Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Spring (again)...But Who Cares, We're All Going to Die

Every week (and often more than that), some media yahoo cites a study and concludes that somehow, somewhere We're All Going to Die. Today's gem darkly predicts that sometime in the next thirty years, southern California is going to practically fall off the face of the earth, due to a Very Big earthquake.

Way to narrow it down, guys. ..love the specificity. Granted, I am not a huge fan of southern Cal. (The state, or the teams.) We spent a month, back when Daughter #1 (now 21) was a toddler, in the San Diego area while Dave was doing some engineering there. One morning, we woke up to the bed moving. Big-time. Daughter was sleeping on a pallet in the open closet -- I was debating how I could get to her on a floor that wasn't holding still, until I realized she was just fine. She never even woke up. Soon after, everything stopped shaking.

During another working trip to the same area, sans family, Dave was eating in a Denny's when suddenly everything started shaking. He (and everybody else in there) abandoned their Grand Slams and hit the dirt. He was amazed when, after the rumbling stopped, everyone got up, brushed themselves off, and drank their coffee as if nothing had happened.

We've had a few earthquakes in Colorado -- one memorable one on Christmas Day, and one that took a few picture frames off the wall when we lived in student housing. But 99% of the time around here, the ground holds still. I'd prefer to keep it that way.

On the other hand, what are Californians supposed to do, with an alarmist report like this? Sell everything immediately, and leave the state? Build an underground bunker, and live in that? It's not specific enough to really do anything, other than get good insurance and add some more cans of soup to the emergency shelf.

Some of the other Dire Predictions/Scary Studies that have hit recently:

*All of the airlines are going bust. This is particularly frightening for Denver, with their heavy reliance on D.I.A.'s income...and Frontier's recent bankruptcy. (Forced, by the way, because their credit card processor insisted on huge influx of cash IN THREE DAYS. Why did they do it? Because First Data, said processor, was afraid Frontier would --drum roll here -- go into bankruptcy. Badum bum.)

*Who cares if the arlines are going bust -- their planes are flawed, anyways. I especially like the report of the plane who lost a door on takeoff. And after all, American had many of their planes fail recent inspections. (I wonder just exactly how nitpicky those failed items were. C'mon. Really.) If the planes are ok, then the pilots are probably either drunk, sleep-deprived or loading guns (!!!) in the cockpit. See? We're All Going to Crash -- Then We'll Die.

*Coffee's bad. No, it's good. No, it's bad. Take your choice of food or drink -- there's going to be SOMEONE predicting that eating/drinking/ingesting it is going to give you high blood pressure, infertility or the word we fear the most: Cancer. Never mind that next month's or year's study is going to argue the opposite: that this item is wonderful, and we should be stuffing it in as much as possible.

*Our water systems are full of meds. Especially the big cities. Medication for high blood pressure, seizures, flu/colds, etc. etc. etc. And don't forget the poster child: depression. (Doctors are far too quick to prescribe a pill for this, in my opinion, when there are other ways to combat it -- something our generation, and those after, are going to regret in the future.)

According to Those Who Know, our water is filled with traces of these medicines, gradually built up over the years. (And obviously not as well-filtered out as the big city water plants would have us think.) Never mind that the levels are less than miniscule.

Who Knows, the pundits observe, what this is doing to us in the long run. I can see their point...but what am I supposed to do? Stop drinking water? Buy bottled water, even when there's no guarantee that it won't have the same elements...in even larger doses?

Actually, that report is rather frightening. And I do have concerns about our water issues, not only as they affect us, but the wildlife that shares our planet. Lots of articles too, on this, about everything from Possible Diseases to weirdly-mutated frogs to overfishing to bad practices, like overcrowding, oil spills and gill nets. If you find an odd frog in one pond, does this mean that every single pond is polluted beyond redemption? Will we never be able to eat salmon again, or tuna, or steak?

That brings up another issue: food in general. This gives me high cholesterol. That causes cancer. (See coffee mention above) Take eggs, for example. In spite of some people saying they're an excellent source of vitamins and cheap protein, if I enjoy them, I'm going to get High Cholesterol. (A recent study said no. Another one said yes.) If my health's going to be ok, then the chickens making the eggs are being mistreated. So I get to feel guilty about that.

Should I switch to vegetarianism? (That does seem to be the primary endpoint for many of these Nutritional Experts.) But what about the studies that suggest plants feel (or at least react to) negative things like cutting or pulling? (Regardless, it's going to die if you pull and eat it.) If I get past the guilt of Causing Living Things Pain, I'm still taking the risk that the food was treated with pesticides or grown unethically. If I can get past THOSE things, then the people who grew, picked and packaged my food may be underpaid and badly treated. And "Ah helped," insist Those Who Know, because I bought those mushrooms or apples or strawberries. Don't forget the whole 'Buy Local' issue going on here, either.

Finally, the 1000-pound gorilla in recent studies: Global Warming. Is our planet just going through another climate change? (After all, it's done that for thousands of years already.) Or is it pollution? Cutting down the rain forests in the Amazon? Ramped-up industrialization? Whatever?

I haven't noticed the lead critics in this area refusing to use electricity or stop wearing commercially-made clothing. Buying 'green credits' doesn't change anything. (I want to gag every time I hear Al Gore or another pontificate on this, then get caught using twice as much energy in their home as anyone else in the neighborhood.) People, you're still benefitting from the same actions that you're criticizing in others. During many wars in our country, rich people were allowed to buy substitutes, so they wouldn't have to enlist. How is this any different from your actions?

Could there be some truth in these reports? Sure. Is the situation as dire as predicted? That's the hard part. There can easily be elements of truth, bits of meaning packed into all the broohaha. But whether we get hit by a car tomorrow, or live for fifty more years, barring a heavenly intervention, the truth is inescapable:

We All Die. No matter what.

Thank God -- and I mean that literally -- for the soul, and the chance for new life. Life, beyond the time when our earthly bodies wear out, develop some weird disease, or get hit by a car. Thank God for the chance to make our time on this earth count for something.

Get used to the idea -- because We Are Indeed All Going to Die.

But maybe not as soon as the Experts would like! :)

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