Monday, June 20, 2011

Expanding our Thinking as Citizens

Long interested in issues of environmental pollution, my current reading fascinates me (Prud’home/The Ripple Effect/Scribner/2011/77-78).

Multiplied books on environmental issues over the past twenty-plus years, thoroughly convince me that many of the current issues we face are problems of Christian stewardship and physical health. We have not yet begun to correlate the relationship between certain health problems and environmental pollution.

Explore some fresh thinking with me, as I read Prud’home’s review of chemical pollution and some of its health effects: EG; “A growing body of evidence suggests that certain man-made chemicals released into the water and the air have led to a surge in serious health issues, such as breast cancer, leukemia, asthmas, neurodevelopment disorders, and physiological changes” (77). Nothing new here.

New to me, hoever, is this issue of “intersex.” In fish, it causes females to develop male stumps and males to develop female eggs, among other things. Perhaps related is this: “It is well documented that Western women are beginning puberty earlier and going through menopause later; age 17 in 1800, 14 by 1900, and 12 by 2000" (77). This leaves doctors “particularly concerned about the role of endocrine disruptors, which may fool the body into undergoing hormonal changes early” (77). Factors causing this include cleaning products, pesticides, flooring, air fresheners,, and plastics …”.

Especially interesting to me was this: “In 2000, Anne Fausto-Sterling, a biology professor at Brown University, conducted the leading study on the frequency of intersexuality and found that 1.7 percent of the population develops in a way that deviates from the standard definition of male or female” (77, emphasis added).

Cited as a possible example of “intersexuality” is the track star Caster Semenya of South Africa. This 18-year-old won the 2009 Olympics, only to be challenged about her gender, having the muscle strength of a male). After much debate, she was allowed to continue competion and in 2010, at the same Berlin track, she again won, only to be challenged when “her competitors demanded that officials define what constitutes an acceptable biological baseline for female athletes” (78).

Consider this: fish are said to be “most susceptible” to endocrine disruption when they are still “in their eggs in river sediment or are very young …” So … if human babies are exposed to endocrine disruptors when at a similar stage of development, could they “theoretically suffer immunosuppression or possibly intersex“ (78).

This raises two issues for me. First, the author has cited pages of reading that prove the probability of a long list of medical drugs and industrial chemicals in our water habitats and our drinking water: cannabis (pot), ecstasy, LSD, amphetamines, and heroin, among other drugs, not to mention a long list of industrial chemical wastes. Most local water treatment plants neither test for, or filter, these kinds of drugs and chemicals. This leaves me wanting stronger government regulations to purify my drinking water, rather than fewer regulations--as dictated by certain politicians.

The second issue that concerns me is homosexuality. I support the civil rights (none abuse) of all individuals, but I am comfortable in strongly opposing homosexuality on moral-ethical grounds, as well as other reasons. I believe this “learned behavior” is not a biological result of changes in our genes.

Having said that, when I read that certain pollutants potentially lead to “1.7 percent of the population” developing “in a way that deviates from the standard definition of male or female,” I have to ask what part pollutants play in this matter of “immunosuppression or possibly intersex”? Is homosexuality one of the possible ripple effects?

These are no longer issues of any liberal left or conservative right! These are human issues we must all wrestle with. Our political positions and moral standards may vary individually, but we must come together in a common politic of public safety within which we can confront and properly regulate our pharmaceutical and industrial products for the good of all concerned.

From Warner’s World,

No comments: