If this has not convinced you to plant trees, know that plants large and small release chemicals and electrical activity when damaged to induce, to alert, nearby plants to secrete chemicals that protect against damage. The siblings of the damaged plant react with electrical activity also. This is perfectly analogous to people reacting in horror to a drive-by shooting. People are different than plants and animals, are they not? you might argue. I think that our world has suffered enough under the taboo against anthropomorphism, saying it is bad to give plants and animals human characteristics. This has been bad because it makes plants and animal more like us and we were supposed to be the only species with soul and conscience and dominion. There is a child-like desire to believe otherwise. There are trees with an attitude in Oz, and there is Mother Willow in Pocahontas. We are attracted to the many non-human protagonists in the movies we see, or so many would not be invented. The truth is that even bees can do integral calculus measuring potential hive sites, not to mention abstract interpretation of dance language that even comes in different dialects. We are all made of the same star dust. If you look into the eyes of a puppy or a bee, there is an emotional conscious being looking back at you [you are about to be bitten]. If you climb a tree, it is aware of you. So while I don't think we should watch every step to avoid stepping on ants, we would do well to remember that we are not uniquely ensouled, or conscious or entitled to dominion over the Earth. We must take responsibility for our birthplace before we destroy it, or no human activity today will have any significance very shortly. Suggested reading in this direction is Silent Spring by Rachel Carlson, Earth in the Balance by Al Gore and Earth Prayers by E. Roberts and E. Amidom.
On 7/25/97, President Clinton warned that Global Warming is a fact and not a theory. A second international conference on global warming has been held in New York City. The first one was in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. During the Reagan and Bush administrations, conservatives trotted out a few scientists to disagree with the massive data that supported global warming. The press, in its usual sound-bite mode, gave similar air time to each group and people came away confused. This was the Republican intent, since most sources of energy are controlled by the rich and conservative, and if the public could remain confused about the dire nature of the problem then short term profits would be better - no need to rein in car or plant emissions. Never mind that their great grandchildren need to breathe oxygen just like those of the tree-hugging, pointy-headed, bleeding-heart liberals. Reagan couldn't understand acid rain either, thinking that x(H2O) + y(SO2) could not equal z(H2SO4). But anyone can see that rainwater and sulfur dioxide emissions do equal sulfuric acid rain that kills trees and vegetation. Many people dismiss global warming. I majored in biochemistry and then medicine, and I think that Gore's information was straight-forward and sensible.
We need to avoid toxins around us. Sunlight is one, as strange as this sounds. It can cause macular degeneration [an untreatable inability to read], cataracts and of course, skin cancers including melanoma, which can spread throughout the body by the time the lesion is 0.7mm thick. We should wear 100 percent UV blocking sunglasses, broad rimmed hats and keep our skin covered with long sleeves; recent studies show people think sunscreen is an excuse to stay out bare all day and they get more cancer.
Lawn and termite sprays increase especially children's risk of lymphoma and other cancers, so avoid them. Weed killers wash into the Bay and kill the seagrass that hides peelers.
Have your basement checked for radon and get an abatement system if necessary, rather than get lung cancer even as a nonsmoker. Magnetic fields and Electric fields do not cause cancer, but the dioxins in some substations do; they are fenced off.
I wonder why employers must have product data safety sheets on each cleaner they have employees handle, when I have no idea what pesticides are on my purchased food going in my mouth. This is the basis for the organic food movement and careful organic certification of farmers and plants. You might imagine there is a lot of money behind studies saying that single pesticides on your food are not harmful. Recent non-industry-funded studies show that there may be as many as 36 different pesticides on a given fruit or vegetable, and they act in concert as endocrine disrupters that are probably responsible for much of the infertility young couples suffer [if they have not also had silent sexually transmitted disease from extra partners]. These are strong reasons to eat vegetables and fruits that are grown organically, and you can do this yourself, since gardening is also good exercise. I do. I have mentioned the reduced CO2 production of bicycling instead of driving, and this applies especially to yard work; powered yard tools produce huge amounts of noise and particulate pollution. Power equipment, if you decide to use it, should be kept in good shape to minimize pollution. Leaks should be avoided since they go into the nearest stream and sewers, and the latter overflow into storm drains in heavy rains. This poisons the Bay. Condolences to PBJ fans, I recommend avoiding peanuts because so many people are allergic and you can either get the kind with fungicide on them or the natural or organic version which has the fungus which produces aflatoxin, which is most potent carcinogen known, gram for gram. I also read in Smithsonian that commercial strawberry yields are increased dramatically by the use of methyl bromide, which is pumped into the ground and sealed in with huge rolls of plastic. But children have been injured when this gas escapes and blows into their nearby houses. I will not contribute to their debility or demise for plumper, cheaper strawberries; I will grow them myself. I happened to pick up a copy of Progressive Farmer and was shocked to read about what goes into beef, soy and wheat production, and notes about how some producers illegally market beef before the pesticides wear off. Makes me think: beef stops a beating heart. Both that of the bovine and the middle-aged guy who grabs his chest and dies reading an ad saying, "Beef: it's what's for dinner." In sum, think about asking your grocer, who produces this food? Are they minimizing their soil erosion? Are they using pesticides? Do their workers enjoy decent health care, housing and living standards? Are people nearby at risk because of pesticides used in production? We should care because we might be those people. Even if we are not, those people are precious too.
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