We're all living downstream
One thing is crystal clear. Clear as the brilliant white of freshly
fallen snow, clear as the transparent flow of the highland spring, clear
as the stars above the mighty dunes of the Sahara...
Our way of living is making a massive mess of the one place where humans
have been made welcome.
We eat shit,
shit in our nests, dump shit on each other, and end up shitting ourselves
about the consequences... because we all live downstream - downstream
of the solvents, dyes, adhesives, heavy metals, fertilisers, steroids,
fumes, lubricants, bleach, toxin-leaching, lung-shredding dust.
So we open our umbrellas, pull on some wellingtons, swallow our supplements,
smear on some cream or other, even pull on a mask, but we know it's not
Sometimes the regulators act... when the stench
becomes intolerable. But more often, all-for-profit dictates that we export
the offending problem and re-site it in an unregulated environment.
And so the acid rain, ozone and soil
depletion, reduced resistance to infection, the increased incidence
of asthma, eczema and allergies - all things we could do without ... spread
like a stain.
Often we allow the unforgivable
and deny all responsibility.
What, for example, were we thinking marketing powdered milk to African
mothers as a superior alternative to breast feeding?
What are we doing
flaring such vast quantities of gas in Nigeria when climatologists
warn us that global warming is already proceeding at an unprecedented
What are we doing burying materials in landfill when these materials were
extracted from the ground at a high environmental cost only a short time
What sort of wealth are we creating here?
In 2003, 48 US states advised residents not to eat fish caught locally.
Why? Because of concerns over mercury contamination from coal power plants.
Is that what we mean by wealth?
We'll know we are getting real progress when we shart reading surprising
headlines like these:
1) Sellers will pay for quality reductions in air, water, land or sea
caused by the delivery of products to market
2) All consumer products to be stamped with an expiry date
3) Consumer product prices to include the cost of any repairs or replacement
parts required up until expiry
4) Buyers to collect a cash refund of 25% of the price paid on returning
products to the seller for reuse or reprocessing
5) Sellers to be responsible for collecting and dealing with all packaging,
carrier bags and unwanted products
In short. We don't need complicated ideas. We need better designs for
life, especially when it comes to man-made products.
The Native Indians of America who ate unpoisoned fish, paid no taxes and
lived without debt, have left us a legacy of wisdom.
It's this. Treat the earth well because all the unhelpful consequences
we create for this world will, in time, arrive back in our laps.
It is inescapable. We're all living downstream.
Ends | 13 Jul 2007 | The Leg
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Native Indian wisdom:
'Only after the last tree has been cut down, Only after the last river
has been poisoned, Only after the last fish has been caught, Only then
will you find money cannot be eaten.'
'Treat the earth well: it was not given to you by your parents, it was
loaned to you by your children.'
'Contaminate your bed and you will one night suffocate in your own waste.'
'Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within
it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound
together. All things connect.'
Waste Makers by Vance Packard
to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things by William McDonough
& Michael Braungart
The Death of Quality
Sharing could be the answer