We used to have an effective system in this country that guaranteed important issues would receive appropriate attention. That system is gone.
In those ancient days, we had legislators who were elected by an informed population and were beholden to the people they served. They cared about the citizens of the United States and often acted in a selfless manner, devoting their considerable energies to improving the quality of life for normal, everyday Americans. When something critical occurred, something with a bearing on our safety or health, for instance, they would bring the issue up in Congress. It might have been a slow process but it did get things done. And sure, there were idiots in Congress then, too. But the sensible people outweighed them. They knew what was important: our country.
Back then, if Congress or the president chose to ignore a pressing problem, the news media would hold their feet to the fire. They were fierce and vocal advocates for the truth, if you can imagine such a thing. I know this must sound absurd to young people who've known only the current, nonsensical, national discourse but the press used to care about publishing the truth. It was their, you know, job.
If our government did something shady, the Fourth Estate understood that its role was to point this out and keep the pressure on until the government changed course. They were the last line of defense for our democracy, keeping the big guy at bay so the little guy could survive. But as I say, that's all gone.
None of these essential tools for democracy is currently operative in our reality-show version of America. We have a disengaged, uninformed population; an irrational, knowledge-free Congress that doesn't understand its job and is blissfully unfamiliar with the Constitution; and there isn't the slightest evidence of an active, ethical press in our country. And all this is occurring as corporate money is flooding our government and warping it beyond recognition. The system that governs our lives no longer works.
Magnifying these problems, our nation's attention is driven by a stunningly mediocre, misinformed, corporate-directed media. This unprepared crew consistently avoids important matters, never separates truth from fiction, and always prefers to focus on American "culture". This is now the American way.
Because of these tremendous basic failures in American society, an important story will probably be missed: there is potentially disastrous news out of the Arctic. Here is an excerpt from the linked article:
Nanoparticles, which are now present in everything from socks to salad dressing and suntan lotion, may have irreparably damaging effects on soil systems and the environment, Queen's researchers have discovered.We've been producing nanoparticles by the zillions every day for many years without the slightest idea what they're doing to the environment. Why test before using something, right? It might cut into profits and that would be un-American.
Well, it turns out these nanoparticles have a calamitous effect on the environment. Here's a bit more:
The researchers first examined the indigenous microbe communities living in the uncontaminated soil samples before adding three different kinds of nanoparticles, including silver. The soil samples were then left for six months to see how the addition of the nanoparticles affected the microbe communities. What the researchers found was both remarkable and concerning.
The original analysis of the uncontaminated soil had identified a beneficial microbe that helps fix nitrogen to plants. As plants are unable to fix nitrogen themselves and nitrogen fixation is essential for plant nutrition, the presence of these particular microbes in soil is vital for plant growth. The analysis of the soil sample six months after the addition of the silver nanoparticles showed negligible quantities of the important nitrogen-fixing species remaining and laboratory experiments showed that they were more than a million times [more] susceptible to silver nanoparticles than other species.Silver nanoparticles are everywhere. We've been downright fond of sticking them in just about everything we made for the last decade. You know the clothing and furniture that's advertised as "resistant" to stains, smells, etc.? Yup: silver nanoparticles. Pretty much anything touted as anti-bacterial or anti-fungal has silver nanoparticles in it. They're in your toothpaste, your sunblock and your make-up. They're everywhere, which means they'll undoubtedly get everywhere in the environment, including the soil. We have poisoned the Earth.
The implications for the biosphere are alarming. I'll be very interested to see how this story is covered by our misshapen media -- if it's covered at all. This is bad, folks. We'll need more studies to get a better handle on the environmental effects but if the initial study is correct, this could be a very big deal.