Ever wondered if something is amiss when under the impression that you are doing good? You seem certain that the end result, whatever it is, is for the better. But then, if you approach the problem in the wrong way, something else crops up, something totally unexpected and unaccounted for, something that teaches the importance of the means as well as the importance of the goal.
With the current fad that has hit the fashion world, most girls are under the impression that they are too fat, and hence, have attempted to diet. But, how far is a person willing to go to get very thin, very fast? With the current rates of obesity, many people are right to think about losing weight. But, whatever the motive, is the manner they choose of attaining weight loss the best health wise? Crash diets were once in vogue. Crash dieting involves consuming the most limited quantity of food in order to lose weight quickly. And, sooner or later, consuming too little food to cater to a body’s needs puts the body into trouble. Those that don’t have fainting fits sometime during the ordeal, generally tend to put the lost weight back on after the diet is over. Besides, all the other health risks that such drastic starving induces are not publicized as much. Over 5 percent of the female population is affected by an eating disorder. Anorexia affects 1 percent of young women. Anorexia is an eating disorder that is driven by an irrational desire to be thinner than normal. With celebrities and magazines endorsing a size zero, it’s no wonder that the projected image of beauty creates a feeling of inadequacy among the youth. However, the method of losing weight involves the combo of watching and controlling food intake as well regularly exercising.
If weight loss is probably a girl’s fad, then muscle building is in with the guys. But, rather than pumping it out in the gym, many take steroids to build up that extra muscle, extra fast. Steroids are generally used to treat asthma or allergies and other medical conditions. However, many sporting personalities, particularly weightlifters and athletes, use them to enhance their performance. And, now up to 5 percent of teenage boys use them as well because of pressure from their peers or coach or simply a desire to excel in sports. The concerned steroids here are hormones that help to build muscle. While this may seem tempting initially, the ill effects of using them are apparent only after several years of use. Consuming steroids without a prescription is against the law. Rather than resorting to such drastic measures, one should indulge in the true spirit of sportsmanship.
Moving in a completely different direction, let’s look at the outcomes of measures to control agricultural pests. The cane fields of Queensland, Australia once suffered because of its gray backed beetle. People thought that the remedy to this problem was to introduce a species of poisonous toad into the environment and create a predator-victim relationship between the toads and beetles. The skin of this toad is toxic and therefore, kills anything that tries to eat it. Although its roots were from the West, this scheme was practiced in the Pacific region. Cane toads were released in fields to destroy the rodent population. Although this was a success only in Puerto Rico, it did not discourage hopes in other places. Around 1935, the toad was introduced to Australia in the hopes of controlling the beetle problem. However, these cane fields were not the ideal environments for the predator-victim relationship to take place. Far from controlling the beetle population, the multiplication of the toads have had an adverse effect on the rest of the Australian fauna killing certain species of lizards and snakes and increasing the population of certain other reptiles. These toads are now a menace in their own right and the Australian Government has since spent over 20 million dollars on toad control and research. The actual repercussions of the practice should have been weighed before it actually took place, else this simply wouldn’t have happened.
In another case related to the environment, consider the treatment of an industrial oil spill at sea. These oil spills spread over a large area. They create oiled shorelines and kill much of the local wildlife through ingesting, suffocating, or oiling of their skin. Untreated oil even smothers coral. To treat this, measures are taken to contain an oil slick or lessen its severity. One chemical measure is based on the fact that oil mixes in water when soap is added, so a detergent is used to dissolve the oil in water. This detergent breaks up the oil into small molecules that mobilize the oil, preventing it from aggregating at one position. These smaller oil droplets should cause less harm and negate all the smothering effects. However, they spread even further because of their convenient size and take much longer to decompose than untreated oil. These oil droplets are toxic to coral. The cleaning up of an oil spill is often more dangerous than the oil spill itself. One could prevent this by using mechanical methods or less invasive chemical ones or by simply preventing the oil slick outright.
Often, it is necessary to change something we are not comfortable with or something that is not good for us. But, as one observes from the above examples, the most convenient or seemingly practical solution is no guarantee of success. What one should try is to think through all possible consequences for ones actions as thoroughly as possible before actually carrying them out.
The writer is a correspondent of Youth Ki Awaaz.