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Thinking About Sad Things: Environmental Problems

It was a little difficult to decide on the focus for this missive. I started thinking about environmental problems, a subject that I've had to study over the years for professional reasons. Then, as I began to reflect on the technical aspects of the picture shown, more difficult problems of how the and why environmental problems appeared. These ideas led me down a more philosophical line of thinking, including the interrelationships between, power, powerful people, politics, government, ethics, the rich and poor, etc. Let's take as an example, an apparently "simple" environmental problem as shown in the picture to the left? Its not just a picture of any old mud puddle near our house. Its a picture of rainwater and sewage that has been serving as a breeding ground for the type of mosquito that transmits Dengue or Breakbone fever for over two years. This disease is epidemic in the region. As to the city's public health program, there is an on-going campaign to clean up the neighborhood and eliminate similar standing pools of water, big or small. For some time now and still to no avail, others and I have been pointing this problem out to the mayor of So Sebastio in the state of So Paulo and the local health authorities. The owner of the adjacent lot, called Vila Guaec, is not at all worried about the fact that his swimming pool and septic tank are the most significant contributors to this mud puddle. He has done nothing to correct the problem which his construction of a small apartment complex essentially caused. It usually seems pretentious when someone starts talking philosophically and quoting Aristotle. Nevertheless, nowadays, anyone has easy access to Aristotle; for better or worse, I'm not sure! Anyway, I found a link on Wikipedia about the "Rule of Law" that started with this reference: "Aristotle, who wrote 'Law should govern'". http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rule_of_law This reference is quite detailed but easy to read, and even has some historical references to the American Revolution and political situation at the time. It helped me, at least in part, to understand why I think the way I do. There is a phrase in the Wikipedia reference that goes like this: "Others, including a few legal theorists, believe that the rule of law necessarily entails protection of individual rights." Reading this, I thought "And what about our societal or collective rights?", because there sure seems to be a need for laws that protect society too. Certainly, environmental rights may be collective, as health problems also are. In the mud puddle example under consideration, both heath and environmental concerns need protection in a collective and societal manner. Now, my point here isn't to study and debate individual rights versus collective rights. However, the topics certainly seem to need to be reconsidered, particularly by the So Sebastio municipal government.

Going on, I could get into considering the ethical aspects as to how to have the mud puddle eliminated. Then there is the possibility of how to do this in a civilized manner, rather than a more violent way - should I dare use the current words in favor: Black Bloc? Now how do I, or better, we proceed? What are the options? How can we, ordinary neighbors, take money from an inconsiderate, rich and powerful man to fix the situation (mud puddle) so the collective visitors and inhabitants will have a healthier life? Moreover, how do we do it peacefully? I could never support even a minimally violent proposal for solving the problem. As an individual action for now, my only current options seem to be: continue complaining, insisting and writing, both here and through the internet. And as for a suggestion, DON'T rent an apartment this summer on the Guaec beach in So Sebastio that looks like this:

Below, is a copy from my Facebook page where the municipal government said that urgent measures would be taken. As of November the 2nd, (two weeks later) nothing had changed. Now the summer tourist season is arriving at this beach. I ask you: how many cases of dengue will be contracted, because of this "little" mud puddle?

Your comments are always welcome, if not always agreed with!

Update - January 2014 This photo shows the owners finally initiated improvements in drainage in order to solve the problem reported above. It seems that it is still necessary to finish the job.. We will monitor the situation to confirm the complete elimination of this little mud puddle, that must have represented a significant contribution to the spread of dengue around the beautiful beach Guaec - San Sebastian. However, we are not sure that everything is resolved. We would apreciate that the City of San Sebastian, with the Department of Environment, Department of Health and other agencies of the municipality accompany what was done, if it is correct or not, and to follow up on what still needs to be done.

Dengue fever, also known as Breakbone fever, is an infectious tropical disease caused by the dengue virus. Symptoms include fever, headache, muscle and joint pains, and a characteristic skin rash that is similar to measles. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dengue_fever.
"The rule of law (also known as nomocracy) primarily refers to the influence and authority of law within society, especially as a constraint upon behavior, including behavior of government officials.[2] The phrase can be traced back to the 16th century, and it was popularized in the 19th century by British jurist A. V. Dicey. The concept was familiar to ancient philosophers such as Aristotle, who wrote "Law should govern".[3] Rule of law implies that every citizen is subject to the law. It stands in contrast to the idea that the ruler is above the law, for example by divine right."

[2] ^Jump up to: a b The Oxford English Dictionary has defined "rule of law" this way: The authority and influence of law in society, esp. when viewed as a constraint on individual and institutional behaviour; (hence) the principle whereby all members of a society (including those in government) are considered equally subject to publicly disclosed legal codes and processes. See Civil Affairs and Rule of Law, Dudley Knox Library, Naval Postgraduate School (accessed October 18, 2013) (quoting the OED). The phrase "rule of law" is also sometimes used in other senses. See Garner, Bryan A. (Editor in Chief).Black's Law Dictionary, 9th Edition, p. 1448. (Thomson Reuters, 2009). ISBN 978-0-314-26578-4. The lead definition given by Black's is this: "A substantive legal principle", and the second definition is the "supremacy of regular as opposed to arbitrary power". Black's provides a total of five definitions of "rule of law". ^ Jump up to: a b Aristotle, Politics 3.16

David C. Meissner Sunday, Nov. 11, 2013