Since the start of 2016, there have mainly been two topics in the health news; Zika (covered in previous blog post), and the Flint Water Crisis. What in the world happened in Flint MI?? This is an extremely interesting case, because in front of our eyes (if you’re looking correctly), we are seeing a disastrous result of abuse of power and how it has unraveled the daily lives of so many people.
Mainstream stories often gloss over the important details. This story is dedicated to the apology of Michigan Governor, Rick Snyder. It briefly mentions that the crisis occurred as a result of Flint switching its water source from the Detroit water supply, to the Flint River for cost-cutting measures. “This is the kind of disaster, the kind of failure to deliver basic services that hurts people’s trust in government,” House Minority Leader Tim Greimel said. Indeed.It is briefly mentioned how this contamination was known about possibly as early as last April, but was not made public knowledge. Snyder has committed $28 million to recovery efforts and safe-keeping for the people.
So, you learned a lot from this – right? Very informative. (*sarcasm) See for yourself here:http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2016/01/20/michigan-governor-apologizes-for-flint-water-crisis-vows-will-fix-it.html
Alternative sources often paint a better picture. NPR, another somewhat common news source (and a pretty reliable one, in my opinion), highlights those that are effected by the water crisis, but will likely not be receiving any assistance from that $28 million we discussed in the story above; the undocumented.
Authorities are going door-to-door in Flint handing out water filters, however undocumented families are hesitating to open the door. It is estimated that over 1,000 people living in Flint are undocumented. The contamination levels in the water are too high for boiling to suffice, and undocumented people who fear deportation are not even going to get tested. Additionally, the language barrier is a problem; many of these people may not even be aware of the danger because they do not speak English. Whatever your opinions on refugees and immigrants may be, can’t we all agree that it is still pretty awful that we are poisoning people with families and loved ones through their drinking water, here in the US? In 2016, no less??
As an optimistic effort, Spanish-speaking volunteers are leading a campaign to go door-to-door in these neighborhoods to convey the message, “El agua no es potable” – “the water is not safe to drink”.
Nerds are your best bet. And from a highly uncommon source, but science-based and reliable, we have an article from The Chronicle of Higher Education. The title of this article: The Water Next Time: Professor Who Helped Expose Crisis in Flint Says Public Science Is Broken.
I personally thought this article was fantastic. Marc Edwards, an engineering professor, found through his own testing of the water in Flint, that the water contamination was systemic. All the while the state and local authorities were telling the public the water was safe, he was trying to raise awareness where his voice would be heard. He empowered residents, who eventually rallied to call for his help, leading to some action.
It was interesting because when interviewed by The Chronicle, Mr. Edwards said that the systems that support scientists do not reward moral courage, and that if not stopped may corrode the public faith in science. However the results of scientists operating on a truly moral compass often suffer much loss. Indeed, Edwards suffered much loss in his personal circle, supporters, and funders in his pursuit to reveal the truth. Cases such as these make it extremely difficult to challenge the voice in power. In regards to the Flint case and its relationship between the government and the scientific evidence, Edwards had this to say, “In Flint, the agencies paid to protect these people weren’t solving the problem. They were the problem. What faculty person out there is going to take on their state, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency?”
Read for yourself here: http://chronicle.com/article/The-Water-Next-Time-Professor/235136
Final thoughts to digest…. keeping this last story in mind: You can really start to see the spectrum of coverage and availability of information out there that is impacting your life-your health- without you even realizing it! Governing hands are determining your health, without your say in the matter. So I encourage you to think about how you feel about this, and potential ways that you can take action to take steps to regain control of your health. I’ll leave you with this –
I was reading a book recently by the Dali Lama (which I HIGHLY recommend), called, Universe in Single Atom: The Convergence of Science and Spirituality. And in his discussion of ethics, and technology, and health, he said something that really resonated with me.
“As science advances further, here is more at stake. Science’s power to affect the environment, indeed to change the course of the human species as a whole, has grown great. As a result, for the first time in history our very survival demands that we begin to consider ethical responsibility not just in the application of science but in the direction of research and development of new realities and technology as well.” – His Holiness, the Dali Lama.
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