Are We Good Physicians of Our Environment?

Are We Good Physicians of Our Environment?

In ancient China a physician, who had two brothers, also physicians, was asked by a lord, which of you is the most skilled in the art of healing? Why my oldest brother of course.

The lord asked why he is the most skilled. Because he sees illness before it happens and cures it, therefore no one knows of him.

And your second oldest brother, how does he cure illness? He cures illness when it is still small and has not left the neighborhood. Therefore he is only known only by our neighbors.

And you, the lord asked? I treat illness when it is advanced so all know of me.

As the first paragraph depicts, the brother who cures illness before it happens is the superior physician and as the last paragraph depicts, the brother who treats illness when it is advanced, is well known.

Today, our environmental awareness and conciseness to save our earth, therefore saving ourselves, are diligently, and as financially possible, moving in the direction of the first brother who treats illness before it happens. Illness, for this blog, is the metaphor for environmental waste and pollution.

Industry, over the past two centuries, has created negative externality, which they have become cognizant of over the past 30± years. Industry was the “classic example of a negative externality: pollution, generated by some productive enterprise, and affecting others who had no choice and were probably not taken into account” (

For its own gain, industry has used substances that were known carcinogens, asbestos being the most widely used, known and publicized, sickening and killing multitudes who have worked in industry or government that used asbestos in their products.

The use of asbestos has caused one of the greatest world wide industrial tragedies in all of history.

Asbestos has polluted entire towns through mining the six minerals, subsequently using these asbestos minerals in over 5,000 asbestos containing products around the world.

The polluters are well known. They have allowed the advanced pollution to get out of the house and out of the neighborhood, becoming infamous to all; costing them billions of dollars in revenues, i.e. bankruptcy lawyers, legal fees to defend lawsuit and large cash settlements, as well as causing a negative impact on their image and the products they manufacture. They have tied up the courts and have caused high-cost medical expenses paid for, by guess who, the Tax Payer.

This is not only true with asbestos, but many other pollutants that would require more than this page to list.

The polluters are the older brothers who are now trying to cure the illness (pollution) after it has left the neighborhood.

We, as a society, are starting to drive ourselves towards the first brother’s philosophy: cure the illness before it happens.

How are we doing this? Through sustainable thinking and sustainable action, sustainable industrial production, renewable energy, positive use of closed landfills, i.e. methane gas recapture, wind farm placement, setting up solar panels on closed landfills, waste to energy facilities being built where a landfill stood, land conservation, food composting, practicing the 3Rs, recycle, reuse and reduce, constantly striving for zero waste, and all growing from our understanding and necessity that we must save ourselves and our planet, yes must.

We are working to undo something that has taken well over two centuries to create, slowly working ourselves into being the middle brother, industry is striving for zero waste from production of their products, our recycling, waste treatment and conservation efforts are preventing less waste not to leave the neighborhood.

I watched a documentary film produced by Sage Environmental, which makes a solid case that everything is recyclable and that it is up to us to emphasize and implement recycling. The film starts by making the statement: everything in nature is recycled; emphasizing examples that nature recycles itself, and that with a conscious effort we can do the same.

In this mix of environmental problems our population is growing and our need for space is expanding, leaving less and less of earth’s area to put trash that no one wants in their back yard.

We are making tremendous progress in dealing with waste. We are making tremendous progress in our recycling and conservation efforts. Recycle, reduce and reuse is the natural solution to our waste problems.

If we think of recycling as the seatbelt of our planet, we will become more and more aware of the benefits for us and our environment.

Think about it, when seat belt regulations were implemented, most thought it would be a hassle to buckle up. But once we started to use the seatbelt, it became consciously impossible to first buckle up; then drive off.

THINK: every time we begin to discard something we ask ourselves— can I or someone use this again? The answer should be yes.

Industry is becoming very aware of sustainability and the reuse of waste from production, as well as the importance of land conservation. Many are announcing their ability to create zero waste.

We support their efforts to conserve by buying their products.

But what about the wastes that makes us ill, like asbestos, polychlorinated biphenyls PCBs, heavy metals, chromium, lead, and other environmental pollutants.  How do we constructively take them out of our environment? —- One word: Technology.

Treatment of advanced illness takes research and development of new medicines and implementation of technology.

Commitment by industry that has the problems of harmful and lethal environmental pollutants in their factories, facilities, landfills and Superfund Sites should utilize existing technologies and through research and development create new technologies.

This will be the only way industry will become the first doctor.

The positive image using technology to rid our environment of hazardous pollutants will make them the most skilled and they will only be known by efforts of good sustainable- environmental practices of preventing future illness before it happens.

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