Category Archives: Environment

We Are The Cancer

This is an essay I wrote in 2010 in response to the Gulf Coast Disaster and my environmental concerns. Read more of my writings from my author’s page at (, or by searching online for “Wayne T. Dowdy.” Though this essay is more critical and much different than most of other essays about my beliefs and life experiences, I included We Are the Cancer in Essays & More Straight from the Pen because of the seriousness of the topic. I hope you enjoy it and find something meaningful in the words I write.

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on

Wayne T. Dowdy

Innumerable oil particles gushed into the emerald green waters of the Gulf Coast, after the Transocean Deepwater Horizon oil rig catastrophe on April 20, 2010, where eleven men lost their lives working to extract oil from the bottom of the ocean for British Petroleum (BP). The tiny particles arrived in masses to penetrate the shores and seep into the marshes, killing living organisms along the way and upon arrival. Waves of the slippery substance overcome marine life, reptiles, amphibians, and mammal alike, by either depleting their oxygen supply, poisoning their systems, or causing them to die from malnutrition by poisoning their food supply. Some of the life forms that the oil didn’t kill, the Corexit did (Corexit is the chemical dispersant that BP used to hide oil beneath the surface).

In David Quammen’s essay, “Contagious Cancer – the Evolution of a Killer,” Harper’s Magazine, April 2008, he wrote about a “parasitic cancer” killing Australia’s Tasmanian Devils (cancer spreads through bites incurred during battles and mating rituals–the process for creating life ends it by spreading cancer). He defined parasites as “[a]ny organism that lives on or within another kind of organism, extracting benefit for itself and causing harm to the other.” And then on cancer, “Cancer differs also from heart disease and cirrhosis and the other lethal forms of physiological breakdown; uncontrolled reproduction, not organ dilapidation, is the problem.” Cancer cells divide and replicate until their mass overcomes their host.

We humans are the parasitic cancer of the Universe: not a pleasant thought or concept to endure, but the facts support my hypothesis. With Earth hosting the human organism, it is our rapid reproduction, along with our desires to prosper and enjoy the luxuries and comforts of life that results in damage to our host. Our rapid replication creates the need for more oil and other natural resources, which leads to our robbing Mother Earth of what we need to be pleased. On March 24, 1989, the Exxon Valdez oil tanker ran aground in Prince William Sound, AK. It lost 10,080,000 gallons of oil that devastated the marine and wildlife of the affected areas in Alaska. If the Earth was human, and the Exxon Valdez oil spill an injury, the injury would have been akin to a slashed finger that leaked a little blood compared to the Gulf Coast Disaster. The Gulf Coast Disaster, caused by BP’s failure to adhere to safety standards, was more like a freshly amputated limb that gushed blood for months. Estimates of the amount of oil spilled have varied, and with tactics used that appeared to obstruct the measureable amount of oil, who knows how much oil flooded those emerald green waters. The long-term effect on the environment is yet to be seen: predictions are not very promising; devastation to coastal life; more deaths and reduced births of wildlife; damage or death to the deepwater corals, crustaceans, snails, bacterial filaments, and tubeworms in the deep Gulf of Mexico waters, which may affect those further up the food chain. The disaster upset the Earth’s delicate balance of life.

Oil extraction and related accidents are only one example of humans “extracting benefits for [themselves] and causing harm to [earth].” The by-products resulting from processed oil is another example: Green House Gas Effects, water and air pollution, and the destruction of natural resources by companies driven by corporate greed, which capitalize on human desires at the expense of the environment. According to Woody Tash, Founder and Chairperson of the Slow Money Alliance, “[i]ndustrial agriculture is one of the most polluting activities on the planet.” [The Sun magazine, June 2010] The more we eat mass produced vegetables, commercially processed fish and meats, the more we assist in the contamination of the air and land by the spread of poisonous pesticides and toxic substances. It takes oil to operate the machinery and equipment (cultivation and transportation vehicles, pumps, generators, etc.).

To make the machinery, equipment, and a variety of apparatuses used for processing, storing, and transporting the goods generated to appease our needs and desires, is another matter; no less harmful to the environment because it divests the earth of natural resources, such as iron, copper, aluminum, and many other metals and minerals. Mining causes water and air pollution, soil erosion, and as often happens, the death of humans who must work for oppressive companies in order to survive. The same processes are required to appease our inquisitive side, which contributes to our damaging effect expanding into space: our space junk (satellites, rocket parts, and a variety of other things we leave behind) litters the Universe; exhaust emissions from space vehicles eat holes in the ozone layer, the same as all other exhaust emissions from carbon producing engines. Besides that, when humans remove all of those substances from the earth, especially oil, what becomes of the space previously occupied by those substances? It seems to me that it would have to affect something. Could that possibly increase the risk of earth quakes? In my unprofessional opinion, I say it does, even though I am far from a specialist in the field.

As the oil escaped Mother Earth, I wonder if BP officials were more concerned about the loss of profits, or about the “Little People” (as I seem to recall one BP official referring to those who do the jobs necessary to get the oil from the ground), who lost their lives while generating profits for them. From what I understand, Oil companies are fined based upon the amount of oil that escapes from accidents, and the estimated cost of cleaning up the damage caused by the accident. Maybe that explains why BP officials used the Corexit in the Gulf of Mexico to sink the oil, with no regard for the marine life and environment. The experience with Corexit at the Exxon Valdez oil spill had provided evidence of its damaging effect on life forms and the environment. If not for wanting to protect profits, why else would BP officials have ordered tons of Corexit to be spread over the Gulf Coast to sink the mass of oil seeping to the surface from the manmade hole in the ocean floor, which resulted from the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig? Let us hope that the eleven lives lost were not in vain. Maybe their sacrifices will lead to changes that will prevent reoccurrences of such catastrophes, and lessen our damaging effect on the environment.

Perhaps we will go into voluntary remission before we annihilate ourselves by critically damaging our host in our struggle to survive and enjoy life. For those fortunate enough to do so, maybe we can walk or cycle more instead of driving vehicles; eat less commercially produced food; buy more locally produced products, and grow more food in gardens; live modestly on necessities, instead of lavishly on luxuries. Mother Earth may bless us and our future generations with longer life spans and better health. Our grandchildren and their children may one day thank us.

[Since I wrote the original version of this essay, the movie AVATAR came out and became my favorite, even though I do not watch a lot of movies these days, especially those from the fantasy category. (I have watched AVATAR several times because I love the visual effects, the characters, and the correlation between its plot and what happened with the early European settlers and Native Americans.) One of the things I really liked was when the Marine in the AVATAR body prayed to the Tree of Souls and asked for help. The Tree of Souls was a spiritual source for the natives because it connected them with their ancestors. As the pending battle loomed on with the alien invaders, he said something like, “They killed their planet and they will kill this one, too.” In the end, Mother sent all of the creatures to help defend their planet from the alien invaders, who came to take one of their natural resources-a precious metal, located under their Mother Tree, which is where many natives had lived before the aliens blasted it with missles to destroy it. Essentially, the alien invaders made the natives their enemy to justify killing or massacring all life forms to take the precious metal they wanted, much as we have done to others, because we are the cancer.]

Special Acknowledgements

1) Special thanks to David Quammen and Harper’s Magazine for allowing me to use the quotes from “Contagious Cancer – the Evolution of a Killer,” copyright 2008 by Harper’s Magazine. All rights reserved. Reproduced for the April issue by special permission.
2) The Sun magazine, and Woody Tash of the Slow Money Alliance, for more insight.
3) Julie Whitty, Environment Correspondent, Mother Jones, September/October 2010, in writing the informative “BP’s Deep Secrets.”
4) Tom Junod, Esquire, September 2010, in writing “11 Lives,” for giving a face to the eleven men who died on April 20, 2010, aboard the Deepwater Horizon: Donald Clark, Gordon Jones, Adam Weise, Roy Kemp, Dewey Revette, Jason Anderson, Blair Manuel, Shane Roshto, Stephen Curtis, Dale Burkeen, and Karl Kleepinger.

Order your copy today and be inspired. A great gift to share with those in jail or prison or who struggle with making changes to overcome obstacles.



Rain falls as I run on my catch-up mode.  This is my first blog since I posted “Frog Napper Returns” on October 1, 2015.  I planned to write at least two blogs per month.  I did not do as planned.  Legal matters and other obligations pulled me from my plans.

BLOGS:  I worked ten days overtime last month in the Federal Prison Industries (UNICOR), where I am the document control clerk and an internal auditor in an ISO (International Organization for Standardization) certified factor.  I also help keep the factory ISO certified by participating in external audits conducted by the National Standards Authority of Ireland, and by writing or editing technical documents used for administrative and instructional purposes.  On overtime I earn $2.60 per hour for all hours in excess of 7.25, of which I earn $1.45 per hour ($10.51 per day for regular pay).  If working in a similar position in the free society, I’d earn a five to six figure salary.  I will write a blog in the future on UNICOR & SOCIETY.  I wrote an unpublished essay on the topic several years ago that I will extract data from to update.  Anyway, the overtime alone occupied lots of time and kept me too tired to be blogging, after going to work at 7:30 AM and getting off at 8:30 PM, only to work on other pressing projects until bedtime.

To consume more of my valued time, I worked on a “Motion to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence, Pursuant to 28 U.S.C., Section 2255” (2255) for a young Native American with an unconstitutional sentence.  The court sentenced him to 180-months imprisonment for a crime that carried a maximum of 120-months.  A recent United States Supreme Court ruling (Johnson v. United States, June 26, 2015), opened the door for him and hundreds of others erroneously sentenced for crimes captured with the “residual clause” of the Armed Career Criminal Act.  The residual clause was a “catch-all-clause” prosecutors used to classify any crime with a “potential” for violence as a violent felony.  Three prior violent felonies increased a 10-year statutory maximum to 15-years to life without parole, for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.  In addition to that 2255, I completed another one for a friend with the same circumstances, which I worked on for six weeks before volunteering for the second one.  Every now and then I am a nice person, even in prison.  🙂  Honestly, I am a nice person on most days of my life.  At any rate, I do apologize for my delinquent blog posting.

RAINY DAYS:  In addition to the above, I planned to write a blog on October 10, 2015, about a “Rainy Day in the Pen,” and then became distracted and thought about writing on “Mass Shootings in America.”  Rain dampened my plans on “One Rainy Day in the Pen,” after this area experienced torrential downpours that caused dams to rupture and floods that killed people, while I sat in prison complaining about getting soaked to go to the chow hall in anticipation of a pastry and dry cereal, only to find a pastry and cream of wheat I do not eat.  I’m a Southerner.  I eat grits!

This morning (11/01/2015), I  went out in the rain again for a pastry and dry cereal.  This time I succeeded at getting milk, low-cost corn flakes that turn gluey after moments in milk, and a cheese danish, all worth the five-hundred yard trip to the chow hall in the rain.  At least no one locally has drown in floods while I enjoyed the privilege of having food to eat and a roof over my head, something many free-citizens do not have, something I write with sadness.

While pondering the ideas for that blog, I listened to CNN News about an idiot who had walked into a college in Oregon and massacred nine innocent people and shot several others.  The only good part of the story being a man with courage who challenged the gunman, rather than lying down to wait for his execution.  He survived five gunshot wounds and his heroic actions saved others.  He is an American soldier who deserves a world of praise, since most people cower when faced with such danger, which usually results in death.  If you see an idiot with a gun walking around shooting people, why stand and wait for him to shoot you?  I wonder if people think the shooter will run out of bullets or suddenly be filled with kindness and compassion and decide to spare them?

Under those dire circumstances, in my opinion, I think it is best to stand and fight; to take a bullet for a cause, maybe that will allow others to live; may even be the event that causes the “herd effect,” where others follow in the charge to defuse the situation.  A passive stance will most likely lead to being shot with the other victims.  Killers aren’t compassionate people.  Such acts of cowardice only offends a psychopath with a gun or weapon.  One mass murderer in the state of Georgia, once wrote how the people laid there like cattle and waited for him to execute them, that they weren’t even willing to fight for their lives.  Me, personally, I would not wait.  Shoot me, he may do, but it would NOT be as I sat trembling waiting to be executed.  I might be trembling as I charged or found something to throw to distract or injure him, but I would not be shot while waiting for my turn.  Shoot me next.  If all else failed, I’d run like hell.  Anyway, for that blog I needed more factual information to write on that topic, so I added it to my Blogs To Do List.

FROGS:  And then I ran into the infamous Frog Napper Frye, who had just made bond for his crimes against living creatures–Frog Abduction.  Not really.  Really, that I ran into him, not really for why he was thrown into a custom-designed prison cell the day after I had last saw him, transporting a frog in a bottle.  I learned that he had freed the frog I helped abduct.  And then he delivered his bad news:  after his arrest, frog lovers freed his captive frog, Shorty Morgan; a small arboreal amphibian named after someone who had confiscated the frog-nappers’ relocated (stolen) onions and bell peppers.

I was happy to learn that both frogs had found their freedom because all living creatures want to be free.  I wrote along those lines in my blog, “#Nature:  Frogs, an Octopus, and #Escapees.” [1]  Well, my friend disappeared again.  The rumor mill ( has it that he was rearrested for his blog, “Embracing the Chaos”; that may or may not be true.  It could have happened, or his arrest may have been for some devious activity, but he felt that it happened because of the blog.  I read the blog and didn’t feel it contained any information worthy of casting a prisoner inside the Segregated Housing Unit, but, …. what I think doesn’t always coincide with what prison administrators and politicians think.  More will be revealed.  Read his blogs at or’sBlog.

POLITICS:  I delayed writing that blog because the situation reminded me of the political attempt to silence the pen of a prisoner in the Pennsylvania prison system, who was involved in a “controversial case of killing a police officer.”  I needed more information to write that one:  I found it and so here I am, fingers on keys, but not the keys to my freedom, only the keys I use to exercise my freedom of speech that the United States Constitution says I have under its First Amendment.  The Pennsylvania Legislatures squeezed the life out of that Amendment by passing “The Revictimization Relief Act.”  A federal judge deemed that law “manifestly unconstitutional.”  The Honorable Christopher C. Conner, United States Middle District Chief Judge.  “‘A past criminal offense does not extinguish the offender’s constitutional right to free expression,’ Conner wrote.  ‘The First Amendment does not evanesce at the prison gate, and its enduring guarantee of freedom of speech subsumes the right to expressive conduct that some may find offensive.'” (Pennsylvania Law Limiting Speech of Prisoners Struck Down, by Andrew V. Pestano, [2015]

The Supreme Court relied upon the Free Speech principle in deciding on a case dealing with Hustler Magazine and its owner, Larry Flint.  Some people found the content of the magazine offensive, but the Court still protected his right to publish it.  Flint’s lawyer basically posed that if it protects those people who others want to silence or restrict, then it protects the average American citizen even more.

Prisoners only have so much freedom of speech.  Some speech can lead us to being handcuffed and then confined in a small cell without a phone, typewriter, or severely-crippled-computer, such as the one upon which I type.  There are those who will still fight for what is right, regardless of the price our actions may demand.  Most allow fear or lack of knowledge to stop them from challenging unconstitutional restrictions.  Read my blog, “Fighting for Rights to Write” [2], for an example of fighting for others who may not have the skills, as well as for my personal interests and liberties.  That is one of many incidents I fought and won.  I succeeded at convincing the administration of its error in trying to implement a process that would impede my ability to exercise my freedom of speech.  Not all prison administrators, or politicians, or judges, are bad people; however, some are more evil and devious and sinister than any prisoner executed on death row for their crimes against humanity.

At the end of the day, we are all human beings trying to find our way through the life experience.  We do what we feel is right or wrong and then worry about the benefits or consequences when the time comes to reap the rewards or pay the piper.  I have paid dearly throughout my life for making poor decisions, but now I reap the rewards of having becoming a good human being.  If you read ESSAYS & MORE STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN by Wayne T. Dowdy, it will allow you to see life from a different perspective about the cost of a person’s actions for being an outlaw.  After reading it, you will want to share it with a friend, especially if you have one travelling down a road headed toward destruction.

The rain continues to pour, many Southern states flooded again.  Good day for bullfrogs, and a good day to blog about frogs.


[1]  read full text at or

[2]  first published at in February 2014; reposted March 2015 on and

[3] Go to to purchase my books; or for my eBooks, essays, and short stories, to my author’s page at ( or