The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is INURED
Traveling through northern Ontario by train years ago, I’d get whiffs of the putrid sulfur fumes spewing from paper mills along Lake Superior. The joke in those places was, “You don’t need to put meat in your sandwiches. Just open your slices of bread and close them over that rich aroma.”
I felt sorry for the poor folks who lived and worked there. Wouldn’t it be great if these smog-belching, mercury-dumping factories were shut down? But then… Hold on here! I read books, magazines, catalogues. I use printer paper, paper towels, tissues, toilet paper… On second thought, keep on spewing, guys. (Try to contain the mercury, though.)
This morning I went into the kitchen and made myself a cup of coffee, which came from plantations in South America, harvested by laborers there and shipped here by boat. The beans are then roasted and packaged in Canadian factories – in foil packages made in other factories – then trucked to my local supermarket. I may grumble about pollution from factories, but this might seem hypocritical if I’m the one buying their products.
I spread my toast with margarine made from canola oil (once commonly known as rapeseed oil.) I know something about canola – it’s grown in the fields around us. In the spring our water pressure goes through some dips during seeding as our farmer neighbor fills his sprayer in preparation for seeding. Then he gets into his factory-made, fuel-consuming tractor and roars off to seed his grain.
To get good crops, and thus feed the world, farmers may use fertilizers, pre- and post-emergent herbicides, insecticides. In the case of canola, the use of desiccants at harvest is common. I like to wear cotton, but I understand cotton’s a heavily insecticide-sprayed crop. I am concerned about the effects of all these chemicals on our poor old Earth, but I also want to eat and wear clothes. And growers want to earn a living. So what’s the answer?
One day shortly after a power outage here, I was talking with a friend in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario and we discussed how we’d ever survive without electricity. She assured we that we could if we had to – we just would. “But how?” I asked. She answered, “We’d just have to leave the city and go back to the land.” And I thought, You don’t know what you’re saying!
“Think of the hundreds of seniors in your apartment building alone,” I told her. “And the millions of people in your city. Our lives are built on having a reliable source of power. Heating, air-conditioning, traffic control, gas pumps, street lights, water purification and circulation, all depend on power. You just can’t move city dwellers back into the woods, have them build log cabins and expect they’ll survive.”
The fact is, without a fairly steady power supply millions of people across our country would die. Sorry about the pollution, but keep those hydro-electric generators running, churning out power.
When I read fellow blogger Judy D-B’s response to this prompt, mainly the lines about “…the factories smudging the skies with their waste…,” I had to admit my guilt. Paper mills, cotton mills, steel mills – I buy the products of these factories. I use planes that probably pollute the atmosphere. Why, if it were a free trip I might even like to check out one of those fuel-guzzling, pollution-generating behemoths a.k.a an ocean liner. (Just once.)
I can do without flyers, go totally to e-mail, cut back on my purchases. But at our age, I hope we never have to go back to a log cabin in the bush, use candles or kerosine lamps, pump water from a well, chop firewood, wrap up in lots of blankets in winter, hitch the horses to go to town, or use an outdoor biffy where autumn leaves serve as T.P. What about you? Are you willing to give up cell phones, travel, new clothes and paper products in order to save the environment?
Because we seem to really like the life we have now, I don’t see any end to growing practices or factories. (And I really don’t support shutting down factories here, putting our own people out of work because pollution controls are too costly, then buying from countries that produce cheap goods because they ignore pollution issues.)
I do want to be aware, to curb my hunger for “the latest” and not be wasteful. But I don’t see many options, so in the end I go with common sense and have probably inured myself somewhat to how the earth suffers for my sake. As the saying goes…
“Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can change, and the wisdom to know the difference.”