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Interesting thoughts lately

Today I feel newly inspired to write something up – possibly because my work and stress load is lightening with the end of school – so here goes.

One thing to note is that I’ve been listening to more radio shows. Living on Earth is a good one, which is updated with a new show every Friday. This week’s was particularly good, since there was information about new scientific evidence regarding the impact of chemicals in our environment. Drinking out of plastic containers and eating canned food may be bad news for men, so I’ve made a mental note to buy a glass pitcher for my ice tea dependent husband. Another study links increasing incidence of asthma and allergies to chemicals built up in the food chain, even chemicals that have been phased out. The poor may be disproportionately affected due to eating packaged and processed foods which apparently have more of these types of chemicals. And here I thought the poor were more afflicted with asthma because they don’t have the luxury of personal cars with air conditioners and rather live in the most polluted areas of cities, walking and cycling more than the rest of the population. I wonder if there’s a study on that..

The ability of chemicals to continue to impact the environment reminded me of another radio show I’d listened to about studies on rats that show that when a pregnant female rat is exposed to a particular fungicide, her offspring’s offspring will suffer for up to five generations. Check out CBC’s Quirks and Quarks “Rat Scans” segment for more.

Other things I’ve been up to lately: inquiring at my local chain grocery store about organic meat; talking to family members about car purchases, fuel efficiency, and how unethical it is that car companies seem to think it’s some kind of right to fob off much more polluting cars on the North American market; thinking about my plant purchases for this growing season.

Random thoughts:

One of the things about western culture, maybe not so much in Europe, is this habit of being attracted to large, clumsy displays or solutions. The creative, diverse climate rallies that happened in the U.S. today were barely covered at all in the mainstream media. Instead, protests in Russia with massive amounts of people and the continuing violence in Iraq received most of the front page spots. This points at that clumsy attraction to what’s “big,” but also what’s immediate. I suppose in the end, the media is serving itself quite well by not giving enough coverage to environmental issues, because there will be more calamities to report the longer we ignore these challenges.

It’s not just the media though. In design, in energy generation, water provision, there has been a tendency to try to throw “more” at the problem rather than trying to conserve. I’m not really sure why this is exactly. Why build more nuclear power plants when we can cut power demand? Why build more dams when we can begin to use water more wisely and even recycle it? We need to do things better, not faster or more.

I was thinking today of how to start a system of land renting for gardens for apartment dwellers in my city. Getting land conveniently located in the city near to potential renters seem to be an obvious problem. Also worries about how to protect gardens seemed to be an issue. This resulted in wondering about the potential for agreements between “yard owners” who aren’t interested in yard upkeep, making agreements with people or families to use their yards for money or produce. I wonder what potential legal challenges there might be for such a scheme. It’s hard to imagine the impact such a setup would have for communities. Talk about a cosy relationship..

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