Cars vs. Health

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The always fascinating podcast Talking Headways has done an interview with Fielding School Professor Dick Jackson, and it’s a great listen.  Dick has been a major thought-leader in public health for years, and this interview shows why.  With insight and erudition Dick takes on the health implications of urban planning and climate change, and argues that in ways large and small, cars are a major threat to population health.

 

Dick is an entertaining and passionate speaker with wide-ranging understand of what drives population health and an encyclopedic memory of compelling anecdotes and sharp insights.  He’s had a long history of taking on the built-environment, including in a PBS documentary and associated book, Designing Healthy Communities.  This latest interview shows undiminished optimism, even in the face of growing threats to health.

 

Go listen.  If you’re interested in the big picture of what drives population health, it’s an excellent place to start.

 

Here are some choice quotations to whet your appetite:

 

“The way we’re building America is fundamentally unhealthy….We put people last when we build America — We put the needs of cars first.”

 

“People knew how to build good communities before everyone decided that nobody needed a community — all they need is a car and a big house.”

 

“What kind of society sets their kids up for a desperately serious disease that on average reduce their lifespans by about 15 years?”

 

“One-third of Americans don’t drive…. But when we build transportation systems we are building for drivers, not for people.”

 

“We’ve tended to penalize people for their poverty.”

 

“Climate change is the public health issue of the next 5,000 years… A third of Florida underwater, 150 million people losing their homes in Bangladesh… the Ganges drying up…climate refugees beyond anything anyone can believe.”

 

“The things that go on when large populations start moving are frightening beyond belief. What happens to women, what happens to children, … Shortages of food suddenly become religious and ethnic battles… It brings about a tipping point against human civility. It’s heartbreaking. But it does happen. We’ve seen it happen over and over again.”

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