Dan Fagin’s book, A Story of Science and Salvation brings out the effects of environmental degradation and its analysis reveals the danger that toxic substances pose to human beings and the environment. The book portrays the challenging side of science, particularly when laws and policies governing the use of industrial chemicals are not formulated and implemented. The purpose of this study is to analyze the impact of science to the natural world with specific reference to the aspect of environmental pollution as brought out by Fagin. The objective of the paper is to measure the extent to which human beings are responsible for the many negative environmental and health outcomes the world is experiencing as man continues to interact with science and make scientific discoveries. The paper seeks to establish whether all humanity is to blame for the environmental challenges brought about by science or some institutions are responsible for the destruction with focus on specific evidence of the nature of the environmental destruction. Fagin authoritatively describes how chemistry as a field of study plays a big part in the destruction of the important coastland of New Jersey and more specifically on Ciba. The workers serving in the potential toxicogenic factory and the inhabitants of New Jersey especially along Toms River are affected by pollution. Health is equated to life and a healthy community portrays a living nation. In New Jersey, Fagin depicts how endangered its inhabitants are especially when it comes to exposure to carcinogenic agents. An example of the danger is highlighted through the workers of Ciba who are practically consuming aniline dyes embedded in cold tar. Cancer is evident in the community of Ciba as it affects children and kills them. Technology is presented as powerful in that it can be self-destructive. In as much as technology has a positive dimension in the society, it can also propagate dangerous economic, social and demographic changes. Science alongside technology harness massive adverse mutagens, carcinogens or dermatogens with their effects being manifested in the youthful progeny. Third-world countries are negatively affected by bad governance and their populations are seen to suffer from carcinogenic substances. This fact is evident when bureaucrats in New Jersey obscure evidence of pollution in Toms River after discovery of clusters of calcium.
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Toms River, a coastal city found in New Jersey, USA, had a history of cancer. The Chop oncology ward was a classical example of what cancer could do especially to the youthful generation and too few children in particular. Lisa Boorhazian clearly exposed the ent of this sensational ward. She noted how the hospital fraternity was bringing together the staff that included the nurses, the patients, and their families. Lisa describes the nurses as having been part of her “family” and that anything that affected the patients also affected the nurses. This fact was evident in the case of a funeral where she was compelled to mourn just like the bereaved family. Cancers of the bone were highlighted in the story where the most common ones included osteosarcoma and Erwin’s sarcoma among others. Lisa could sympathize with the parents who witnessed their children undergo pain and cancer-associated syndromes like decreased mobility, swelling, weight loss, fatigue, and fever. The entire experience of Lisa underscored a bitter undertaking. Blood cancer subjects were believed to be the highest survivors but the treatments for the said types of cancers were painful and expensive. Chemotherapy was a challenging curative option for the different types of cancers. Chemotherapy may have worked in mitigating pain and the consequent prolongation of life for the cancer victims but it was described as having adverse health effects because it involved the use of radiations and electromagnetic waves. Certain rays emitted during treatment through chemotherapy deeply penetrated through the flesh and organs of the patients affecting the most vital organs and hence causing destruction of the cells. Stem cell transplant was expensive in New Jersey; not only in cost but also in status as well. There were many criteria to be addressed before a given patient’s body system was pronounced appropriate for a cell transplant. The process of recuperation was also presented in the book, A Story of Science and Salvation to be a difficult one and time-consuming. Lisa was able to recognize the emotional distance that existed between the caregivers and the patients. Even though the nurses like Lisa were emotionally attached to the cancer patients, the majority of them were not bold enough to stand and accept the situations as they were. Death of patients was a common occurrence and most of the nurses were not ready to accept it. The aspect of long shifts for the nurses and other hospital workers served to demonstrate the diligence with which the hospital staff served their clients. However, when the emotions between the caregivers and the patients became overwhelming, the parents and relatives of the patients had to fill the gaps. Mothers had to keep a close vigil on their children as fathers had to spend sleepless nights oblivious of the danger that their children were facing. The pediatric ward as Lisa described was a sensitive department to work in due to the kind of patients that were admitted to it and only the spirited and willful workers like her were able to withstand the trauma of working in the department.
The environment can be said to be man’s closest friend and foe at the same time. Proper use of the environment is necessary if humanity has to reap positive returns from it. Dan Fagin describes how important the coastland of New Jersey was to the inhabitants of the town but it was polluted by frequent raptures of the pipeline in the middle of the town. The powerful nations of Germany and Switzerland pioneered what experts would call “tools of destruction”. A focus on the Ciba-Geigy plant that dealt with fabric dyes and plastics will demonstrate the danger that toxins subject human beings to (Fagin, 12). Workers working at the factory were potential carriers of carcinogenic deposits. Underground leakage from the pipeline precipitated a chain of toxicogenic flow from Ciba to Toms River and eventually to the great ocean of Atlanta. The beach was transformed into a wasteland through a policy formulated by political leaders who did not care about the consequences of converting the beach into a dumping ground for waste. Even though the residents of New Jersey tried to speak out against pollution, the bureaucrats on the one hand concealed any evidence of pollution and even sabotaged investigations that were launched on the matter. This fact meant that solutions were not sought because of bureaucracy and lack of will on the part of the authorities.
Carcinogenesis like mutagenesis is a challenging subject due to the health implications associated with it. Cancerous substances like cadmium are potentially pathogenic. Pollution as addressed in the book is linked to carcinogenesis. In Toms River, two important sources of pollution are discussed. One of them is the Ciba factory now known as Novartis and the other includes small businesses which collected waste from union car bate and damped it on an old egg farm. Ground water contamination also contributed to toxicity and proved to be carcinogenic. Both air and water pollution was major contributor to the spread of cancer. Lisa on her way to attend a funeral is described to have encountered the words, “Do not drink the water and please do not breathe deeply”. The words are evidence of the fact that the people of New Jersey lived in fear of carcinogenesis.
Proper prevention of dangerous emissions into the environment and carcinogenic substances can only be brought about by good governance and like Dan Fagin says, “The fall of a nation is manifested with a corrupt regime”. The authorities bestowed with the power of safeguarding the environment must lay down structures and legislation to do so. The people of New Jersey suffered from pollution, health issues, and poverty because of the greed of their leaders. Bad leaders should not be voted into power as they would fail to safeguard the environment hence exposing it to global warming or greenhouse effects. Prevalence and incidences of cancer would go down if the world would have sound leaders. Children would live for many years because they would not suffer from deformities, malformations, or mutations which are all associated with bad environmental conditions. Information can empower a nation economically, politically, and even physiologically (Fagin, 34). This fact means that the public should be educated on how to conserve the environment through the media and the internet. A curriculum that teaches students on good environmental management practices should be introduced in schools and taught at all levels so that the concept of environmental conservation would be grasped by children from a tender age. The idea would make sure that the whole society is sensitized to the need to respect the environment.
Fagin, Dan. Toms River: a story of science and salvation, New York, USA: Bantam Books, 2013.Print.