There’s a new warning about PFAs, the group of more than 4700 chemicals used for industrial and food production and known to be harmful to health including cancer. In nearly half the meat and fish tested levels could be as high as twice the recommended levels, and therefore dangerous. They were also found in extremely high levels in items such as chocolate cake. PFAs are used in things like non-stick cookware, packaging, Styrofoam and their wide use means that they are now in the blood of just about all Americans and responsible for contaminating the drinking water of at least 16 million people.
In another study, this one global, studying the rivers of the world, high levels of antibiotics were found. In every continent, the rivers tested exceed the levels safe for humans. Rivers affect soil, their waters leak affecting things like sewage treatment plants which directly or indirectly affect humans. This at a time when there is already a crisis about antibiotics resistance, something that can have wide repercussions in the treatment of many illnesses. And further such high antibiotic levels in rivers such as the Thames and the Danube, affect all the organisms and creatures living within them.
It’s a distressing,
troubling picture in an era when the current US administration is not addressing these issues
and developing countries do not have the technological and financial means to
undertake measures such as the removal the antibiotics from their rivers. But
because knowledge is still power, an issue of this magnitude must come to the
foreground and we must each do what we can.
First it was an
outbreak in California, then one in Washington State, now one in New York
State. Measles outbreaks are becoming more frequent and for me they stand as a
symbol of a troubling trend in society, the masking of social responsibility.
As a young girl I attended a French Lycee and we were schooled in the
responsibilities of being citizens. We read excerpts from Rousseau and
discussed the Social Contract. In the
UK children are more prone to discuss Hobbes and Locke who similarly believed in
social responsibility. True, in the US
those philosophers seem outdated and do not appeal to national pride. Still the
idea of social responsibility is part of US culture. Yet somewhere in the curricula of our schools,
somewhere in the practice of our values perhaps we have lost it. When I first
came to the United States It seemed to me that American teenagers were much
more interested in conforming that we had been. As teenagers our emphasis was
to put the stamp of individuality upon who we were. Being distinct individuals with
our own views, beliefs, interpretations and preferences was very important.
Perhaps it was the aftermath of experiencing WWII but while we were taught that
individual rights are constrained when it comes to the public good, neither we,
nor our elders for that matter, had discernible difficulties being both individuals
and responsible citizens. I know many people who do not believe in vaccination
and some of them are people I love, so I am well aware of their arguments. The
fact remains however that when the exercise of individual rights interfere with
public safety, I can’t help believe that public responsibility ought to come
first. It may not be universally approved of, certainly to those who are
against vaccines, but as far as I know public responsibility does not need to
meet the test of universal approval.
In this new, hyper competitive age, none of us, none of us can afford to be complacent.”*
*Let’s make it a resolution!
“You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.”