07 April 2011

Take a Breath

This post is not knitting- or reading-related.  I'll just say that the books offered in my book report post have been spoken for.  I always wish I had more to give away when more than one person responds enthusiastically to an offer.  But hopefully there will be other times that those people are the "winners."

Please note:  If you don't want to read my thoughts and opinions on things other than knitting or what I've read, etc., I am warning you now to go and do something else.  I try to keep my political beliefs to myself for the most part, but something I read today made me want to speak up.

OK, now on to my topic:  Air.

I'm gonna take a wild guess and say that everyone who reads this breathes the air.  All day, every day.  For as long as they can remember.  As a matter of fact, when you aren't breathing air, that's when you are in trouble.

Some air quality is better than others.  A person living next to a garbage dump breathes air that is at a minimum smelly, and probably full of toxic ick.  People in Japan are currently breathing air that they worry may carry large amounts of radiation.   Coal miners breathe terrible air while at work, to the point where they have a condition called Black Lung.  Yep, the air that they breathe has so many dark, terrible particulates in it, that it turns their airway and lungs dark black.  My sister who lives in southern California is always telling me how the air is so much better there - but anytime I've visited her, I've needed my inhaler more than ever.

When I was a little girl, we moved around a lot, mostly because of my father's job I (or lack thereof).  Though I was born in West Virginia, we first moved away when I was too little to know I was even moving anywhere else.  By the time we moved back, I was old enough to wonder why everyone else was talking about everyone they knew there, and all the relatives who would live closer than ever before. 

But my first memories of Pittsburgh, and of Wheeling (WV) were that they were dark, black places.  Dirty-looking, to be exact.  All of the houses were black or occasionally dark gray.   Sidewalks were the same shade, even in "regular" neighborhoods.  I remember that we stopped to visit someone, and the kids were sent outside to play.  I sat down on a front step, and when I got up, the back of my legs and my shorts were covered in black!

In Pittsburgh and Wheeling and the areas nearby, this was due to the steel mills; and in other places, coal mines.  There were no regulations that kept companies from polluting the air; as a matter of fact, I don't remember ever hearing the term "air pollution" until a few years later.

I can also remember that people talked a lot about rivers and creeks, and how disgusting the water was; it was a well-known "fact" that Lake Erie would be "dead" in few years, due to the accumulation of seen and unseen garbage.

(I have always had respiratory problems, and I really can't blame them on air pollution in the larger sense; actually, I think a lot of my problems were made worse by another type of air pollution - cigarette smoke (my parents were both heavy smokers).  But that is a topic for another day.)

Now I'm not saying that the air and the water are perfect and pristine - but I can certainly tell you that as a result of the Environmental Protection Agency and the hard work of many individuals, the air and water are a heck of a lot better than they used to be.  By the time I was in the latter part of elementary school, houses and sidewalks looked like houses and sidewalks again, not like props for a modern day production of a Charles Dickens work.  It really was easier to breathe. 

Sure there were problems, and there still are.  And a lot of corporations manage to get away with polluting, and making their workers labor in hazardous conditions (I'm looking at you, Massey Coal Company).  A lot of people think that there are too many restrictions on what can and cannot be released into air and water.  They say it's too expensive, that there's no scientific proof, etc.  Some in our government want to severely cut back or do away altogether with the EPA, saying that it's unnecessary, because the problem is not nearly as bad as it used to be, and the EPA has too much power, and is a political tool.

All I can say about this is: a) I'm wagering few if any of them ever lived in a house covered in black dust, b) maybe it takes a political tool to know a political tool, and/or c) they are likely all just too used to hot air, if you know what I mean.

Perhaps the EPA will survive to see another day.  Perhaps the American people will realize how much better our lives are without tons of stuff floating around into our lungs.

I for one,  will not be holding my breath ...

7 comments:

UnderMeOxter said...

You keep right on posting you political stuff, please. Howelse are we all going to learn from each other.
Sounds like the EPA is a victim of its own success. But it's like that "Yellow Taxi" song: ‘you don't know what you've got til it's gone’.
I won't hold my breath either!

Marie said...

The Republicans have gone insane. That's the only excuse I can think of for why they want to get rid of so many useful things. And I agree with you about the EPA. I don't think we can do without it. We need vigilance to keep our air and water safe.

Kate! said...

I'm right there with you! I'm blessed to live in a place with clean air, but that's not the case for a lot of people. Here in Maine, the rivers are the big problem with factories sitting right on the shore and spewing filth right into the water. I think the pollution is less sever than it was, but the rivers are still suffering.

Love this post! Keep it up!

Marji said...

If I lived in Philadelphia, we could be SUCH friends! You GO, girl.

Kim said...

*fist pump*

knitseashore said...

Agreed. I live near Long Island Sound, which is always under threat of being re-polluted, after years of clean up. And sea life is still not as healthy as it could be. If the EPA were not around to keep corporations in line, it would be a floating junkyard by now.

Jennifer said...

Hey, I didn't know you were from WV! Me, too!! :-)