A recent article from Kevin Drum points to the fact that there is a pretty good causal effect between crime rates and lead poisoning. Crime rates in the United States are on a sharp decline and the removal of lead from everyday life may be the cause. How cool is that?
This is why environmental issues are so important and also why people have a hard time seeing environmental issues as needing to be solved. It can take decades for the effects of what we are doing to the environment to become readily apparent. Eat lead paint as a toddler today and you kill someone 15 years from now. Your average person would never make that connection. There are hidden costs to many of our everyday activities that we would never be willing to pay if the costs were known up front. Corporations know this. Science takes decades and there is a lot of money to be made in those ensuing decades before something is considered harmful.
The lead we pump into the atmosphere from factories and coal fired plants costs us more for correctional facilities. Your tube socks you buy at Wal-Mart cost you much more than what you pay for it because of the welfare support needed for its employees since Wal-Mart refuses to pay a living wage. The meat you eat costs much more than what you pay for it because of the diseases they cause and the harm the factory farms do to the local environment. Carbon dioxide pumped into the atmosphere decades ago is causing global warming now.
Humanity has trouble taking responsibility for things that happened yesterday. It is no wonder that it is nearly impossible for us to take responsibility for things that happened decades ago.