resolving “it’s not my job” syndrome
Aerial spraying of pesticides, herbicides, and surfactants in our neighborhoods is not only a health hazard for our children, our pets, and us, but the act also has the ability to induce harm on all living things.
I live in the beachside community of Summerland, CA, which has a population of 1500 people. It borders Montecito, CA where several dozen avocado and lemon farms flourish, and, without a doubt the collective “we” take great pride in our locally grown food and in our perceived food security. However, some farmers and private landowners do not understand, or merely do not care, about the many consequences that their pest control actions can, and do, have on the surrounding families and ecosystems.
As the CEO of The Adventure Capitalists I firmly believe that life is a group effort. It takes a village to raise a child; it takes human consciousness and awareness to steward a village and its valuable resources. Reciprocity and transparency is key to our species success. Our current legislation has however, created a system that inhibits and disables the average person from gaining access to revealing data regarding many the many ingredients present in today’s market. How many of us listen to the floor hearings of the Senate? How many of us understand the Federal Department of Agriculture’s (FDA) approval criteria that greatly affect what we eat? How many of us have access to the Material Data Safety Sheets (MSDS) for the pesticides aerially sprayed over our towns, into our airways, and into our lungs?
The answer to these somewhat rhetorical questions is: not enough of us. Recently, however, I did. I woke up one morning in late May to the sound of helicopters overhead. I wondered what was going on; a Kardashian wedding, a drowning offshore, a stuck hiker? After two hours of the noise I went outside and onto my street. I was horrified to see an Aspen corporation helicopter flying back and forth over my neighbor’s avocado farm – spraying liquid down into the canyon, the road, the trees, everywhere. With a steady wind blowing I shook my head knowing that there are negative consequences to spraying pesticides. What I didn’t know however, was the severity of the matter. So I looked into it despite my packed workday. I wanted to know how this raid of carcinogens being released into the air would affect me and the natural environment that we all cherish in this region.
I picked up the phone and I started calling: The Santa Barbara and Montecito Sheriff’s Department, Santa Barbara Airport, the FAA (twice), Congresswoman Lois Capp’s office, and finally the Summerland Fire Department. All but one person had the response, “It’s not my job.”
It’s not their job to care about air quality and the health of their citizens? Really? They each said in their own way that the problem was “too vast,” they “did not know enough to fix it,” “it was legal by law,” or “it was impossible to track every helicopter spraying in this county.”
Impossible? Here’s what Muhammad Ali has to say about IMPOSSIBLE: “Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.”
As readers of this blog, I’m aware of your desire to take responsibility for your own life’s direction and that of your business and overall work in the world. Thank you. Each time, we as individuals stand up and politely, or perhaps firmly, demand accountability from our not-so-conscientious fellow humans; we improve our chances of restoring and preserving natural resources and our chance of survival. Personally, I want us to thrive not just survive, and this means reconnecting to nature and not annihilating it with chemicals that stunt growth, retard nutrients and evolution, and poison the air, soil, and water that our food security depends on.
After speaking with all of the administrative folks and leaders mentioned above, I got a phone call from a very kind and forthright woman from the Agricultural Commission of Santa Barbara via the Chief of the Summerland Fire Department. She sent me the MSDS sheets on what was sprayed for 4 hours on a windy day in my neighborhood. And, she wished me luck.
Here’s a summary of the science and the potential impacts on plants, pets, and humans from the pesticides and surfactants sprayed that one fine May day (*Note: all toxicity levels are based on the affects on small mammals and rodents such as rabbits and rats.):
1. Silicone Surfactant: Ingestion of the surfactant has little to no toxicity; exposure to skin has slight toxicity levels.
2. Ethoxylates (used with Silicone Surfactant): One byproduct of ethoxylation is dioxane, which is known to be carcinogenic with low to moderate toxicity
3. Agri-Mek SC: Ingestion is considered to be highly toxic; exposure to skin has slight toxicity levels; inhalation is highly toxic can be fatal.
4. IAP Summer 415 Spray Oil: Ingestion is considered to be slightly toxic; exposure to skin is slightly toxic; inhalation is highly toxic and can be fatal.
In conclusion, the act of spraying pesticides aerially on one’s private property does not stay contained in one area; it impacts all communal assets such as air and water. Finding green chemistry solutions to our currently corporate-driven pesticide, herbicide, and surfactant market can build jobs and lead to a healthier environment for all – if we make it a priority. If we do not make it a priority and our parents, spouses, friends, children, grandchildren, and pets increasingly die of cancers and respiratory diseases then we will only have ourselves to blame.
Let’s be proactive. That’s what The Adventure Capitalists are here for. We gather smart people and organize practical solutions that benefit all of humanity. C’mon people. We can do this.