Our Philosophy

Solvitur ambulando - It is solved by walking

Friday, October 28, 2011

Pink-Washing the Town

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.

9 comments:

  1. Cancer is the result of ingested heavy metals, carcinogenic hydrocarbons, and radioactive materials. In other words, industrialization byproducts. Sweden is doing well - 50% of their energy comes from renewable sources. Half of that from burning toxic waste and wood from northern clearcuts, and the other half from nuclear power. It might be me, but those supermodels sure look like anorexic crack-whore addicts (maybe it's just me)...

    Fukushima is still melting down, Japan will soon be completely devoid of human life (will a volcano erupt on the site?), radioactive cesium has been detected on the US east coast already. Where is the MSM on this story?!...

    I'm personally looking forward to, "Don't Drive Because You Are A Gas Guzzler" day - when is that, again (I forgot, lulz). I often hear a high-pitched whine - perhaps it's tinnitus, but more than likely, it's those cell phone towers radiating Ghad-only-knows what frequencies at what power levels (Tesla would be creaming in his pants at all the "free" power radiation)...

    How about those depleted aquifers, and the GMO crops that require *MORE* fertilizer and *MORE* pesticide/herbicide than the natural seeds they replaced (and the DNA patenting, and cross-pollinating of pure species - see central/south american corn).

    Hot water is a waste - I use cold water for everything. I turn my hot water heater on once a week, for about 20 minutes, to take a warm shower (went 3 years taking ice cold showers - not that hard to deal with). In-between, I cold-wash my hair, and use a washcloth/soap to scrub the essential areas (pits/crotch). Hell, I even re-use the same plate and silverware for 2-3 weeks without washing it (just stuffing into fridge) - but I am the penultimate member of the "clean plate club" (nothing goes to waste!)

    Spent too many years (18?) trying to make a serious difference, as everyone around me exponentially consumed/used more, wasted/disposed of more, and popped out more rat-breeders - all-the-while, patting each other on the backs for their "accomplishments". It's hard to talk to them, "What have you been up to?" Doing *nothing* doesn't quite compare, to driving 30+ miles every day, slaving in the cubicle, shopping at the mall, taking the 3+ children to sporting events, mowing/fertilizing/herbiciding/watering the lawn, etc... "I did some gardening/yardwork" gets you the crazy look - best to just say you "surfed the web"...

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  2. Read Barbra Ehrenreich's "Bright-Sided: How Positive Thinking is Undermining America." It has a chapter on the cancer industry that's an eye opener. It's been reprinted, several places.

    OK. I don't want to be Debbie Downer, all the time, but I think a good dose of skepticism and cynicism is a good thing. Otherwise, you find yourself buying things like swamp land in Florida, the Brooklyn Bridge or products laced with large amounts of high fructose corn syrup.

    A lot of what got us into this mess is the huge amounts of energy squandered on useless crap. The other day, I was in one of the "antique" malls in our small town. I occasionally check them out, because I can sometimes find a useful gizmo or well made piece of furniture. But, usually I do better at auctions, flea markets or estate sales.

    Most of these places, these days, are very light on true antiques and very heavy on "decor." I was suddenly struck by the realization that I was standing in the middle of three floors of this dreck. And, Centralia Square Antique Mall has 3 floors of dreck. And, there's another mall in town with three floors of dreck. Never mind the smaller malls (several) and individual shops (many.) The shear waste of energy and treasure is mind boggling.

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  3. True enough. I remember reading years ago about the company that made quite a bit of money off of manufacturing a dioxin-laced product, and also manufactured mammogram equipment. They had created a full-circle industry. Consumers consumed their products, were consumed by cancer, then had to consume their mammogram services. It was marketing genius!

    I can't remember the name of the company. I wonder if they manufacture lapel pins and car magnets to make it a profitable trifecta.

    My mother, who I loved dearly, died almost exactly 20 years ago of breast cancer at age 43. I'd like to participate in a public recognition of her passing and be hopeful for other womens' futures, but the glib pink ribbon campaigns really turn me off. Talk about the cure being worse than the disease.

    http://eighthacrefarm.blogspot.com

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  4. I lost a follower over this post. I guess that just shows how sensitive people can be about the ways they are screwing things up unknowingly.

    You learned something! Apply it and move on! I don't have any personal grudge against you, man, I'm just pointing out the fact that we really ought to analyze our activities before we make any claims about those activities.

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  5. Wow. Jesus. How about realizing that none of you assholes just lost a friend to cancer. A mother with 2 children under the age of 7. Who fucking cares about what caused her cancer, like it was her fault just because she lived her life and didn't hang her clothes ton dry outside, or "modify a well insulated chest freeze....." sorry I lost interest in what the hell you were talking about ....because my friend died. A wonderful, amazing, gorgeous person who illuminated a room just by being in it. So sure...I will quit driving. That's totally reasonable. And quit using my stove, and quit using my heaters, and my air-conditioning and any other modern made comfort. Maybe it would have saved my friends life.
    Shame on you. And I feel like I have ape very right to say that.

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  6. Oh and PS, did you REALLY enjoy your summer in Georgia without AC?? I'm sure your kiddos loved It. Bragging about a suffering experience doesn't make anyone want to try it. AAARRGGG!!, this makes me furious! Seems like a great excuse to not get a real job and earn a living for your family. In the mean time, I will happily drive my BMW to the market with my heated seats and come to my beautiful home that has a DRYER and AC. And we drive said Beemer to the farmers market every week for our produce. And only buy in season veggies And buy local eggs. And never buy anything but local meats and veggies and support generously to local co-ops. So see......BALANCE!!!!!

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  7. Auntie Kealie- you don't seem to be the least bit balanced. As a matter of fact, the two comments above would seem to come from an extremely unbalanced person posting on a public forum in the early hours of the morning.

    Your Beemer does produce carcinogens, no matter how furiously you may deny it. Whether or not you agree with his lifestyle choices, Tripp is making an effort to reduce the presence of cancer-causing substances in the environment, and I think you should give him props for that. Simply because the majority of Americans live irresponsibly does not make it the right way to live.

    And yes, this comes from an asshole that had to watch his mother die of breast cancer.

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  8. Well Jeff, I'm sorry that you think that, and I'm sorry that you read into my statement that my BMW doesn't cause carcinogens....(never said that) and I'm very sorry that you lost your Mom to breast cancer...it is such a painful, helpless experience to go through. And yes, I was a bit on fire over this posting because a dear friend of mine just died from cancer, but please don't assume I'm some "extremely unbalanced person posting on a public forum in the early hours of the morning" ....... I am a Mom of a 14 month old that on many occasions is up in the "early hours", and I spent 4 years if my life as a partner to Tripp. So I kinda have a right to vent on his beliefs,,,as he has a right to speak them.
    So Tripp...I am sorrynfor the asshole statement as well, but you really pissed me off with this one... .............ug. namaste.

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  9. The main point of this argument was not that getting cancer is your own fault, or that caring for people with cancer is somehow wrong. Good grief, who reads that from what I wrote??

    The point was that we should be aware of the reasons cancer exists - it's a complex disease caused by compromised ecologies- and that if the tokens of our "awareness" make the problem worse...and they do...that we should maybe come up with a better way to express what is probably sincere concern.

    Not that those "save the tatas" stickers aren't cute.

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