10 Amazing Truths You Already Suspected

Go ahead, pretend you didn't know. Pretend it wasn't obvious. Are you sure?

Let's start out easy. How about a big, dumb, obvious, forehead-slapper of an of-course-you-already-knew, shall we?

1) Let's start with, say, tanning beds. Turns out they cause cancer like a mofo. I mean, as bad as arsenic. As mustard gas. Smoking. Chimney sweeping. The Jonas Brothers. I mean, obviously.

Like you didn't already know. Like you thought it was all
healthy fun and games to strip yourself naked and lay on a bed of giant
blue light bulbs and have ultraviolet rays blasted into every inch of
your skin for hours per week and think, yeah, this can't be all
bad, can it? What with my skin turning a bizarre shade of orange and
that weird tingling in my brainstem and my genitalia melting like
bubblegum in the sun? Like it's not the transdermal equivalent of
placing my mouth over the tailpipe of a Chevy Tahoe and gunning the
engine? Mmm, stupid.

2) You are green to the core. Organic everything, grey water, solar, Prius, compost your nail clippings and your urine and your condoms,
the works. You have a child, maybe two. You are considering having a
third, or maybe even a fourth or fifth. You say you care about reducing
your carbon footprint? You say you care deeply about your impact on the
ecosphere? You might be lying.

Because of course, deep down, you know that you can compost
and recycle your eco-friendly butt off for your entire life and still
never come close to matching the reduction in carbon footprint you
would gift the planet simply by not having that additional child.
It's a rather harsh way to look at it, I admit, but there it is. But of
course, personal responsibility has its thresholds, right?

3) Oh, but wait. Maybe overpopulation isn't really the
most pressing problem after all. Relatively speaking, the U.S. does
pretty well in managing birth rates, especially compared to explosive
developing nations like China and India, so horribly strained for
resources and with such staggering proportions of extreme poverty.

Maybe the real problem is rich Westerners sucking up far, far more than their fair share of, well, just about everything.
Did you know 50 percent of all toxic emissions come from just seven
percent of the world population? I bet you did. Upshot: Maybe the real
solution is a nice combo of the two. Not having too many kids, and
buying less stuff you don't actually need. Radical! Or not.

4) One large study has dared come forth to claim that organic food is really no better for you
than "regular" food, implying that the organic thing is all a big sham,
a multibillion-dollar lie, that the giant, watery, flavorless Safeway
tomato doused in chemicals and gene-spliced goodness is really no worse
for you than that fragrant, delicious, organic heirloom from Rainbow
Grocery, or that the chem-blasted asparagus shipped in from Mexico in
November has the same nutritional value as the organic goodness you
should be getting in April from the local farm.

Is it tempting to believe? Not in the slightest. For one thing,
going organic is only partially about basic, keep-you-alive nutrients.
It's just as much about the various toxins, chemicals, refined sugars
and hormones slapped all over corporate foodstuffs in general; not to
mention the brutal, earth-stabbing, industrial manufacturing and
farming practices that go into most crappy mainstream foods.

In other words, yes, in terms of basic nutritional values, maybe some
organic foods are no better for you than their "normal"
industrial-produced equivalents. Unless you count the viscious
environmental impact. And the chemicals. And the cancer. And the death.
Otherwise, same.

5) Dammit. Wait a second. It also turns out that "USDA Certified Organic" label is just all sorts of mealy BS, too, and can't really be trusted.
Turns out the USDA has been so pressured by various industrial food
titans to loosen the definition of "organic," that the label has been
rendered, if not meaningless, then more watered down than that same
Safeway tomato. Are the USDA's standards still a huge improvement over
what came before? Hell yes. But they're far from ideal.

Solution: Learn to read the ingredients yourself. Figure it
out. Understand what you eat, and where it really comes from. It's not
really very difficult. Or, pretend that it is, that it's too weird and
you don't have the time to care and it's just too complicated. You are
probably lying. But that's OK.

6) 7) 8) The late infomercial pitchman Billy Mays'
OxiClean powdered miracle cleaner? Really just sodium percarbonate. A
standard chemical you can buy in bulk right now at your local swimming
pool supply shop. Whitening toothpaste? Just regular toothpaste with
extra grit. Red Bull? Massive shot of caffeine and a megadose of sugar
combined with whatever they can squeeze out of the pituitary gland of
dead rats. I might be wrong about the rats. But maybe not.

Oh, and if you buy high-end, thousand-dollar "audiophile-grade"
cables to hook up your home theater system? You have achieved true
greatness. As a total sucker.

9) Wal-Mart is, apparently, hankering to launch a big initiative to stamp every product it sells with an eco-friendly rating label,
some sort of grand, awareness-raising system to inform all
Earth-conscious Wal-Mart customers -- I know, I know: oxymoron -- where
every product falls on the you-are-destroying-the-planet scale. It's a
rather wonderful idea that could radically transform the company's
entire supply chain for the better.

Except for one thing: Wal-Mart has no plans to slap a giant
label on its own bloated megastores themselves, no plans to reveal the
enormous waste and destruction Wal-Mart itself embodies merely by
existing, by shipping a million products over from sweatshops in China
and Malaysia and India. Nor does it plan to offer a Smiley-Face Local
Economy Decimation rating to all those countless small towns it's
swooped into and gutted. But hey! That giant tub of HFCS-blasted
caramel corn? Not all that bad for the planet. Yay!

10) We could totally do light rail in the United States.
We could totally invest in this massive, culture-altering project like
it was the next man on the moon and within 20 years have this
ridiculously cool, lighting-fast, super-efficient Euro-style train network
connecting most major urban hubs like we were Italy and France and
Japan and Disneyland all rolled into one, but with better drinks and
free Wi-Fi and superlative in-seat movies like they do on Virgin.

We could totally do it. But 50+ years of Big Auto PR bulls--t
has slyly convinced us all we really can't, that no one wants it, that
big dumb America loves its big dumb open-road freedom far too much,
that car culture is so embedded in our road-trippin' nostalgia-thick
psyches it can never be extricated.

Of course, Big Auto is full of crap, is now begging for table
scraps, handouts, oxygen. Who we thought we were, who we thought we had
to be has essentially been a giant lie all along. Didn't you already
suspect as much?

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