicity may take decades to prove, risking health is not a prudent decision given your responsibility to sustain. A similarity between your mission and mine seems to be one of standing tall for health.
I acknowledge there is much confusion in this nation about the meaning of health and that it can be easily overlooked. Since health is an interest of mine, I will be honored to explain the importance and meaning of health, if you would value the understanding I have gained in my experience.
William Evans, MD
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