At a recent BOT meeting, Trustee Mark Browning said something to the effect of, “the biggest threats to addressing climate change are evangelical climate deniers.” Since Trustee Browning made the connection between synthetic chemical research and climate change, I will also. Between 1992 and 2002, not a single peer-reviewed, published scientific study disagreed that global warming was, in fact, caused by human activity (“Merchants of Doubt,” book and film). The question begs to be answered, then: Why do so many people deny?
I would speculate that it’s not that people deny real science, but choose not to believe. Believing that synthetic chemicals are hazardous to your health or that climate change is caused by over-consumption would mean we have to change. Believing false information presented by the media, provided by corporate-funded “think-tanks” posing as scientists, is easy when it fits your surface agenda of saving money and having convenience. I believe Mr. Browning understands who the true deniers are. He recently wrote, “beware of politicians selling sunshine.” So who’s selling the “sunshine”? And more importantly, will switching back to organic weed management really cost more? Do health and ecological costs matter to the Town when there are FEMA and budget constraints?
The best part about ecological costs is that they are shared by all. Yes, regardless of group or label you identify with, the reality is that all of us will need to contribute to increased health care costs, insurance premiums, taxes, and so on. FEMA has clawed back before for much less superfluous things than switching from all-green lawns to green and yellow ones. Plus, dandelions aren’t on the Colorado Noxious Weed list. In fact, the only weeds the Organic Deniers have mentioned are thistle and myrtle spurge–and neither of those can be controlled with synthetics.
Honestly, we don’t know if going synthetic-free is going to save the Town money, but banning any name-brand synthetic is illegal and a liability. CU Boulder, Boulder hospitals, City of Boulder, and Lyons Botanical Gardens all manage their land without synthetics. And research shows that after five years, turf management is 25 percent cheaper (Beyond Pesticides Cost Comparison [PDF]) when soil and grass roots rebound. The City of Boulder has even won awards for their organically managed ball fields. Sorry, that’s a superficial point, but aesthetically pleasing is important.
The deeper issue is that our land will be safer for our children’s brains and development, and it won’t hurt our immune systems or give anyone cancer or turn male frogs into female frogs. If we wear masks for prevention, then why do we spray chemicals that could also cause someone to become ill? We “nature pee” 50 feet from a water source, so why is it allowed to spray chemicals five feet away?
Why wait when 67 percent of peer-reviewed studies find synthetic pesticides to be unsafe, versus just two percent of corporate-funded studies? That’s 67 percent of peer-reviewed, actual science, Mark Browning! It’s not surprising that 98 percent of corporate funded studies find them safe. There’s that “sunshine” again.
I know what you’re thinking, it’s all about concentration levels! The same “concentration level” argument was used to cover-up sugar’s health effects, smoking’s health effects, asbestos’ health effects, opioids’ health effects, and on and on until policy catches up with corruption. In the case of global warming, we don’t have 50 years like Big Tobacco did. In the case of spraying synthetics in our little town, with only 150 acres that we’re managing like it’s Rocky Mountain National Park, we don’t have another year. In the case of protecting our children, we don’t have another minute. “The major problems and dangers with synthetic pesticides do not lie in their acute toxicity. The documented dangers are consistently related to the effects of long-term, repeated exposure (nontoxicneighborhoods.org, Dr. Zach Bush).”
Let’s get back to the main global warming cause that Mr. Browning forgot to mention: Big Chemical (the other of course being Big Oil). The Big Guys want us to believe they’re protecting the economy, your freedom and capitalism, when in actuality they are damaging public property (the planet), weakening people and hindering innovation and sustainable system generation.
But wait! We are not victims; we want someone to tell us that our vices, our addiction to convenience isn’t hazardous so we ignore the truth time and time again. Because sugar tastes so good and chemicals make life so easy! But in our hearts, our souls, that untapped part of our brain (think quantum physics), whatever you want to call it, knows. We know that spraying a dandelion with Roundup is probably going to kill a bee. Let’s stop handing over our free-thinking skills, our consciences to the corporate-sponsored media and their “sunshine.”
“We no longer have the time to point fingers at chemical companies or blame our politicians. We simply don’t have time. The shift and solution reside within us. We need to reinvent the way we function as human beings to move toward truth and solutions (Dr. Zach Bush, nontoxicneighborhoods.org).” Can we have the courage that go beyond the “me” and extend to the “we”? This is the time to align ourselves with real, authentic science.
So thank you, Mr. Browning. It goes to show that even our most educated leaders can be duped by the sales machine that is our American reality, but make no mistake–it is the scientist who is the true victim of denying.
(For further reading, see Pesticides, Corporate Irresponsibility, and the Fate of Our Planet.)
Tess McDonald lives just outside of Town with her family and furry friends. She has been a member of SOSWAP (Safe Organic Sustainable Weed Action Plan) for over two years and tested soil at LaVern M. Johnson Park, where traces of glyphosate were still present 18 months after the application of Roundup.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this Opinion Column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any staff member, contribution writer or the Lyons Recorder.