ALS was first found in 1869 by French neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot, but it wasn’t until 1939 that Lou Gehrig brought national and international attention to the disease. Ending the career of one of the most beloved baseball players of all time, the disease is still most closely associated with his name. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Motor neurons reach from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the body. The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS eventually leads to their death. When the motor neurons die, the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement is lost. With voluntary muscle action progressively affected, patients in the later stages of the disease may become totally paralyzed.
We do have a choice but we choose consumption and cheap goods over our long-term health. From a public policy perspective, we could internalize the externalities by assigning a price to pollution or climate change and other damages we do. As the price of harming our environment rises we would do less of it. We could also sue companies to fix the damage they do. Both of these things require a collective action, and that requires the will to do it. That requires political leadership, and red state politicians where much of the damage occurs accept billions in donations from chemical companies, decry “job-killing legislation” and the EPA, and convince their low information voters that their jobs depend on inaction. These problems of course will all get worse as we further degrade our environment and global (and local) poverty pressures many to support “jobs” over the environment.