Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Think Before You Spray

Or don’t spray at all.

This is the time of year for fun in the sun and for spraying chemicals all over the place, apparently.

The big news is this summer you can not only get some weed and bug killer but also you can buy it in jumbo size, so you can be ready for the giant insect that ate suburbia I guess.

TV commercials show someone splashing the man-made chemical onto the house and yard and driveway with a continuous jet spray. The music is upbeat and the sprayer is an attractive woman who makes it look as effortless as a stroll in the park. Maybe she’s humming a song “we’re killin' the bugs, we’re killin' the bugs, do da do da”.

 How about a pause and, perish the thought, a thought.

What are these bugs that we all trying to kill?  What is this horrendous threat?  And finally, is killing the bugs worth it? Not the cost in dollars and cents but in health and psyche plus the impact on the natural world.

All roads lead to the rivers and streams and oceans. Those chemicals eventually find their way into that stream there and that bay over there. Runoff pollution is no minor problem. Just ask the out of work lobster fishermen in Connecticut who are certain their million dollar fishery collapsed due to pesticide spraying for bugs in nearby towns, some of them miles from the coast.

Surely all of these chemicals are heavily regulated and the government wouldn’t allow anything unsafe to get into our hands. Riiiiiiiight.

How many times have we heard the news report that shows such and such product (surprise! surprise!) previously deemed fine by the US Government, and the industry that created it, has been determined to sterilize humming birds or cause cancer in people?

I’m pretty sure the guy who fishes locally or likes to turnover rocks looking for salamanders at the nearby creek would think before spraying and probably not spray at all. That’s because in some small way, he is connected to nature.

But it’s sad because when we kill the natural world, we kill ourselves. We are a part of it and it is a part of us. Ask: Why is it invariably refreshing to get out and see some nature versus not? Why do patients in hospitals heal faster if they have a view of some greenery than patients who do not?

Nature is good for people in ways we don’t even fully understand. So let’s treat it better.

Start by not dousing our yards and homes in chemicals you wouldn’t want near your baby or your cat or your glass of water.

How about introducing natural predators to eat those bugs you don’t like? How about realizing that the bugs are just bugs, who cares -- why are you killing those bugs?

Who knows, you may even decide that the threat of the bugs is minor compared to the potential heavy costs of spraying, and you might not spray at all.

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