I generally try to keep my nose out of this sort of thing, but this Breast Cancer Awareness business has become such a ridiculous juggernaut of backwards thinking that I just can't hold my tongue about it any longer. For the past few weeks our little town has gotten increasingly smothered in pink banners, pink ribbons, pink car decorations, and pink fund-raising galas. Pink car decorations. Really? I've got a better idea, how 'bout this. Instead of a pink ribbon magnet, why don't we hang a sign on the bumper, pointing down at the exhaust pipe, with bold-faced type literally screaming "Cancer comes out of here!" You nimrod. Want to do something that really helps fix the cancer problem? Stop driving. Stop using coal-fired electricity. Stop eating industrial food. Hell, for that matter stop eating food that had to be shipped to you period. Industrial or otherwise.
One of the most common misunderstandings I get from people is their tendency to analyze energy use based exclusively on the power bill and the amount of gas burned in the act of driving. Both legitimate markers, yes, but what about everything else you do? Does all that just happen out of thin air? With no cost to the biosphere? What about that pink ribbon lapel pin you're wearing to show how socially conscious you are? Did the Easter Bunny conjure that up for you? Or did it require that heavy machinery be manufactured out of mined metals, some of them heavy and toxic; that rubber for tires be harvested from large and ecologically-destructive rubber tree monocultures in the tropics; that glass be made out of sand at high energy expense; and that fossil fuel be burned to deliver and operate the machinery? And that's just the mining equipment needed to get started on that little metal pin.
What about the high-tech electronics used in remote mining operations? What about the cell phones (and the cellular network infrastructure), the personal vehicles (and everything we're talking about for mining equipment here applied to those vehicles all over again), the corporate expenses, and retirement plans for the mine operators? What about the obscene amount of freshwater required to mine the metal? The energy to move that water around? What about the pink ribbon lapel pin manufacturing facilities? Their workforce, management, water fountains, lighting, automated machinery and locker rooms (all made of metal that cost everything we're talking about here all over again!), retirement plans and their administrators/brokers, personal vehicles (do I need to say it again)? All so we can show everyone how concerned we are about breast cancer.
Want to make an impact on cancer? Don't buy the pink ribbon lapel pin. Don't buy the posters, or the banners, or go to that fund-raising gala that everyone drove their personal vehicle to so that they could eat that industrial food with thousands of food miles and suffocated hyper-eutrophic estuaries in its wake, just to sit around acting smug, glad-handing and back-slapping each other for their social awareness. For that matter, if you want to make a dent in cancer, you could start by getting over the idea that your work is so important that it requires driving and flying all over creation, burning fossil fuels that can't be compensated for with flimsy "carbon credits," and eating food every day that required 5 calories of fossil energy be burned to produce one calorie of so-called nourishment. Stop leaving lights on all over the house. Hang your clothes out to dry on a line. Modify a well-insulated chest freezer into a refrigerator with an external thermostat, which should only use about 10% of the energy required by an upright fridge. Harvest rainwater and reuse your graywater. Install a solar batch water heater and get rid of the most wasteful appliance western man has ever devised, after the personal vehicle. Heat your house with an efficient wood stove. Live without air conditioning. We did it this summer, in south Georgia, which is probably one of the most punishing environments in this country.
But I have to admit, I didn't buy the lapel pin. Sorry about that.