Lizzy Blackman GEOG 300 Object of Concern: Liquor For this paper I have chosen to write about liquor as my object of concern. Its hard to know where to begin when writing about liquor because it has had a very long history. This history is rooted in how we function as a society and even some behaviors we exhibit. Liquor is just something were used to, a part of everyday life and it’s like water to some people. There are those that feel it is a necessity for survival. Now, we know that’s just what addiction tell peoples brains, but to them its perfectly rational and they can’t possibly survive without a drink. How did this all start? How did we just decide one day to drink this poisonous thing to what? Feel good? Like I said liquor has a long history. One that is much older than you may think. But first let’s start with the many definitions of the term “liquor” which has many meanings that have changed over time. Liquor as defined in modern times, is an “alcoholic drink, especially distilled spirits.” (Kipfer 2007). Fermented beverages have been around for thousands of years dating back to Egyptian Civilization or possibly even older than that. This topic has been widely debated and most believe the first fermented drink was around the 13th century. Though when beginning my research, I knew that liquor had been around for a long time, I was honestly shocked to find out just how long. With fermented beverages dating back to as early as 3000 b.c. in China made from rice and honey, it has had a long history of destroying people’s livers. One of the first drinks to become popular that is still seen today is mead. Mead started in Greece as it was a sweet drink but there is also text from back in Greece warning people of excessive drinking. (Drugefreeworld.org). So, we knew it was a kind of poison that had an impact on our health, but we drank it anyway. We sure didn’t learn much from Adam and Eve now did we? In the fifteenth century the knowledge on how to distill liquor made its way around to monks, and alchemists. And in the sixteenth century alcohol was used for medicinal purposes often helping to “numb pain.” In fact, alcohol as medicine is believed to date back 5,000 years. This was discovered by archaeologists when they found a jar with remnants in one of the first pharaoh’s of ancient Egypt’s tomb; Scorpion I. Scientists analyzed the compounds and found that it had contained wine as well as other herbal ingredients. Wine, or the alcohol that is created through fermentation, is a perfect ingredient to extract needed elements from plants to treat pain or other inflictions. Hippocrates is considered the father of modern medicine and use alcohol based remedies to cure a variety of ailments. Then by the eighteenth century, gin was being “aggressively promoted for production” and many Europeans followed suit. Gin was one of the first popular distilled drinks and had many uses as well as many different forms. Though most distilled beverages were primarily made from grain, a lot of people started to get creative when making distilled beverages. This is especially apparent when Britain refused to supply the colonies with alcohol after the Revolution. Once distillation was discovered, it changed the strength in what was produced. This process was acquired from early scholars and was considered the “Water of Life” (Holloway) with people encouraged to drink it instead of disease laden waterways, since the process included a boiling procedure which essentially sterilized the product, making those consuming alcohol feel it was a healthier and safer alternative to drinking water. As the popularity of this grew, it took little time before it became a commodity with commercial apothecaries producing and distributing it. As early as 1683, while alcohol was still being used for medicine and alternatives to drinking water, 13th century philosopher Roger Bacon expounded the virtues and the dangers of consuming, the danger lying in consuming in excess. Bacon warned that too much “guzzling” would affect understanding, impact thought and lead to “blurry-eyedness.” By the 18th century, concerns were growing of the impact that consuming alcohol. These included public drunkenness, increased crime and poverty. These concerns continued to grow and in the 19th century, a movement began to restrict consumption and then shifted again towards total abstinence. Keep in mind that wine had also been used for religious ceremonies for centuries. In Christianity, wine was thought to have been created by God so was inherently good but drunkenness was also condemned. While alcohol has played a part in the Christian faith as well as some others, it’s not true for all religious faiths. In fact, one of the fastest growing religions, Islam, believes that any intoxicate is forbidden. This is called ‘Harem’ which loosely translates to immoral. It is considered evil and I read that Muhammed may have said that Allah curses anyone that uses it, produces it or distributes it. A fairly clear message that it is not allowed. So, while other religions have used it for ceremonial purposes, some have banned it completely. No alcohol is used in Islamic ceremonies and those of the faith often avoid it even in cooking and baking. But as mentioned, alcohol has been a part of society for a very long time. As an example, in colonial times, it was said that the Puritans on the Mayflower loaded more beer than water before casting off to find the new world. So as you can see alcohol has played an important role in our history. In the early 1920s, with changing attitudes related to alcohol, a campaign of sorts was launched to lobby for a complete prohibition. There was increasing crime and what people referred to as gang activity so population for the ban grew. A perfectionist movement had begun focused on abolishing slavery and other temperance societies, many that were led by woman who saw alcohol as destructive to the family. Some employers also were in favor as they saw the ban as an opportunity to decrease accidents in the workplace. This temperance movement picked up momentum and was signed in to law with the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. This ratification banned all production, transportation and sale of alcohol or anything considered to be intoxicating liquor. Oh, there were many that fought back too. During this time, there was an amazing assortment of creative ways to produce alcohol. Bootlegging, moonshine and bathtub gin were becoming the norm. The most famous of bootleggers was Al Capone who is reported to have earned in excess of $60 million from bootlegging and other distribution points. As you can imagine, there were also lots of hidden establishments that offered this illegal substance such as backrooms, underground, speakeasies and other distribution points that kept cropping up. It was very difficult to regulate and enforce. And crime did continue but now more often in the illegal selling or manufacturing of alcohol. With the country deep in the Depression, politicians including the Democrat Franklin Theodore Roosevelt who was running for president in 1932 was looking at alcohol as a platform. Not to continue the ban, quite the opposite. It was an opportunity to add new revenue streams. Legalizing alcohol seemed like an opportunity to put people back to work, ease some of the burden. His victory meant the end to prohibition. After approximately 12 years of the ban, Congress adopted the 21st Amendment, repealing prohibition. Now that I have given some background I want to analyze liquor through a political scope. Like I mentioned it was Roosevelt who fought to repeal the prohibition in hopes of creating revenue and jobs during the Depression. This is not the only time you see politics and alcohol interacting. In fact, just recently there was a bill proposed in Wisconsin to lower the drinking age from 21, to 19 years old. (Fox 2017) It is a known fact that many countries such as many European countries have younger drinking ages, as it has been around for centuries, but it is also known the effects it has on a person’s brain. This is probably the biggest argument when talking about lowering the drinking age. A 19-year old’s brain is not fully developed therefore would be more effected by the “side effects” of alcohol. There have been many times in history that people have tried to lower or raise the age of consumption because of the many effects it has on a person’s health. Some of these health effects include; cirrhosis of the liver, brain cell death, heart disease and even cancer. Many of these effects are permanent and can not be reversed. With these health effects in mind, it’s no wonder people would want to raise the drinking age, but lowering it? As a 19-year-old, you don’t think about these lasting effect, you just think about the short-term ones, the ones that make you “feel good”. This I will never understand as drinking alcohol certainly does not make one “feel good”. In many regions, however, the drinking age is higher and in Kerala, they just recently raised the drinking age to 23 years old. (Thiruvananthapuram 2017) Now I will look at alcohol through environmental ethics and the kind of impact it has had on the environment. I have touched on the effects of alcohol, its history and where we have seen it interact with politics, but how does in interact with the environment? Well to start, alcohol or liquor, are made from natural ingredient such as grain, honey, and berries for wine and mead. How does something start natural but become so unnatural after its consumed? With alcohol being mass produced and distributed you can see the impact it has on the Earth. With beer cans and bottles littering our lands and waterways, I just can’t understand it. Now, I know many things are littered and many things are mass produced that people dispose of in unnatural ways, but how does something that is so inherently bad for us make its full circle from natural to the pollution it produces? My theory, is the sheer thrill people get when consuming alcohol. Not only does it impair you in many ways, it can be silly and fun as well. When you’re drinking at the beach with a friend and throw your beer can to the side, are you thinking of where it might go after that if you don’t recycle it? Of course not, you’re drunk and only thinking about having fun. This is a huge issue in the liquor industry as the promotion of all the different varieties don’t include a snippet on recycling and sustainability. In fact, most advertising surrounding alcohol is about having fun and being safe. As if drinking was ever safe. Another impact it has on the environment, is the entire life cycle of a single bottle of liquor and the process it must go through to get to the customer. The production of it, including wineries, is impactful, but also the consumer driving to the store to pick up said bottle is impactful. When looking at the different impacts alcohol consumption plays on the environment the production and the consumer behavior were the most impactful parts of the process. Which I was surprised by, because littering is also an issue, but not as much as these other points. Through my research into liquor, its history and looking at it through a political and environmental standpoint, I can see that it has many issues and negative impacts in the environment and in our society. With alcohol addiction being a very serious illness, its hard for me to believe just how much of it is consumed each and every year. With all the lasting negative effects it has, I would think we wouldn’t consume so much, but here we are. I believe alcohol is an issue that not many people discuss as one and I believe it should be addressed and talked about more. I think people should be more aware of these lasting effects and get educated on the impacts it has on the environment and society. Though, I personally consume alcohol at special events and get-togethers, I can clearly see just how concerning this object truly is. I hope to see some serious changes surrounding it in the future.