Do Humans Only Change Their Ways When They’re Mandated to Do So?

Taken while on the road in Ireland by none other than ME

Once upon a time in the land of Oz, where all the smart, good people lived, Lake Erie was declared a dead lake.

GASP! How is that possible. That’s where all the good, smart people lived.

By the 1960s, Lake Erie was seriously polluted due to excessive phophorous. The industries along its banks in cities like Cleveland were largely responsible for the mess. In 1969, the Cuyahoga River which flows into Lake Erie caught on fire due to wildly indiscriminate dumping of sewage and chemicals into the river.

Holy guacamole, Batman! Where are you when we need you most?

The fire created an outrage, but actually this was a common occurrence. Burning rivers were par for the course back in the good old days. Turns out my parent’s generation weren’t all that interested in public policies that preserved our water and air.

The few truly outraged people had to band together and struggle to get things cleaned up.

This was the same generation that traveled route 66 in their cars throwing trash out of their rolled down windows while listening to their radios. Roadsides all across America were strewn with trash, spoiling the beauty of the countryside.


They threw their kids in the back of a pickup truck and barreled down the road, tossing trash out the windows without a care in the world. Those were our role models. No wonder we turned out the way we did.

By the way, we’d have never put seatbelts on our kids except they passed legislation demanding it. My parents thought it was cruel and unusual treatment, infringing on their freedoms to be careless if they chose.

FREEDOM! I guess freedom really does mean nothing left to lose not even your kid.

Our dad’s may have admired race car drivers at the Indy 500 but never thought for one minute that the seatbelts and helmets these professional drivers wore might save their two year old from going through the windshield.

Speaking of children, back in the good old days, an eight year old was sent to work in the woolen mills of Massachussets as easily as we send our kids today to basketball camp.

Many lost their hearing and or a finger or two.

Don’t mention the shit that they were allowed to put in toys, paint, even food. Talk about toxic food. Lead poisoning was the original gift that kept on giving.

Most of the progress that has been made to clean up our environment and keep people safe was a direct result of regulations.

I know some people HATE regulations. I doubt any Republicans read my articles, however. The social issues that keep me up at night are generally pooh poohed by the party that longs for the good old days.

If things had been left up to those who hate regulations, we’d still be polluting the streams of Maine where I raised my kids with chemical waste from the paper mills.

The stink that use to fill the air from these mills was putrifying. The idiots that worked in these mills would laugh, take a deep breath, and say,

That there is the smell of money.

Maine has some of the highest cancer rates in the country.

The fact of the matter is, nothing would ever change if we waited for people to just do the right thing. NOTHING!

Nothing! I tell you.

Nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing.

As near as I can tell, people tend to think that they are far more responsible and decent than they actually are most of the time. Somehow we’ve concluded that by sheerly reaching adulthood nature guarantees that we’ve mastered a level of critical thinking skills accompanied by a deep sense of responsibility. We’re grownups now. Don’t you know?

It’s even more distressing to watch grownups trying to cooperate.

Whew! You don’t have to look at the big problems that two countries struggle to mutually solve. All you have to do is take a quick look at a family’s cooperative examples. It’s a struggle for two people who love each other to solve their shared issues.

I suspect that IF we really get serious about saving our forests, keeping our air and water clean, preserving what’s left of nature’s bounty on this planet, we’ll need to pass legislation in order to regulate human behavior.

If we find a way to reduce the ravages of manmade climate change, we’ll need to mandate the solutions.

Sadly, humans aren’t very impressive when it comes to volunteering to do the right thing. Maybe it’s the selfish gene. Or maybe it’s lack of intelligence. Maybe we prefer instant gratification and resort to wishful thinking too easily. Whatever the cause, humans need someone to keep an eye on them or they’ll set fire to Lake Erie again. We can’t seem to quit shitting in our own backyards.

I don’t like to step in human shit. How about you?

Teresa Robert is a retired educator, author, world traveler,and professional myth buster. You can find her books on Amazon.



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Teresa Roberts

Teresa Roberts


Teresa is an author, world traveler, and professional myth buster. She’s also a top writer on climate change and the future.