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Corrupted by Progress - Essay for School

Progress. What is it exactly? Progress can be described as a movement toward a goal or an advance. It can be shown as development or growth. But defining progress here, it is the steady improvement of a society or civilization. Electricity, cars, TV, videogames, solar-powered cars and houses, refrigerators, indoor plumbing, water dams, hydroelectric power, instant gratification, technology, traveling quickly and safely somewhere on a whim using airplanes and helicopters, and telephones are a result of this progress in our civilization. We are rapidly overusing energy (including electrical energy) and polluting our environment. And while we all realize the major consequences and effects this could have on our lives and future generations, we hope for the best. Before the industrial revolution all people used to farm for their needs and work hard everyday just to sustain their lives. Many people that did not own land worked heavily and starved. Also, the population had to deal with plagues and incurable diseases that have been put under control by modern medical science. Today, a large number of people have all kinds of ways to live in comfort and provide for food everyday without having to work on a field with buzzing flies and insects. They have grocery stores and hot water for showering. Sure, we have modern diseases as well but scientists and doctors can treat them with high-tech technology or drugs. The point is that we have come a long way since the medieval times and knighthood. But is there a bad side to progress that we don’t know about? As is shown all over the world, we are destroying our planet for the sake of our comfort as well as hurting others in the process. We are being blinded by the fact that if we are comfortable, then others shouldn’t be that much worse off either. But in fact, this belief couldn’t be more wrong. One brief example can show that the Romans in ancient times had better water quality than half the people alive now. Publius Cornelius Tacitus once said, “We are corrupted by prosperity.”

Firstly, electronics can affect the young mind in way that some of us don’t know about. For example, teenagers mostly spend their time on computers and TV and not as much with the whole family. This happens in all highly civilized countries all over the world. There is a saying that goes like this, “I like my new telephone, my computer works just fine, my calculator is perfect, but Lord, I miss my mind!”
The worst part about this is that anything that you value too much and have an unhealthy desire for can become addicting. Sadly, that includes the media. Parents have also complained all over the internet that when you try to take away their cell phones, face book, or computer time, teens (or even adults) start “behaving in a foul mood” because they need to “fill in that gap” with something and they don’t know what. More serious than this, thousands of people today have more cell phones than others in poor, and undeveloped countries have access to a toilet! “The factory of the future will have only two employees,” Warren G. Bennis says, “a man and a dog. The man will be there to feed the dog. The dog will be there to keep the man from touching the computer.”

Secondly, energy such as electricity is being wasted everywhere, all the time. The average American produces about 40,000 pounds of CO2 emissions per year. Together we use nearly a million dollars worth of energy every minute, night and day, every day of the year. For example, all of our Christmas lights this year which were left on all day (when we don’t even need them) could have provided for an entire population of people for a whole month. Clearly, we are over-using energy for our comfort that could be used by other people who need them most.

More importantly, water dams use hydroelectric power to produce electricity and clean, warm water that people can access easily inside their homes. But we must ask ourselves if there is a fault in this efficient invention. The answer to that is yes. Unfortunately, these useful water dams have a problem. A major problem. For example, the Three Gorges Dam in China cost about 100 billion dollars to build. The logging industry must also cut down a shocking number of trees to have room to build this dam. The good side of this project is that, once finished, it will provide over 18,000 megawatts of electrical energy. To make way for the enormous project, more than one million people living on the banks of the Yangtze River have had to move to higher ground. The 350-mile-long reservoir submerged villages, ancient temples, burial grounds, and the spectacular canyons that tourists from all over the world come to see. Environmentalists also argue that the dam will wipe out a number of rare species, including the Yangtze River dolphin, and that the dam will trap millions of tons of raw pollutants coming from China's largest industrialized city, Chongqing. Fortunately, when this huge dam will be finished, it will provide for one ninth of China’s hydroelectric power. Unfortunately, people complain that this dam won’t be associated with its hydroelectric power but with its drastically affected social and environmental impact. As is clear, we are using our resources to the max and this drastically affects people where dams must be built and our environment where, in this example, the dam wipes out a number of rare species that might become extinct.

Following this, travel is also a factor that has both negative and positive effects on our lives and the environment. Cars, trucks, and airplanes release numerous pollutants every year. Because of this air pollution, nature is also severely affected. The pollutants get released into the air, form a chemical reaction with nitrous oxides and acid rain is formed; destroying plants and animals’ habitats. Also, carbon dioxide is released during gas combustion, which is one of the continuing factors in the fight against global warming. Carbon dioxide is a trapping gas, which means that it lingers in the upper atmosphere and traps the planet’s heat. This disastrously leads to more problems with the planet’s health. There is also a startlingly large amount of pollution in China. Hong Kong's leading authority on air quality said Thursday, April 22 that he is leaving the city to avoid its polluted air and keep his respiratory problems under control. “Because of my medical history,” Anthony Hedley says to the media, “I now want to avoid the biological stress which comes directly from breathing the polluted air in Hong Kong." Hedley said he had beaten cancer but was now faced with respiratory symptoms such as cough and phlegm, which he said were made worse by the poor air quality in the financial hub. Statistics from the Hong Kong Observatory show that the annual number of hours of "reduced visibility" - one of Hedley's research areas - rose from 295 in 1988 to 1,139 in 2009. This term refers to the visibility of less than eight kilometers even in the absence of fog, rain, or smog. And this is only in China alone!

Oil spills also contribute to the ruining of our Earth. There was an oil spill on August 6, 1983 in Table Bay, South Africa, which was caused by the Tanker Castillo de Bellver. It spilled a shocking amount of 78,500,000 gallons into the sea! Mind you, this is one of the largest spills in the history of the world but it drastically affects the natural habitats of many sea creatures. We are living in comfort and risking many peoples’ health, as you can see above. Also, we are destroying the clean air and animal life beneath the sea.

Astonishingly, is some people’s lack of access to water. Just one simple fact shows that only 63% of the world’s population has access to improved sanitation. Also, 884 million people lack of access to safe water supplies which is about one in eight people. We should be aware that nearly 4 million people die each year from water-related diseases. What’s worse, the water and sanitation crisis claims more lives each passing year through disease than any war claims through guns. This disaster has gotten so bad that thousands of sixth graders will have to drop out this year due to water insecurity. As you can see, the situation is worse than ever and this is only a part of the whole story. Evidently, we are hurting thousands of people by living in comfort.

Last but definitely not least, is food. Food plays a major role in human life or any living being. It gives you energy and sustains you. Because food is so important, it is crucial that we must eat healthy and in reasonable amounts and not to overdo it by eating for the sake of boredom or pleasure. The problem here is that we do over do it and we do eat unhealthily. Just realize what we have wrought by bringing unhealthy, oil-marinated, cheap, and chemical-filled food into the world. The effects of bad food for many people are devastating.

In America alone, there are a total of 23.6 million children and adults who have diabetes from eating McDonalds, sugar and other unhealthy foods. Many are obese and suffering from low-blood sugar and depression. Diabetes was the seventh leading cause of death listed on U.S. death certificates in 2006. This ranking is based on the 72,507 death certificates in 2006 in which diabetes was listed as the underlying cause of death. Also, in 2004, heart disease was noted on 68% of diabetes-related death certificates among people aged 65 years or older. Another thing is that diabetes causes blindness, heart and stroke disease, amputation, nervous system disease and kidney disease.

An example of unhealthy food can be a McDonalds Big Mac. Scientists conducted an experiment with this item by letting it remain on a kitchen counter for six months. The first month, it was fine. The second month, it hadn’t changed. By the third, the burger had stayed the same and not changed which is quite alarming because normal and organic food should grow fungus or accumulate bacteria. By the sixth month, the burger had not changed one bit except for the fact that dust had made itself welcome and powdered the bun like snow powders Mount Everest.

It is obvious how many chemicals and the preservatives people put in some foods just to gain money. But this selfish act affects people dramatically by bringing countless diseases, sicknesses, and eventually death. People are affected all over the world.

However, there is some good news concerning an educated doctor named Gabriel Cousens and a director of the Tree of Life Rejuvenation Center. He has found a way to reverse diabetes in 30 days just by eating raw foods! More importantly, his clients notice the dramatic difference and impact on their bodies from eating junky, sugar and carbohydrate-filled food to simply raw vegetables and protein (not raw meat!).

Susan, from Bryon Bay in Australia says, “This means a loss of 7.3 kg (10%) of my body fat. This is the first time in my life,” Susan says, “that I cut sugar and sweets completely.” and she feels as if she is 21 again.

Concluding this, we have strayed from the original path of living a healthy, pollution-free, and simple life. Everything would be so much better if everyone lived simply and happy. But as time goes by, man begins to have dreams and ambitions of something better and more efficient and so on and so on until we end up back here, right where we started. “Corruption is like a ball of snow,” said Charles Caleb Colton, “once it is set rolling it can only get bigger.”

Sure, with all these gadgets and cars, television, and cell phones you can see how life would be more efficient instead of wasting time to walk to another person’s house and tell them the news. And with all these types of machinery, we don’t all have to contribute to the construction of buildings or farming of fields. Or with hydroelectric dams, life is so much more comfortable now because of the hot, clean water that comes from the showerheads instead of us having to go out to a lake in the middle of winter and wash up there.
In out daily lives we are always rushing about, trying to make more money but we never know where this is all going to go. What will we achieve by this and what is our goal?

Reason begs the truth that we are hurting our children, parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters who we love, for the sake of money, power, and comfort. This damage is caused by our inclination to seek comfort in our daily lives without a perspective of what we can become as humanity. Find ways to live in a more self-sustainable environment and seek a vision of progress that will motivate generations to come. With this vision in mind, we can each find the strength to change our ways and live more meaningfully. Maybe this new meaning will afford us a generosity to care more for each other and to support the ones in need and save millions that we don’t know from untold sicknesses or disasters. Let us give each other support so that we can improve our ways and live as a healthier and happier people.

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