What is “slow violence”? And why should people care about it? Slow violence is something which occurs out of sight and gradually. It is a “violence of delayed destruction” (Nixon 2011:2). It may not affect us greatly now, but over time it will affect everyone and everything. People perceive violence as an action or an event that has an immediate effect. Something which is instantly visible. According to Nixon (2011:2), “slow violence” is another type of violence that is not instantaneous. Slow violence has a relative invisibility and can be things such as climate change, deforestation, toxic drift and others (Nixon 2011:2). Things that we cannot see and thus assume it will have no effect on us.
I still remember the day when I got my car. It had this big red ribbon on it and I could not wait to drive it. Things such as happiness and freedom that came with it. The excitement and relief of being able to go anywhere and do anything. It can take you to any place at any time. Remember the long road trips you took with your friends in your car? Singing songs at the top of your longs and just enjoying being young and free. To me a car symbolizes happiness, freedom and the ability to visit your loved ones, but did you know of all the negative side affects a car has not only on the environment, but to people as well?
A car may give you freedom, but while it’s giving you freedom it’s giving someone else cancer. Air pollution has been classified as harmful to humans by the World Health Organization (WHO). This air pollution originates from things such as transport, industrial activities and others. It causes lung cancer and cancer in the bladder (Gunawardene 2013:[sp]). Think about that. While you are driving around with your friends singing at the top of your longs someone else is in a hospital receiving medical treatment for cancer.
Breathing in polluted air is like breathing in second-hand smoke. According to WHO, exposure to polluted air has contributed to 3.2 million premature deaths across the world in the year 2010 (Gunawardene 2013:[sp]). It is shocking that something we rely on so much causes death across the world.
Not only does air pollution which is partly caused by cars cause millions of people to die every year, but air pollution also has a negative effect on the environment and ozone layer. Emissions released from cars such as nitrogen oxides and sulfur oxides contribute on a major scale to acid rain. This causes pH changes of soils and waterways which can harm organisms that rely on those resources (King, J. [sa]:[sp]). This can change the environment and cause certain species to die. And we don’t see this, because it does not affect us now. So why should it bother us? The answer to that is do you want your children to live in a world where only a few species are left? Do you want your child to live in a world which we destroyed?
Human activities such as driving in your car has negatively affected the ozone layer. The earth has made us a protective shield (ozone layer) which protects us from the sun’s ultraviolet rays (King, J. [sa]:[sp]). And what do we do? We destroy this layer without even realizing it.
In conclusion, be more aware of how your actions affect the environment. You may not feel the consequences of those actions now, but do you want your children and grandchildren to suffer because of the things you did? Instead of driving a car, ride a bike at least one day a week. If you think it doesn’t have an effect, then think about the people with cancer and the environment. You may just save someone’s life by thinking and being aware of how your actions affect the things around you.
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Gunawardene, N. 2013. Air Pollution causes cancer, confirms WHO. [O]. Available: https://nalakagunawardene.com/tag/transportation-related-pollution/ Accessed 22 April 2016.
King, J. [Sa]. How Does Car Pollution Affect the Environment & Ozone Layer? [O]. Available: http://homeguides.sfgate.com/car-pollution-affect-environment-ozone-layer-79358.html Accessed 22 April 2016.
Nixon, R. 2011. Slow violence and the environmentalism of the poor. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Smog Spotter Program Aims to Curb Vehicle Emissions. [Sa]. [O]. Available: http://www.dmvnv.com/smogspotter_article/ Accessed 22 April 2016.