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The Cardiologist's Wife - VACATION!
May 02, 2018

va-ca-tion
noun

1 an extended period of recreation, especially one spent away from home or in traveling
2 a respite or a time of respite from something
3 a period of suspension of work, study or other activity, usually used for rest, recreation or travel

Vacations are one of the best ways to relieve stress, reconnect with loved ones, study the history of an area or learn about different cultures. You can also learn about different or even better ways of doing things when you travel to another country. Last week while on vacation in the Galapagos, I was humbled to learn how far behind the United States is in developing non-fossil fuel energies and technologies and how little emphasis we place on preserving our limited natural resources and taking care of the environment.

Everywhere we went, we were reminded to not waste water and to turn off the electricity and air conditioning when leaving our hotel room. We saw solar panels and wind turbines everywhere and were told by our guide that they hope to be totally free of fossil fuel by 2050. We were also reminded not to leave trash behind while hiking or site seeing and I must say the beaches, ocean and trails we hiked had less trash overall than the American beaches and parks I’ve been to. I’m not saying all was pristine and perfect; I did see some spray painted graffiti and private property that needed a good clean up. The difference was in the effort in educating the public and emphasis on doing better.

Unfortunately the current culture in the United States is to stay dependent on oil and to boost coal mining efforts without dedicating enough resources to exploring or developing alternative energy like wind and solar power. Europe is also doing a better job in these areas, and jobs are being created to meet changing technologies. We’ve forgotten the poignant message from the 1970’s commercial with the American Indian urging us to keep America clean by reducing pollution from cars and factories and to dispose of our trash properly. It was especially humbling to see what most of Americans consider a third world country doing so well in these areas.

You may be wondering what this topic has to do with health but I’m hoping you realize that pollution can dramatically affect your health and that squandering our precious resources can have long term repercussions that will affect us in many ways. When we destroy one part of nature, it creates ripple effects that spread far beyond the initial incident and eventually, humans will pay the price.

So I urge you to be mindful of the clean water you have, the electricity that comes on to light your home and the gas that powers your car. Find ways to be less wasteful. Recycle or compost everything you can and properly dispose of your trash and encourage others to do the same. Ask your government to support regulations for clean air and waterways, to preserve our natural parks and to develop clean, sustainable energies. Do it for the good of all and for better health.

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