Progress brings problems
As I look around the world today it seems to me that progress and improved technologies have made life worse not better. Today the news is full of disasters and violence, crime and other signs that all is not at all well.
Today many people find their lives to be a real struggle. Many have debts they cannot pay, many are in jobs they hate, many more have no jobs at all, young people are unhappy and turn to drink and drugs and daubing graffiti on walls.
Diseases are killing more and more people. Cancer used to be very rare but not any more and wealth and fame do not offer any protection. Hardly a day goes by that we do not lose some celebrity to this.
If only we could go back to how the world was in the good old days
Most of us agree that the world really was in a much better state years ago without all the crime, pollution and other terrible problems that progress brings.
Progress brings problems
The environment is polluted. The skies are full of industrial pollutants, exhaust fumes, and pollens that cause allergies. Some of these pollens are not natural ones but are from genetically engineered crops like oilseed rape that the Monsanto company created with their Frankenstein science of mixing genetic material from different organisms.
The ground is often lacking in nutrients or laden with pesticides and herbicides. The groundwater and that in rivers, streams, lakes and seas is often badly polluted. Fish, amphibians and other aquatic animals are disappearing. In some places fish are changing sex even due to pollutants in the water.
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Great Pacific Garbage Patch
One of the gyres that accumulate rubbish
Great Pacific Garbage Patch
Rubbish in gyres in the oceans
In the oceans there are now five massive gyres made up mostly of plastic waste. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is said to be twice the size of Texas and growing!
Most of this plastic gets there from inland sources. It washes down in rivers and drains. It has been thrown away by consumers in this modern throwaway society.
It is a killer because it cannot biodegrade but just breaks into smaller and smaller pieces. Plastic is becoming part of the sand of beaches. It is swallowed by marine creatures and ends up in the food chain and eventually in us!
This plastic contains poisons, and if that was bad enough, whales, sea birds and turtles, many of which are already endangered species, mistake larger plastic items for food. They eat this trash and die.
Much of the plastic started its journey to the ocean as litter, as someone's plastic bottle or bag they carelessly threw away. Litter is another big problem.
So many people have so little respect for the environment they throw away whatever they don't want anywhere: on the streets, over a wall, on the beach!
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Pollution comes to the Canary Islands
When I first moved to Tenerife only a few years ago, one of the delights of the island was not seeing rubbish all over the place, but those days are sadly gone - litter and fly-tipping have become a norm here too now.
I can remember when rubbish collection was done by a team of men who emptied rubbish bins made of metal into the lorry but all that has gone in favour of plastic rubbish bags and plastic bins and waste containers which add to the amount of plastic in the world. I think it would be a good idea to bring back the old fashioned rubbish bins!
Roadsides used to be a blaze of colour from the wild flowers that grew along the verges and banks but so often today they have all gone, killed by the poisonous Roundup herbicide, another product of Monsanto's. I hate seeing the brown trails of death and destruction it leaves.
But where I live you can still get served glasses made of glass. If I buy a pint of beer it is not served in a plastic glass. In the UK this has become normal in many places and I am told it is because it is less dangerous if used in an attack. The question is why are people attacking others in the first place, and if they are doing this in Britain what has made them more likely to behave like this there?
Experts discuss the findings of the Roundup GM cancer trial
Dangers of Roundup herbicide
Glass containers used to be normal for so many things that are now contained in plastic. Besides beer in pint glasses you could buy milk and orange juice in pint bottles. Beer and cider came in glass bottles too with money back on them. Those days have gone.
Shops used to put stuff you were buying in paper bags but now it is all plastic and many items are already packaged in the stuff anyway before they are put in a bag. All this plastic is adding to the worldwide problem.
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Vinyl or CDs?
It's all plastic
If you are a music fan like me you buy albums. I much preferred the old vinyl 12" ones to the modern CDs. CDs were hailed as being better quality and longer lasting but this has not been my experience of them.
Not only do they often go wrong and not play properly but there is no comparison in admiring the sleeve of a full-sized record to the miserable little things crammed in a CD case with booklets you need a magnifying glass to read. Give me an old-fashioned turntable and a crackly record any day!
Records used to be packaged in cardboard sleeves but now the CDs are in plastic cases housed in plastic wrap. All those that get thrown away add to the plastic in the world, most of which will remain here somewhere, because remember it cannot biodegrade.
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Solutions to the problems
A way forward
I am sure by now you have gathered that I am not very impressed with modern living and the march of progress. You would be right. I wish I could go back in time.
Just twenty years ago, the world was a happier healthier place to live as far as I can tell.
I would like to go back to a safer time when bread was not in a plastic bag and didn't contain sugar and soya flour. I would like to be able to drink water out of the tap without having to worry about the fluoride in it. I would like to be able to buy fruit juice that was just fruit juice and not loaded with sugars. I would like to be able to buy and chew gum again and not have to be concerned about the aspartame.
But there are some solutions we can adopt. As consumers. if enough of us make changes and insist on what we want,then the suppliers and the shops will be forced to change. We live in a consumerist society and as consumers we should have the power of choice. We should be able to buy products we want and not having to buy what is already decided for us!
It's a long haul I admit but we have to start somewhere and a movement has begun. People are sick of buying foods and drinks in plastic packaging and ruined with toxic additives. People are beginning to do something to stop the amount of plastic used.
A cloth or canvas shopping bag is one answer. They are cheap and are making a statement. They are telling other shoppers and the shops that you no longer want plastic bags.
Some things still come in glass jars and bottles and these can be chosen instead of plastic pots and bottles. I really think beer out of a bottle and honey out of a glass jar somehow taste better too.
Instead of buying water in plastic bottles why not get a reusable stainless steel bottle? And if the domestic water supply is polluted with fluoride and other chemicals it is worth investing in a reverse osmosis filter to produce pure water.
Then there are the labels. I always read them and won't buy products containing toxic additives like aspartame and MSG (Monosodium glutamate), or harmful colourings like Tartrazine (E102). And I say "No" to fluoride in my toothpaste too!
Copyright © 2012 Steve Andrews. All Rights Reserved.
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