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If news falls in the forest and no one is there to report it on the Inspired Protagonist, does it make a sound? Oh my, yes, my green philosopher children. It’s been roaring for weeks while I’ve been elsewhere. In fact, so much worth mentioning has been piling up in my digital in-box that I briefly considered tossing the whole thing into my virtual trashcan and starting over. Seemed easy than trying to wade through it all. But that’s a bit of a cheat and the losers would be you, dear reader. So I’m biting the informational bullet, sifting through it, and aiming to play catch-up over the next few days. Here goes…
Our old molecular nemesis bisphenol-a (BPA) continues to make waves in the news. People are really starting to pay attention to this issue and my guess is that after a few more indefensible sputterings from the chemical industry, this fiendish little fella is going to the great test tube in the sky. A good article from Science News outlines some of the latest evidence againt it and ends by noting that the hormonal effects BPA can trigger occur at ultra-low bloodstream levels most Americans only wish they had. Meanwhile, though they’re a bit late to the party, Health Canada is looking into the whole issue of BPA and plastic baby bottles, which is good because we need more than the anecdotal evidence we have thus far that the situation there is no good. Then there’s this piece from the LA times, which talks about how puberty onset is trending earlier and earlier in life. You don’t have to be a genius to connect the quite possible dots between all these hormone mimicking chemicals like BPA we’re exposing our kids to and the premature start of major hormonally-triggered life events like breast development and hormonally linked diseases like breast cancer.
So if you get rid of BPA and phthalates and chlorinated compounds and all the other endocrine-dirupting chemicals, what happens? According to the University of California, plenty good. A new study from the university, “Green Chemistry: Cornerstone to a Sustainable California,” finds that a green chemistry revolution to create safe, non-toxic alternatives to the chemical toxins in use today would spare lives, prevent suffering, save money, and spur economic development by creating jobs and investment opportunities. That seems like a real no-brainer, I know. But the study is important because no one ever wants to take what they percieve as a risk (i.e. undergo change) without some kind of numbers-backed expert opinion somewhere that says, yes, it really does make sense to do the right thing. We’re still not yet at the point where precuation for its own sake is enough. Gotta have some numbers, too.
But at least we have precaution as starting point. Or I should say the Precautionary Principle, which last week marked its 10th anniversary. The Principle’s creation was an event that future historians will no doubt mark as the moment the coming landmark shift in regulatory philosophy began. Carolyn Raffensperger of the Science & Environmental Health Network has a great essay marking the birthday of a crucial idea that we here at Seventh Generation hold most dear. It’s well worth reading her piece and pondering this vital idea for a few minutes.
Meanwhile back on a rapidly warming Earth, Israel showed the kind of can-do chutzpah sorely lacking in our own country. The nation announced its intention to wean itself off oil in the next ten years by building 500,000 recharging and battery exchange stations for electric cars, which will be mass produced by Nissan and Renault starting in 2011. That will cut the country’s oil imports in half and rest of Israel’s petro-addiction will be quit by a one-time $5 billion program to build solar plants. Gee whiz, Beav, fixing global warming is a sinch! Now we just have to let Congress in on the secret. All they seem to be able to do is squeeze out a measly couple of miles-per-gallon improvement in gas-guzzling fuel “efficiency.” Oy vey…
Readers concerned about their food supply (and I’m guessing that would be pretty much all of us) will recall that in October the state of Pennsylvania became the first in the country to ban the rBGH-free labeling of milk. No longer could farmers or others say their product came from cows that had not been treated with this genetically engineered synthetic hormone from Monsanto. And no longer would consumers have the right to know what was in their milk or how it was produced. The good news is that no longer will Pennsylvania have this blatent corporate-fed regulation. Guv Ed Rendell yanked it off the books after tremendous public outcry in what was a tremendous victory for free speech, healthy food, consumer rights, and other important things.
Speaking of food… an interesting piece in the Sunday Times says we may find ourselves eating less meat in the future as rising global demand and increasingly limited production capacities conspire to rise prices and make that veggie burrito look a lot more appealing on Main Street, USA. Such a shift, of course, would only be a good thing because a meat-intensive diet is a fairly half-baked proposition where the planet is concerned. I was particularly struck by the fact that, according to the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization, about 30% of Earth’s ice-free land is in some way involved in livestock production. That’s a stat that’ll give you indigestion if ever there was one. Then there’s this: If Americans cut their meat eating by just 20% it would be like the entire country trading in their standard sedans for Priuses.
Just some food for thought. Back with more soon…