Weapons of Mass Destruction:
While we search all the far-flung spots in the world for “weapons of mass destruction” we have failed to acknowledge and deal with the fact that we are being slowly destroyed by our long-standing use of “chemical” and “biological” agents within our own society. In fact, we are guinea pigs in a long-standing chemical/biological experiment perpetrated upon us all by our unbridled use of resources in a way that creates enormous amounts of chemical toxins in our air, our water, our land, and our food supply, which we dismiss in our minds by calling it “pollution”. We further undergo enormous biological experimentation through the uncontrolled use of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) including plants that get into our food supply, and our use of powerful growth hormones and antibiotics in raising cattle, chickens and pigs.
All of these chemical/biological activities create an enormous strain on our health and well-being, and in fact are the underlying cause of our health care crisis. The health of our people has been severely undermined, and we are experiencing enormous increases in long-term chronic conditions which are either caused by or increased by the toxic load we now have to bear in our society.
When we add to this the factor of the enormous stress we create through the need to control the world’s oil supply to feed our addiction to hydrocarbon fuels for our current lifestyle, we see that the vast increase in medical and health costs is driven by the increased demand brought on by the chemical and biological “weapons” at work every day in our society. But in this case, we need not look for “rogue states” or “terrorists” as the authors of our doom. We need only look to our industries and our government’s policies for the cause of this insidious, destructive process.
Having identified the source of these weapons of mass destruction, and their long-term effect on the very health and survivability of our society, we ask what we can do about them.
Clearly we need to start by addressing the lifestyle choices that we are making as a society and begin to make changes, radical changes, to bring our lives back into harmony with Nature.
To this end, we must make a clear and unwavering commitment to moving away from fossil fuels entirely over the next decades with a multi-pronged approach. The first and most immediate action which we can undertake is to undertake measures of CONSERVATION of resources. It has been estimated that simple conservation mechanisms could yield more oil than any other source of potential oil supply anywhere else on the planet. But this takes political leadership. For years our government, beholden to the major industrial corporations who buy our politicians, has failed to address the very feasible increases in fuel economy standards that would dramatically change the reliance on both fossil fuels and the import of oil from other countries, which makes our country dependent on the use of military force to control the supply lines, as we see so graphically today in the war in Afghanistan and Iraq and the concentration of our armed forces in the oil rich lands of the Middle East.
Another mechanism would be to put the real cost of pollution and cleanup onto the industries that create them. This would of course drive up prices of these items, and thereby create a mechanism for people to cut back their use of them. Competition however will wind up reducing the overall impact on the vast mass of society, and simply reduce the enormous profits that a few major industrial companies make because they don’t have to bear the cost of the pollution and health care effects of their products and processes.
A third mechanism would be to make a commitment to support the science behind clean, alternative sources of energy. Certain alternative energy sources have already started to develop, but far too often we plow funds allocated for alternative energy into old technology such as ethanol, rather than the technology that can truly liberate us from dependence on scarce and pollution-causing resources, such as solar, wind, photo-synthetic, plasma-electric or hydro-electric. The reality is that so much energy is provided to the earth by the sun that finding ways to capture even just a small portion of this energy will free us entirely from dependence on hydro-carbon fuels, and this must be the way of the future.
Many believe that we can go along and live our lifestyle oblivious to the impact we are having on the planet. People such as Vice President Cheney even make claims that we have a right to squander as much energy as we please. It is clear, however, that such an approach will continue to add to the toxic burden that we all have to bear, as well as create forces of tension throughout the world that will keep us involved in warfare on a constant basis. Clearly such an approach cannot work.
It is time to recognize that we have to seriously begin to change the way we live our lives. We must reduce our overall use of virgin resources by both making effective choices about products and packaging, as well as dramatically increasing our recycling of those resources we have already set in motion within our economy. The notion of a throwaway society does not work for the long-term and someone must be prepared to address this issue clearly and speak with the people about the choices and options and consequences involved.
We are prodded into ever more consumption by an economic system that favors almost unbridled capitalism. While capitalism has its benefits, it also must be recognized that it has its drawbacks as well. The drawbacks come about when corporate interests, beholden to no power greater than them to keep them in balance, simply work to increase their profits without concern for the long-term consequences, and when they buy the political process in order to ensure that no power can intervene in their profit-making activities effectively.
As with any social or economic system, these drawbacks must be addressed and corrected or we run the very real risk, in fact, the certainty, of destroying ourselves through the excesses that are otherwise created.
Any economic system that is built on the goal of ever-increasing consumption and waste of resources, and that refocuses the purpose of our life on earth into one of enjoyment of consumption, becomes a cancer on the planet, growing wildly out of control and eventually killing off the host being, in this case, our society and our civilization.
We must empower our political leadership with the support required to rein in the excesses of raw capitalism while still providing the mechanisms for individual achievement which is the real, underlying benefit of a capitalistic system.
How many of us are truly satisfied by a life of consumption and the “rat race” that we have to enter in order to acquire the goods that advertising tells us we need and want? Do we recognize that we are in many cases giving up the values of community, family and individual self-growth through our attempt to find satisfaction in consumption? Do we not understand that the price we are paying, in terms of cohesion in our society, the tensions and stresses that are the result of our focus on consumption, and the pollution and consequent health issues that arise as a result, is more than any of us can afford to pay?
It is time to reduce the tensions of the world by recognizing that we in fact are the ones who are busy creating and deploying “weapons of mass destruction”, upon ourselves, and upon the whole world. The solution to this problem therefore begins with each one of us, as we begin to make social, economic and political choices that take back control of our lives from those who would manipulate it through mass media, through fear-mongering and through seductive enticements to consume and not think too much about what we are doing, or the future we are creating.
February 1, 2004