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Why I'm worried about the chickens of our neighbors
By Elson T. Elizaga, February 26, 2020. The mixed metaphor has been deleted in this online version. Published in Mindanao Gold Star Daily.

Ten years before Gloria Macapagal Arroyo put on a neck brace to avail of the benefits of hospital arrest, she signed a useless document called "The Ecological Management Act of 2000." The purpose of this law was grand and heartwarming as usual: "to ensure the protection of public health and environment." She signed it on January 27, 2001. That is 19 years ago, enough time for a woman to give birth to 19 children — in theory including triplets.

One of the described prohibited activities in the Act is the "open burning of solid waste." It is an interesting concept, but many people do not take this advice seriously because it does not explain anything. We were confused when we heard "solid waste." We thought it meant manure. Why would the government tell its citizens not to burn their manure?

Also, nothing in the Act warns us of the danger. The words associated with inhaling smoke from garbage such as "cancer," "brain damage," "immune system," "lungs," "depression," and "deformed babies" are absent in the document. We find these words only from research sites about "dioxin," "styrene" and "Agent Orange." And these sites are mostly foreign.

So, for 19 years nobody paid attention. The other glitch is this Act contradicts a massive air-pollution project called the 4 o'clock habit a communal, daily burning of trash that is supposed to annihilate the dreaded mosquitoes. I know for an opinion that this method is insane. Because for 19 years, I have seen on TV several communities burned to the ground, but the mosquitoes always return and multiply. Like James Cameron's aliens, they factory-clone themselves for eternity. Even if an international association of arsonists brings hell to the entire Johndorf  Subdivision  (aka PN Roa Locust Housing), these bloodsuckers will survive.

Well-meaning, law-abiding neighbors believe that by burning garbage we succeed in removing them from our village, but we non-scientists are mistaken. What happens is chemistry and fire magic. Solid transforms into poison gas that penetrates our bodies, including our brains.

In my previous column, I mentioned  The Women in Europe for a Common Future (WECF). In their pamphlet missing as of March 15, 2020, but a copy is available they wrote that burning plastic "can increase the risk of heart disease, aggravate respiratory ailments such as asthma and emphysema, and cause rashes, nausea, or headaches, damages in the nervous system, kidney or liver, in the reproductive and development system."  

One of the chemicals produced by burning garbage is dioxin. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), "Dioxins are highly toxic and can cause cancer, reproductive and developmental problems, damage to the immune system, and can interfere with hormones."

This information explains my anxiety about the community of fighting cocks living behind the basketball and tennis courts in our place. People burn garbage there and in the plaza so frequently that several ugly black mounds have emerged like miniature volcanoes. Every day the roosters inhale toxic air because they are not wearing gas masks. And because the poisons are airborne, distant chickens, ducks, and quails also get contaminated.

So, I can imagine the effect of pollution on their health. They have tiny brains. I wish them good luck in the derby. End

YOU'RE NEXT. Chickens are descendants of theropod dinosaurs, which became extinct 66 million years ago after the Chicxulub asteroid "slammed into the hydrocarbon-rich rocks which released a cloud of soot and dust so vast that it triggered global climate change. The resulting mass extinction ultimately led to the evolution of mammals and the existence of humans."

rooster by terence starkey
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