Environmentalists and non-greenies are often set at odds with one another because of the topic of climate change. Is the climate changing? Sure, it appears to be, as it appears it often has throughout history. Is it happening this time because of humans, or partly because of humans? I won't even try to answer that here ... because that is exactly the debate we keep having, and exactly the debate we shouldn't be having.
And that's where hot tubs come into the picture.
Imagine, if you would, a couple of people sitting in a hot tub together and, excuse me for saying so, but one of them takes a dump right into the water. The image is gross on purpose, because we all know what would happen -- there'd be a mad scramble to get out of the water; or, if we can imagine that the people were not ABLE to get out of the water, they would look for ways to get the poop out of the hot tub as quickly as possible. And if they failed to do so, they might well contract a bacterial illness from it ... especially if (because they couldn't get out) there were more such episodes and the water increasingly became dirty.
Here's what wouldn't happen. Those two people wouldn't sit in the poop-infested water and start discussing whether the poop had absorbed some of the heat from the water, and whether they needed to adjust the heat of the water. They wouldn't sit there and debate how cold they might become if they kept using the hot tub as a toilet. The issue of climate change in the hot tub would not be the emergency issue. The emergency would be how to get rid of or away from the "toxic" element so as to avoid disease.
So this Earth Day, as we celebrate our planet, I wonder if we can remember that, and rather than debate how much our pollution is changing the planet and how that might affect us 10, 20, or 50 years from now, maybe we can think about how that pollution is affecting us right now, today. We have no interest in sitting in our own filth, but we're perfectly happy to pollute our planet with mercury and radioactive materials and pharmaceutical drugs and pesticides and fertilizers and laundry detergent and plastics / petroleum and everything else, then simply debate whether it's going to melt some ice.
If a tiny bit of poop in the tub doesn't matter, what happens when you keep doing that day after day? (In this analogy, not just vaccines, but everything that makes the world dirty a tiny bit at a time so that proponents of each aspect, like vaccines, can deny responsibility for the accumulation we face.) Does the tub eventually gross you out?
In short, and without making this an article on vaccines, we all know there is risk to vaccines, and the debate is kept firmly on the immediate risks and benefits, which keeps us from thinking about their larger role in a world where we're living in our filth and wondering why so many people are overweight, have diabetes, get cancer, and so on. Some of this comes from us living longer, but there's no question that some diseases and obesity are getting us at an earlier and earlier age. Why?
In other words, I'm not demonizing vaccines here (though I'll always demonize the inability to have respectful debates on any topic). And I'm not demonizing one particular form of pollution or modern convenience. I like a number of modern conveniences. I'm no Luddite. But to bring it back full circle ... I think it's time we stopped debating whether we should go green because we don't believe in global warming (or that humans cause it) or that we don't want the government telling us what to do. We should go green because we're sick of being sick from living in a world of toxins.
Because probably, like me, you'd hurry out of a hot tub that someone just went to the bathroom in. But in the case of planet Earth, we can't really jump out after we make a mess. At least for a while, we're here to stay.