the environment, health and all that

Have you ever wondered about this modern environment we live in? I have. Something like two hundred years ago when my great great great grad father came to this country there was no electricity, no smog and no one even had a word for microwaves, radar and electromagnetic pulses. two hundred years before that, this continent didn’t even have much of the disease’s, germs and bad breath imported from settlers from Europe.

These days we hear a lot about “organic” food grown without pesticides, insecticides and all the rest of the genetically enhanced, chemically purified mumbo jumbo that goes into most crops and livestock. I am a vegetarian (still eat dairy, eggs and some fish though) and I try to eat healthy, limiting fats and such. However more and more often I feel it is a losing battle and a false economy. In the modern world, this one where we rise every morning and go to bed each night, we are bombarded every moment of the day by all manner of things totally foreign to the natural environment of our distant ancestors. Every day we are subject to microwaves (radar, cell phones, TV, radio, satellite), smog and bad air from cars, trucks, planes, industrial pollution, noise pollution, and about a zillion other things that never occurred naturally a few hundred years ago.

Scientists, politicians and industry would have you believe that all this has no effect on us, that global warming is a hoax and that the 40 million barrels crude oil spilled into the sea by the latest busted tanker will all dissapate and be absorbed by the environment. Well here’s the wake up call cause we’re the environment, us and the 47000 species of animals that share (now 46999 species as one goes extinct every few seconds) this planet. We’re the ones absorbing the spills, the pollutants, the microwaves and whatever else we have added to the air, water and soil around us.

There is no getting away from it either, I read recently an article on the Internet about old growth forests in Northern Ontario dying off due to polluted air. This same article talked about fish poisoned with cyanide in India and dead rivers in Mexico. We, you and I and everyone else who enjoys Late Night with David Letterman while lounging in our nylon jammies in the back of our Limousines whilst chatting on our cell phones are having a massive affect on the environment, all environments. We are rapidly using up non-renewable resources, use virtually everything to excess, bulldoze our forests and farm lands to build ritzy condos for rich business men, demand bigger more gas guzzling, more pollutive SUVs to show how successful we are and generally think about our environment last if at all.

Yesterday while commuting to work (I drive a Honda civic by the way) I heard a report on the radio about 15 local mayors lamenting the fact that the latest gas guzzler tax (up to $8000 for the worst offenders) was going to cause a major downturn in the local auto industry. Did the reporter(or the mayors) note that the local auto industry (and the auto industry in general) turns out more gas guzzling, environmentally unfriendly cars than fuel efficient environmentally ones? Puzzle me this, does anyone really need a two and a half ton four wheel drive SUV with 18″ of drive over clearance to commute the one and a half miles to their downtown office? Is it really necessary to drive around town in a 500 HP, V-10 pick up truck whose back box is covered up so can’t possibly carry the leather sofa home from Leons? Does a 1000HP, two seat sports car that gets 3.5 miles per gallon (and that’s Brit gallons, not mini-American gallons!) make any sense? In all of the above I would say no!

It’s not all doom and gloom however, in the last week I have seen advertisements for at least 5 different hybrid cars, cars that run on electricity and/or gas. These cars apparently get better gas mileage, pollute less and are much more environmentally friendly. They have been around for a few years now but are just starting to be promoted and get some exposure. Here once again I think it is the auto manufactures who are at fault for the lack of popularity of the hybrids. First is the styling of the cars, remember the first Honda hybrid to be marketed? It looked like it was a direct transplant from that 70’s Brit show about invading aliens, I think it was called UFO. Then there is the pricing, hybrids typically cost about ten grand more than there pure gas brethren. That’s a high price to pay when the savings (in fuel economy) are not really that spectacular. My Honda civic will go 675 Km on one tank of gas while a friend of mine claims her hybrid will go 1000 km. I can’t say for sure but I think it would take some considerable time to make up the ten grand price difference in just gas savings alone. Then there is the advertising, until this week I could name only two hybrid cars on the market, could count the number of hybrid ads on one hand even though they had been on the market at least a few years. As i said however, the manufacturers do seem to be learning, there are now more ads and apparently many more hybrids to choose from. Maybe there is hope for us after all.

Visit David Suzuki’s blog as well

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