A little more ventilation (and filtration)

Of course right after I finally make my ventilation post, the IAQ people at Harvard release their latest.  Nice summary in this twitter threat:

A point I failed to make (and should’ve because I’ve been following Allen since the beginning) is that there’s a lot of benefits to better air beyond just less disease.  Less particulates in the air is also really good for you. 

Anyway, point being, there’s other health benefits– positive externalities if you will– for improving our air to fight respiratory disease.  It also means that there’s really, really, a lot of benefit to doing this.  It almost surely far, far exceeds the costs.  Alas, like many potentially great policies, though, this is still a tough go politically.  The benefit to any individual is small and often long term.  Again, those benefits add up to a massive societal win, but, it’s on an individual scale that not enough people will fight hard for it.  Meanwhile, improving the air costs significant investments that will be more narrowly borne by organizations and businesses and thus, in many cases, inclined to fight against it.  And for politicians looking to allocate public money, the biggest impact will be seen down the road and politicians are horrible at that (climate change, anyone?).  

What this will take is some real leadership.  Covid gives us the opportunity for that leadership to step up in a favorable context.  Hopefully, we’ll see some of that, but I fear this will be one more obvious policy improvement that we’ll fail on.  

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

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