The Winnables
By R. D. Flavin


     Golly, doubleplusungood, and gee-whiz, it appears we've gotten ourselves into quite the ugly shebang. We've got wars, virulent pestilence, famine, and a riderless horse trotting around in circles. It's not quite the Apocalypse, but it's bad and likely to get a lot worse before it gets better. But, it will get better, of that I have no doubt. Islamic terrorists, ebola, and the starving and underfed, will all be resolved and taken care of in time. These, as well as global warming, environmental pollution, and a host of other problems are winnable, if only we join together and try. We can, we will, and we must save the planet and its people. Oh, and bring back bell-bottoms – just asking...

     We need a “Plan B” for dealing with all religions who believe in murder and mutilation, espouse hate and physically discriminate against those who don't agree with them, and even those outwardly benign cults who wish to separate themselves from the secular world (hint: buy an island). We're all in this together and losing is not an option. We need an alternative to religion, the supernatural, and those who regularly talk with aliens and lizard-people. Surely our finest neuroscientists and philosophers can come up with a way of living without a belief in magic and the impossible. Humanists almost got it right, we just need to try harder.

     Fortunately, medicine has progressed past the leeches and bleeding stage, as well as quit using Galen's descriptions of the insides of pigs and monkeys to teach human anatomy. While we still battle the anti-science crowd (those refusing vaccinations and blood transfusions), it seems that almost weekly a new treatment or discovery is announced. As DNA sequencing begins to assist the virologists (and others), we await the work of nanorobotics to perhaps finally defeat cancer and a host of other diseases and ailments. And, if the expectations of the nanites come true, they may help with cleaning up our oceans. Now, we've word that current medicine is on the verge of formulating a vaccine against ebola before the end of the year, and all I could possibly add is “Good luck!” And, with the CDC predicting 1.4 million cases by next January, I REALLY hope a cure is coming soon!

     What the major corporate farms have done to our food supply is (or should be) criminal. Nary a grain, fruit, or vegetable has escaped some modification to lower its nutritional value so that it many arrive to market faster and with the desired color. I'm not a big fan of broccoli, yet to read it's lost more than half its calcium content over the last twenty years is ...sad and shocking. And, what they do to poor tomatoes and oranges borders on unnatural and freakish. Read up on “natural” orange juice and “fresh” tomatoes – it'll break your heart. Yet, with tougher FDA laws, an increase in organic farming, and consumer education, we may win our healthy diets back.

     Showing my age, I remember the first Earth Day in 1970 (I was in seventh grade at the time). Soon after, the hysteria of an impending “population explosion” hit... More people, more pollution. The population numbers have somewhat slowed down, yet the pollution is getting worse by the time unit of choice (nanosecond, minute, hour, or day, all come to mind). Now, everyone is focusing on climate change... Mom Terra forgive us our stupidity!

     In a previous column (#87 1-22-99 “Apocalypse Now!” ), I questioned if Hell was a common threat to children before they were sent off to work within the narrow mines. Metallurgy, like agriculture, seems to have been good for some and bad for others. With William Blake's “dark Satanic mills” and the following Industrial Revolution, we really started to foul things up. Today, our usage of fossil fuels have done irreparable harm to the planet and if we don't significantly reduce our carbon dioxide levels now, we'll doom, destroy, and cause the unnecessary deaths of humans and other lifeforms. Actually, we should be in a slight cooling period, but we do so love our automobiles and smokestacks.

     Yet, if we join together now and start acting responsibly, we may prevent certain extinctions and profound (actually 'perverse' would work better) flooding. Of course fossil fuels must be an actionable starting point, however I'm stumped about what to do about the non-biodegradable plastics in our oceans. The polyurethane microbeads that are too small to be filtered out are scary enough, but we've got a HUGE amount of plastic garbage in different parts of the oceans that has to go ...somehow. Maybe those nanites could help...

     We've gotten this far and despite our errors, there's no rational reason we can't continue and do even better. Our battles against racism, crime, war, pollution, and many other difficulties are winnable. If we want... Sure, there will always be the selfish and cruel, but by example we can make their mayhem ineffectual. The ol' sticks and stones approach will isolate the haters until their numbers are too small to matter. Yeah, I'm an idealist, but we've got to begin to seriously address our attitudes and behaviors before it's too late for ...tomorrow.

     These are serious changes which need to be accomplished and while marching en masse is cool, we may need to get necessarily tougher and probably violent at some point. No, I'm not talking about blowing Japanese whaling boats out of the water (not just yet, anyway), but fines and economic sanctions seem to have little or no effect. Pass tougher anti-pollution laws and shut the plants down that violate the law and send management to prison. The United Nations needs to step up and truly be united to save our planet.

     Most of our problems are not insurmountable, but in fact winnable if we join together and try. We need to stop being petty, cease defecating where we eat, grow, and harvest our food, and ban certain technologies, chemicals, and business practices. It won't be easy, but we can do it. Maybe bell-bottoms won't come back, however a bright, clean, and happy future awaits if we want it.

Recycling my dreams,

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