How Long Can You Tread Water?

soldier-smokingGrowing up in Mystic in the 1950s, I would binge watch the World War II movies on TV.  You know the ones, where the men are slogging through the snow at the Battle of the Bulge, or the tropical fens at Guadalcanal, and the hard-bitten chain-smoking sergeant turns to the exhausted men and yells,  “Alright.  Fall out.  Smoke’em if ya got’em!”  When I was seven, I could recite “LSMFT  Lucky Strike Means Fine Tobacco”  or “Winston tastes good.  Like a cigarette should.”  During World War I, American tobacco interests first provided free cigarettes to the troops.  They  would be included in military rations until 1975.  Tobacco was part of the culture.

Everyone was making money, those cigarettes taste good, what’s wrong with that picture?   Well, chain-smoker Ed Murrow, the famed journalist who brought down Joe McCarthy, died two days after his 57th birthday of lung cancer.  Chain-smoker Humphrey Bogart died at 57 of cancer of the esophagus.  Who knew?  Smoking kills.  The laws of physics, and chemistry, and biology don’t care about the dividends on R. J. Reynold’s stock.  And they don’t care what you believe.  What you don’t know can kill you.

During the 1950s, post-war, there was great interest in the use of nuclear power.  There was the Nautilus, first nuclear powered submarine, on the magazine cover with it’s commander purportedly declaring, “Underway Under Nuclear Power!”  The Neil Armstrong of the day.   Great stuff.  My dad worked on the Nautilus and the other early submarine designs.  He had a badge that showed how much exposure he received to radiation from the nuclear cores.   The fact is that he and his co-workers received substantial exposure to radiation and that was an accepted part of the job.   He had throat cancer at 53.  A co-engineer, a bright young man who once drove me to a county fair in his Model A Ford, will always be that bright young man.  He was dead in his early thirties of throat cancer.  What you don’t know can kill you.

Mr. Trump and Mr. Pruitt don’t “believe” in global warming.   I think Al Gore made a mistake when he titled his documentary  on global warming “An Inconvenient Truth.”  American industry is quite happy to deal with an “inconvenience”.   Does it effect the next quarterly report?   No?   What’s the problem?   I think Al should have called the documentary: “Have you evolved to breathe carbon dioxide?”  Or maybe, “How long can you tread water?”



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