Saturday, November 30, 2013

1. Treat Every New Chemical Brought to Market as Guilty Until Proven Innocent

Pouring chemical -
Every year, thousands of new chemicals are introduced into the environment. That is, to the air, water, and soil—to the food we eat, to the fabric we wear and rub against, and the products we use without a second thought. If you heard even a few horror stories about some of these chemicals, you’d wonder if anyone gave them more than a second thought before releasing them into the world, to affect human and nonhuman beings, maybe even helping to change weather patterns.
The overriding philosophy in the chemical industry—the people and corporations that brought us everything from plastics to oven cleaner to Agent Orange—is “Innocent until proven guilty.” That is a wonderful way of dealing with a human suspect, but extremely dangerous, not to mention unethical, when applied to chemical compounds. Most aren't even considered “suspect” in the first place.
Yes, there are tests for certain materials meant for direct contact with human beings and, occasionally, their food or companion animals. These tests are conducted at high dosages on lab animals that may or may not closely resemble human physiology. They are often cruel, and that cruelty is in vain if the tests do not accurately reflect their later impact on human health and environmental integrity. Inadequately tested, they go into cosmetics, food, toys, fabric, and other household materials, and used as medicines, disinfectants, pesticides, preservatives, weapons, and so on. Anyone or anything that comes in contact is, in effect, part of an ongoing experiment.
Some of the numerous, egregious effects include birth defects, endocrine disruption (putting human and nonhuman animal hormones out of whack), oncogenesis (initiation of cancerous growths), cognitive impairment (temporary fogginess or actual I.Q. reduction), and behavioral problems.
These chemicals are part of our daily lives. Only when sufficient and irrefutable evidence mounts up about a chemical’s dangers does anyone do anything about it. And sometimes, not even then.
The chemical industry has given us many truly amazing innovations, no doubt about it. I’m not calling for the whole edifice to come tumbling down, only for a few renovations to its uncontested principles—ones that affect us all. 
As long as we maintain this approach in order to protect big business interests, people and the natural environment will continue to suffer.
Tell me: what chemicals do you wish had been more carefully tested or monitored before being released? Do you have any experience with something that caused an allergic reaction - or worse? 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Introducing my new blog

In the next few months, I hope to post some observations I have accumulated over the years about the state of the world. I seem to spend a lot of my time worrying about things close to me as well as very, very far away. I have always wanted to fix things - and when I do, I'm very good at it. Maybe it's time I threw some of my more philosophical solutions out into the world to see if they stick!
The average person sounds like a Miss America contestant when she's asked, "What kind of world would you like to see?" Everyone wants "world peace," "racial harmony," and enough food for all. These are all very good, but too vague, too large, and they involve too many contingencies.
One of the most effective ways to solve a problem is a step at a time. A series of smaller imperfections or outright problems handled before the bigger picture comes into view.
World peace! There are so many geopolitical, psychological and logistical obstacles to overcome before TWO countries draw up a mutually agreeable treaty, let alone all the world's nations! How about healing the political system, one level at a time perhaps? Change the voting system. Review long-held assumptions. Those sorts of things.
I am a generalist with a solid footing in the arts and the sciences. I read a lot. I'm always thinking. But I really want to hear from my readers. Everyone has insight - whether it's on their own corner of the planet, or about the whole human race. Please share your thoughts about what I say - and what I leave out!
Looking forward to reading your comments!