Towards a Sustainable Environment in the Twenty-first Century
or, the Survival of Humankind
by Dr. Warwick D. Raymont, Ph.D., D.Sc., Grad.Dip.Tech.Comm., M.A.C.S., M.N.Y.A.S., D.G., O.I.A.
Dr. Raymont was a panellist at the recent Public Forum on the Environment and details here some of his many concepts upon facts and factors by which we might all participate personally in environmental maintenance and betterment.
Whether you come from a creationist or an evolutionist stand, the undeniable fact is that man was created, or has evolved, to be in perfect harmony with the environment. However, since the advent of chemistry and technology, the twentieth century has seen this delicate balance destroyed. The inevitable casualty has been humankind and human health.
Homo sapiens is a critically endangered species!
Human impassiveness, political popularity, commercial and economic greed and international competition all work against the development of a rational, viable and successful solution. We are aiming for the survival of humankind, not its extinction. This requires two main strategies - strategies that will address the short-term health of humankind and that will effect the long-term repair of the environment
1. The short-term health of humankind. For us to survive the next decade, we must: a. take positive and personal steps to live healthfully and responsibly in the mess that we have made of our environment.
b. conserve and distribute evenly the world’s nutritional resources to enable the survival of all humankind from the environmentally accelerated maladies such as cancer, coronary disease, asthma, allergies, adult onset diabetes and CFS to name a few.
c. take immediate personal and public steps to reverse present environmental degradation and thereby minimise its effect upon human health.
2. The long-term repair of the environment.
For humankind to survive in the long term, we must:
a. on the local scene, set an example for others to follow. For example, automotive greenhouse emissions could be halved by motorists car-pooling.
b. on the national scene, plant a billion trees, border every farm field with growing trees both for oxygen and wild-life corridors.
c. on the international scene, begin yesterday to implement reversal of environmental degradation. This can only be achieved by total international cooperation and will be a project encompassing many, many generations.
A Sustainable Environment must begin with our own selves.
… statements by those attuned to their own selves simply brim with credibility.
Stage 1 - Our Own Bodies
We must therefore begin with our own bodies, remembering that the world we live in is not the world for which we were designed. The pollutants in the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat are responsible for most of the ailments that humankind suffers today (1). These pollutants overload our bodies with free radical production well beyond the antioxidant capacity of even a perfectly balanced organically grown diet the likes of which are generally unavailable to the majority of humankind. Furthermore, as many pollutants - in particular pesticides, heavy metals and plastics - are hormone mimickers, our bodily hormone balance has been upset most dramatically (2).
Nutritional supplementation is much of the answer, but not the unbalanced macrodose as this is likely to create as many problems as it solves. More often than not, such macrodoses pass straight through the body and “smile back at you from your toilet”, accompanied by other valuable nutritional factors that this macrodose has dragged out with it. Clearly, the macrodose, or “mega”dose as some call it, is not only extremely wasteful of the world’s nutritional resources, but also can even lead to a nutritional deficiency!.
There are ample such vital resources to last all humankind well into the next century and there can be no justification for them to be monopolised by the affluent few, albeit at a potential risk to their health. The answer lies in the synergistically balanced microdose which ensures that, not only are the body’s needs met completely and the supplementation retained, but also, the world’s nutritional resources are conserved for all humankind (3).
Of course, there is no excuse for not eating healthfully and avoiding unnecessary exposure to pollutants and toxins in our environment, nor is there any reason to use and thereby expose ourselves and others to household chemicals including synthetic cleaning chemicals such as detergents and disinfectants, pesticides and garden chemicals, shampoos and deodorants etc. There are ample natural and bio-degradable alternatives readily available.
Stage 2 - Our Homes and Gardens
Having taken care of our own bodies, we are now qualified to looking a little further and to start considering our immediate local environment - our homes.
Recycling of all possible materials is vital and may be an admirable activity, but how much more admirable is the economic use of our resources and the avoidance, wherever possible, of unnecessary materials that might need recycling! Why don’t we take our own string bags to the supermarket and fruit/vegetable retailer? Why don’t we use, wherever possible, fresh unpackaged produce rather than processed and packaged goods? Don’t forget that our parents and grandparents rarely used any refuse pick-up and that their “garbage” was almost non-existent.
Creating and maintaining an environmentally friendly surround or “garden” is the next step on the agenda. Consider such items as shade, greenery and conservation of water resources. Consider, at least on a small scale, supplementary food and nutrition production as fruits, vegetables, nuts and herbs. Establish a garden composting system to conserve valuable plant nutrients and prevent stormwater degradation from leaf-fall and litter. Wash vehicles with natural, bio-degradable detergents and on soil areas where the water will be useful, not wasted.
Stage 3 - Our Neighbourhoods
Beyond our home surround environment lies our local neighbourhood.
Now that we have responsibly cared for our own selves and our own homes, we are qualified to begin the task of leading by example and encouraging our friends and neighbours to follow that example and create an environmentally friendly and conservational neighbourhood. The same base guidelines apply - shade, greenery and conservation of water resources. Of course, on the neighbourhood scale, preventing litter and leaf-fall from entering the stormwater systems becomes a high priority and the washing of vehicles with natural biodegradables and on-property rather than on-road becomes a significant factor.
Stage 4 - Beyond the Neighbourhood
As the environment and conservation movement grows and more people and neighbourhoods become actively involved, Local Government begins to take on significant responsibility.
While most Local Governments now provide at least weekly refuse pick-up and recycling collection, the volume of sanitary landfill now being “interred” is grossly unmanageable and definitely unsustainable, even in the short term, at its present rate of one eighth of a cubic meter per household per week. With education and personal management as described above, this volume could be reduced by well over ninety-five percent with ease and by up to ninety-nine percent with just a little effort from all concerned.
Most Local Governments have Officers who have the authority to police littering and this policing should be extended to, especially, cigarette butts, millions of which pollute each city’s stormwater system on a daily basis. The fact is that dropping a cigarette butt is a major environmental irresponsibility and, quite rightly, an environmental and civil offence.
While maintenance of streetscapes can be ascribed quite effectively to residents of the neighbourhood, parks and reserves fall very clearly into Local Government responsibility. There can be no doubt that native trees and shrubs are a worthy part of our national heritage and have great emotional appeal to the greener side of our society. However, there is little reason why we should not avail ourselves of some of the aesthetic benefits of equally beautiful imported greenery - but only in our urban areas! Imports such as liquid amber and rhododendron, for example, can be toxic to our wildlife.
All trees give life and provide shade and protection from our dramatically increasing ultraviolet levels, reduce erosion and minimise water usage. Where green mown lawns in parks and reserves are necessary public facilities, they should be of grasses more suited to our climate, protected by tall trees and watered with recycled stormwater rather than over-chemicalised “drinking” water (a real oxymoron!).
Such strategies can not help but decimate Local Government expenditure and the flow-on benefits of rate reductions and increased community services cannot be underestimated.
Finally, trash racks and wetlands, constructed with State assistance, are vital to preventing further environmental degradation and to the eventual repair of the damage done thus far. These are really a Local Government responsibility but, due to the fact that some areas are recipients of others’ outflow, there needs to be a fair financial provision at a State level to those Local Government areas most affected.
Stage 5 - The State Level
This is where the impact of proper legislation and management could be quite overwhelming.
Heaven forbid that we should encourage more laws and policing but, where the survival of humankind is the issue, such may well be a “necessary evil”.
However, State Governments can introduce and adapt Legislation to increase the powers and effectiveness of Local Governments and their Officers and, in turn, bring about enormous environmental enhancement and sustainability. Similarly, State-enforced Legislation can also be introduced and adapted in a myriad of manners to achieve these ends beyond the authorities of Local Government.
Among the innumerable environmental management solutions are the following examples, of which each would have far-reaching benefits:
1. Enactment of solid litter Legislation enforceable by Local Government Officers. The Singaporean five hundred dollar penalty for dropping a cigarette butt may appear draconian, but it works - and Singaporean streets and stormwater are remarkably unpolluted! After all, it is an individual’s choice to drop a cigarette butt and choice imposes responsibility.
2. Limit the use of Freeways and Clearways to cars carrying three people during busy hours, i.e., 6.30am to 9.30am and 3.30pm to 6.30pm. This could, overnight, reduce motor-vehicle emissions by up to half and have more effect than encouraging a hundred thousand bicycles onto our roads.
3. Establishment of waste oil collection depots in each Local Government area and organised pick-up and re-refining of these oils at a central State plant. Tens, or even hundreds, of millions of litres of oils could be recycled each year at each such State plant!
4. Establishment of reticulation of treated sewerage farm effluent with all of its nutrients to
(a) expansive woodlots for much of our wood and paper needs
(b) market gardens for food production for not only local use, but also for export.
It bears particular mention that a growing tree produces many times as much oxygen and consumes many times as much carbon dioxide that an mature, non-growing tree. There can therefore be at least some rationale behind the felling of mature trees in some forestry areas. However, it is indisputable that, in most areas of our great country, such trees should be regarded as
a National Heritage, not a Natural Resource
The list of rational solutions could fill a book and the diverse examples outlined above are simply that, examples of the enormous variety and diversity of realistically achievable projects.
Stage 6 - The National Level
One hears horror stories of Governments allotting tracts of land to early settlers and soldier settlers with an unmovable requirement of stripping the land of all native vegetation … and native people! How many hundreds of millions or even billions of life-giving trees that have been lost, how many of our indigenous fellow-Australians, how many species of wildlife … these can never be estimated and no amount of penance will ever replace them.
However, the Federal Government does need to embark upon a long and probably unpopular series of actions if we are ever to repair as much as we can before it becomes too late.
Again, the list of rational possibilities could fill a book, so the writer will touch upon just one example which would have a multiple function.
The suggestion is that Canberra encourages, subsidises, enables, assists, by all possible means, the planting of a billion trees within a decade. These trees would form a wide fenceless boundary around every farm in country Australia and the benefits and possibilities would be incredibly far-reaching. For example:
1. Climate change by
(a) exposing substantially less formerly treed land to the harsher rays of the sun
(b) increasing photosynthesis, or carbon-dioxide conversion to life-giving oxygen
(c) reducing dramatically wind-borne erosion of our delicate top-soil layers
2. Economic benefit by
(a) improving productivity of agricultural land
(b) reducing the enormous cost of erosion control
3. Conservational benefit by the fenceless strips thus created being
(a) wild-life corridors for our unique species
(b) uninhibited natural access paths for our indigenous fellow-Australians who choose to exercise their right to maintain a traditional lifestyle.
Of course, 3(a) above would also necessitate control, hopefully elimination, of introduced threats to our delicate environment and our unique fauna. This may only be achievable by the introduction of bounties on foxes, feral cats, feral pigs, feral goats etc. with the ultimate aim being the total removal of these destructive species in the wild. The writer believes that Aboriginal expertise would be an invaluable asset in achieving this end.
Level 6 - the Global Level
While it is true that no Nation has the right to impose its belief upon another, it is quite a different story when we are considering survival on a global scale of the now endangered species called homo sapiens.
Let Australia lead the way with the environmentally responsible innovations and practices that will set an example for all other countries to follow. Let Australia, with its global influence, set the pattern for the eventual re-constitution of our environment and the establishment of the means for humankind to survive and prosper into the fourth millennium.
The choice is ours.
1. Raymont, W.D. Anti-oxidants -v- Free Radicals, the fight against Cancer and Coronary Artery Disease (1995). This paper has been published widely in Medical Journals and other Health Publications and is available without charge upon request from the author at P.O. Box 346, Greenwith 5125, South Australia. Please send a stamped, self-addressed DL-size (110 x 220 mm) envelope.
2. Raymont, W.D. Menopause - a New Perspective (1997). This paper has been published in some Australian Health and mainstream media and is similarly available without charge.
3. Raymont, W.D. Exploding the Vitamin Myth (1984, revised in 1992 and 1997). This paper has also been widely published and is similarly available without charge.
About the Author Dr. Raymont is an Australian born Research Scientist who first came to note in the 1960’s with his involvement in the discovery of DDT in human breast milk and the prediction of global warming. He was a foundation member of the American Chemical Society Division of Environmental Science and Technology. In recent times, his work has become increasingly acknowledged and, among other awards, he has received the Twentieth Century Award for Achievement from Cambridge, England and the US Gold Record for Achievement in Scientific, Medical and Environmental Research. In 1989 he was awarded science’s highest degree, the coveted Doctor of Science.
The author (right) with Dr. John Wamsley, founder of the Warrawong Sanctuary in the Adelaide Hills. They are pictured with the critically endangered Hip-Striped Red-necked Pademelons, Sydney sub-species, previously thought to be extinct. Less than one hundred exist - and all are at the Warrawong Sanctuary - and numbers are growing!