Monday, May 17, 2010

The Winds of Change

Can you hear that slight gurgling noise? That's the sound of the most recent environmental catastrophe/disaster/fiasco that we human's have inflicted upon this planet. Yep, thousands of litres of crude oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico. For almost a month now the fruits of our industry have been polluting the waters of the gulf and every attempt to fix the problem has so far failed. Beginning with lobbyists who convinced the government that there was no issue when it came to blowouts on wells in the gulf, to the ridiculous plans to fix a rapidly growing environmental nightmare, I'm beginning to wonder if this oil company has ever dealt with oil wells before. The question is now becoming, not what can we do to stop this problem, but who can we blame.

If this oil leak doesn't spur us on to look for alternative sources of fuel and energy there is something wrong. It's not like we have no other options when it comes to this. What about solar energy? Why not take some money and focus our efforts on equipping every home with a solar panel or two to help reduce the need for reliance on fossil fuel for heating and electricity? What about wind farms? Why not put some money into developing more efficient ways to harness the power of the wind? Use that to further reduce the need for coal burning power plants. It will undoubtedly take time and money, but if we don't start calling for major changes and soon, things can only get worse.

We all give lip service to the whole 'green living' thing, but we really don't care. If we did we would have mandatory composting and recycling and would have a maximum number of allowable garbage bags on the curb per week. Anything over that number and we pay for it. Watch how fast your household waste diminishes when you begin to pay for all those items you throw out that should be sent to a recycling centre or put in the compost bin.

If we really cared we would all be driving the smallest vehicle we could based on need. There would be very few SUVs on the road. When I was in town the other day, I saw a woman parking a huge truck that was proudly emblazoned with a 'V12 Engine' badge. Why on earth does anyone need a huge truck to go get groceries and pay the bills? I like driving as much as anyone, but do we really pay what we should for gasoline? Do you really think that $1.03 a litre is the real cost of producing gasoline? What if we add in the money spent on cleaning up the Exxon Valdez spill and the Ocean Ranger, the Great Barrier Reef and now the Gulf of Mexico? How much is that litre of gas now?

If we really cared we would buy what fruits and vegetables were in season at the grocery store and based on where they came from. If we had to pay for things based on how far they travelled from where they grow to the grocery store shelf would you really need that pineapple? Last I checked, strawberries don't grow well in Canada in January. When was the last time you went out for a walk saw a mango tree? Kiwis grow where?

We need to start calling for smarter design in our appliances so that they are more energy efficient. We need to start building houses and buildings with an eye to making them as efficient as possible so as to waste as little energy as possible. We need to start telling our politicians that where we live (the planet Earth) is important to us. Until we do -- change will never happen.

When it comes to answering the question of who to blame, we need only to look in the mirror. If we don't make changes in how we live and soon, we soon won't have anywhere to live.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Pre-Natal Weight Loss Plan

There have been plenty of items in the news over the last couple of years bemoaning the fact that people are getting bigger. Not just getting taller or evolving bigger feet, but getting bigger weight wise. I've even bemoaned the fact that I too have a few extra pounds that I would rather be without. Now it seems that we've given up on trying to get people to watch their weight themselves and are now going after that last remaining area of weight loss potential – babies in the womb.

A new study is going to track pregnant mothers and their caloric intake and exercise during their pregnancy to see if what a mother does and eats during the nine month gestation will have any effect on the future weight of their baby. In an attempt to prevent fat kids, doctors are hoping to head off the chubby at the pass. The idea is that if mothers follow a better plan during their pregnancy, the result will be more 'normal' birth weight babies and a reduction in childhood obesity.

I'm not a scientist and I don't even play one on television, but I do have kids. I've seen kids. I know of kids and I know people who have kids. Here's what I've noticed. Those people who have kids and participate in sports (or get any kind of exercise) and get off the couch, have fairly 'normal' weighted kids. Those who do not go out for walks, play in the park, play sports, walk the dog (scratch their bums, whatever) and spend more time in front of a television or playing video games have rather more, shall we say, large children. This is by no means the same in every case and not every situation is the same but…

When I was young (cue the old time music), days were usually spent outside running around like untamed lunatics. Most of the kids I hung around with were of, what most people would consider, 'normal' weight. There were a few kids who had a couple of extra pounds (probably what would be considered obese today), but that was 'just them'. They were 'big boned'. That was what they were. There was no real judgement and life went on. Looking at these kids now that they are grown ups (at least chronologically) they look 'normal'. Some of those who were what might be seen as the fittest when we were kids are now not. Some people grew into their fitness and some grew out of it. That's life.

I think that if we, as a society, really want to combat childhood obesity then we should look at the real culprits – fast food, lack of exercise and helicopter parenting. It's a vicious circle. A kid spends too much time in front of a television, begins to get fat, starts to feel bad about himself, doesn't feel like exercising and the parent takes him to a fast food place to eat crappy food to make him feel better and then writes notes to the phys ed teacher to say that little Theophilus can't take part in gym class because it makes him feel bad about himself. Repeat cycle.

Last I checked, feeling good about yourself and self esteem were self generated and nothing anybody can say or do will give them to you – just like fitness.