Health Alert

What Are You Doing To Prevent Breast Cancer?

How many times do we read something in the paper or see a news item and realize that we’ve been eating something or not eating something or doing something or not doing something that can have a big effect on our health? Happens to me all the time.

That’s why I was so chuffed recently to find out that I’ve been doing several things that could help prevent me from having breast cancer. I watched my mother go through a mastectomy with lymph node resection and it wasn’t something I ever wanted to go through myself, but I must confess that I didn’t give prevention much thought. I guess I thought, like many women, that it’s all a roll of the dice whether we get breast cancer or not.

Well, au contraire to the max, as my daughter says. It turns out that I’m doing several things that might lower my chances of getting breast cancer or give me a better chance of surviving breast cancer if I do develop it. This is a good thing, because, unfortunately, I’m also doing several things that increase my chances of getting it. But, first the good news for me and any of you who are doing these good things.

I drink green tea, take Vitamin D daily, take Black Cohosh for menopausal symptoms and take Omega-3 in addition to eating fish at least twice a week. All of these things are proven to reduce my chances of getting breast cancer. I also eat lots of cruciferous veggies like broccoli and cauliflower, lightly steamed to preserve their good phytonutrients. I don’t eat much red meat and I try to eat organic produce and naturally raised meat.

Recent studies have shown that all of these things significantly reduce breast cancer risk, so if you’re not doing them, here’s your chance to change your lifestyle and increase your odds of living to a ripe old age. So, what am I doing – and what may you be doing – that ups our chances of developing breast cancer?

Well, I don’t exercise nearly enough. I spend hours everyday in front of my computer, which is packing on the ol’ pounds. Lack of exercise and being overweight are both risk factors for breast and other cancers. Worse, I drink more than one glass of wine at a time.

I don’t drink everyday – more like Friday night and the occasional dinner out, and I don’t drink more than two glasses, but I should stick with one glass at a time if I want to stay on the safe side. I’m also trying to walk down our half-mile long driveway at least a couple times a week to get the mail. I figure that’s a start toward a more extensive walking campaign, but this is complicated by the start of hunting season here in Maine.

Walking is healthy exercise, but not if people are shooting at you, in the mistaken belief that you’re a deer. Nor is it likely that I’ll continue walking when the snow drifts are over my head in a couple of months. So, I guess I’ll have to join the kids in front of the Wii, which is so much fun that I don’t realize that it’s exercise until my aching muscles let me know about it the next day.

With all the pink ribbons flying around lately, thoughts of breast cancer are on our minds, so I thought it might be a good time to review some concrete, practical things we can do to keep ourselves healthy. I’m much more in favor of using natural methods to prevent breast cancer, rather than focusing on chemo and radiation and chemicals to “cure” it. But that’s a whole ‘nother post.

Frugal Tips, Safe Cleaning

My 3 Favorite Green Finds

If I had to choose one green item to take with me to a desert island, I’d choose white vinegar. My kids joke that our house runs on vinegar, because we use it for cleaning, as a fabric softener, to unclog drains (with my second favorite green item, baking soda), as a mild disinfectant and probably several other things that escape me at the moment.

It’s wonderful for removing that overpowering smell you get from new clothes. It cuts down on static cling and wrinkles if you put it in the final rinse in your washer. It removes the smell of smoke from clothes, curtains and even hair, although we use apple cider vinegar as a hair rinse and detangler.

There’s nothing better than vinegar for washing windows and getting greasy counters clean. Put a handful of baking soda in your drain, add a cup or two of vinegar all at once, and you get a mini-Vesuvius that powers away clogs and soap scum.

Next to vinegar, I’d have to opt for baking soda as a favorite green find. It’s as good as scouring powder for getting soap scum off the tub without scratching. Put it in your water-pic and/or brush your teeth with it. (I add a drop or two of peppermint oil for flavoring.) Put it in the tub to soften the water. Use it as a poultice for insect bites and stings. You can even throw it on a grease fire to smother the flames.

Third on my list of green essentials is Sal Suds. I use Dr. Bronner’s brand and I use it for everything. My son even used it to remove permanent ink from a rug. It’s dandy for deodorizing and cleaning stinky things like diaper pails and cat boxes (after you tip out the litter and any resident cats, of course) and great for toilet bowls. We leave some in overnight, brush and flush the next morning, and avoid the buildup that our hard water causes.

Because we don’t use bleach, we pour a capful of Sal Suds into the whites every so often and it works just as well at getting the gray out. It cleans our wood floors, painted walls, and everything else that’s washable. It is strong, though, so it might be a good idea to wear rubber gloves. I don’t, but I do rinse my hands well afterwards.

So those are my three green stalwarts. There are other things like liquid castile soap and essential oils that are part of my green toolkit, but they’re minor players. The big three take care of 90% of the household cleaning and maintenance chez Hawkins. Best of all, they’re really inexpensive, which is part of being green to me. If it doesn’t save money as well as save the earth, it’s not really green.

Eco-Conscious

How To Drive Less and Still Have a Life

It’s not just high gas prices. We all know that it’s time to put the planet first and conserve its resources by driving less. As a WAHM, I’ve pretty much figured out how to do all my errands in one day, including shopping, two libraries, the natural foods store, the post office and thrift stores. True, it means packing a lot into one day, but it’s worth it.

If you’ve managed to pare your trips down to one or two a week, you may be wondering how to fill the other five or six days. What do you do with the kids? How do you get together with friends? What happens when all this togetherness drives you batty and your brain atrophies from lack of contact with other grownups?

Never fear, humans lived without cars for millions of years and managed to survive. One way to stay in contact with friends is to initiate Friday night pizza parties or cookouts or card games and alternate hosting. One week, you go there. The next week, they come to your house. It saves on gas and food costs and sitters.

Here are some other ideas for ways to keep life interesting and full while not emptying your gas tank. First of all, don’t think of it as being forced to stay home. Think of it as being allowed to be on permanent vacation. If you’re not running the roads everyday, you have lots of time to do the things you always said you wanted to do but couldn’t do because you were too busy.

Have a chair you’d like to refinish? A book you’d like to read? A hobby that you’ve neglected? A season of a popular show on video that you’d like to watch? Well, now you have time to do all those things. But first you have to find something for the kids to do, now that you’re not hauling them to friends’ houses, lessons and games.

Do they have friends close by? Close enough so that they can walk or bike to each other’s houses if they’re old enough? That’s how kids used to meet up, before parents started taking them everywhere by car. Do you have a yard they can play in?

Send them outside with an unbreakable jar, a small net and a bug identification book. Get them some sidewalk chalk and let them draw on the driveway or sidewalk. (Just move your car to the end of the driveway, so that no one can pull in while they’re doing it.)

Teach them how to play hopscotch or play jump rope games or put some water in a small wading pool and let them sit in it and cool off with small buckets, bowls and bathtub toys. If they’re too young to be left alone, sit near them and read your book or cross stitch your pillowcase or just relax with a cool drink and daydream.

It’s ironic that we spend so much money on making our homes into cozy nests, then drive away from them to “have fun” in other places. Why not enjoy them instead? Here are some alternatives to going out for a good time. All of them are online and most of them are free:

I’m going there right now, to learn how to make a garden in a bottle – as soon as I finish this game of Bookworm and bookmark a book on organic gardening at Gutenburg.org.

Eco-Conscious

Think Pink? I Don’t Think So. Here’s Why

Do you feel as if you’re drowning in a sea of pink? I do. October is National Breast Cancer Awareness month, as I’m sure you’re aware. There’s the irony. Everyone is aware of breast cancer, because almost everyone has been affected by it. Who doesn’t know someone who has either died from or survived breast cancer? Who hasn’t seen the ads on TV and all over the Net? You can’t open a Facebook page without someone asking you to “help cure breast cancer” with sales copy that’s festooned with pink ribbons. Who can resist? Buy some wine and cure cancer. What’s not to like?

Everything. I don’t like anything about this stupid “Think Pink” campaign. In the first place, it’s just one more gimmick to sell things to women. I think we have enough of those, but that’s a whole ‘nother subject. In the second place, why is it that none of these folks are talking about preventing breast cancer?  That is truly the “cure” for breast cancer: preventing it in the first place. Why do so many ads tout mammograms to prevent cancer? They don’t prevent anything and may actually cause cancer as you can read in this report. Well, I shouldn’t say that no one is talking about prevention because Breast Cancer Action is. They’re based in SF and if you want real, worthwhile information about ways to prevent breast cancer and what you can do to help convince our legislators to do what needs to be done to prevent breast cancer, go to their web site as soon as you’re done reading this.

Also, you might want to read about this study that talks about a common food that can actually shut down the process that cancer cells use to proliferate. It’s not woo-woo pseudoscience either. It’s from the NIH and after reading it, you may want to add something to your salad or sandwich. It’s not the only food that has an effect on cancer cells either. Things like turmeric, broccoli, ginger, mushrooms and many other foods have been studied and shown to have anti-cancer properties either preventive or after diagnosis. Why is it that none of these stinkin’ Pinkers talk about that? To me, it looks as though they’re portraying women (and the small group of men who get breast cancer) as helpless victims who have no control over whether they get breast cancer or not. Hogwash!

True, there are some factors, genetic and acquired, that make it more likely that you’ll develop breast cancer. I have one of them. I’m the daughter of a woman who took DES (diethylstilbestrol), which makes it more likely that I’ll develop breast cancer. However, I’m also a woman who researches and writes for a living, so I’m aware of other risk factors and also of things I can do to improve my odds. For one thing, I eat organic food whenever possible. I take extra Vitamin D, which has been shown to reduce cancer rates in populations that have a higher intake. I do drink in moderation, but I’ve switched from wine to very low alcohol beer except on rare occasions.

I will not be buying anything pink, because I hate the whole mentality that says that breast cancer is just one of those things that you have to accept if you’re a woman, and then someone will give you chemo and remove your breast and you’ll be “cured”, if you’re lucky. Or, more likely, like my late sister in law, you’ll get brain damage along with the chemo, live a lousy, pain-filled life for a few months or years and then die from a stroke, a heart attack or a recurrence of the cancer somewhere else in your body.

If I do develop cancer, breast cancer or any other type, I’ll carefully review my options with my health care providers, research the heck out of it and then get the best holistic treatment I can find. If that includes allopathic treatment, fine. But I won’t be opting for chemotherapy and I won’t be expecting any of the Pink people to cure me. It’s not in their best interest, because they’re all making a bundle on selling a cure for cancer with the fearmonger approach.

Call me a skeptic, but I can’t help but wonder whether it’s really a coincidence that the same companies that make the big anti-cancer drugs also make some of the pesticides that cause cancer. Then there’s  Monsanto which makes the hormone rGBH that farmers give their cows to increase milk production. RGBH is a known carcinogen and it’s in almost all the cheese produced in America, although it’s banned in Europe and Canada. I haven’t checked, but I’m sure there’s cheese with a pink ribbon on it and rGBH in it selling somewhere at a supermarket near you. You know, it’d be a lot better if they just stopped after the first word in their slogan: Think.

Health Alert, Natural weight loss

Xeno(estrogen) Phobia

Every day, most of us unwittingly put toxic substances into our body. These substances – xenoestrogens – increase our risk of everything from obesity to cancer. They’re in our food, our water and our personal care products. They’re even in the washer, so while you’re washing out the dirt, you’re washing IN toxins that are worse than any mud stain you’ve ever encountered. No one ever died from a grass stain, but people die from the effects of xenoestrogens in increasing numbers.

They also get fat. Xenoestrogens, which mimic the natural estrogen that our body needs and produces in appropriate amounts, increase belly fat. For this reason, alone, even without the extra risk of cancer and reproductive system problems, it would be a good idea if we could avoid them.

Unfortunately, that’s very hard to do. They’re in plastic, pesticides, animal feed, dish and laundry detergent and too many of the lotions, potions and cleansers we pour onto our skin every day.

When we eat xenoestrogens, they go through our liver, as it tries to detoxify them and eliminate them from our bodies. Our livers know what’s good for us and what’s bad and it valiantly tries to get rid of the bad stuff. It does a pretty good job and may eliminate up to 90% of xenoestrogens. But the other 10% gets into our system.

When we apply xenoestrogens to our skin though, they go into our bloodstream without going through the liver at all. That’s why we get 10 times as high a dose as when we ingest them. So, pour some dandruff or body shampoo on your hair and it goes right to your scalp and into your bloodstream. Because almost all commercial, non-organic shampoos – even the so-called “natural ones” contain xenoestrogens, there’s a pretty good chance that you got some along with the nice shiny body the shampoo promised you.

What to do? Well, there are a lot of things you can do to avoid this fat-increasing, cancer causing menace. Stop storing, freezing, cooking, eating or microwaving food in plastic. As much as possible, use alternatives to plastic. Glass or ceramic is the best choice.

Eat organic. This avoids pesticides, herbicides and the xenoestrogens in animal feed that gets into your steaks, chicken breasts and eggs. Also avoid using pesticides or herbicides at home. Buy personal care products that are certified organic by the USDA. Ditto for detergent for dishes and clothes. Avoid caffeine, because it raises estrogen levels in the body, which can contribute to the effect of xenoestrogens.

The best way to minimize damage from the chemicals and harmful substances in our food supply and in what comes in contact with our bodies, is by being very aware of what’s in them. Read labels. Research before you buy. Most of all, realize that it’s your responsiblility to do as much as you can to avoid what makes you fat and sick.

Eco-Conscious

Politics and the Environment:What’s So Funny ‘Bout Peace, Love and Ronald Reagan?

Note: I usually save the opinion posts for my other blog “News From Hawkhill Acres“, but with a a very important election coming up in less than a month, I think this post deserves to go here too.

I know I’m supposed to blog about the financial crisis because that’s the most important thing in the world at the moment, and I’ll get to it. First, though, I’d like to say a word about peace, or the lack of it, in the world. I’m sure someone will comment and say that I’m overreacting but I’m going to say it anyhow. Peace doesn’t have a chance in our culture.

Oh, sure, I’m still rooting for it and fighting for it and promoting it in the community I inhabit. I’m still trying to model it for my kids and create those famous ripples that will spread out from me and other peacemongers throughout the rest of the world until it replaces war, unrest and meanness.

Unfortunately, I’m outnumbered and outgunned by corporations and power brokers who realize that peace doesn’t sell. Even if you count the Nobel Peace Prize, there are many more medals for war heroes than peace heroes. Little boys don’t say that they want to grow up to be peacekeepers; they want to grow up to be soldiers.

Our TV shows, movies and books aren’t about peace and love; they’re about torture, sophomoric mean-spirited jokes and heroes who are good guys because they kill bad guys. Think of the shows that have everyones’ eyeballs glued to the screen every night. Is “Survivor” a show about how the human race has survived by cooperating? I don’t think so.

I think I really started to be worried about the world around the time that “Silence of the Lambs” became such a big hit. Hannibal Lecter is not a peacemonger. He’s a totally screwed up psychopath, but millions of people found him fascinating. They still do. I don’t. I can’t get past the horror his victims experienced. Whether in fiction or the real world, people who treat other people like objects or possessions aren’t people I want in my life.

But everyday on talk shows, on adult soap operas and “reality shows”, in sports and the entertainment industry, it’s not the peaceful, cooperative, decent people who are glorified, is it? Nope, it’s the loudmouthed, pushy, greedy, aggressive, mean, unethical egoists who get the publicity and the brand sponsorship, which makes them role models for millions of people, especially kids.

I’ve come to the conclusion that one reason peace is such a hard sell is because you just can’t make much money from it. True peace involves love for our fellow humans, the planet and the animal life on it. It means not consuming just for the sake of consuming. It means caring enough for others to pay them a decent wage, respect their inalienable right to do what they want with their own bodies and lives, and take care of them when they can’t care for themselves. Ain’t much return on that for someone who wants to be a millionaire, is there?

And that brings me to the current financial crisis and Ronald Reagan, who – if he were still alive – would be turning over in his grave. Well, you know what I mean. Ronald Reagan is still touted as the “father of the conservative revolution”, the man who got rid of those pesky regulations that hampered the free flow of money into the pockets of his rich cronies from trickling down from the rich to the poor.

Note to poor: If you’re still standing there with your bucket to catch the trickle, you can go back to the homeless shelter. Very rich people don’t let even a trickle of money get away once they have it in their hands. That’s how they get rich.

How anyone could believe that the party that gave us Ronald Reagan is the change this country needs, is beyond me, but many do. Oh, wait, I get it. They mean “change” as in nickels and dimes, which is what the Republican party has been giving us for two administrations now, along with an unjust war, repressive homeland security laws (just the term makes me squirm) and such things as “signing statements” which are nothing more than a violation of the constitution.

We need Change with a capital C and that’s what I’m voting for. I’m not naiive. I don’t think that electing Barack Obama will immediately right all the wrongs in this country. I don’t agree with him on a lot of things and I’m just as cynical about politicians as the next person. However, I still insist that peace is the goal, not war. Love, not hate.

If you feel that way too, please think about which candidate is more likely to work for the same goals. Put Mimi’s Peace Globe on your site and blog about peace on November 7th. Let’s give peace another chance. It’s the least we can do.

Green Living, Holidays

O (Environmentally Friendly) Christmas Tree

Your Christmas tree is the focal point for making your holiday special. Decorating the tree is a cherished family tradition in many homes, even if the kids do argue over who gets to put the star on top of the tree this year. Unfortunately, it can also be a big part of your Christmas carbon footprint! Here are a few tips for making sure you choose the most environmentally friendly Christmas tree available.

Artificial Christmas trees aren’t the most environmentally friendly Christmas choice, due to the petroleum energy that goes into making them and the plastic materials they use. However, if you choose wisely, an artificial tree can be something you’ll use for years and years to come – reducing the impact it will have.

If you choose to go the artificial route then make sure you buy a quality tree that will last. You’ll also need to have a place to store it in between Christmases. If you really want to reduce the impact your tree has, try finding a second-hand reusable artificial tree for sale. Goodwill, the Salvation Army and many thrift stores might have one this time of year from people who are upgrading.

Cut trees are still a favorite choice for many people. Picking your own tree is always fun and, once you have it at home, it’ll give off a wonderful smell! Not to mention the fact that you can choose the exact kind of tree you want. Norway Spruce is a favorite, but my personal favorite is Balsam. Here in Maine, we have some on our property and I love the smell.

Unfortunately, cut trees aren’t always a great choice for the environment. Cut trees cannot be used year after year, and they will eventually start to die and drop needles no matter how careful you are to keep the water level up in their stand. However, if you buy your live tree from an organic Christmas tree farm, where they replant a tree for every one they cut down, you’re getting the best of both worlds. And if you recycle your tree, it’s even better. Many towns and cities offer this option. We live in a rural area, so our tree becomes part of a brush pile we’ve established for animal and bird shelter. If you still want to buy a cut Christmas tree then you can at least reduce the negative impact it has by recycling it once the holidays are finished. For example, you could use the tree for projects in your home that require wood, or you can turn the tree into mulch using a local Christmas tree recycling service.

A far more environmentally friendly Christmas tree choice would be to choose live trees that can be planted outside once the holidays are over. This is far less wasteful than buying a cut tree, as it keeps on growing even after the holidays. There are some drawbacks, though, such as the fact that you’ll need to hide the roots in a suitable container while you’ve got it inside, and it’ll cost more. You have to live in a climate where you can still plant a tree in December, and you’ll have to be careful that your home isn’t too warm for the tree to live healthily!

Choosing an environmentally friendly Christmas tree really is a big decision, and will take some advanced thought. Weigh up the pros and cons and do the best you can in your situation to help minimize the environmental impact of the tree you choose. Then, relax and enjoy the holiday. What you do the other 364 days of the year to help the environment has a bigger effect on our world than what kind of Christmas tree you choose. Reduce, reuse, recycle and enjoy Christmas and every day of the year.

Eco-Conscious

Vaccinations: Shots, Or Not

I have a round scar on my upper left arm. It’s about the size of a dime, but it was the size of a quarter when I got it back in first grade. Although it’s faded over the years, I’ll have it when I die, like most people my age. It’s a smallpox vaccination and back in the fifties, all kids got one by the time they started school or shortly thereafter from the school nurse.

No one asked us if we wanted one, because our parents and teachers knew that we didn’t want smallpox, which was still a threat even in the US. We also got polio shots, which hurt like heck. I remember thinking at the time though, that the shot was better than being in a wheelchair like my friend, Gerry or in an iron lung like my great aunt.

Polio was a scourge that scared the bejesus out of us and out of our parents. It closed public pools, theaters and even schools. There was no cure, only supportive care while doctors and parents hoped and prayed that their child or family member would recover enough to breathe on their own.

Maybe that’s why I’m not completely against immunizations for kids, like many of my Green friends are. I believe in using alternative medicine whenever possible, but I also think it’s silly to shun all allopathic medicine. After all, even the Greenest Mama doesn’t chisel her messages into stone or write them and mail them. She uses a computer because it’s faster and more effective and just makes a lot more sense.

That’s the way I feel about immunizations – with several qualifications. If I had it all to do over, I wouldn’t have allowed my kids to be immunized with more than one vaccine at a time, and I would have been very selective about the immunizations they got.

There are some immunizations whose risks outweigh their benefit – the Gardasil shot comes to mind. No way will my kids be getting that. Instead they’ll get good solid information about how to prevent cervical cancer and the importance of regular checkups for that and other cancers.

Other immunizations, like diptheria and TB make sense in a society where we’re all exposed to many more people from other countries, where these diseases are more prevalent. We live in a very rural area, yet we’re only 25 miles from an international airport where passengers spend a couple hours at local restaurants and stores between flights.

Rubella or German Measles immunizations make sense because your child’s case of Rubella can affect your friend’s unborn baby. My cousin is deaf because her mother babysat the little girl next door, who had German Measles, before it was evident that she had it.

In the end, we all have to make our own decisions about whether and how many immunizations we want our children to have. Most states, while they have mandatory immunization laws, make exceptions for religious or philosophical beliefs that disagree with immunizing.

If you’re trying to decide, there are several web sites that provide good information. One is Dr. Ryland’s KidsWellness site. It’s where I go not only for information, but for supportive alternative medicines for my kids and myself. I’ve found that immunizations are much less stressful if my kids are prepared physically with immune system support.

Like most controversial subjects, whether or not to immunize your child is a decision that can have far-reaching consequences. It’s not something that should be decided on the basis of what someone on a popular talk show says or even what your Green friends say. It’s a very individual decision that has to be made based on scientific evidence, common sense and your own sense of what’s best for your child.

Eco-Conscious

Money Is The New Green

As I write this, Wall St is melting down in spite of government bailouts from borrowed money that will have the taxpayers in hock to foreign countries until the end of time or the end of the US empire – whichever comes first. Maybe with global warming being denied by the current administration and so many corporations, the end of time will come first.

If I sound cynical, depressed, discouraged or all of the above, it’s because it’s so obvious to any sentient being that ecology and economy are so intertwined that we can’t separate them. Consumerist culture, which was practically invented by the government to boost the US economy, is a major factor in global warming and the destruction of the earth.

It’s also the reason why so many of us have piles of stuff that we don’t really own. Houses with mortgages, cars with loans, clothes and toys and lawnmowers and furniture and even pets we still owe credit card debt on. Many of us are still paying 19% interest on restaurant meals we ate last spring. That’s insane.

It is my humble opinion that we’ll never get a handle on climate change or habitat loss or peace or justice or social equity until we get a handle on our spending – both personal and institutional. I think it would be a wonderful idea if the fat cats who got million – and in some cases, billion – dollar golden parachutes had to give the money back to the people whose pension funds have disappeared because of the CEOs’ mishandling of funds and companies.

That would be a start toward fixing a system that rewards people who lose other peoples’ money and has taxpayers foot the bill for it. Then, because it’s almost impossible to pay down debt that has the high interest rate that most credit cards have, we should put into place regulations that ban usury i.e. credit card interest rates over 10%.

That would allow many people to pay down their credit card debt and get out of the financial traps they’re in. Of course, that would only apply to those who still have jobs, so we’d need an extension on unemployment benefits and food stamps and a better support system for unemployed people, especially those with families to feed.

I don’t think that Barack Obama reads my blog and I know John McCain doesn’t, so none of this is likely to happen. That is, unless everyone in America suddenly comes to their collective senses and decides that saving the US and the planet is a really good idea, votes Democrat, and lobbies for change from the grassroots level to the halls of Congress and the auditorium of the UN.

That could happen. Now, you tell one.

Eco-Conscious

Are Hurricanes Linked To Global Warming?

A recent study claims that there is evidence to support the link. Published in the September 4th issue of the journal, Nature, the Florida State University report asserts that there is a connection between warming oceans and increased hurricane and tropical storm activity. Earlier reports have returned mixed results with some agreeing with this one and some denying that there is any link.

One thing that this report points out is the folly of building and rebuilding in areas likely to be affected by hurricanes. The Gulf and East Coasts of the US and the low-lying areas of Asia, Africa and other countries, and the islands that dot the earth’s oceans are heavily populated. Many of these areas have poor populations without the resources to relocate or rebuild should disaster strike.

The governments of these areas are often not in a position to give the kind of aid that these populations need to get back to normalcy after a storm hits. This is why, months and even years later in some cases, families are still living in temporary housing under unsanitary conditions.

In the US, there is everything from luxury hotels to small shacks scattered along the coasts. Much of the real estate is insured, but some insurers are starting to rethink the financial wisdom of allowing people to insure property that might be under water again a few months or years later. This is a good thing.

If global warming is causing an increase in the strength and frequency of hurricanes and storms, it’s folly to build in their paths. Human nature being what it is, it’s unlikely that people will stop building on flood plains and coasts unless they’re unable to be assured that they will be reimbursed if their property is lost to floods or storms. If the insurance business and the federal government stop supporting this behavior, maybe we can stop the construction of housing and businesses in harm’s way.