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Cannabis and Ddt

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A Little Less, Helps a Little More
To combat jaywalking in New York City, let us institute the death penalty by stationing gunmen at every street corner to immediately execute reckless pedestrians. To fix the polluted sewage system, let us buy a fresh-water source in Antarctica and import its water. To further contest corruption and irregularities in the financial markets, let us tar and feather the officials and executives indicted of such charges.
Would any of these methods be effective solutions for the long-term welfare of the City?
Harsh punishment and ridiculous expenditures are often seen as ‘radical’ and ‘extreme’ solutions to seemingly nominal problems. But it seems that America has pursued just that – extreme initial measures to combat social and environmental problems. America has seemingly disregarded the long-term impact of instituting policies that wholly accept or reject solutions to national problems. The implementation of DDT, the prohibition of hemp, and the damming of Hetch Hetchy Valley are all follies that are now causing environmental repercussions to the nation. Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) has been the source of controversial debate since its widespread use in 1939 to its international ban in 1972. Its intended application was to stop the spread of malaria and typhus through mosquitoes and lice to the Allies during World War II. Soon its chemical properties to repel and exterminate pests became known, allowing it to be used in agricultural development. However, there were no specified amounts of DDT allowed per acre or area. In areas that were indeed regulated, enforcement was nearly impossible due to the sheer size of the given area. The wonders of DDT made it the most popular agricultural combatant to crop pests. With seemingly no harm, DDT was soon used in excessive amounts. When WWII was over, DDT had inspired a whole new industry of pesticide and insecticide production. Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring chronicles how the wildlife of America has been drastically affected by DDT. She states that “laboratory analyses of …fish and crab… tissues revealed high concentrations of DDT – as much as 46 parts per million” (371). While one would believe that the extent of DDT concentration in a specific organism is miniscule, Carson shows us that excessive amounts of DDT released was appalling. In addition, we note that DDT did not only spread to land-based organisms, but to aquatic life as well. This could very well have affected the quality of water that is processed and distilled for human drinking! The harm of this pesticide reaches far out to pheasants, bald eagle, frogs, and all the predators to the animals that consume or interact with DDT. Specifically, DDT caused paralysis in the nervous systems of mosquitoes, but also to amphibians and mammals. It was revealed to have also caused the thinning of bird eggs and mutation in new-born organisms. DDT became an agent of species-extinction.
The discovery and use of DDT is a clear example of how America blindly pursued a solution that, at the time, seemed flawless. The growing need for agriculture and crops magnified the need for pest control. DDT usage from the beginning of WWII to the mid 1950’s increased from 125 million pounds to 600 million pounds, a 380% increase! Not only was this affecting our natural environment, but it would soon affect the quality of life that our animals, and subsequently us, humans would be living in. It was not until Rachel Carson published her writings did the government become actively engaged in eradicating the use of DDT. Pest control in crops became such a large problem that any avenue that would have seemed to relieve the nation of such a stress would be used. Unfortunately, DDT became the de facto pesticide, eventually leading to the production of different insecticides and pesticides. America, upon immediately finding a solution to agricultural pests, adopted DDT, without evaluating the possible long term effects of the chemical. Another demonstration of America’s implementation of extreme policy affecting the environment is the prohibition of Cannabis. For the last 30 years, the prohibition has primarily been evaluated for its medicinal qualities as well as the violence and incarceration associated with possessing and cultivating Cannabis . However, Cannabis also has an industrial value. Hemp, a plant within the cannabis family, has been long known for its fibrous properties to produce hundreds of textiles, rope, twine, and paper. Hemp was the principal raw material for the Industrial Revolution of America textiles. Unfortunately, prohibition included the ban of hemp. In order to compensate for the loss of the industrial benefits of hemp, farmers have sought alternative plants and crops that require the use of increased pesticides and herbicides, increased preparation and fuel, as well as increased ecological damage. After 30 years, the environment is now suffering increasingly. The first record of the loss of hemp production causing an environmental impact is the replacement of hemp for cotton. Though hemp and cotton were grown simultaneously until the initial half of the 20th Century, the international population and consumption of textiles exponentially increased after the 1950’s. This can be attributed to the baby boom, the increased reliance of mechanized manufacturing, and the spur of philanthropic and social ventures of the United Nations to eradicate poverty . All of such reasons demand more textile products for this past half century than the need for textiles for the past 100 years combined. Since hemp could no longer be grown, cotton was subjected to increased need. Unfortunately, cotton production and refinement requires heavy use of fertilizers and insecticides. Such insecticides, like Organophosphates, paralyze an insects’ nervous system. Additionally, they equally damage the wildlife that comes in contact with the insecticide. There are also over 30 known diseases, afflicting plants and humans alike, attributed to cotton production. For example, Xanthomonas campestris , causes disintegration of the water processing organelles in plant cells, causing them to deteriorate quicker, without nutritional benefit as a fertilizer to the environment. To further meet the astronomical demand of cotton, manufacturers have pursued production of synthetic cotton. Like insecticides, these synthetic properties of the ‘new’ cotton, extract all the nutrients from the soil, effectively converting the soil to dirt, in exchange for a faster growth rate. Had the government understood the industrial and economic value that hemp had in America, they would have foresaw how detrimental it would have been for the environment. The prohibition of hemp has caused environmentally damaging alternatives to be widespread. In addition to the effects of chemical protection to agriculture, government policies, even at a local level, seem to adopt extreme measures. John Muir voices his vehement disapproval for damming Hetch Hetchy Valley by stating “Landscape gardens, places of recreation and worship, are never made beautiful by destroying and burying them” (111). The shortage of water in San Francisco caused a search to find an alternative. The result was the destruction of the portion of land near Yosemite called Hetch Hetchy Valley. Muir highlights how the extreme measure of damming the Valley would deprive the natural landscape of this “grand landscape garden, one of Nature's rarest and most precious mountain mansions” (108). There is a fundamental need to preserve the natural habitat of the plants and animals in the Valley. As Muir states, Hetch Hetchy Valley is beyond a spectator site, it is a mansion, particularly to the species that depend on that habitat. Both the scenic and environmental values of the Valley are evident. He makes comparisons of how the land is equivalent to the temples and parks of any other area, emphasizing the need to preserve them. Hetch Hetchy Valley, unfortunately, was dammed and Muir’s efforts to protect the valley were in vain. However, he did bring much attention to the sensitivity of the natural world. Unlike hemp and DDT, the Valley was not subjected to any chemically toxic substance, but instead was a victim to local policy. San Francisco chose the flooding of a natural valley rather than diversion of water via plumbing, piping, and irrigation. We note this as an extremity because the options to provide San Francisco with alternative forms of water sourcing were not explored. It seemed as though the decision was made immediately upon noting that a budget would support such a project and an area existed for damming. Extreme policy implementation often results in catastrophic consequences. Many stated in this essay, have environmental repercussions. However, critics may argue that it is the extreme measures that define the parameters necessary for moderation. They may rhetorically ask – If not for the extremes, how would we ever know what is ‘just enough’? True, it is the furthest that we go which teach us our limits, but is it fair to make this argument with nature, with Earth? Imagine going to your doctor and receiving a vaccine that s/he states ‘may contain excessive amounts of bacterial poisoning’. Would you be inclined to try that new vaccine? With nature and life, it is foolish to test the parameters by approaching the furthest limits as initial reference. It is much safer and appropriate to increase incrementally rather than test disproportionately. The life and death of species is hardly an issue that should merit careless actions. With DDT and cannabis, the environmental implications of pesticide use were disastrous. Equally with Hetch Hetchy Valley, an entire ecosystem was decimated, submerged under the depths. Had DDT been regulated and tested for long-term effects, hemp’s economic value evaluated, and alternative water sourcing for San Francisco researched, the conditions of our environment would not be at its current state. The environmental pains that have surfaced because of extreme measures taken by American policy makers are a testament to the need of assessing unrestricted acceptation or rejection of projects. The effects of DDT, prohibition of hemp, and the damming of the Valley are evidence of how extreme measures can often result in detrimental consequences.

Works Cited
Carson, Rachel. “Silent Spring” American Earth: Environmental Writing Since Thoreau.Ed. Bill McKibben. New York City, 2008.
Muir, John. “Hetch Hetchy Valley” American Earth: Environmental Writing Since Thoreau.Ed. Bill McKibben. New York City, 2008.…...

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