Thursday, 18 June 2009

Safety and risk

Reading the news from around the world, I'm often stunned to mute amazement. We live in one of the safest times in recorded history, yet scare stories abound. The Earth is going to heat up uncontrollably and future generations will boil / freeze / lose money on their waterfront condo's. We're all going to die from Bird flu, Swine flu, AIDS, Ebola, SARS. Now I'll qualify that implication by saying here and now that all risk is relative. If you don't work with poultry in unhygenic conditions you aren't very likely to contract that particular strain of H1N1. If you don't have unprotected sex with drug abusers or those who practice indiscriminate anal sex with many casual partners, then HIV / AIDS is not going to figure large in your life. If you cook your food properly, then all the bogeymen aren't going to crawl out of your dietary input and rot your intestines. Certain parasitic diseases are only endemic in certain temperature ranges / climates. As for contaminants and poisons, as Paracelsus rightly pointed out, the 'poison is in the dose'. The human body is, when fed and watered adequately, a tremendously robust machine. Like a well maintained car, moderately driven (Not too fast or slow) will run for many years longer than the warranty without serious complaint, and you don't have to get all obsessive compulsive about maintenance either.

What is it with certain people? Aren't they whole unless quivering in a terrified heap in a darkened corner under a blanket covered in fluffy pink wabbits? Why do they have to be victims of whatever all the bloody time? Why don't they get out into the great outdoors and grow a couple. What is more to the point, why should the rest of us have to share their anxiety states?

We in the developed 'West' are better fed, longer lived, breathe cleaner air, drink cleaner water, are healthier and keep our teeth and hair longer than any previous generation. How can I be so sure? Because I'm just about old enough to recall when it wasn't so. The 1970's in fact. Our diet is certainly healthier because the much despised 'globalism' puts healthy food on your plate (Should you wish to eat it) at all times of the year, and not just when a particular vegetable is in 'season'. The 'green revolution' of the 1970's saw to that, with more disease resistant and higher yielding crops. The air is cleaner due to stricter emission controls on industry and vehicles. Disease control is far better due to improved drugs and antibiotics (Although we could help by not coughing, spitting, and picking our noses in and around hospitals). There is less water pollution. According to this article in the Australian, the Great barrier reef is in fine fettle. This is because we are slowly but surely cleaning up our collective act.

Now part of the reason for cleaner air and water is because we have exported much of our industrial capacity to places like China and India, where they aren't so much bothered by the pollution as we effete westerners. They were up until recently more concerned with developing their economic and industrial capacity and hang the airborne particulate matter. Yet now they are finding that all this industrialisation has a downside and are looking to clean up their collective acts.

Yet sometimes the elasticity of my credulity goes into acute failure mode. Via this article at I read that those in the 'Denialist' faction (Couldn't all those clever people who believe in man made climate change come up with something better?) are:
a fringe minority of attention seekers and professional refuters funded by the oil companies
One might point the finger the other way. All the oil and energy companies (or at least their marketing departments) seem to have embraced the green propaganda as gospel, and have no logical reason not to. There's gold in that there postulation pardner. New niches in the market to be carved out, extra dosh to be squeezed from the paying public in the form of 'Carbon indulgences' (Where's Luther when you need him?). Why on earth would they want to fund the climate sceptics contrary view?

The mainstream media bombard us with images of a doomed planet; yet we're missing the whole point. There are environmental issues we should be concerned about. Over fishing, pollution (Ironically some of which is due to 'biofuel' production), yet all the mainstream and the politicians can blather on about is a trace atmospheric gas that has minimal if any effect on the climate.

So I'm an Eeeevil 'Denier', a shill in the pay of 'big oil'? Okay, if that's the case, where's my money dude?

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