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Cloudy With A Chance Of Acid Rain

Earth-and-Venus

It is hard for many to take environmentalism seriously.  Even the term ‘environmentalist’ lends itself to harsh and humiliating social terms that make the practice seem unfashionable.  The public’s perception of environmentalists always ties into ‘liberal’ agendas.  This misconception is a dangerous idea that has been allowed to fester and will be the death of the planet and all living organisms on it, unless it is changed.

The issue of protecting the ecosystems, the inhabitants of, and the planet itself is not a political issue.  It is an issue of humanity, and an obligation of the rational-beings we have evolved to be.  Homo sapiens are the most successful macroscopic being on Earth, and have developed the ability to reason (though some choose not to), and therefore, have the duty as apex-species to protect the ecosystems that we are destroying with our gross overpopulation and the consequences of our advanced societies.

I submit to you, a plea to actively pursue a change in mindset of how the average person affects the habitat in which they reside.  Americans in particular are extremely passive in attempts to minimize the harm that they do.  To change for the better, we must have a reform of the way we live our lives, as well as supporting funding for clean resources and energy requirements for the technology we use.

Human beings are the most harmful thing to ever happen to planet Earth.  We are one of the most adaptable organisms on the planet, we are an apex-species, and our brains are developed to the point in which we can affect the entire planet as a collective, be it for good or harm.

Cane toads were introduced to Australia in 1935 with the aim of eliminating an insect that had been effecting sugarcane growth in parts of the country.  The effects of the toads on the ecosystem were unprecedented.  Now, almost three quarters of a century later, the toads are overpopulating and killing many large predators that have not had time to adapt to the toxins in the toad’s skin.

These toads do not have the mental ability to understand the harm that their presence is doing to the ecosystem.  Human beings do, and yet, choose to abstain from real solutions.  With our ability to rationalize actions, we have an obligation to protect and preserve the land and species we affect.

The problems of our overpopulation of the planet are much more wide-ranging, but just as harmful as the Cane toads in Australia.  Human beings are polluting the oceans, destroying the atmosphere, and pushing species that are unnecessary to our survival into extinction.  It is no coincidence that populations of cows, chickens, and pigs are booming, while the populations of snow leopards, giant pandas, and white rhinos are dying out.  These are not a result of natural selection, but of our infringement into the territory of those species, as well as the selfish slaughtering of those animals for parts.  It can be debated if the end to Darwin’s natural selection inevitably comes with the destruction of all species on the planet, except one op species, and a few others that are allowed to continue as sustenance, but does not have to be that way.

Outside of the challenges our species causes to other living inhabitants of the planet, we are pushing gases into the atmosphere that destroys our only protect from the sun, while defiling our planet’s natural sources of drinkable water, and condemning the rainforests, which are the planet’s source of 80 percent of its oxygen.  As a result, we are committing a mass murder/suicide.  Humans are destroying their own sources of water, oxygen, and cosmic protection while simultaneously condemning any creature that still lives, or would continue to survive after we perish.  It is impossible to morally justify these actions.

Whether one chooses to ‘believe’ it or not, scientists in all fields agree that global warming and the greenhouse effect are occurring.  Cosmic rays from the sun are becoming trapped inside our atmosphere, causing rapid changes in the temperatures and weather conditions of our planet.  Whether global warming is happening rapidly or not, immediate actions are necessary to prevent any more damage, or one day soon, our beautiful blue planet will be as desolate and as uninhabitable as Venus.  We caused this process to accelerate, with the air pollution we allow (and I’m not talking about Justin Bieber).

It was not until the 2000s that recycling became ‘fashionable’ in American society.  Though European countries have been recycling since the 1970s and in some cases longer, it is not enough to stop the destruction that the materials we use and pollutants we throw away cause.

Big business markets ‘green’ materials to consumers because those items sell, not because those items are better for our planet.  Companies are still largely unregulated in the products that are manufactured, the pollutants from machinery that are spewed from factories, and the materials used in many household products like Styrofoam.  Citizens must actively support legislation and legislators that will endorse regulations on companies large enough to affect the planet on a massively-negative scale.

We, as consumers have been fed the idea that ‘buying green’ or reusing grocery bags is enough to protect our planet and its resources, but that is false.  These are passive activities that, while mildly-effective, do not give substantial support to the wildlife and natural resources on Earth.

The mindset of “I will help the environment when it is convenient for me,” must change.  Support regulation on the largest producers of pollution.  As electors, we do have the power.  If it is the focus of the vast majority of constituents, the elected officials will follow or they will be unemployed.  Help control human overpopulation, in any way you can and curve the destruction of our ecosystem for artificial growth.  The power is in our hands.

Every person must take responsibility for the consequences of their actions.  The human mind is not often used to look at the world in a broad spectrum, and I fear action will not be taken until much more luminous problems arise from our actions.  By then, it will be too late.  Look beyond yourself and strive for humanity, not the individual.  Advocate clean energy, low-emission transportation, and reusable materials.  Support those who would do well for the environment.

The planet will be here tomorrow, whether or not you are.  It is imperative that you live proactively to ensure the continuation of our personal cosmic wonder.

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Gun Control: About Saving Lives, Not Personal Freedom

handgun

It seems like every time I turn on the news, there is at least one more dead from a gunshot.  Every couple of months, we get treated to a mass shooting, or rampage, or spree by someone that is obviously off-their-rockers and attempting to take as many people down as they can before ending their own life.

This is life as an American.  If we are the “lucky” ones not to have already fallen to gun violence, we have become victims of the war of the Constitutionality of weapon ownership.  Much like what is done with the Bible, some try to interpret the 2nd Amendment literally, while others think it has more of a figurative meaning.  Both sides are nonsensical.  Interpretation of the Second Amendment by modern minds is not going to retard the gun murders occurring in almost every American city every day.

We all know the statistics and I will try to refrain polluting this diatribe with any more quantifiable data than necessary. You can use your favorite online search engine to verify any of these numbers, and I recommend you do.  First off, according to the Violence Policy Center, a non-profit organization that aims to curb firearm violence through research and awareness, over 30,000 suicides, homicides, and unintentional shootings result in occur every year in America due to easily-accessed guns.  About 10,000 of those are murders.

These numbers seem high, and are more eye-opening when compared to a few other countries (estimates based on the average of multiple sources):

Mexico: 2600  deaths per year            (pop. 116,901,761) (Gun laws similar to United States)

Germany: 250  deaths per year            (pop. 81,946,000) (Strict gun laws and ban on certain types of guns)

Canada: 150    deaths per year            (pop. 35,000,000) (Handgun and Assault weapons ban)

Japan: 50         deaths per year            (pop. 127,400,000) (Complete private gun ownership ban)

United Kingdom: 14    deaths per year (pop. 63,181,700) (Complete private gun ownership ban)

I chose to show these countries not because they express the point I want to make, but because they are all countries with similar laws, freedoms, and rights as those that Americans have.  However, with the exception of Mexico, all of these countries ban most or all firearm ownership.

The first thing you may notice is that all of these countries have a considerably lower population than the United States (pop. 350,000,000).  This separation could be a reason for less death.  However, if you multiply the population of each country to be the same or near the population of America, you still get considerably lower firearm related deaths each year:

Mexico:  7800 (with 351,000,000 population)

Germany: 1000            (with 328,000,000 population)

Canada:  1500 (with 350,000,000 population)

Japan:  150 (with 380,000,000 population)

United Kingdom:  84 (with 378,000,000 population)

These numbers do not take into consideration the population density increase that would come from increasing the populations by up to ten times (in the case of Canada).  A case could be made that in a more densely populated country, let’s say Japan, gun violence would increase.  However, it would not increase by 200% (which would be required to reach the same amount of firearm deaths annually in Japan as there are in America).  You would be hard pressed to find anyone that would make that claim.

I now draw your attention to the number of deaths in Mexico in a hypothetical instance of a similar population as the United States.  You will notice that it is the only country that is within even ten times the number of gun-related murders per year; it is also the only country listed with similar gun laws as America and no private-ownership ban on weapons.

The second quality to notice about these numbers is that the four countries with firearms bans, Germany, Canada, Japan, and the United Kingdom still have ten or less the times gun deaths that the United States has.  The closest country, Canada, would hypothetically have about 1500 per year. This number is can be accounted for by the fact that Canada does not ban hunting rifles or shotguns.

Plainly, the common denominator between all of these countries is a comprehensive private gun-ownership ban.

An argument made by gun-enthusiasts can be stated as such:  We do not need more gun control; we need better background checks and more money in the education of mental health issues.  If we can stop the mentally ill from getting firearms, we can cut gun violence.

The mentally ill are accountable for most, if not all of the mass shooting deaths in America.  In 2012, about 88 people died in mass-shooting massacres in the United States.  I will concede that more money spent on mental health education and training with increased background checks would probably prevent most of these occurrences. This, however, keeps alive the issue of the other 9912 people that die each year from petty crime, organized crime, crimes of passion, etc. It would be difficult to claim that even half of the remaining deaths would/could be prevented with mental health screenings and background checks.

Gun advocates also reason that they need weapons to protect themselves from criminals that come across guns illegally.  If you don’t believe that a gun ban would decrease amount of firearms in criminal hands (which would be irrational based on the statistics above), you may think that you need a gun to “protect yourself” or your family.

In a study done by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, over the course of 18 months of study, 626 shootings occurred in or immediately around a residence.

“This total included 54 unintentional shootings, 118 attempted or completed suicides, and 438 assaults/homicides. Thirteen shootings were legally justifiable or an act of self-defense, including three that involved law enforcement officers acting in the line of duty.”

The conception that you are in danger in your own home is justifiable, but it appears, only if you own a firearm.  You are much more likely to unintentionally harm someone (or commit suicide) with your weapon than you are to actually use the weapon in self-defense.

In an attempt to try to reconcile the dangers of owning a gun, many people have argued that they would keep their guns locked up in a safe until they are needed.

So, the next time a burglar attempts to break into your house, I hope he/she gives you time to recognize the situation, run to the safe, unlock the safe, arm the weapon, aim, and shoot.

The final strong case that the gun advocates can make is that we have the right to own guns.  Our founding fathers wanted us to have the rights to arm ourselves against our own countrymen, or Zeus-forbid, or own government.  And to this, I also concede.

America, you do have Second Amendment rights to own guns, and as interpreted by modern supreme courts, for just about any reason you want.  I ask you, however, is an outdated, overanalyzed, and unnecessary right worth the loss and anguish that it causes?  30,000 citizens die each year.  When will the genocide be halted?  This issue is no longer about personal freedom, it is about saving lives.

Is your fear of your neighbor so great that you must arm yourself, and give those who wish to harm the innocent a means of doing so much more easily by allowing open circulation of weapons of terror?

A comprehensive weapons ban on all private ownership of firearms is the only way to prevent the streets from continuing to run red with the blood of our future as a nation.

I implore you, put the gun down, extend your arms, and come together. Do not let our country become so divided that we have to use these weapons on each other, because the pen has failed.

If They Die, They Die:

The Ethics of American Health Care

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Do you want to hear a joke?

…A healthy American.

It would appear that the health of American citizens is a joke to many people in power, and the so-easily coerced masses.  If you’re like me, you have an appetite for the ironic.  The American government has actually convinced about half of its citizens that being healthy is not a fundamental right.  These people have been led to believe that it is treason to support paying taxes towards a collective pool of funds allocated to ensuring that every American citizen can have a right that many other world superpowers have: Health.  In direct result, the United States has a higher infant mortality rate than almost any other civilized country, and about 45,000 people die every year because they are unable to pay for health care.

Health can be a broad term.  To an American, health is a privilege that is given to the ‘hard workers.’ Health is a commodity and for some reason, there just isn’t enough to go around.  This post seeks to explore the American health care system and understand whether or not health is a fundamental right for a citizen.

Many of my readers are not America.  If you are one that is not American, you are probably shaking your head right now and your inner monologue is saying something like this: “These Americans are bloody crazy.”  Please forgive my bad accent.  Another bit of Irony would be the statement that many Americans that hold the opposite viewpoint of mine would say the same thing about you.

The United States has a very unique system for health care.  In America, independently owned and operated businesses are in control of the health insurance system.  Until President Obama introduced the Affordable Health Care Act, or “Obamacare,” health insurance companies were completely unregulated by American government.  This resulted in prices for insurance that were so high, that almost one in every seven Americans was uninsured and could be charged hundreds of thousands of dollars to be treated for any ailment.  These insurance companies could even chose to not insure a person for any reason.  Pregnancy was considered a pre-existing condition.  Ask a single mother about how hard it was to get insurance for her and her child.

It is an interesting thought that health many not be considered a fundamental right in America.  The country was founded on the idea of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, but it seems as though the term ‘life’ does not include ‘the preservation of…’

I hold that it can never be ethical to deny the care of a person in need of health care.  The rights of an American do undoubtedly include the right to be healthy in the pursuits of life, liberty, and happiness.  It is the ethical responsibility of any member of the health care system to complete the actions in which they have been trained.  An insurance company or Doctor denying care to a person in need that cannot pay is like a fire fighter choosing to not respond to a call because it’s too far of a drive.

I do believe that health is a self-evident right, but some may not believe so.  Consider the reality of our situation on Earth.  We are the apex species, and yet, thoroughly insignificant by galactic standards.  Our closest possible living, celestial-neighbor is yet undiscovered, but more than a lifetime away from us by current propulsion standards.  All we have is each other.  Sure, there are those that seek unabridged wealth and power and mean to keep it all for their own pleasure. But that is not how our species should strive to be.  It is nothing less than necessary to ensure the best for every member of the species.

The implications of these changes to our health care system are such that there must be a change to a system in which a collective pool of tax dollars are saved for the health emergencies of the citizens.  As I have noted in previous posts, Americas are very individualistic.  The standard retort to a health care system change is: “I don’t want to be forced to pay for someone else’s health care.”  There are two parts to that statement:

The first is they do not want to pay for someone else’s health care.  This is an argument used commonly by people that are fortunate enough to have adequate health insurance.  These people do not understand that they too may not always have the adequate health insurance that they embrace with locked-fists.

The second is that they do not want to be forced to do something.  Again, Americans are very individualistic.  Generally, the idea that Americans do not have the right to choose what they want to do with their money and bodies scares them.  However, the same people that don’t want to be forced to pay for other people’s health care also believe that gays should be forced to stay unmarried and a woman that have been raped must be forced to have the child.

Obviously, that argument is not well thought out and should be considered no more.

America is a great place to live, but the country is losing its status as a superpower.  Our citizens are poor, stupid, and unhealthy.  I have shown that the American idea of health care is broken and that it is the ethical duty of all Americans to embrace a system in which all people have access to health care.

If America is to last into the future, as the mindless ethnocentric citizens wish, an even more drastic change to the way Americans are healed needs to occur. A change that is not only to a broken system, but one that shakes the deepest convictions of the American public.

 

Twitter: @dustin_mcmahon

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