Over the past two weeks, I got caught in some horrific traffic jams—the kind where you inch forward for a half an hour, finally see over the next hill, and discover that it still doesn’t get any faster. Five miles an hour was a good brisk pace compared to how fast those jams moved. Because bad traffic is depressingly common around here, I thought I’d write a list of ways to deal with it other than loud swear words.
- Have something to eat with you in the car. You’ll be a lot less cranky and less likely to make mistakes. I went without food for six hours once and almost sideswiped someone. Then I realized it was time to go home and get food.
- Crack a window. In the last jam I was in, I got so hot and sweaty my thighs stuck to the seat. A little breeze can make all the difference.
- Don’t bother changing lanes. The minute you do the lane you move into will slow to a stop. It’s a curse.
- Look at the cars in front of the car immediately ahead of you. This will make you less likely to rear end someone if traffic stops suddenly. Even if you are able to put on the breaks, the screech your tires make is embarrassing. Also, you’ll get honked at.
- When you’re out, feel free to shout “hallelujah” and “whee” as you streak down the highway. I certainly did.
I finished my last petition at my internship, writing for progressive causes, i.e. animal welfare and the environment. I’d write about stopping climate change and then read about fossil fuel leases on public lands. Then I’d write to the president asking him to suspend fossil fuel leases on public land. It helps to savor the little victories, so I’ve written a list of environmental causes where we actually won something.
- The U.S. House of Representatives banned Styrofoam in their cafeteria. It’s been allowed since 2011 when the republicans took over. They finally decided it wasn’t a good idea to drink those carcinogens after all. Styrofoam is carcinogenic and takes 500 years to decompose. It’s great for filling landfills, not so great for anything else.
- The U.S., Canada, and Mexico, agreed to use 50 percent renewable energy by 2025. So far, only 13 percent of U.S. energy is renewable. Another 19 percent is nuclear. We’re in for an uphill battle, but at least they’re dreaming big.
- The Diablo Canyon Power Plant in California is scheduled to close. They built it over a fault line and having a nuclear power plant over a fault line is never a smart idea. Three Mile Island anyone?
- The Great Lakes are now protected by a 1.7 mile long earthen barrier to keep the Asian carp out. Asian carp are the locusts of the marine world; they eat everything and trash the place. Invasive species in the Great Lakes cost the local economy $200 million a year. This barrier cost $4.4 million. Do the math.
These days, the U.S seems like it’s out to sabotage itself as much as it possibly can. The republican nomination devolved into a contest over who could say the most offensive things (Trump). It’s important to remember when things go right, if only because it’s too expensive to move to Canada.
I’ve learned recently that many things we do that hurt the environment also hurt us. It turns out that pumping toxic chemicals into the atmosphere isn’t all that great for our lungs either. Who knew? To that end, I’ve written a list of environmentally destructive practices that are bad for our health and what can be done to avoid them.
1). Plastic in the ocean. There is an area the size of Texas in the Pacific Ocean that is covered in plastic. Unfortunately for us, these plastic contaminants like mercury and lead end up in the sea food we eat. And mercury consumption never did anyone any good. Ask the mad hatter. To reduce these contaminants don’t use as much plastic. Drink from the sink or water fountain instead of using bottled water.
2.) Pollution. In addition to accelerating the greenhouse effect, pollution also causes emphysema, asthma, bronchitis, and possibly cancer. To limit pollution drive a Prius or electric car instead of an SUV. As a bonus, this will make it easier to park and turn. Driving an SUV is a lot like driving a boat—unwieldy and cumbersome.
3.) Lead in the water. Five thousand three hundred U.S. water systems have amounts of lead over the legal limit. We’ve known lead was bad for us since the eighteenth century. Apparently 300 years hasn’t been enough to get us to stop using it. Ask your congressman to push for mandatory lead testing in public water systems.
4.) And last but not least…climate change. Climate change causes drought, which increases wildfires. Fifty thousand acres in California have already burned this year and hundreds have been forced to evacuate. To avoid barbequing yourself this summer, remove dead trees and vegetation from the area.
Humans come from and depend on our environment. It follows that what’s bad for the environment hurts us to. The problem is that we often don’t see the connection until the 50,000 acres have already burned.