Archive for » April, 2017 «

Garbage – Denmark, US and Sri Lanka


A speech I read (at is topical, given our recent calamity. It compares proposed garbage disposal activities planned in Denmark and the USA. The Denmark design is to maximize benefits to the public and minimize harm. Not to maximize profits for a few, who then kick back some of it to even fewer ‘decision makers’.

How may we make our decision makers give priority to the public interest? Are we entirely powerless?

A few excerpts from the article follow.

…  And a typical U.S. garbage incinerator produces vast quantities of pollution, horrible smells, dioxin, mercury, nitric oxide, lead, and particulate matter. If you live near such an incinerator, your chances of getting cancer, heart disease, diabetes, asthma, and respiratory problems shoot through the roof … That’s why in recent years the students at Benjamin Franklin High School and Curtis Bay Elementary School in a poor and already heavily polluted section of Baltimore, Maryland, had to organize and — thus far — block the construction near their schools and homes of what would have been the biggest and nastiest incinerator yet. … The Baltimore incinerator, the construction of which has been stopped thus far, would have burned 4,000 tons of trash per day and emitted 1,240 pounds of lead and mercury per year.

… an incinerator, or waste-to-power plant, now nearing completion in Copenhagen, Denmark. If you have to have incinerators, because you have not yet reached zero waste, you might want one like this one. It emits none, zero, not a speck of all those nasty poisons and smells that an American simply assumes an incinerator must produce, as illness must produce health insurance companies, as robberies must produce gun sales  …  Because this incinerator is not dangerous to those near it, it can be placed near a city. This will allow it to heat 160,000 homes while providing electricity to 62,000 homes, and generating a byproduct of water while burning something over 1,000 tons of waste a day, or a quarter of what was planned for Baltimore. And because it’s placed safely near a city, this particular power plant has had ski slopes installed on the roof of it, with elevators used to bring skiers to the top.  … None of this means that the incinerator is not still a problem. It still produces carbon dioxide. However, it produces much less of it than do other plants. 



Easter cheer

Surprise turned to shock as I heard a newsreader dutifully read Easter messages this morning, allegedly as news. The breaking news story was that the President had lauded how Jesus had struggled to liberate the poor from sin.

Maybe the lady at the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation had misread? While I was trying to figure this out, words from the Prime Minister had slipped past. Probably the usual edifying inanities. Next came a message from the Bishops. I think she said the Catholic Bishops Conference, or some such, but I can’t be sure. Their lesson of the day was about the need for ‘economic development and poverty alleviation’. Wow! Even our esteemed Minister of Finance could not have done better paraphrasing Jesus – nuancing his message into one that the rich could heartily approve.

What on earth is happening? The poor are sinners, to be saved. What could be more sinful than remaining wickedly poor in this world of plenty, huh? If the poor fail to be liberated might they forever be excluded from the Kingdom, or have eyes of needles to negotiate along the way? In the meantime we can quietly bless the rich who have already inherited the earth, and justly so too. To keep us all soothed, leaders of the church sing paeans to economic development and poverty alleviation in the name of Jesus Christ. Not having had a Christian education I was completely unaware that Jesus had spent his life running around promoting economic development and poverty alleviation. So good of the Bishops to have made things clear to me this morning.



Depression: let’s talk


         Discussing depression

    in depressing ways

makes depression

 doubly depressing

                                         -  Diyanath,  2017


The World Health Organization (or WHO) has chosen to stimulate action on depression through this year’s ‘world health day’ events. Who in WHO are tasked with coming up with ‘themes’ for such annual happenings, I wonder? A most unenviable task, for sure. Those who did it this time round have done well to select a subject that has major public health consequences. Their choice of words, ‘Depression: let’s talk’ is sensible. And I am happy they state clearly that the remedy for depression is not only medication (


Talking is a good idea. Not talking is generally depressing anyway. But talk that is depressing is also depressing. Not moving enough is depressing. Living with or being in the company of certain individuals (whom we should call depressogenic people) is depressing. Boring jobs are depressing. The list is long. These may all lead to sadness and a loss of interest, an inability to carry out daily activities, loss of energy and zest, difficulty in concentration, feelings of worthlessness or hopelessness and thoughts of self-harm. A disease process affecting the brain, which also is called ‘depression’ (so as to keep everyone baffled), leads to similar features. And it is easy to confuse this cause with the ‘causes’ listed first, such as being in the company of depressogenic people, that can lead to similar symptoms.


Psychiatrists are gently guided by drugs marketers to recognize and treat depression of the first kind with medications designed for depression of the second kind. There is no countervailing push that can help level the field. Maybe we should, in partnership with WHO, see how the necessary corrective can be generated?


Let’s in the meantime talk. But talk too should be of the right kind, not depressogenic. In these times, where misery is being made fashionable globally, it’s up to each of us to produce a little good cheer.


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