Friday, December 7, 2007

Controlled Substances

Environmentalists tend to be passionate. Loud, at the very least, but generally genuinely zealous for their causes, willing to go to great lengths to make a point, hug a tree, whatever. Which is why I found the following story so surprising. Now, I'm no stranger to environmental activism; I began my undergrad studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder, where they offer a minor in tree-hugging with a concentrated specialization civil disobedience. Extra-curricular activities? Blazing and snowboarding, glad you asked.

I lay this background info out for a reason. You see, a little over a 2 years ago, scientists from the University of Colorado began a research study on Boulder Creek, a pristine snow-fed stream that runs down from the foothills of the Rockies right into Boulder, coursing through the city's vibrant and beautiful downtown. It's beloved by skateboarders, runners and kayakers alike, and the water is gorgeous and cold and clean. At least, there's no reason for it not to be. Which is why the following report, excerpted from an article in the National Catholic Register, is so shocking. What is more shocking is the deafening silence with which the results of this research study have been received. In a statement more credibly attributed to a gas-guzzling, rifle-toting SUV-driving conservative, environmental activist Dave Georgis, director of the Colorado Genetic Engineering Action Network, reasons: “You can’t have a zero impact, and this is one of the many, many impacts we have on the environment in everyday life,” Georgis said. “Nobody is to blame for this, and I don’t have a solution.”

Hmm, nobody to blame? Strange, because the results of the study seemed to clearly identify the source of the contamination: hormone pollution from the city sewer system. Hormone pollution? That sounds at least as dangerous as genetically engineered crops. But we must consider the source: "they [EPA-funded scientists at the University of Colorado] studied the fish and decided the main culprits were estrogens and other steroid hormones from birth control pills and patches, excreted in urine into the city’s sewage system and then into the creek."

And the impact the excretion of said substances is having on the aquatic wildlife? "Randomly netting 123 trout and other fish downstream from the city’s sewer plant, they found that 101 were female, 12 were male, and 10 were strange “intersex” fish with male and female features." These are not the chemicals leaking downstream from a steel mill or a pharmaceutical factory, which would surely have local activists up in arms. These are chemicals being excreted in human waste; read: they are coming out of our bodies and causing genetic alteration - mutation in some cases- in local wildlife. But by all means, let us continue to ingest these substances to continue in our on-demand lifestyle of uncomplicated convenience.

Curt Cunningham, water quality issues chairman for the Rocky Mountain Chapter of Sierra Club International, worked tirelessly last year on a ballot measure that would force the City of Boulder to remove fluoride from drinking water, because some believe it has negative effects on health and the environment that outweigh its benefits. But Cunningham said he would never consider asking women to curtail use of birth control pills and patches — despite what effect these synthetics have on rivers, streams and drinking water: “I suspect people would not take kindly to that,” Cunningham said. “For many people it’s an economic necessity. It’s also a personal freedom issue.”

Yes of course, it is our inalienable right to ingest poisonous substances, a "sacred right and obligation to consume synthetic chemicals that alter a woman’s natural biological functions, even if this practice threatens innocent aquatic life downstream.”

A sacred right? Whoa now, that language is started to sound downright... dogmatic. I thought we had agreed to do away with the repressed archaic notions of divinely-endowed inalienable rights and moral absolutes. At least, that's the line I was fed. But I suppose where freedom of promiscuity is concerned, I suppose if the issue is women being less available for use and abuse, I suppose if the issue is sex with consequences, well, then, we all have a right to be free from that. And the impact on the environment? On our bodies? On those of our neighbors who don't voluntarily ingest poison? Remember, "nobody is to blame for this, and I don't have a solution."

Repeat as often as necessary.


  1. So it's okay for NBC to make us feel guilty for having our lights on in our house and for Al Gore to make us feel guilty for driving, bathing, cooking, cleaning, having fun, or breathing because we might be damaging a plant, but we can't press the contraception issue because “For many people it’s an economic necessity. It’s also a personal freedom issue.”

    There's no double standard THERE. Of course not.

  2. It is kind of embarressing to live in the stupidest society this earth has ever had.
    But the most surpising part of this is that there is not more concern being raised because animals (usually only cute ones) have more rights then humans do today. So it would follow that it is worth the inconvenience of not having the pill to avoid altering the little fishes happy environment.

  3. Great post. Don't remember how I linked to your blog, but am very happy I did so. Also found your previous post re: teenage parents spot-on.

  4. Don't fish have a right as a species equal with man/womankind to not have human hormones imposed on them by an equal or lesser species (they do preexist us, after all).

    All sarcasm aside, it is difficult to find a story more illustrative of the profound hypocricy of liberal environmentalists. They want their pollution-free environment, but they want also their sexual license. Which is more important? You be the judge.

  5. Fools...You are all so clouded by your anti-birth control agenda that you cannot see the whole picture.
    We all have an impact on this earth, and so, we have to make choices every day about how to minimize our footprint. There is no question that the survival of this planet depends on humans reducing our impact, and nothing can reduce our impact more than having fewer humans soiling the planet. So yes, perhaps birth control pills are contaminating water ways and yes, we need to figure out a way to prevent that. But do we stop birth control? Absolutely not - that would be a disaster for our planet.
    The point I tried to make when interviewed by Wayne Laugeson was that there are unforseen consequences of our actions, and that genetic engineering could yield disasterous consequences down the road. Of course, his right wing agenda ignored that point in favor of the anti-birth control position he holds in just about everything he writes.
    Oh, and bald eagles - yeah, they are almost extinct because of US. Humans are hardly near extiction, that is unless we continue on our current trajectory of destroying the entire planet.

  6. Anon,

    So what you are saying is that we shouldn't worry about the trouts until they are endangered?


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