F.U.S. Files: Mysterious (Non-Bodily) Discharge

2013-05-19 to Chenggan 005.JPG

I’m not exactly sure what’s going on here, but the water (is it even water?) gushing out of that tunnel was a distinct shade of green. Clean mountain water in the surrounding waterfalls was always clear or blue, and the river water full of dirt that the rain has washed down from the mountains was of course brown. Whatever caused this green, it couldn’t have been good. Maybe some chemicals from one of the many hydroelectric plants in the area?

Are things better at home? A recent episode of the Colbert Report (April 22nd, 2013) shows a fox.com news brief entitled “More than half of US rivers unable to sustain life, EPA says” (Associated Press, March 26th). Our media is saturated with debates regarding the right to free speech, the right to an education, the right to choose whether or not to abort a fetus, the right to bear arms, the right to privacy, the right to marry as one pleases, and so forth. The presence or absence of these rights significantly affects our quality of life, so I don’t take debates concerning them lightly. However, there are some other rights – rights which seem to me more philosophically grounded, more basic, more fundamental, more universal – that must be protected for life to even be possible. I’m referring to rights to clean air, clean water, and clean food. Without these necessities guaranteed in sufficient quantity for all members of a society, competition for the basics of survival would be so fierce that few would have time to concern themselves with much else.

This seems to me to be thematically related to a quotation from Isaac Asimov:

Moyers: What happens to the idea of the dignity of the human species if population growth continues at its present rate?

Asimov: It will be completely destroyed. I will use what I call my bathroom metaphor. Two people live in an apartment and there are two bathrooms, then both have the freedom of the bathroom. You can go to the bathroom anytime you want, and stay as long as you want, for whatever you need. Everyone believes in the freedom of the bathroom. It should be right there in the Constitution. But if you have 20 people in the apartment and two bathrooms, no matter how much every person believes in the freedom of the bathroom, there is no such thing. You have to set up times for each person, you have to bang at the door, “Aren’t you through yet?” and so on.

The same way democracy cannot survive overpopulation. Human dignity cannot survive it. Convenience and decency cannot survive it. As you put more and more people into the world, the value of life not only declines, it disappears. It doesn’t matter if someone dies. The more people there are the less one individual matters.”

(http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Talk:Isaac_Asimov)

That is to say, certain “rights” are really only feasible if certain other material conditions are met. Clean (and sufficient) air, water, and food are the material conditions for healthy individuals and for a society that can dedicate itself to something higher than just scraping by. I don’t mean to suggest that we shouldn’t be concerned about what I’ll call “second-order rights;” because our society is able to provide us with the basics, we are and should be concerned more. Further, at this point, rights like that to free speech (or even, controversially, the right to bear arms?) may well be necessary in order for us to protect our first-order rights. I just mean to say that first-order rights need loving, too.

What I’m doing about it: this is a hard one, as I have no idea what the hell this green junk is. So, I’ll go with: eating organic (when it’s available) to  contributing to pesticide runoff; avoid buying anything new and/or mass-produced, which is likely to come from a factory dumping something like this into water somewhere, or at least to have parts do; consume less electricity. Trying to live a simple life.  AND: Peeing in the forest, where nature can take its purifying course, rather than into toilets, where it likely just gets flushed into some body of water.

Friends in this Fight: No idea. This highlights to me the fact that I generally have very little idea about the ultimate consequences of the things I see and use daily.

Related link: “Farewell Froggy, the Age of Ribbit is Nearing an End”

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