- DIRTY ANTARCTICA?
- A visit to the continent of
Antarctica has been called the ultimate trip or vacation. For approximately $12,000 person
can arrange a two week expedition with well guided tour groups. There are problems with
this, because a continent without a government. which really belongs to no one and yet to
everyone, could be easily victimized. This land was so pristine for so long that it seemed
a shame to allow anyone but the scientists to visit. In 1975 the Antarctic Treaty parties
agreed there was a problem with tourism, and in 1978 the U.S. Congress passed the
Antarctic Conservation Act which expressly forbids such activities as the unauthorized
entry into any land designated off-limit, because of the fragility of its ecosystem which
was set aside strictly for scientific studies.
- The first human set foot on
Antarctica in 1821, and until 1954 there was no permanent research station on the frozen
continent. Today, there are approximately 70 scientific bases, which all depend on the
outside world for their necessities and their comforts. Even though there is only a small
dedicated community of people on the continent, they have managed to generate a tremendous
amount of trash to carry out their research, build their shelters and research stations,
and of course to maintain their standard of living. On a continent with an ecosystem so
fragile that soil retains a footprint for years, and which had existed for tens of
thousands of years without a drop of oil or a scrap of paper fouling it, we can now find
the same sort of pollution we would see any where. Investigations last year revealed that
few, if any even, of the bases on the continent -- operated by more than 20 different
nations -- meet the standards set by the Antarctic Treaty's Code of Conduct and
Supplementary Recommendations. Much clean-up is called for by environmental groups, and
the major U.S. research stations are complying under the pressure.
- Additionally, there have been
several reports of crew members from the tourist groups acting in clear violation of the
1978 Antarctic Conservation Act, which completely prohibits direct contact with live
animals -- yet tourists and tour guides are seen hugging penguins for photographs and even
kicking seals to get a reaction from them. The tourists themselves are led ashore by
naturalists and former research scientists with prior Antarctic experience, but the
tour crews from the ships often go ashore unsupervised.
- What used to be pristine snow
now shows traces of the modern world -- much from the aviation fuel that is expended so
liberally with all the comings and goings. More than six million gallons of fuel are
brought into Antarctica each year by the Americans alone, which poses a significant risk
since spillage can occur in transportation and leakage can happen during storage.
- The National Science Foundation
is working with vendors toward reducing the packaging that enters the research station,
and all plastic packaging is removed before shipments are sent to U.S. stations at
Antarctica. As with everything, understanding the problem and working toward prevention
before disaster will prove the best course in this case. As it is, one old dump site used
for years by several research stations, located at the Winter Quarters Bay area, is such a
problem now that investigation is continuing as to what to do to clean up the site. There
is fear that whatever may be there in the dump should perhaps just be capped, since
remobilizing toxins or other hazardous wastes could be worse in the long run. The bay
itself has high levels of hydrocarbons and other chemicals -- primarily from bilge water,
machine shop lubricants, and burned fuel residue a clear threat to this fragile
environment. Fortunately there is increased awareness and cleanup operations and better
control of human activities are underway.
- The damage occurring in
Antarctica is just another example of the short sightedness of the human mind. We
tend to think we live in some sort of vacuum where our actions are absorbed into the
vastness of our world and surely will not come back to harm us. We're learning
the propinquity of our world.
- The river we pollute is not an
entity apart from us, the air we foul does not blow somewhere else, the forest we slash
and burn is not a jungle to be tamed and the arctic wilderness we despoil is real not so
far away. Destruction of these things which seem separate from us and unrelated to
our health and safety are not separate at all. They are, so to speak, conspecific.
We are the forest, the air, the snow, the ocean. When we harm them we harm us.
Cousteau Society, Calypso Log. April 1990)
- FLU FROM OUTER SPACE
- A recent letter appearing in
the highly respected British journal Nature by Fred Hoyle Argues that disease on
earth may be the result of viruses from outer space. Hoyle is the author of the
modern Panspermia hypothesis which argues that life originated on earth by seeding from
bacteria and viruses coming from outer space. This idea has historical origins in
Boffon, Bonet and Anaxagoras centuries ago.
- Although these notions are
generally dismissed by the scientific community, there are some remarkable coincidences.
They argue there is a relationship between flu pandemics and peaks in the occurrences of
sunspots over the past two hundred years. The reasoning here
is that solar wind created during spot activity sweeps space born microbes through the
earths atmosphere with greater force. Hoyle further argues that the reason flu
strikes more commonly in winter is because winter creates stronger down drafts.
- Critics argue that cosmic
radiation would destroy germs in space before they ever reached earth and that
there is not a correlation between pandemics and sun spots as Hoyle argues. Hoyle
rebuts by saying that he believes microbes have been detected in space but that the
government has classified the results because they are related to biological warfare.
- I thought Id relate this tidbit of
information to you just in case you thought you knew everything.
Scientific American, April 1990, pg. 26
- MRFIT ADDS YEARS
- The multiple risk factor
intervention trial called by its acronym MRFIT, is a randomized primary prevention study
to determine the effect of a variety of factors on coronary disease mortality.
- Over 6,000 men were assigned to
a group to receive special intervention such as dietary advice to lower cholesterol,
council to stop smoking and drug treatments to control hypertension. Another group
of over 6,000 men were to receive standard health care.
- It is interesting that after 6
to 8 years of intervention, mortality from heart disease did not differ significantly
between the men assigned to the special intervention group and the men assigned to usual
health care. Now, 10 ½ years after the beginning of the trial, it has been
shown as reported in a recent issue of the Journal of American Medical
Association, that those in the intervention group are experiencing decreased mortality
benefits. Specifically, mortality rates were 10.6% lower in the intervention group
for coronary heart disease and 7.7% lower for all causes. There was a 24% reduction
in death from acute myocardial infarction in the men in the special intervention group
compared to the usual care control group.
- This speaks certainly to the
benefit of risk factor intervention such as modifying diet and stopping smoking, but also
demonstrates the complicated nature of chronic disease and the difficulties we face in
determining cause and effect. Most medicine, as practiced by professionals and
received by the public, is short-term focused. In other words, physicians usually
attempt to address immediate health concerns with immediate resolutions. Patients
want the same and have come to expect it. Unfortunately,
this short sightedness has caused us to lose sight of the long-term effects of lifestyle
choices. Thus when you speak of prevention, or risk factor intervention, these seem
like soft recommendations and are easily disputed. In other words, if one is smoking
today and not coughing up lung tumors than the conclusion can be made that smoking is
harmless. If one is not involved in a regular exercise program or consuming large
proportions of fresh, whole, raw foods and not keeling over from cardiovascular disease or
stroke, then there is no need to change.
- Addressing health care is going
to have too be the same as addressing the health of our planet at large. We now have
to be the same as addressing the health of our planet at large. We now have to come
to learn that acts we commit now come back to us sooner or later as benefit or harm.
The ten year results of the MRFIT trial should send a strong message to health care
professionals as well as the public that bad choices now result in bad consequences later.
And that decisions for health care are going to have too be made without
experiencing any immediate benefit. In this case, those in the intervention group
after 5 or 6 years of modifying lifestyle with no benefit in mortality could easily
conclude that the sacrifices they perhaps perceived they were making were useless.
It thus becomes important to make decisions based squarely on rational choices that
results may not bring benefit until perhaps decades later in life.
Journal of American Medical Association, Mortality
Rates After 10.5 Years For Participants In The Multiple Risk Factor Intervention Trial,
April 4,1990, Vol. 263, No. 13, pg. 1795.
- PLASTIC RECYCLING
- The plastic industry has
recently circulated a very interesting brochure in anticipation of Earth Day this month.
In a chart, they compare the BTUs required to manufacture products from various starting
materials. These materials include paper, glass, steel, aluminum, and plastic. Paper,
which is usually the material thought of when thinking of recycling, requires 20,000 BTUs
per pound to produce, 11,500 BTUs to recycle it into a new container and 6,500 BTUs are
recovered if it is burned. In contrast, plastic requires about 40,000 BTUs to originally
manufacture but only 1,000 BTUs to recycle and almost 18,000 BTUs are recovered if it is
- It is believed that plastic
recycling will increase at a rate of 31% per year over the next 5 years which is a rate
far exceeding that of any of the other materials.
- As I have mentioned before in
the Reviews, another added benefit to the use of plastics is that they divert fossil fuels
into a form other than that which is simply exhausted into the atmosphere. This is not to
suggest that any of the other materials should not be used such as glass, steel, aluminum,
or paper, but only that this commonly thought of bad guy, plastic, may end up to be
more ecologically sound than many of the other materials.
Plastics Recycling, Edgell Plastic
Publications, Chatam, New Jersey.
- COMPUTER DANGERS
- It is estimated that by the
turn of the century, every white-collar worker will be using some type of computer
workstation. At this point in time it is approximately 15% -20% of the white-collar
workforce. Unfortunately, according to Dr. Frederick Ettner, The FDA has given
warning to physicians that video display terminals may create adverse outcomes, could
create birth defects and cause other problems to the fetus during pregnancy.
According to Dr. Ettner, the subject has been far too underreported.
- According to radiation expert
Paul Brodeur in an article published in the New Yorker, in one group of seven
pregnant computer operators who worked in the classified advertising section of a Toronto
newspaper, four out of the seven gave birth to infants with defects; one baby had a
clubfoot, one was born with a cleft palate, another had an underdeveloped eye, and one had
multiple heart abnormalities. In another group studied, seven out of thirteen pregnant
women who worked at an airline check-in counter in Canada miscarried over a two year
period. Examples are piling up. The important thing is to be aware; if
you or anyone you know is pregnant, this is something for you to be wary of. For all of
us, this type of information is valuable as we continue to expose ourselves to more
Doctor's People, March 1990)
- ANIMAL RIGHTS ON THE FARM
- A recent issue of Harrowsmith
contained an interesting article entitled "Livestock Liberation", which
proposed that the animal-rights activists who ore so eager now to focus on the farm may be
right. In Massachusetts last year a rumor began that on animal-rights uprising was brewing
which could drive farmers right out of the state. Farm Bureau bulletins warned farmers:
"Be very careful: For your own safety. do not invite the animal-rights activists onto
your property or near your animals."
- What prompted this fear was a proposed law
presented to the voters, called Question 3, which included wording about "improving
the health of farm animals and promoting the use of humane practices in animal
husbandry." The animal welfare groups called Question 3 "the humane-forming
initiative" while the Massachusetts Farm Bureau and other opponents of the
legislation called It "the anti-family farm bill." The measure was defeated by a
margin of 71 to 29 percent. although for a good while it appeared that the majority of
voters polled were actually in favor of the bill. If it had become law, it would now be
illegal to confine veal calves in the narrow crates which permit hardly a step forward or
backward for the calf. Castration and dehorning of livestock would have had to be
accomplished with some pain alleviation for the animal, and hatcheries would not be
permitted to use inhumane methods to dispose of male chicks -- such as the commonly used
methods of tossing them into trash bogs to be crushed or smothered. The commissioner of
the Department of Food and Agriculture would hove been authorized to "ensure that
farm animals are maintained in good health and that cruel or inhumane practices are not
used in the raising, handling, or transportation of farm animals."
- In spite of the fact that
defeat was the result of this effort by activists-- at least partly because the opponents
of the bill outspent its sponsors by a 20 to 1 margin - predictions are that this issue of
farm-animal welfare will come up again and again in the coming decade. Specifically
excluded in the federal Animal Welfare Act. farm creatures are a new concern. The notion
that the barnyard animals have rights tools a relatively new one. The new methods of
high-yield/high production factory farming treat animals much differently than the old
family farm picture conjures up. The animal rights activists maintain that animals have
become no more than interchangeable units of production, which. if necessary, should be
altered by surgery, drugs or genetics to fit into the farm's production schedule and
system. A cow is a milk-producing machine and no more Her desire to peacefully graze
around in a pasture and eat grass instead of a scientifically formulated feed is a bother
to the farmer. She should simply be efficient and the farmer has no obligation to
accommodate her comfort, her desires, or even her biological needs unless it affects
- The Humane Society of the
United States has developed a "humane scale" which they have designed
specifically placing the farms producing veal, eggs, and pork on the bottom. The inhumane
treatment received by these animals would. in the words of one member, absolutely shock us
out of our heads. They are encouraging Americans to eat only with their
conscience. avoiding veal, eggs, and pork and opting instead for the more humanely
produced dairy products, and then lamb, mutton, beef, and poultry if meat is desired in
- The ultimate question here is
one of the rights -- and how far to take the rights of an animal. If a veal calf is
permitted enough room to turn around in, how about enough room for a short walk?
- For some sunlight? At least a
little time with its mother during its sixteen-week life? The depth of this issue is
staggering, it is one the producer industry is taking dead serious because of the power of
the animal rights organizations. It is something we do indeed need to face and
address -- beginning privately within ourselves is the best way.
](Harrowsmith. November/December 1989)
- SAVING THE PLANET AT HOME
- The earth day event was
exciting. Some of the media programs were tremendous. It appears the earth
issues have come of age. When I first began addressing this topic several years ago
I had to hunt and scrounge for information. Now its in every newspaper in the kids
cartoons and on grocery bags. It gives a real feeling of hope. If we can keep up we
will turn things around Heres some suggestions for the home.
- --Remember that turning the
water off while you brush your teeth can, incredibly enough, save 10-15 gallons of water.
- --Disposable diapers now occupy
approximately one percent of all landfills. They take up to 500 years to decompose. A
cotton diaper can be reused up to 100 times and will decompose within a year -- actually
Javna says within one to six months.
- --Turning your air conditioning
on a really cold setting when you start it up will not cool your air any faster, but will
waste a great deal of energy.
- --Using polystyrene foam is
inexcusable when your own mug could be carried to the office or in your car. Polystyrene
foam is completely nonbiodegradable, it just won't go away.
- --Finally, the last one we will
mention here is his recommendation that we not buy ivory, tortoise shell, coral, reptile
skin or other skins -- no products which are from endangered species. This could be
carried out much further, as far as you personally wish to go. with the animal-sourced
(People, March 5, 1990)
- On a somewhat light note, I
would like to take just a few minutes to share two or three excerpts from a current best
selling paperback that I had the opportunity to look at recently, entitled All Really
Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten, by Robert Fulghum. Some of you may hove picked
this one up, too. if the title intrigued you as it did me, but since many of you may not
have, and I think there's some very valuable down-home philosophy between the pages and
sometimes between the lines, I'd like to cover some of it. If you will permit, I really
will be paraphrasing a bit and will quote you a few passages because this is material you
can listen to, absorb, ponder and enjoy all at the same time.
- First a little background on
the author, Robert Fulghum. It seems that he has been a working cowboy, a folksinger, an
IBM salesman, a professional artist, a minister. a bartender, a drawing and painting
teacher, a husband and a father, but when asked what his profession is he replies.
"philosopher," and proceeds on to explain that his specialty is thinking a great
deal about small and ordinary things, and then expressing what he thinks through writing,
speaking or painting. This book. and his new book entitled It Was On Fire When I Lay
Down On It are collections of essays or what he calls his "stuff"
letters, notes jotted down as thoughts come. correspondence with friends and notes
to himself - all put together with no connecting or concluding extras.
Each chapter makes a small or huge point all by itself, and he
intends no summation or final chapter nor promises any great conclusions. This is just as
well, since I don't know about you, but whenever I pick up a book which promises me
insights and great secrets, solutions to life's questions, and so forth, I'm usually
disappointed. This way seems better: the writer leads the reader down a path and the
reader can conclude his own arrival.
- The first essay that
particularly amused me was an account about an incident involving jumper cables. It seems
that a young couple left their lights on and needed to find a Good Samaritan with Jumper
cables, and as he says, the 'Good Fairy of Fate' placed them in his hands. He tells it
- Men are supposed to know about
jumper cables. It's supposed to be in the genetic code, right? But some of us are mental
mutants, and if it's under the hood of a car, well it's voodoo, Jack, and that's the end
of it. Besides, this guy only asked me if I had jumper cables. He didn't ask me if I knew
how to use them. I thought by the way he asked that he knew what he was doing. After all.
he had an Idaho license plate and was wearing a baseball cap and cowboy boots. All those
kind of people know about jumper cables when they're born, don't they? Guess he
thought a white-bearded old man wearing hiking boots and driving a twenty-year-old VW van
was bound to use jumper cables a lot. So I get out my cables, and we swagger around being
all macho and cool and talking automobile talk. We look under the hood of his rig, and
there's no battery.
- "Hell," I said,
"there's your problem right there. Somebody stole your battery."
- "Dang," he said.
- "The battery is under the
back seat," said his nice sweet wife.
- So we took all the luggage out
of the back seat and hauled the seat out into the parking lot and, sure enough, there it
was. A battery. Right there. Just asking for jumper cables to be laid on it. I began to
get worried when the guy smirked at his wife and said under his breath that he took auto
mechanics and sex education at the same time in high school and they had been confused in
his mind ever since, when it came to where things were and what you did to get any action
out of them. We laughed. His wife didn't laugh at all. She just pulled out a manual and
started thumbing through it. Anyway, the sum of our knowledge was that positive poles and
negative poles were involved, and either one or both cars ought to be running, and
six-volt and twelve-volt batteries and other-volt batteries did or did not work. I thought
he knew what he was doing, and kind of went along with it. Guess he did the same. And we
hooked it all up real tight and turned the ignition key in both cars at the same time. And
there was this electrical arc between the cars that not only fried his ignition system, it
welded the jumper cables to my battery and knocked the baseball cap off his head. The
sound was like that of the world's largest fly hitting one of those electric killer
screens. ZISH. Accompanied by an awesome blue flash and some smoke. Power is an
- We just sat down right there in
the back seat of his car, which was still sitting out there in the parking lot. Awed by
what we had accomplished. And his wife went off with the manual to find some
semi-intelligent help. We talked as coolly and wisely as we could in the face of
circumstances. He said. "Ignorance and power and pride are a deadly mixture, you
- "Sure are," I said.
"Like matches in the hands of a three-year-old. Or automobiles in the hands of a
sixteen-year-old. Or faith in God in the mind of a saint or a maniac. Or a nuclear arsenal
in the hands of a movie character. Or even jumper cables and batteries in the hands of
- Now I am wondering, as I relate
this passage to you who are listening, how many of you are smiling and nodding, having
been there to, as I did when I first read it. We have all surely at some time mixed
ignorance. power and pride, and had our own personal disasters result.
- Since the overpopulation
problems facing our finite planet and all of us on board are something we've discussed
before in past Reviews, I wanted to share a short chapter from Fulghum in which we
can see some of the more amazing facts. I quote:
- "If the population of the
earth were to increase at the present rote indefinitely, by A.D. 3530 the total mass of
human flesh and blood would equal the mass of the earth: and by A.D. 6826, the total mass
of human flesh and blood would equal the mass of the known universe.
- It boggles the mind, doesn't
- Or consider this one: The total
population of the earth at the time of Julius Caesar was 150 million. The total population
increase in two years on earth today is 150 million.
- Or bring it down into a smaller
chunk: in the time it takes you to read this. about 200 people will die and about 480
people will be born. That's about two minutes' worth of life and death.
- The statisticians figure that
about 60 billion people have been barn so far. And as I said, there's no telling how many
more there will be, but it looks like a lot. And yet - and here comes the statistic of
statistics - with all the possibilities for variation among the sex cells produced by each
person's parents, it seems quite certain that each one of the billions of human beings who
has ever existed has been distinctly different from every other human being, and that this
will continue for the in definite future.
- In other words, if you were to
line up on one side of the earth every human being who ever lived or ever will live, and
you took a good look at the whole motley crowd,
you wouldn't find anybody quite like
- This bit of fireside philosophy
touches upon physics, history, genetics, ecology and much more: that I guess is what I
find so refreshingly simple yet profound about Fulghum.
- Now to the essay which gave his
book its name, the one dealing with what we all learned in kindergarten and how - just
maybe - that it was all we ever really needed to learn.
- First off, Fulghum touches a
little on something that we've discussed here in the Reviews before, which is the
wisdom of living a deeply examined life. Which is the better life? The happier life? The
fuller life? The more livable life? That which is taken seriously, examined, analyzed ,
agonized over, philosophized over... or that which is accepted and enjoyed as it is? Which
would you recommend, for example, to your children, whose happiness you surely want?
"Don't worry. Be Happy." as the current popular expression says, and
"ignorance is bliss" both sum up one living philosophy: the other side of the
coin would be that an unexamined life is not worth living, and that our abilities to
intellectualize and sentimentalize were given us for a very good reason. Some people live
to enjoy pizza and their bowling leagues; others live hoping to discover great existential
truths. And perhaps many or most of us fall somewhere in between.
- Nevertheless, here is what
Fulghum says about kindergarten, and as you listen I'm sure you'll hear the truth ring
- "ALL I REALLY NEED TO KNOW about how to live
and what to do and how to be I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the
graduate-school mountain, but there in the sand pile at Sunday School. These are the
things I learned:
- Share everything.
- Play fair.
- Don't hit people.
- Put things back where you found
- Cleanup your own mess.
- Don't take things that are not
- Say you're sorry when you hurt
- Wash your hands before you eat.
- Warm cookies and cold milk are
good for you.
- Live a balanced life learn
some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and ploy and work every day
some. Take a nap every afternoon.
- When you go out into the world,
watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.
- Be aware of wonder. Remember
the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody
really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
- Goldfish and hamsters and white
mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup - they all die. So do we.
- And then remember the
Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned - the biggest word of all - LOOK."
- Fulghum proceeds on then to
comment on this list of rules to live by, and I can't really add anything because of the
simple poetry of it all, so this will conclude this month's Review. He says:
- "Everything you need to
know is in there somewhere. The Golden Rule and love and basic sanitation. Ecology and
politics and equality and sane living.
- Take any one of those items and
extrapolate it into sophisticated adult terms and apply it to your family life or your
work or your government or your world and it holds true and clear and firm. Think what a
better world it would be if we all - the whole world - had cookies and milk about three
o'clock every afternoon and then lay down with our blankies for a nap. Or if all
governments had as a basic policy to always put things bock where they found them and to
clean up their own mess.
- And it is still true, no matter
how old you are- when you go out into the world, it is best to hold hands and stick