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Bad Things

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As you are about see, not all bad things are so bad. They often have an interesting or amusing side. Looking at the bright side of unfortunate situations may cause people to remember that such bad things exist, yet often we are in a position to do something about it.

Because of our modern diet of food preservatives, undertakers have been noticing that dead people do not deteriorate as fast as they once did. Bibliography -46, Bibliography -69

You'll find 43,000 pieces of plastic floating on every square mile of ocean. This is obvious on some beaches. For instance on a mile-long beach on the east side of the Hawaiian island of Kauai, you'll find hundreds of pounds of plastic jar lids, filters, hoses, bits and pieces of toys, toothbrush handles, gears, valves, bottles, you name it. In some places, the surface is more plastic than sand. Bibliography-126

If a man shaves with a razor, he uses more energy than if he uses an electric shaver because of the power required to purify and pump the water through his faucet. Bibliography -69

Every weekday morning, the commuters of Los Angeles use 250,000 gallons of gas getting to work. They drive five million miles, which would be like one car driving to the moon and back 20 times, or around the earth 192 times.

If you were to sort through a typical landfill here is what you would find: 41 percent of your trash would be unrecycled paper. 17.9 percent of the stuff is yard clippings with which you could make a fine mulch. 7.9 percent of the trash is uneaten food. 6.5 percent of it is plastic that almost never disintegrates. 8.7 percent is metal - primarily aluminum and steel. Wear thick gloves, another 8.7 percent of your trash is glass. 9.3 percent is rubber, leather, clothing, wood and other trash. Bibliography -45B

An American house cat eats more beef per year than an average person in Central America. Guess where much of the beef is grown? Right, in Central America. Bibliography -89A

We are destroying the world's rain forests at the rate of 100 acres per minute. An acre is a square 208 feet on a side. Forty percent of the rain forests are already gone. Many folks don't realize exactly why the forests are being wasted. One big reason is hamburgers. It is profitable to raise cattle where rain forests once were. If we could all eat less beef, there would be less reason to remove the trees. Bibliography -37, Bibliography -78

Not only is much rain forest being cleared for beef production, but also for the growing of cocoa from which cocaine is made. People who have a cocaine habit might decide that helping save the world's ecology and weather may be a good reason to quit. Bibliography -89A

There's more money to be had from intact rain forests in the harvesting of fruit, rubber and other natural products, than what can be made from tearing the forest down and ranching on the same land. Bibliography -89A

Not only are the tropical rain forests being killed. Also forests in Siberia are being forever ruined at the rate of 19 acres per minute, twenty-four hours per day due to clear cutting. This is the only home of Siberian Tigers and other unique forms of life. Bibliography -92A

There is a chemical waste dump in the Soviet Union that is twice as big as the whole state of Vermont. Bibliography -9AA

More than half-a-million trees are used every Sunday to produce America's Sunday newspapers. Bibliography -64

Two to four million tons of oil leak into the Soviet water table every year from the Siberian pipeline. Bibliography -9AA

Americans use eight times more fuel than people anywhere else in the world. Bibliography -69

Of the 20,000 television commercials written each year, 7,000 are for children's sugary breakfast cereals. In other words, 35 percent of commercials are designed to mislead children into desiring sugary cereal. Bibliography -69

In the past twenty years, there has been a 39 percent increase in the number of overweight children. One major reason is television. Not only does this lack of activity take up more of kids' time, but while they watch, they tend to eat the junk food that is constantly being advertised at them. According to many pediatricians, up to one third of all children at age two may already be developing abnormally high cholesterol levels and clogged arteries. Quite possibly, the sluggish delivery of nutrition to the brain's cells that this may bring about could hamper a child's ability to learn. Bibliography -37 (page 61)

Over seven percent of adult Americans are alcoholics. Bibliography -69

The screaming of an upset baby can damage your hearing. Kids can scream at levels up to 90 decibels, and permanent damage can be caused at 85 dB. One dB is the minimum amount of sound detectable by the human ear. Each additional dB is double the previous amount. Bibliography -1, Bibliography -69

Last year 81 million Americans got sick from food poisoning and 9,000 of them died. The average American will get food poisoning 100 times in a lifetime. The symptoms are headache, sick feeling, diarrhea. Most people think this is the flu. To prevent food poisoning, clean all kitchen items with heat, never leave food at room temperature for more than a few minutes, and never handle prepared food after handling raw meat or poultry. Bibliography -43

Fifty percent of all turkeys and 37 percent of all chickens that you can buy in grocery stores are contaminated with Campylobacter (food poisoning) according to the Food and Drug Administration. Bibliography -43

Many millions of chickens are raised and spend their whole lives in coops so efficiently packed that they have no room to fall over if they die. There have been cases where their feet grow permanently around the cage wire they are standing on.

Sixty-six people per day are killed by drunk drivers. This is down from 70 per day as it was a few years ago.

Every day in America, the average office worker goes through 2.5 pounds of paper. This is more than before computers were common. Computers were originally expected to bring about a condition known as the "paperless office." Bibliography -7

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, almost 20 percent of Americans drink tap water that is dangerously high in lead. Bibliography -9K (page 20), Bibliography -9AB

Diabetes is the third leading cause of death in America. Diabetes is 50 percent more common than thirty-five years ago. Presently, 10 million Americans suffer from the disease. (Perhaps it is related to the increase in refined sugar consumption in America.) Bibliography -69

One million Americans wear false teeth. Approximately half of these are radioactive. There is a tiny amount of uranium in these teeth to make them whiter in incandescent light. Bibliography -69

Sunburn seems to heal in just a few days, but the blood vessels under the skin do not return to their normal condition for up to fifteen months. Bibliography -69

Some gem merchants now use Geiger counters to inspect precious stones before purchasing them. It seems that the natural colors of some gems can be enhanced by exposure to atomic radiation. Some unscrupulous dealers have done this. Bibliography -9T

Americans throw 694 plastic bottles into the trash every second. Bibliography -64, Bibliography -9AB

A plastic container that you throw away today may still exist 50,000 years from now. Bibliography -69, Bibliography -9AB

The people of the world use one billion gallons of crude oil a day.

A tankful of gas uses about the same amount of crude oil as the manufacture of 14 bicycle tires. Bibliography -54

A typical car uses about 1.6 ounces of gas for every minute the engine idles. It uses up about one-half ounce of gas to start the engine. So, if you turn off the car any time you are likely to stand idling for more than twenty seconds, you will save gasoline, and therefore save money. It costs a bit over $2.50 per hour to idle your car. Bibliography -69

If you slow a car from 57 to 50 miles per hour, you will get half again better gas mileage. This means that the average American driver would save about $300 per year. Bibliography -69

To make one quart of motor oil, 43 quarts of crude oil are required. Is it better, then, to change the oil in your car's engine less often than the recommended 3,000 mile intervals, and therefore save oil (and money)? Or is it better to maintain the recommended oil change schedule, to keep your engine running longer? I don't know. Bibliography -88A

The rain in New York carries so much acid from pollution that it has killed all the fish in 200 lakes in the Adirondack State Park. Bibliography -69

The world's smog is so thick that astronomers are complaining. Bibliography -69

Most of the smog that hovers over Los Angeles has been there thousands of years. It is mostly dust from the surrounding desert, and natural hydrocarbon output from plants. Bibliography -9D

Americans throw out 1,000 bags of garbage every second. Bibliography -102A

We grow more tobacco than wheat in America.

According to the National Academy of Engineering, the deaths of 15,000 Americans per year are caused by air pollution. Bibliography -69

Fifteen thousand children starve to death every day. Bibliography -52

In Bangladesh, only one out of two children live to see age five.


All the cigarettes smoked in one year, if lined up end to end, would reach all the way to the sun, and back to earth, and back to the sun, and back to the earth, and back to the sun. (actual figure: over 467 million miles of cigarettes) Cigarettes come in all sizes, having been manufactured from 1.25" long to 11 inches long. Bibliography -4 (page 350), Bibliography -69

Until recently in New Zealand, 66 percent of the children were smoking cigarettes by age seven. Bibliography -94 (page 263)

Every thing about smoking cigarettes is dangerous. Last year 6,000 people suffered injuries caused by ashtrays.

A cure for cigarette smoking: Learn to play a flute, recorder, or trumpet. Then play a little music until the urge to smoke subsides every time you feel the temptation. Not only will you soothe your oral desire, but you will become involved in the music which will make you forget the urge, and you will be calmed by the music and the feeling of creativity. Bibliography -3

At one time, the country of Albania honored a smoker who used twelve packs a day, by putting his picture on a postage stamp. Bibliography -69

A pack-a-day smoker smokes the equivalent on one cigarette one-half mile long per year. Bibliography -3

Cigarette smokers catch colds 65 percent more often. Bibliography -69

11,000 cigarettes are lighted every second, just in America. Bibliography -23B

Every 22 seconds, a kid tries smoking for the first time. Bibliography -23B, Bibliography -69

Each year the cigarette industry spends two and a half billion dollars in advertising to replace the 365,000 customers it loses due to death from lung cancer. Bibliography -23A, Bibliography -89A

There are three million new cigarette smokers in America each year. Bibliography -23B, Bibliography -69

2,700 people die per day of heart disease. The typical American male has a 50 percent chance of dying from a heart attack. The vegetarian American male has a 4 percent chance of heart attack death. Bibliography -52

When researchers gave three joints (marijuana) per day, five days a week to monkeys, which is less exposure than many humans give themselves. After six months the monkeys exhibited chronic symptoms ranging from listlessness to irritability. No big deal. But then the monkeys were no longer given the marijuana, and they did not return to normal. Even after eight months, their brain wave patterns were quite abnormal. When the monkey's brains were examined with a microscope, physical damage was obvious. Bibliography -9S

The THC [tetrahydrocannabinol] content of marijuana common during the 1960's was typically one percent. THC is the active ingredient. Marijuana growers worked constantly to improve the quality of their weed and now it contains up to 14 percent THC. The monkeys received 3 percent. Bibliography -9S

Researchers found out that women who work at home as housewives have a 54 percent greater chance of getting cancer than women who work at paid jobs. The hypothesis is that housewives are affected by the carcinogenic cleaning chemicals they frequently use. Bibliography -9AB

According to a study done by The Harvard School of Public Health, women who drink at least one cup of coffee per day are more than twice as likely to get bladder cancer. Bibliography -69

You can accidentally kill yourself by drinking over 40 cups of coffee in one day. The amount of caffeine is sufficient to cause respiratory failure. Bibliography -81

Coffee drinkers are 72 percent more prone to ulcers and twice as prone to pancreatic cancer. Bibliography -81

70,000 New York residents get cancer every year. That's one out of every 251 people. In Wyoming, there are less than 1,000 cancer victims per year, which is one out of every 469 people. You are nearly twice as likely to get cancer if you live in New York. Bibliography -69

Research has pointed out that lonely women get more breast cancer than women who have lots of friends. Bibliography -9B

In the Duwamish River in Seattle, one out of every four fish has liver cancer. In a river in Ohio almost every single bullhead over three years old has cancer. Bibliography -9S

These foods have been found to be carcinogenic if eaten in sufficient quantities: celery, parsley, parsnips, rhubarb, mustard, mushrooms, honey, herb tea, peanut butter and grilled meat. Bibliography -9R

Children don't have to worry about cancer because in kids it is very rare. However, if kids are taught to protect against cancer starting when they are young - through proper diet, exercise, avoidance of air pollution, chemicals, excessive sunlight and smoking - they are far less likely to get cancer when they are older.

Military Matters

During World War II, 2,700,000 tons of bombs were dropped on Germany, killing 300,000 people, and seriously injuring 780,000 more. If cars were dropped from the sky instead, by weight the equivalent number of cars would be 1,800,000. Altogether, Germany lost almost 12 million people. Bibliography -4A, Bibliography -20

Soldiers do not march in step when going across bridges because they could set up a vibration which could be sufficient to knock the bridge down.

Ten percent of the world's total production goes to the manufacture of arms.

Prior to the U.S. invasion of Grenada, their unemployment rate was 14 percent. Now it's 30 percent in that country.

Liechtenstein used to have the world's smallest army. There was one soldier. He served his country until his death at age 95. Then the country no longer had an army. Bibliography -22

In one of the most unusual military maneuvers ever, in 1911 King Richard the Lionhearted captured the fortress of Acre. The inhabitants were barricaded inside, so King Richard had his soldiers throw 100 beehives over the walls. The people in the fortress surrendered immediately. Bibliography -22

A military technique was used sixteen hundred years ago that should still be used occasionally today. Java and Malaya both wanted the territory of Sumatra, so the generals each selected one buffalo. The buffalo were pitted against each other and no people participated in the battle. Bibliography -14

There are enough phone wires in the US. Pentagon building to wrap around the world twice. Bibliography -69

During World War I, one of every three English men of military age were killed. Bibliography -69

General John Burgoyne had great respect and obedience from his soldiers. His method of punishment was different. If a soldier misbehaved, he had the man wear his coat inside out. Bibliography -69

Of the half-million Americans who receive combat training, half of these men will develop some permanent hearing damage due to the loud noises made by combat weapons. Bibliography -69

Last year, 110 million people died of malaria. Over 3 billion were bitten by mosquitoes carrying the deadly disease, some as many as 200 times. Why didn't everyone die? The biggest reason seems to be nutrition. With better nutrition, our bodies are better able to prevent disease. Bibliography -30

The United States Strategic Air Command invented an atomic powered airplane. There were some problems. Even though carrying twenty tons of lead to shield the pilot, only crews who had already had children could be used due to the radiation exposure. If the plane crashed, there would be no way to contain the contamination. Fortunately, the military had the good sense not to develop this plan fully. Bibliography -9O

Sixty-eight percent of deaths in the United States are diet-related, according to the US Surgeon General.

There are more fire alarms in New York City every year than in the whole country of Japan.

Pete Townshend says that his hearing has been weakened by his life of loud music. He donated $10,000 to HEAR which conducts free hearing tests.

Call 1-800-222-EARS (or 1-800-345-EARS in Pennsylvania or 1-215-359-1144 in Canada) for a free two-minute hearing test conducted over the phone. The test consists of a recorded message that plays eight beeps at various frequencies and volumes. You listen to four of the tones with each ear while phoning from a quiet place.

There are 90,000 Americans employed in jobs related to the making of nuclear weapons. This is an industry which consumes $8 billion per year.

In private industry, disposal of hazardous wastes has been carefully regulated for many years. At least until recently, people in the US military have been allowed to simply dump toxic materials, PCBs, radioactive materials and extreme poisons, into ditches.

In part of South Carolina, if you shoot a deer, you are supposed to take it to a game warden to have it checked for radioactivity before you feed it to your family.

From 1952 to 1954, a government nuclear facility in Richland, Washington, called Hanford Reservation, was leaking huge amounts of radioactivity into the air. The radiation exposure to local residents was more per hour than is considered safe for a whole year. Concerned workers sent maps to the Atomic Energy Commission showing where the exposure was most dangerous so the residents could be evacuated or at least warned. The AEC didn't want to create a fuss, so the maps were totally ignored.

At this same facility in 1949, scientists were wondering whether Soviet nuclear facilities could be detected by tracing their radiation leaks into the atmosphere. So to test the theory, they deliberately let loose a huge cloud of radioactive iodine-131 to see if they could monitor its travel through the air. Due to an unexpected change in weather, the cloud settled all over the town of Richland. The residents were never told about it. One of Hanford's neighbors, who had his thyroid gland removed because it was killing him, surveyed 28 families living on a one-mile stretch of road near the reactors. He found that 27 of them had appalling medical histories including miscarriages, birth defects and cancer.

In order to be 'safe,' the dangerous reactors at Hanford, ones that dissolved spent fuel pellets and created concentrated plutonium, were only operated on days when the weather conditions were right to carry the radioactive gases emitted from the chimneys up and away, to some other location.

You may be wondering what kind of creatures were in charge of the facility, to let these things happen. So was I. But, what I found out is that they seem to have been truly concerned with public and employee safety. Unfortunately, these good-hearted guys consistently underestimated the dangers of radioactive material. At the time, there simply was not any information to indicate that low-level exposures would bring ill health so many years later. Bibliography -103

An average person is exposed to about 350 millirems of radiation per year. About 300 of these millirems are from natural radiation such as cosmic rays and from the soil in your yard, etc. No one knows for sure, but an annual exposure of 500 millirems is considered the safe limit.

Now, about those unnatural exposures: Airport security X-ray machines expose the average traveler to a tiny, almost unmeasurable amount of radiation compared to natural radiation. An average airline traveler will get just one or two extra millirems, but professionals, pilots and flight attendants jump from 350 millirems annually to just over 500. Interestingly, the natural radiation coming from pavement exposes the average American to more millirems than air travel. Radon exposure also comes from gas heat, so if your home or business are heated with a gas furnace, you'll get an extra 20 to 30 millirems during the winter.

Smoking cigarettes is bad news here, too! Radioactive polonium is in tobacco. People who smoke a pack and a half per day get over three times the safe limit of radiation.

Radioactivity from a laptop computer is probably less than from an average rock. However, the laptop emits electromagnetic radiation, which is an entirely different kind of radiation. It comes from the fluorescent backlighting, hard drive motor and the CPU. On some laptops, the exposure has been measured at 1.5 gauss, which is just at the edge of what is considered a safe level. No one knows whether electromagnetic radiation is really safe or not. Generally, higher frequencies are considered worse than low frequencies. Other common sources of tuned electromagnetic radiation include dimmer switches, electric stoves and microwave ovens, cell phones, earbuds, and ultrasonic toothbrushes. The toothbrushes emit a small amount of radiation, but it is a high, steady frequency, and it is inside your mouth, altogether too close to your brain.

One of the highest exposures to radiation may be from electric shavers. Some research has shown that the electromagnetic low frequency radiation that shavers emit may also be dangerous to our health. These have motors which create rather intense fields, and they are, of course, used quite close to your body. A blender emits more electromagnetic radiation, but you tend to be further away from it.

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