Everyone’s afraid these days — afraid of global warming, afraid that polar bears will soon be extinct. Afraid of the Bush administration. Afraid of terrorists. Afraid of the water, the air, and what might be in the food we feed our pets. We seem to have created a world that is as panic-inducing as it is ugly, a world so filled with lies, hyperbole, and conflicting information we’re tempted to accept Reality TV for reality, if only out of exhaustion and despair.
I ventured onto Drudge last week, and found an article that shook me to my very core: for months I’ve been following stories about vanishing honeybees (60 to 90 percent of hives in some parts of the country), and Drudge linked to a London Independent article blaming cellphone signals: a German study has demonstrated that honeybees are disoriented by cellphones, and will abandon hives that are too close to cellphone radiation sources.
This might be big news, as there are some serious questions about what else may be happening with the bees. But what shocked me was the tail end of the article, which detailed the effects of cellphones on humans, and matter-of-factly mentioned studies that link phone use to brain tumors, lowered sperm counts, and the destruction of brain cells. One expert recommends that cellphones not be used by children under the age of eight, period.
And you know what? In all the subsequent links to that story, both believing and skeptical, every writer or commenter has latched onto the bee-phone link, with its possibility of an agricultural Armageddon, and completely ignored the larger, more relevant issue of health risks to humans. Some folks I’ve spoken to just shrug their shoulders, as though the idea of a cellphone-free life (or any change at all from the status quo) is unthinkable.
Visiting friends in the country, I spied a bottle of bug repellant proclaiming “Protects against mosquitoes carrying the West Nile Virus
.” This may be true, but I promise you, pesticides are a far greater health hazard than West Nile . Under one percent of mosquitoes in West Nile areas carry the virus, and less than a percent of those infected actually get sick. Fewer than a thousand people in the U.S. have died from the disease since 2001. But Goodsearch* “children and pesticides” and check out the websites detailing childhood cancers and asthma from pesticide exposure (epa.gov/pesticides is particularly good). 4,000 people die every year from asthma — asthma caused, in large part, by pesticides and other forms of preventable air pollution.
I hate to be the bearer of bad tidings, but nobody’s looking out for us. Cheap pet food manufacturers knock a couple of pennies off their costs and thousands of animals are sickened or killed by contaminated ingredients from unregulated sources in China. Huge multinationals market poisons as protection, while absolving themselves of responsibility for the health problems they cause. Our government has recently redefined, under the aegis of the Patriot Act, multiple forms of activism and dissent as terrorism — those who act to stop the wholesale degradation of our land, our food, our water and our health are now as likely to end up serving long sentences in maximum-security prisons as the “real” terrorists. Under the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, environmental activists are getting hard time
We seem to have created
a world that is as
panic-inducing as it is ugly.
for non-violent crimes: the SHAC 7 were convicted in March, 2006 for running a website encouraging people to shut down an animal-testing laboratory — no bricks were thrown, no windows smashed, no property damaged, and now they’re facing an aggregate of 25 years in prison. Now that’s scary.
So stop being afraid of what THEY are telling you to fear, because it’s just holding us all back. Don’t let your fear of the unknown stop you from investigating the possibility that you, me and everyone we know, may have to change, and soon.