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Forget the truth, pass the duct tape

Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
Coast News
February 20, 2003


"As crude as weapon as the cave man's club, the chemical barrage has been hurled against the fabric of life." — Rachel Carson

As if an orange alert is not enough, fear mongering has now reached an all time low. When I first heard of people stocking up on emergency supplies, I decided to chock it up to low-grade paranoia reserved for those seeking heightened drama in their lives. After all, even in times of peace there are self-described survivalists who are certain the end is near.

The fact America is going to war is no longer in question. Bombs will be dropped, people will die, and nothing will change except the dictator in charge of Iraq. And even that is uncertain. One thing is certain. With or without terrorism, Americans will continue to be subjected to every chemical known to man. And the Bush Administration will say squat. Why? Because chemical production is big business, and multinational corporations won't be swayed from the task of protecting the bottom line. No matter the cost.

Federal officials recommend Americans to take basic disaster-preparation steps, such as maintaining a three-day stockpile of food and water. They also recommended obtaining duct tape and plastic sheeting to seal a house in case of a chemical or biological attack.

Talk about convenient compassion. For the past 100 years Americans have been under a constant chemical assault compliments of science and corporate interests.

Let's face it folks, life in America is a massive science experiment. Americans are bombarded with so many chemicals, we no longer question the wisdom of pouring poisons on the food we plan to eat, into the air we breathe and the water we drink. The Bush Administration is so trusting of the chemical industry, regulations are being relaxed or removed, and polluters given the task of policing themselves.

It's rather ironic that the federal government is asking citizens to stock up on plastic as a way of protecting against chemical attacks, considering 35 of the 50 chemical plants ranked highest in carcinogenic emissions by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), are involved in plastic production. Plastics are synthetic substances produced by chemical reactions. Adding to the irony, most plastics are derived from petroleum. And as we all know petroleum is just a fancy word for unrefined oil.

In other words we are being asked to purchase toxins to protect us from toxins, to fight a war so the people producing toxins can continue to do so. Meanwhile our government is putting pawns in place to protect American oil interests, in the name of national security. It is all so obvious, yet still we soldier on.

Those shouting "No War for Oil" seem to have stumbled on to something.

At this moment western civilization is reliant on oil. Most transportation is depends on petroleum based fuels. Plastic consumer goods litter every American home. Petroleum products dominate our lives, just as it dominates foreign policy. Forgive me for stating the obvious, but wrapping a room in plastic is nothing more than a panacea, and a redundant one at that.

There are chemicals for everything and once produced they never go away. Rachel Carson warned of this threat years before she succumb to cancer, and the use of chemicals has more than quadrupled. DDT, now banned for use in the U.S. because of Carson's work, is still produced in America, then sold to South American growers who spray it on crops, and then sell the produce to American consumers.

Fluoride, the key chemical in atomic bomb production, was essential for the manufacture of bomb-grade uranium and plutonium for nuclear weapons throughout the Cold War. One of the most toxic chemicals known, fluoride rapidly emerged as the leading chemical health hazard of the U.S atomic bomb program. Currently more than two thirds of U.S. public drinking water is fluoridated. Saddam is a mere skirmish in the on going chemical warfare we call progress.

This is not to say one should be blasé about chemical weapons. Quite the contrary, while Americans are considering the harmful effects of chemical weapons we should also consider the health threat associated weapons of mass consumption. If we're really concerned about preventing chemical carnage, Americans would cease the production, use, and distribution of toxic chemicals regardless of economics and intended use.

If duct tape and plastic makes you feel safer, I say go for it. This is America, and last time I checked we were still free to wrap ourselves in Saran Wrap.

The question is who will protect us from the plastic.

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