Bits and Pieces: Human Longevity, Red Dye No 2, Oregon Bottle Bill

This collection of short pieces examine state-level human longevity figures, the dire economic forcasts of Dr. Franz Pick, proposals to ban red dye no. 2, and an Oregon bottle bill that significantly reduced the state's roadside trash.
By the MOTHER EARTH NEWS editors
July/August 1973
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The Oregon bottle bill, passed in 1971, outlawed the sale of throw-away cans and bottles and mandated that retailers pay a 5 cent refund for returned bottles.
PHOTO: FOTOLIA/SUMNERSGRAPHICSINC


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YOU CAN EXPECT TO LIVE LONGEST if you do that living in Nebraska, says a new American Medical Association report. People born from 1959 to 1961 in the Cornhusker State are expected to survive an average of 71.95 years and folks from other "heartland of middle America" states should expect to endure almost as long. Citizens of parts of the Deep South—Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and North Carolina — on the other hand, can figure on living about 12 months less than the national average of 69.89 years... and South Carolinians can consider themselves fortunate if they make it past the 66.41 mark.

SCIENCE has unwittingly created much of today's crime, poverty, drug, pollution, and other problems. It has done this, says the National Academy of Sciences' Dr. Peter Goldmark, by luring too many Americans into densely populated urban areas with the bait of job, educational, cultural and recreational opportunities. After helping to oversee an exhaustive government-funded study, Dr. Goldmark reports: "We now know of some 6,200 communities outside the urban complexes where the quality of life is at least potentially much more satisfying than in the big cities. Our next step will be to show businesses how they can divide, break up, and — as a matter of fact — operate more efficiently by locating in these areas."

The fact that life is much more pleasant out in the green and quiet countryside is, of course, no great revelation to the thousands of "drop outs" and "back to the landers" who have turned their backs on the big cities during the past few years. The question that those returnees to the soil — and all the folks who never left in the first place — might well want to ask Dr. Goldmark right now is, "Just how long can that rural quality of life endure if you succeed in moving all that industry (with its inevitable pollution, time clocks, parking lots, shopping centers, etc.) to the country?

DR. FRANZ PICK, the world's acknowledged authority on gold and monetary systems, believes "there will be another devaluation of the dollar—two, three, four, five — until our currency is wiped out. It will be soon. We are bankrupt. There is not one person living who can repair the financial wrongdoing of the government." What's worse, Dr. Pick states that—of the 140 currencies in the world—only seven (the Japanese yen, British pound, Dutch guilder, French franc, Belgian franc, Swiss franc and German mark) are in any better health than our dollar.

"Forget savings accounts, real estate, bonds and the stock market," says Pick. "Buy gold bars ... the only thing that will count." For U.S. Citizens, who are legally prohibited from making such purchases, the currency expert advises the accumulation of gold "collector's" coins.

I assume that Dr. Pick is thinking of speculative investments in buildings, developments, etc.— and not homestead-size pieces of land — when he states that we should "forget real estate" as a hedge against his projected crash. A chunk of acreage large enough to feed a family has — time and again — proven itself the safest of all havens in which to weather a depression. And is a depression what Pick sees in the future? He doesn't say... only that "what lies ahead is very unpleasant."

BOTH THE RALPH NADER-BACKED HEALTH RESEARCH GROUP OF WASHINGTON and Consumer Reports magazine have called for the ban of Red Dye No. 2. The coloring, widely used in everything from pill coatings to soft drinks to ice cream to chewing gum to lipstick, has been found to impair reproduction and increase infant mortality. The Food and Drug Administration, at last report, was studying the possibility of limiting the amount of the dye that can be added to food products but had made no final decision in the matter.

DUE TO THIS SUMMER'S REAL OR CONTRIVED FUEL SHORTAGE, service stations in some parts of the country have already begun limiting the amount of gasoline that their customers may buy. When one California motorist was thus restricted over the Memorial Day weekend, he reportedly became so enraged that he shot and killed the attendant who had refused to "fill 'er up".

This, of course, leads one to speculate on the turn our "civilization" might take when and if the world's population outreaches the available food supply. After mulling over the possibility, one senior executive of a large computer company is said to have remarked at the Third European Management Seminar held recently in Switzerland: "I think they'll be eating human flesh in the streets of New York, London, and Paris in 20 years or so."

DR. D.P. DAVIES of the Welsh National School of Medicine has taken a strong stand against the still-growing trend away from mother's milk for young babies. Recent evidence, Dr. Davies feels, shows that the too-early feeding of cow's milk and solid food to infants overloads their partially developed kidneys with larger quantities of soluble protein than they can handle. In severe cases, Davies reports, this can lead to breakdown of the kidney function and—at worst—consequent brain damage, Early solid food can also encourage excessive weight gain, according to the doctor, and thereby set the stage for obesity in later life. "Breast milk is quite adequate for normal growth during the first three to five months of a baby's life," Dr. Davies concludes.

OREGON'S GOVERNOR TOM McCALL made history on July 2, 1971 when he signed into law a tough "bottle bill" designed to completely ban from the Beaver State much of the rubbish that increasingly clutters the nation's countryside. The piece of legislation—which went into effect in October of 1972—outlaws the sale of all snap-top cans and throw-away bottles in Oregon and requires that a five-cent deposit be refunded by storekeepers for the return of all carbonated beverage containers (except 12-ounce beer bottles, which have a refund value of 2¢).

The manufacturers of the non-returnable containers, predictably enough, fought the state bill from every logical and illogical position they could think of. Perhaps most incredible of all was the Steel Products News Bureau attack on the grounds that "the elimination of beverage cans will work against Oregon's resource recovery goals because with no cans and glass in the trash, the trash won't be worth recycling."

Despite such far-fetched reasoning, the legislation was passed, signed into action, and enforced. Result? "It's a rip-roaring success," says Governor McCall. Reports from the state indicate that, while the overall beverage business is up, the litter problem in Oregon is dramatically down. Every state except Tennessee is now considering a similar bill and you can help encourage the passage of such legislation.


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