Sunday, November 19, 2006

It's not nice to fool...Mother Nature...! (boom, crash, etc.)

First off, you’ll have to kinda bear with me. Since undertaking this whole blogging thing, I’ve discovered there are way more topics about which I’d like to blog than there is time to actually write the blogs. Thus, I’ve gotten really blogged down (har har) and have shit scattered everywhere. Today, I took it upon myself to try and get a little organized so I can tackle one subject at a time and, hopefully, whittle things down to the point where I’m somewhat caught up. So these next few entries might seem a little dated, but my reason for digging them up – indeed, the point of the entire blogsite itself – is to try and bring attention to these subjects or stories. Even if nobody reads them...at least I’ve put them out there for now. Plus, each story or news item is still relevant…I’ll try to provide updates to see if the situations have evolved or devolved since their original publication dates.

That said, there was an article from the June issue of The Sun that I’d like to share. Part of the article, anyway. The author is a guy named Barry Lopez, a writer from Oregon who specializes in the relationship between nature and human society, in both his fiction and non-fiction works. The article (short-story?) in question is called Waiting for Salmon. I couldn’t find any mention on his website of it being included in any of his books...otherwise, I’d include a link. Hopefully, I won’t get sued. Anyway, here’s an excerpt from this story that I really liked for a number of reasons...

“A purely biological view of humanity – sans politics, sans religion – is something we are unaccustomed to. We tend to think of humanity as exempt from nature by virtue of its technologies, its impressive eschatologies. (No, I don’t know what that word means either.) To practice our political and religious beliefs, however, we must be free to act – a freedom already compromised by our aversion to questions about our biological fate. Scientists...would inform us that we are organisms no more separate from nature than we are exempt from the consequences of the cultural design we have tried to impose on nature.

“To speak frankly and unemotionally of large-scale changes in the natural world that might be traced to human activity, however, remains anathema to people still furious with Darwin for suggesting that ‘nature’ included man. In this way some religious convictions in America directly oppose democratic process.

“Imagine a disinterested primate mammalogist or psychiatric pathologist dispassionately observing a random, urban population of Homo sapiens in North America. He or she would be justified in writing this diagnosis:
Increasingly dependent on prescription drugs to elevate or suppress its emotions; living in intense, intersecting fields of electromagnetic energy; drawing its waters from aquifers laced with manufactured chemical wastes, including hormones and antibiotics whose synergistic toxicity is unknown and ignored. He or she would note that the diseases making striking inroads in this population include various forms of dementia (attention-deficit disorder and Alzheimer’s), asthma, hypertension, depression, distraction disorders, and many types of cancer. He or she would point out that while the primary cause of such diseases is often genetic predisposition, it is likely that these particular diseases are also culturally driven or stress-related to some appreciable degree. Relying solely on traditional explanations of the etiology of these impairments, the researcher would be compelled to note, would be to ignore the role of industry practice and government policy and to overlook the unwitting human disturbance of viral ecologies in recent years that has produced HIV, Ebola, Lassa fever, Marburg virus, and other unprecedented problems.

“The world, we too often forget, has no investment or interest in the triumph of Homo sapiens, an idea that many Christian fundamentalists, with their Albigensian
(again...no idea) hatred of the earth, want stricken from the record of human thought.

“In a mature nation, where terrorists might be understood as part of a worldwide awakening to the specter of finite resources, and to the strategic and tactical planning required to secure ownership to fresh water, petroleum, and grain fields, it would be possible in political discussion to raise the subject of the fate of Homo sapiens. But in no country does this seem possible. As for America, its mainstream politics is uninformed by, even hostile to, biology. Further, a major segment of the American electorate apparently believes that any concern about where food and water will come from is a superstitious holdover from the time of ‘primitive’ people. Man’s destiny, his true home, they assert, is in a heaven, alongside their one-and-only God, who gave humans the earth to use for whatever it might provide in the way of comfort and material wealth, and for however it might serve their plan to convert all benighted peoples to a belief in Him. That done, the earth would be abandoned. A rapturous departure, an empty warehouse.”

I do like the fact that it takes to task the seeming majority of Americans who prefer to ignore the independently verifiable information that science has provided us over the past century and a half or so in favor of the absurdly mythological tales that organized religions – Christianity, in particular – have deemed the unquestionable truth. I still cannot wrap my head around this kind of head-in-sand “faith,” but then I’m probably the last person who should be trying to.

But what really jumped out at me was the bit about the objective examiner trying to translate modern American society for an audience previously ignorant of it...the “diagnosis” of our collective dependence on prescription medications and unnatural additives, the fact that we ingest these both intentionally and unintentionally, without knowing the long- (or even medium-) term effects to our human bodies and the body of our Earth. Lopez then takes his narrative to the next logical level, which is the fact that over the same basic corresponding time during which these chemicals became commonplace in our lives, there have been equally dramatic increases in both psychological disorders and flesh-and-blood disease. (Mental health experts would probably argue that I shouldn’t separate the two, though for the sake of this post I will.) “Culturally driven...unprecedented problems,” the shortest possible summary.

Leaving the rest of the issues related to religion aside for now (though the excerpt above is certainly worth reading and re-reading again, which is why I left it intact), it more or less brings us right back to the issue I brought up a post or two previous...the willful ignorance of future consequences related to the industries of “natural” products for human consumption using production methods that circumvent scientific integrity in the name of commerce.

The prescription drug industry – completely out of control now that the FDA has become a puppet organization managed by the very companies and special interests they are supposed to be overseeing; factory farming; the completely synthetic world of artificial food additives, which seems to expand with Big Bang rapidity; genetically modified agriculture and the corporations who specialize in it...these are all examples of industries which have been encouraged through government deregulation to disregard ethics and public safety for the sake of their respective shareholders. (Especially thanks to that ridiculous Clinton-era law that took it upon itself to reclassify corporations as actual citizens.)

Common sense tells us not to feed poultry products to chicken, tells us not to feed beef derivatives to cattle. Yet we act surprised when Avian Flu and Mad Cow Disease appear in our food supply.

In this age of global commerce, both corporations and governments encourage people to stop thinking and start buying. Hell, Dubya said as much after the 9/11 attacks…that the best way all of us could help the national healing process would be to start “buying again.” That’s the prevailing advice across the globe: don’t think, just buy. Doesn’t really matter what you buy, so long as money’s getting passed around.

And it’s a recipe for catastrophe. Forget evidence for a moment and just rely on common sense. How much more convincing should we need to remember – not “realize” but “remember” – that humans cannot mold the natural world for the sake of profit without provoking devastating results?

I’ve provided a couple additional links below that I think are worth reading and considering with regard to our current course. I hope they present you with information you find worthy of your time...

October 17, 2006
FDA is Set to Approve Milk, Meat from Clones

October 15, 2006 (from Michael Pollan)
The Vegetable-Industrial Complex

September 29, 2006
TFAs, the Food Industry’s ‘Trojan Horse’ on Your Table

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1 Comments:

Anonymous Wendy said...

I see why you didn't get much work done yesterday...! You're right, that was an awesome article. People do not understand that they are a part of nature because they are sooo far removed from it. There is nothing in the average person's daily life that brings them into contact with the natural world. They have to put effort into making connections, thinking about the consequences of their actions, they have to give a fuck. And the vast majority don't. And I really don't know what to do about it.

9:20 PM  

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