My daughter Claire says she has a lot of monsters that live under her bed. They include vampires, zombies, giant furry things, etc. They are her friends, and only she is allowed to visit them. One day, after talking about her monster friends, Claire asked what really scares me. I think she was hoping I’d come up with something that has glowing red eyes, long crusty fingernails, green fangs and a hair-raising howl. Pondering her question, I stared out into space, letting all the monsters that haunt me race through my head.
Cancer, cancer, cancer, I thought; that everywhere-you-turn monster that’s consuming humans at a frightening pace. Cancer scares me. What scares me even more is the constant poisoning of our water, air, soil and food. Modern industrial life has brought with it a plethora of toxic chemicals that have saturated our society.
Toxic chemicals are in our water, air, soil, food, cosmetics, personal care products, household cleaning products and so much more. Carcinogens abound in these things, along with other substances like neurotoxins and endocrine disruptors that can cause an array of illnesses such as infertility, diabetes, thyroid dysfunction, immune disorders, gastrointestinal diseases, developmental disorders, neurological disorders, pre-term birth, autism, ADHD, etc. Yet, almost all synthetic chemicals are legally permitted to be marketed by industry without any rigorous toxicological testing. Talk about frightening!
Fracking is another monster that scares the hell out of me. The tar sands, too. These extreme forms of fossil fuel extraction are permanently devouring finite fresh water resources and replacing them with gargantuan quantities of toxic waste that is getting into our rivers, drinking water and air.
Fracking is so close to home, it’s like having Freddy Kruger at my dinner table. It’s already taking over the Susquehanna River with an evil eye on the Delaware River, which provides drinking water to over 15 million people.
The tar sands, though seemingly farther away in Canada, are filling the atmosphere with three times the greenhouse gas emissions produced by conventional oil, hastening melting glaciers, warming seas, rising sea levels and extreme weather patterns. These are not good things to hasten.
The fossil fuel industry has bought most elected officials in this country, who in turn give the industry a free pass to pollute, regardless of the mounting evidence of its serious effects on human health and ecosystems. Our desperate short-term need for energy is blinding us to the fact that we are poisoning the human species out of existence.
“Frankenfoods” – genetically modified foods (GMOs) – are also in bed with government. The former attorney general and later vice president of the multinational biotech corporation Monsanto is currently the food safety czar for the USDA! As I write, the USDA is pushing for a “speed approval” process to get the next crop of GMO seeds out into the world, without thorough, objective safety testing. This, despite studies that link GMOs to infertility, immune problems, allergies, faulty insulin regulation, and damages to major organs and the gastrointestinal system. Why? Profit for the big biotech companies, of course.
Anything made with soy and corn byproducts carry the hazards of GMOs. GMO labeling on food products is not legally required, so GMOs are quietly infiltrating the majority of food products being purchased by the majority of people in this country. GMOs are like the zombies from Night of the Living Dead, rising up everywhere you turn, but a lot less campy and a whole lot more real.
Claire stares at me. I tell her I can’t think of anything, because I don’t want her to know about these scary adult monsters that follow me around. I try gently to tell other moms about them. They tend to turn away, leaving me alone to deal with these dark beasts they’d rather not consider (which I fully understand). This scares me, too.
If the moms of this world won’t rise up to say no to the poisoning of our water, air and food – the essential elements for life – well, perhaps this is the scariest thing of all. Who else will protect the children and future generations if not the mothers?
Claire has found a way to befriend her monsters. I wish I could do the same.
Tell me again about your monsters, Claire. I like them so much better than mine.
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