Fragments of All Fears

A septuagenarian should be grateful to wake up each morning, and the first order of business is inventory.  Increasing age means declining vision, hearing, memory, and endurance.  Each new pain brings fear of catastrophic illness.  Any moment might arrive with life-changing heart attack, stroke, or any of a thousand other ailments.  Death is always near, as is reminiscence about what might have been done and what might yet be done.  But an individual can deal with all this, must deal with all this, with as much control as possible, or acceptance when control is futile.  Each day, after all, might be the last “normal” day of my life.
For a few weeks our region has experienced unusually high heat and humidity, echoing record-setting summer temperatures throughout the northern hemisphere.  Media warns everyone to stay inside and drink fluids, avoid heat attacks, solar cancer,  mosquitoes delivering newly arrived tropical diseases.  I ignore all that _ take my walks, sit outside _ nothing much can add to my precarious position in life anyway.  But I do think such attitudes ignore the likelihood that the earth’s global warming is indeed at a tipping point.  I am well aware that this may be the last “normal” summer.
Ocean and bay beaches should offer some relief, but people fear those as well.  Sparkling water, like hazy air, is thickened with miscellaneous pollution.   Bacteria thrive in the warm temperatures, and frightening varieties are featured on the internet every week.  Algae blooms, red and green, are gross.  Again, however, this minor stuff missed the main point that oceans are warming, rising, losing environments and life, and are filled with poisonous invisible plastics which may never go away.  Innocent swims in public salt water may very soon be a nostalgic memory from the past.
Folks react to all this uncertainty and actual discomfort by attacking or trying to reform what is near and local.  They swarm to meetings about food, water supplies, chemicals, housing.  I find that very similar to attacking clerks in the old USSR, who handed out rolls of miserable toilet paper one at a time.  The problem was not the clerks, it was the system, but the clerks were available for abuse.  Our local water is fine.  The only thing that will fix pollution around here would be banning all lawn chemicals, outdoor pesticides, and internal combustion engines.  That won’t happen, and even if it did, would have no effect on terrestrial demise.
What bothers me most is the misuse of science.  Those who scream about food and water and other local issues are usually (from personal experience) fairly ignorant on the proper use of statistics, experiment, theory, and basic facts of chemically physical existence. It is impossible to argue with someone who thinks GMO means tainted, “organic” is less poisonous.  I refuse to try to educate someone who simply shouts that double the part per billion of some obscure substance will lead to disease and death because such a claim is posted on an internet site.  Dr. Oz or some other fad freak is their current witch doctor, slick advertising their solace, a magic pill or obscure practice their guarantee of practical immortality.  It’s a free country, they have a right to do what they want, but I will not join them.  Common sense and common courtesy are too much in short supply.

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