Awesome - it seems some people are reading this blog, because yesterday's post got a few of you commenting (if you can comment on the blog as well as on Facebook, I'd prefer that so that people who don't have access to Facebook can read your thoughts on the blog...), and hopefully some of you thinking.
I don't want to say facts and data speak for themselves, because they never do. But facts can be scary, because what facts can reveal, if you are willing to accept the revelations, are gaps in what is known, and what isn't. When it comes down to chemicals we are surrounded by, the facts clearly state that less than one percent of the approximately 100,000 chemicals in use in the US have been studied for impacts on health. What the facts clearly state is that less than one percent of these 100,000 chemicals are regulated for amounts in drinking water. What the facts clearly state is that more than 3,000 chemicals are introduced for use each year.
What does all of this mean? (Here is where the debate gets going.) In no way am I saying (and I did not at all say yesterday) that everything man-made is bad; many of these chemicals will likely even never be present in our drinking water. Okay. But what about those that will be? Who knows? Will they be regulated? Who knows? Will they be harmful in large doses? Who knows? Will they be harmful in small doses? Who knows? Why don't we know? Since it is close to impossible to hold anyone accountable for what happens to us, those that stand to profit don't care about negative impacts. This cannot be contended. If those that stood to profit were held accountable, they would care about negative impacts. So what we have done here is given free reign to those whose job it is to maintain accountability and those you need to be held accountable, whatever the impacts.
Over the next few days, I want to challenge some of the comments I received yesterday, because they were thought-provoking, and because they shed light on so many of the issues I have tried to address in previous posts. I will address issues of apology, complexity, the desire for more, the scale of the issues, uncertainty, the power and weakness of numbers, and skepticism. Today, I want to write just a little bit about submission to "authority."
With the statistics pointed out above, I believe that there are issues of trust and authority that arise. What if just one of the more than 3,000 chemicals introduced yearly (0.033%) is toxic? If the government either can't keep up with the quantities used, or is complicit in its use, and has given the liberty of production and disposal to industry, in the end, it is you and me that may be drinking this chemical in water, or your and my child may be born with it in its body.
I understand that there are naturally toxic chemicals - take the chemicals present in venom, for example, or the poisons present in plants. But there is absolutely no denying that it is scary when PCBs are present in our tissues and bodies, chemicals that are toxic in small quantities...and not only our bodies, for we live close to industrial sources, but even people thousands of miles away from industrial sources (Matthew, I confused the statistic for dioxins with PCBs). PCBs are man-made, completely and totally. Actually, their deleterious health effects were known much before commercial production began. The same is the case with tetra-ethyl lead that was used as an additive in gasoline for decades. Now while PCBs may be present in our bodies in too small of an amount to do harms themselves, what happens when your body houses a soup of these chemicals? What if PCBs and dioxins and synthetic hormones and man-made pesticides are present in nature at the same time? What are their combined effects on the environment? On our health? We'll never know. Ever. So do we just give up, and submit to authority? How can we continue to trust a system that allows us to live in such a state of uncertainty? This is exactly the position that those that stand to profit want us to be in. And what other classes are being used that are potentially bad for nature and us?
The issue is that we are willing to let people do things to us without a even a moderate assessment of impacts. How is it that we can just let this happen? In the end, if a chemical is non-toxic, go ahead, use it. But don't mess with me by using it first, then apologise for the harm it caused. This is not right. This is scary. And enough ecological damage has been caused for me to not want to submit to the authority of government and industry. You shouldn't either.