Laura Arias- Columnist
Humans must breathe air, drink water and eat food. The Earth provides these riches to sustain sentient beings and very simply, due to this, if fresh air, water and food sources are challenged, so is a homo sapien’s livelihood. Ask yourself:
1. Where does vehicle exhaust go?
2. Do drinkable water sources become more polluted as harmful chemicals from industries enter the water cycle?
3. Do I really know where my food comes from and how it is processed?
Really, think about it. Where do pollutants go? Rarely will pollutants be stored somewhere that they cannot leach or filter into air, water and/or soil systems.
While the “going green” rage has perpetuated the idea that the Earth is fragile and global climate change excites “abnormal” conditions in different areas around the world, it becomes apparent that humans are the ones in danger. From losing their homes to losing their lives, humans 100 percent reap the effects of the world’s overall unsustainable actions. Tsunamies, tornados and floods are simply how the Earth is reacting to the effects of climate change. But she is not dying, she is not hurting, she is not degrading, she is just changing, changing into an organism that is becoming less suitable for the human species.
It is important to acknowledge the conditions of the Earth at the moment. With polluted water, air and scarce food sources, it is imperative that we recognize just how much we are affected by the Earth. Because we are so reliant on these resources, there is a direct correlation between her health state and ours. The EPA has a list of dozens of chemical contaminants that can be found in drinkable water sources, as well as what ailments are caused by the long-term ingestion of these chemicals. This is not to saythat all these chemicals are found in your water, but some definitely are and others may be depending on where you’re geographically located and what the water regulations are there. Most of the potential chemical contaminants are due to discharge from industrial factories and runoff from various sources.
Sandra Steingraber is an ecologist, activist, cancer survivor and author of “Living Downstream”, a book in which she shares her experience as a cancer patient and scientist. She describes how this disease led her to question why it had happened to her and why no one was talking about what causes cancer to happen, only about how to “fix” the issue after it has already invaded a body. Steingraber tackles the idea of silence and how little information was offered to her, from pamphlets to doctors, regarding the ailment and its causes. She started her own research, unraveling many truths. The start of her journey was marked by her observation that there was a cancer cluster in her hometown and within her family. While doctors suggested that the cancer was hereditary, she knew otherwise considering she was adopted. Steingraber had discovered that the drinkable water source in her hometown was infested with carcinogenic chemicals, which were most likely the cause of her cancer and that of her family members.
This anecdote is an example of one of the more serious reactions to the contamination of the Earth’s nourishing nectars. Things like asthma, malnutrition, and digestive irregularities are common among the human population due to air pollution and the modification and engineering of food and water sources. Because we live in a society that is always rushing us somewhere mentally, physically and emotionally, many do not take the time to analyze their ill conditions and would rather get them treated right away. This is important but so is becoming aware of the root of the problem and tackling it. It takes very little effort to ponder the pattern that one might find in Harlem, an area in Manhattan, for example, where asthma is common among the child population.
The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene suggests that, “Asthma is a leading cause of emergency room visits, hospitalizations, and missed school days in New York City’s poorest neighbourhoods.” Why the asthma rates are higher in lower-income areas as an environmental justice issue is another story. Let’s think about these conditions though— a packed city (roughly 12,000,000 on a week day), vehicles everywhere possible, sewage treatment systems, sanitation stations, and many many skyscrapers with heating and cooling systems. It makes sense that the air will be highly polluted in such an environment; it makes more sense for humans to become ill due to this occurrence.
We must keep our environment healthy for our sake because it is not completely apparent if the Earth is actually damaged by our mistreatment. We only think the environmental changes are catastrophic when it becomes an inconvenience for us.
She nourishes her children with her rich soils and pure waters. Her loving touch through rays of warmth and light penetrates life to produce life. She creates us, she destroys us, she is the mother, Earth.