Drop that mobile phone or mother earth will get you

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The Independent Online

Two medical reports published in the past month have made deeply troubling reading for many of us who are concerned about the health of the planet.

Two medical reports published in the past month have made deeply troubling reading for many of us who are concerned about the health of the planet.

First, there was the report of the official government committee chaired by Sir William Stewart, which stated that it was unlikely that there was a link between prolonged use of mobile phones and brain tumours, memory loss or any other health problems.

That was very bad news indeed for those of us who rarely use our mobile phones and, when we do use them, do so quietly and with brevity, and yet are daily assaulted by the idiot chatter of those who do not have our sense of decorum.

Think of the benefits there would have been if it had been proved that extended talking on the old mobile was a certain cause of head cancer.

For a start it would mean that pretty soon now all travelling sales executives would start quacking like ducks and claiming that they were Neville Chamberlain, all hairdressers with convertible Renault Meganes would begin to drive into walls and swerve all over the road (though come to think of it, they do that anyway, and a brain tumour would probably increase the IQ of a lot of hairdressers), and all City traders would begin to drool and dribble on their overpriced dinners (though again it would be hard to tell when the illness kicked in).

Second, there was the report by a medical committee that said that after forensic analysis of 3,000 removed tonsils and appendixes there did not appear to be any risk of a mass epidemic of CJD caused by people eating meat infected with BSE. If, like me, you do not eat meat, you were once more denied the satisfaction of seeing those who had again indulged themselves, this time by consuming animal flesh, suffering any dire consequences of their actions.

Mind you, I don't want you to imagine for a moment that in our house my wife and I consume lots of healthy, ripe, fresh vegetables. What we mostly like to eat is fake, imitation meat: Tivall hot dog sausages made of soya, Linda McCartney's Meat-Free Meat Pies, and in our sandwiches we have either Khero brand meat-free wafer-thin honey-roast ham-style substance or Khero brand meat-free wafer-thin chicken-style substance.

However, we currently have a violent disagreement, partly because the lack of essential minerals in our diet is making us edgy, but also because we like to give our own names to the wafer-thin sandwich substances, and we can't agree on what to call the chicken. The ham is easy - we call it "sham" - but the chicken is harder. The only name I have come up with for the fake poultry product is "micken", which I agree is pretty poor; whereas my wife says that we should refer to the mock chicken as "mock-a-doodle-doo", which I agree is clever but, to my mind, more of a brand name.

Those two reports I mentioned before do make depressing reading because my abstemiousness of all things fleshy and mobile comes not just from me being a life-denying puritan but also because I feel, as many of us do, that there must be a limit to the amount of abuse that the planet can take, and we are constantly on the look-out for signs that this is so: thus we did have high hopes, now dashed, of all these weighty official investigations.

We think it simply has to be the case that humans can't go on filling the air with microwave radiation, that we can't go on feeding diseased sheep parts to vegetarian cows without the earth biting back, without there being some terrible price to pay. Indeed, we want there to be a price to pay; we can't see how there isn't. That doesn't seem to be happening, though.

Gaia, the earth spirit, appears to keep taking the abuse year after year without striking back. She seems to be like a battered wife in an episode of The Bill who, much to the despair of Sergeant June Ackland, refuses to prosecute her violent boyfriend, confirming what nasty DS Don Beech thinks of women at the end of the show.

Yet hold on, perhaps there is another scenario. Maybe all the damage humans are doing to the planet isn't a process of wearing away, but rather there will come a point when one last butterfly will be trodden on, when one last tree will be chopped down and suddenly the whole thing will snap with a huge "boing!" sound, buildings will collapse, bridges will fall, the place where they make Sunny Delight will explode in a fireball of burning chemicals, and the factory where Bird's Eye Chicken Dippers are concocted out of nuclear waste will fall through the earth's crust into its scorching core. I certainly hope so.

I just hope that Gaia remembers all those who've been eating fake meat and using phone boxes for our pointless calls all these years, and lets us off with a slight singeing.