Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Living downstream

There was once a village overlooking a river.
The people who lived there were very kind.
These residents, according to parable, began noticing increasing numbers of drowning people caught in the river’s swift current. And so they went to work devising ever more elaborate technologies to resuscitate them.

So preoccupied were these heroic villagers with rescue and treatment that they never thought to look upstream to see who was pushing the victims in.

This film is a walk up that river. The river of human cancer. --Sandra Steingraber
I went to an event last week to see a screening of the film Living Downstream, which is based on the book by Sandra Steingraber. Steingraber is a scientist who is making the connections between cancer and the environment, connections that I feel are critically important.

One image that sticks with me from the film is archival footage of people spraying DDT and other pesticides while children are playing nearby and even in the chemicals. It's horrifying.

Steingraber points out that after World War II, there were so many stockpiles of these chemicals left over from the war, that companies had to figure out something to do with them. So using pesticides became part of what was being marketed to American households as, basically, cleaning supplies. Take a look at these images from actual ad copy. Really horrifying.

The bottom line is, there has to be a reason for the increase in incidence of cancer over these past 40 to 50 years. There are many chemicals being used in industry, farming, etc. that haven't been tested well, and whose impacts on animals and humans are unknown. So do we continue to close our eyes and pretend that we are immune to these chemicals? Or do we face the truth, and try to do something about it?

2 comments:

RivkA with a capital A said...

wrote you a whole long comment, but the computer "ate" it.

suffice it to say that I agree with your point.

that said, since cancer risk increases with age and our average life span has also increased, it's not so surprising that incidences of cancer have increase.

adena said...

I'm sorry that your computer ate your comment...I hate it when that happens!

My understanding is that the increase in incidence of cancer is greater than that which would be expected by the increase in life span.

If you have a chance, read Sandra Steingraber's new book Living Downstream. It's fascinating.