Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Hump Day Hmm for 10-24-07: Imagine what could be next, if only...

Last week I announced today's Hump Day Hmm topic as:

"Where I'd like to go next." This can be your personal goal, professional goal, cultural or societal goal, political goal...you get the picture. Just tell us something about how you'd like the future to be. Link back to me in your post, send me the link to your post at j pippert at g mail dot com and I'll add you in to the list!

I had three or four other post ideas in mind in answer to that question, which strikes at so many things for me. But, in light of Monday's news, my words are sort of jumbled, unprocessed...a Chicka Chicka Boom Boom mess after falling down from the coconut tree.

Two things are clear in my head, though.

Clear Thing One: Silent Spring

One commenter asked if I'd read Rachel Carson's Silent Spring. I have. A little known fact about me is that I aspire(d) to be an anthropologist. I figured this out a little too late, without enough confidence, after I stumbled into what would have been my double major (had my college allowed such a thing...because I ended up taking to many hours): cultural geography. So I've read and re-read Silent Spring. I've read the controversy about it, studied Ms. Carson's life, and read counterarguments (which I didn't quite buy). I even read the follow-up, Beyond Silent Spring (which was pretty new back when I read it in college). I've also studied the Gaia Hypothesis. And I think it might really have been there that I became so very concerned about the environment.

(Each link goes to a different site with information. If you are interested, I encourage you to click and open new tabs to read more.)

Here are a few salient quotes from Silent Spring, published in 1962 (emphasis mine):

There is still very limited awareness of the nature of the threat. This is an era of specialists, each of whom sees his own problem and is unaware of or intolerant of the larger frame into which it fits. It is also an era dominated by industry, in which the right to make a dollar at whatever cost is seldom challenged. When the public protests, confronted with some obvious evidence of damaging results of pesticide applications, it is fed little tranquilizing pills of half truth. We urgently need an end to these false assurances, to the sugar coating of unpalatable facts. It is the public that is being asked to assume the risks that the insect controllers calculate. The public must decide whether it wishes to continue on the present road, and it can do so only when in full possession of the facts. In the words of Jean Rostand, “The obligation to endure gives us the right to know.”

Chapter 2, The Obligation to Endure

If the Bill of Rights contains no guarantee that a citizen shall be secure against lethal poisons distributed either by private individuals or by public officials, it is surely only because our forefathers, despite their considerable wisdom and foresight, could conceive of no such problem.

Chapter 2, The Obligation to Endure

Notable quotes from recent ATSDR literature about PAHs:
PAH contents of plants and animals may be much higher than PAH contents of soil or water in which they live.


Clear Thing Two: Mercy Mercy Me (the Ecology)

There is a song I haven't been able to get out of my head. It's a song that has always hit me emotionally, much as John Lennon's Imagine does. It's Marvin Gaye's Mercy Mercy Me (the Ecology).

Ah, mercy, mercy me,
Ah, things ain't what they used to be, no, no.
Where did all the blue skies go?
Poison is the wind that blows from the north and south andeast.

Mercy, mercy me,
Ah, things ain't what they used to be, no, no.
Oil wasted on the ocean and upon
our seas fish full of mercury,

Oh, mercy, mercy me.
Ah, things ain't what they used to be, no, no, no.
Radiation underground and in the sky;
animals and birds who live near by are dying.

Oh, mercy, mercy me.
Ah, things ain't what they used to be.
What about this over crowded land?
How much more abuse from man can she stand?

It seems too clear that we value the short-term of profit over the long-term of a human life. This makes me ineffably sad.

So my hope for tomorrow?

That we abandon the greed foundation of our culture and goals and prefer human health and life to the almighty dollar. That the government becomes so alarmed by industry that poisons and kills that there is a zero tolerance for that. We seem to have no problem with the concept of zero tolerance in other areas, so why not this one? Arguments about dependent income and so forth is ridiculous, especially in the face of human life. Take the Superfund money and help the communities financially and build new, safe industries for them to have dependence on for income.

We're sick. We are all sick, maybe some not as much as others, but sick has become the new normal.

We are sick because public protest is not as important as profit margins.

We are sick because our government---which has zero tolerance for terrorism---has incredible tolerance for eco and human health terrorism.

We are sick because companies lie about risks and effects. Because they take risks with our health and that of the environment by trying to save a few pennies and illegally dump toxic wastes.

We are sick because, sadly, CEOs of toxic companies are not considered murderers and jailed.

We are sick because we have not forced ourselves and our nation to Make This End.

45 years ago a brilliant woman told us we were poisoning ourselves and our land, the animals who share the planet with us.

Since then, there has been much art about the issue, but little matter.

Do you want to know how big an epidemic our dirty little world creates?

You won't be surprised to learn I couldn't find any information about the United States, but I'll tell you a cold, hard number and let you extrapolate:

About 460,000 Chinese die prematurely each year from breathing dirty air and drinking polluted water, the World Bank estimates.

Source: Reuters, Sept. 13, 2007


Take a breath.

Did you pause before doing so? Now that you know how dirty and harmful it might be?

Now you know how much you care.

And what else do others care about...what are other goals for tomorrow?

Painted Maypole wrote Free to be...ME

Emily wrote I’m not sure where I’m willing to go next

Garden of nna mmoy wrote Prophecies and Foreshadowing

Within the woods wrote Where do we go from here?

Lyrical Catherine wrote Next Up: Islam

Copyright 2007 Julie Pippert
Also blogging at:
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14 comments:

Andrea said...

Well, to be fair, you can't extrapolate from China to the US. There are no regulations or legislation in China for air quality--Chinese cities are the most polluted on teh planet, akin more to Victorian era cities in the UK and North America than modern western cities. We have made some progress on the more obvious air pollution issues. The problem is that the less obvious ones (pm10, PAHs, etc.) we haven't made any progress on at all.

ABout 1500 people die in ONtario prematurely every year from poor air quality. I don't know where to find the equivalent info from the States, but I know that Houston's air quality is the worst in the US, so if you extrapolated from that to Houston, you would have a conservative estimate.

I did one today. It's a little more frivolous.

painted maypole said...

good post. it's amazing how we have managed to rape the earth in the last 100 or so years. How can we survive another century of this?

Jeff said...

Greed. Greed plays a major role in many of our environmental issues. Just how profitable do certain companies have to be before they are willing to spend money to clean up their operations or convert to cleaner energy options. If oil companies would use their science and technology to develop and provide clean energy instead of carbon-burning fuels, the world would actually stand a chance of utilizing these alternate energy options.

Magpie said...

Julie, another great post. It's saddening, and sickening.

liv said...

I don't think I want to speculate or dream about what's next or what I want right now. My brain can't think that far. Feeling good is the best I hope for.

kim said...

After your post yesterday I did a little research on air quality and ATL.'s air quality is on the worst list.

It's all so overwhelming. The every day problems of living, plus war, poverty, the environment. I know that we all say just do something every little bit helps, but I don't think we have the time to wait. I think we need massive, collective pressure on our government and the public needs to be better informed. How many people really know what is going on? Perhaps a movement much like the African American blogging community that raised awareness and coordinated the largest demonstration since the Civil Rights Movement in Jena, LA.

thailandchani said...

Another one of your posts for the archive! This was awesome!


Peace,

~Chani

Karen said...

ah, thank you for that...feeling thwarted, have potentially big news on a rather major change but not ready for in-laws to know yet, hence it is un-bloggable, because my dear MIL sometimes peek and it involves her grandchildren not living 3 miles away -so that wouldn't be a nice way to tell her mmm?

Aliki2006 said...

I'm off to read the other posts...great Hump Day topic--really timely and fitting.

Catherine said...

I don't know if it really counts, but I posted about what world religion I'm studying next today. If you think it counts, you can add. If not - I understand. :)

jen said...

i loved this: That we abandon the greed foundation of our culture and goals and prefer human health and life to the almighty dollar.

and i somehow keep failing to get on the bus with these weekly posts and then every time i read your and others thoughts on your topics i kick myself.

hiruma4 said...

nice pic ! And I was really enjoying your site.
http://idolcutepic.blogspot.com

slouching mom said...

PM said it -- we've "raped" the earth. That's not hyperbole.

Christine said...

this makes me so sad, the truth of it all.