But mostly I want to hike and row, and fish and read without a gazillion thoughts rushing around in my head. I think that’s maybe like trying to be in the mysterious NOW zone.
To escape the torrid heat in Arizona, we made our yearly trek to Anacortes Washington, last month. Well, it’s sure as hell not hot here. The thermometer hasn’t made it out of the 50s yet. And it’s not just cold, but windy, and rainy, and did I say cold? Periodically a bit of sun teases us and gets our hopes up.
I’m sure the boat appreciated our return, and it looked as good as when we left last October. It didn’t seem to have any trauma or damage from the exceptionally cold, snowy, rainy, windy winter here.
The plan is to leave port when the weather is more inviting and head north for three months. I hope to get photos of orcas and find Cookie, the whale I adopted. Plus, continuing with my seaweed identification and paintings booklet is high on my to-do list. I’ll also be giving out copies of Saving Our Oceans to libraries and random people I see reading. In fact, I also want to put Saving into ebook format.
Next, I hope to get some editing/work done on the book about the runaway 70-year-old woman that we’ll release – if the book ever gets finished and we get lucky!
Then, for my sanity I need to take a vacation from my cell phone. I just don’t think doing so will be too difficult. Somehow my phone number got shared with every telemarketing service in the entire world. I no longer answer the slippery contraption. If you want to talk to me, please leave a message and I’ll return your call. Plus, the news has become too unbearable to read more than once a week. I don’t do the social media stuff like Facebutt. Once in a great while (like twice a year) some unknown energy makes me tweet.
But mostly I want to hike and row, and fish and read without a gazillion thoughts rushing around in my head. I think that’s maybe like trying to be in the NOW. I need to calm down, PERIOD.
I’ll stay in touch. Meanwhile, don’t buy an electric car. See my last blog! Digging for all the needed metals will ruin huge swaths of earth.
A typical EV battery weighs one thousand pounds, about the size of a travel trunk. It contains twenty-five pounds of lithium, sixty pounds of nickel, 44 pounds of manganese, 30 pounds cobalt, 200 pounds of copper, and 400 pounds of aluminum, steel, and plastic. Inside are over 6,000 individual lithium-ion cells.
Thinking about purchasing an electric car so you won’t feel guilty about your battery run car contributing to climate change, air pollution, etc. etc. etc. Better think again about your choice. Recently I received an email with the following information. I have edited this to its bare bones. If you’d like to see the entire article let me know.
“What is a battery?’ I think Nicholas Tesla said it best when he called it an Energy Storage System. That’s an important distinction.
They do not make electricity – they store electricity produced elsewhere, primarily by coal, uranium, natural gas-powered plants, or diesel-fueled generators. So, to say an EV is a zero-emission vehicle is not at all valid.
Also, since forty percent of the electricity generated in the U.S. is from coal-fired plants, it follows that forty percent of the EVs on the road are coal-powered, do you see?
But that is not half of it. For those of you excited about electric cars and a green revolution, I want you to take a closer look at batteries and also windmills and solar panels. These three technologies share what we call environmentally destructive embedded costs.
A typical EV battery weighs one thousand pounds, about the size of a travel trunk. It contains twenty-five pounds of lithium, sixty pounds of nickel, 44 pounds of manganese, 30 pounds cobalt, 200 pounds of copper, and 400 pounds of aluminum, steel, and plastic. Inside are over 6,000 individual lithium-ion cells.
It should concern you that all those toxic components come from mining. For instance, to manufacture each EV auto battery, you must process 25,000 pounds of brine for the lithium, 30,000 pounds of ore for the cobalt, 5,000 pounds of ore for the nickel, and 25,000 pounds of ore for copper. All told, you dig up 500,000 pounds of the earth’s crust for just one battery.“
Sixty-eight percent of the world’s cobalt, a significant part of a battery, comes from the Congo. Their mines have no pollution controls, and they employ children who die from handling this toxic material. Should we factor in these diseased kids as part of the cost of driving an electric car?”
I’d like to leave you with these thoughts. California is building the largest battery in the world near San Francisco, and they intend to power it from solar panels and windmills. They claim this is the ultimate in being ‘green,’ but it is not! This construction project is creating an environmental disaster. Let me tell you why.
The main problem with solar arrays is the chemicals needed to process silicate into the silicon used in the panels. To make pure enough silicon requires processing it with hydrochloric acid, sulfuric acid, nitric acid, hydrogen fluoride, trichloroethane, and acetone. In addition, they also need gallium, arsenide, copper-indium-gallium- diselenide, and cadmium-telluride, which also are highly toxic. Silicone dust is a hazard to the workers, and the panels cannot be recycled.
Windmills are the ultimate in embedded costs and environmental destruction. Each weighs 1688 tons (the equivalent of 23 houses) and contains 1300 tons of concrete, 295 tons of steel, 48 tons of iron, 24 tons of fiberglass, and the hard to extract rare earths neodymium, praseodymium, and dysprosium. Each blade weighs 81,000 pounds and will last 15 to 20 years, at which time it must be replaced. We cannot recycle used blades. Sadly, both solar arrays and windmills kill birds, bats, sea life, and migratory insects.
There may be a place for these technologies, but you must look beyond the myth of zero emissions. I predict EVs and windmills will be abandoned once the embedded environmental costs of making and replacing them become apparent. “Going Green” may sound like the Utopian ideal and are easily espoused, catchy buzzwords, but when you look at the hidden and embedded costs realistically with an open mind, you can see that Going Green is more destructive to the Earth’s environment than meets the eye, for sure.”
If this had been titled : “The Embedded Costs of Going Green,” would you have read it? Please share if you wish.
Does this mean we should not eat meat? NO….well, maybe. Do I? Yes.
It’s so easy to lose focus. Maybe for you it’s not…but I get side-tracked just walking out the door.
I finally said, “Wait a minute! Whoa Nelly!” or something like that. I have fretted over, and tried to support, too many issues: Southern Resident Orcas; Saving Our Wild Salmon; plastic pollution and conservation; diminishing aquafers; orcas kept in stupid-ass swimming pools (whales belong in oceans, not swimming pools)! Oh, also those horrible trucks hauling sad-looking cows to slaughter. Even worse are the horrible slaughter yards…just sad sad sad. But worse yet, if that’s possible, are monkeys who share over 95% of people’s DNA being used for medical experiments. These animals have feelings exactly like we do.
Granted I have donated money to some organizations that are up and running in terms of finding solutions for nature. For example, the NRDC (Nature Resource Defense Council) is highly successful at stopping outlandish destruction of public lands, and the Save Our Wild Salmon Coalition has a strong stance and support. Ecuador’s GARP project is progressing, and CELDF (Community Environmental Defense Fund) is doing well in helping citizens protect their environments. Basically, these groups are doing fine, with or without my donations. (By the way did you know that Ecuador has adopted the rights of nature into their constitution?)
As for The Southern Resident Pod of orcas? Depends on what you read…and who writes it. Overall, though, the prognosis is not good.
Ultimately, I finally remembered what all these interests boil down to: THE RIGHTS OF NATURE! I’ve read two books about the Rights of Nature – you’d think I wouldn’t forget about it.
So, my focus is back to square one: I want to defend the Rights of Nature…all nature…and try not to be tarred and feathered by the naysayers. Essentially all animals need to be treated respectfully. Scientists have proved that they feel pain and fear. Does this mean we should not eat meat? NO….well, maybe. Do I? ummm yes. Then there is land and forest destruction…too much.
I’ve designed a sign to hangon the wall by my desk to keep me focused: Becky, what are you doing today to promote the Rights of Nature?
This fall we will be publishing (ebook format only for now) a book titled: NO WATER – NO LIFE. That should help!
We don’t have to rely on other nations to fix our own backyard, unlike climate change and plastic pollution require.
After being stalled for two years with the “pandemic,” closures and a growing lack of public interest due to increasing political and social turmoil, Moonlight Mesa unexpectedly ended the JUST ONE THING ALLIANCE program earlier this month. Publisher Becky Coffield announced today the company will instead be spending much more energy on Rights of Nature issues.
JUST ONE THING was an attempt to entice people to give up just one single-use plastic item, thus contributing in a small way to less plastic pollution and waste in garbage dumps, the ocean, beaches, water sources, etc. Small things add up!
“For several years we’ve been somewhat engaged in environmental issues that can actually be ‘fixed’ given time and resources. However, we intend to greatly step up our involvement,” Coffield said.
Some problems are massive and will take time, which in many cases we don’t have (such as doing what we can to help the Save Our Wild Salmon Coalition in restoring the wild salmon runs in the Pacific Northwest that the diminishing pod of Southern Resident Orcas rely on for survival). Other issues can be solved by the brilliant legal work of Nature Resource Defense Council (NRDC) and Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF). And there are issues that simply require public education and awareness. We don’t have to rely on other nations to fix our own backyard, unlike climate change and plastic pollution require.
I can tell you right now that we are excited about this decision. Everyone here has the energy to get actively involved in these issues.
So much to do…so little time. we’ll keep you posted!”
In the U.S., the Ridgway town council in Colorado has approved a resolution to recognize the rights of the Uncompahgre River.
The movement of the Rights of Nature is gaining momentum! The following information is from GARN’s recent newsletter (Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature). In addition to the victory of nature in Los Cedros in Ecuador, there is growing action around the world.
“On Antarctica Day, Dec 1st, a webinar was held to share a draft Declaration for the Rights of Antarctica, with plans to launch the final Declaration on Earth Day, 22 April 2022, for the adoption by States and International Organizations.”
And from Belgium comes this news:
Belgium, the first to demand recognition of the crime of ecocide
The resolution was adopted in the plenary with the aim to recognize the crime of ecocide in international criminal law. The Belgian Parliament becomes the first in Europe to ask for such recognition.
Both Ireland and the U.S. are on the bandwagon too:
Rights of Nature recognition in local councils in US and Ireland
In the US, the Ridgway town council in Colorado has approved a resolution to recognize the rights of the Uncompahgre River. Meanwhile, Donegal County Council is the first local authority in Ireland to consider a Rights of Nature motion.
And in Spain, young people are taking the lead:
Young people in Spain unite to recognize the rights of Mar Menor
Young people from all over Spain are taking a petition to recognize the rights of Mar Menor to the Congress. More than 639,000 thousand signatures have been presented.
The Save Our Wild Salmon Coalition in Seattle, Washington, a favorite organization, is a “local” example of protecting the rights of nature, in this case the wild salmon of the Pacific Northwest. Led by Joseph Bogaard, this coalition has worked endlessly to preserve the wild salmon runs that are all but extinguished due to dams along the Lower Snake River and Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River in Oregon. (I need to add that Washington State has been taking dams down and seeing a great return of fish to the rivers.)
Over-fishing has contributed to the salmon depletion also. Remember that these salmon embark on a four-year journey around the Pacific Ocean when they leave the river of their birth. It is well-known that Asian fisheries using nets take everything they encounter. In addition, some people blame global warming with the resultant warming rivers as a contributing cause for their depletion. Few want to admit, however, that the proliferation of seals has taken its toll also. And without salmon, the treasured Southern Resident Pod of Orcas will likely die off.
Want to learn more? Go to youtube and see the 50 minute film:
The Rights of Nature: A Global Movement – Feature Documentary
Keep in mind that if nature dies, we all die. If we die, nature will flourish. So who needs who?
Without Nature, quite frankly, we wouldn’t last very long. Without us, however, Nature would flourish.
Congratulations to the tiny country of Ecuador, the only country in the world that has formally adopted the Rights of Nature into their constitution. Although there are other nations that honor the Rights of Nature…usually when it’s convenient…Ecuador stands alone as the only country that has stood by their decision
So, what exactly do we mean by the Rights of Nature? I think most people probably have a good idea, but there is some confusion too. Personally I think of the Rights of Nature as respect for creatures and the natural world. We should not behave as if nature is there for our exclusive use and disposal. We should never destroy the natural world for economic advancement or personal egocentric wants.
But a good example of the Rights of Nature is the most recent decision made by the Ecuadorian court, as reported by GARN (Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature).
“In an unprecedented case, the Constitutional Court of Ecuador used the constitutional provision on the “Rights of Nature” to safeguard Los Cedros protected forest from mining concessions. The Court voted 7 in favor and 2 abstentions. With the ruling, the Constitutional Court has created groundbreaking jurisprudence in which the Rights of Nature – the right to a healthy environment, the right to water, and environmental consultation – must be respected. The court decided that activities that threaten the Rights of Nature should not be carried out within the Los Cedros Protected Forest ecosystem, which includes mining and all types of extractive activities. Water and environmental permits to mining companies must also be denied.”
GARN is an organization that I’ve written about before. Anyone can join GARN. Their website is garn.org.
There are actually seven countries that legally recognize the rights of nature, and surprisingly the United States is one of them (although that can be pretty hard to believe, I do think we are doing better.) For example, CELDF (Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund) is an organization that is extremely helpful in helping communities press lawsuits against invading corporate pillagers and other organizations wanting to do environmental damage that local communities object to.
The NRDC (Nature Resource Defense Council) is an organization that takes offensive companies and their pending plans to court to stop projects that are destructive to the environment. A recent example is their stopping the hideous plan to do intensive mining in the pristine Bristol Bay in Alaska. Bristol Bay is one of the most pristine, natural wildlife/seal life areas in the world. Of course, the Canadian company wanting the property is filing yet more suits.
The very latest endeavor NRDC has undertaken is to stop the dangerous 1,000,000 acres of offshore drilling oil and gas lease sales in Alaska by the Biden administration. Oil spills in Alaska have killed millions of fish, whales and other creatures and destroyed entire ecosystems needed for survival. I’m not sure how leasing a million acres of Alaska coastal waters for oil drilling supports this administrations preaching about “climate change.”
We have one earth…our home. We have treated animals and the environment as though they are under our dominion and rule. We have too often shamefully and wantonly waged war on nature’s resources without a thought of the devastation often caused. Nature has every right to exist on this planet equal to the rights of people…Without nature, quite frankly, we wouldn’t last very long. Without us, however, Nature would flourish.
I think people have the right to know the truth and not be hoodwinked into buying a product that is not truly what it implies.
For those who still eat meat (and I do three nights a week I will admit) buyers need to take heed that the supposedly “grass fed beef” they pay premium prices for at the grocery store is likely not necessarily grass finished beef.
ALL beef eat grass. ALL. However, most commercially sold beef is fed grain to be fattened up before slaughter. (Graining supposedly improves the flavor of the meat.) But the package doesn’t tell you this, does it? So, here you are spending extra money and feeling so healthy about eating beef that is sold as “grassfed” when the beef is actually grain finished either while in the slaughter yards or before shipment to the slaughter yards. IMO this is a terrible disservice to consumers.
ALL COWS EAT GRASS. ALL. But beef that is TRULY grassfed, is NEVER fed grain or other fillers before being butchered. It is sneakily deceptive to use the “grass fed” label, unless the beef is grass fed and grass finished!
So, how do you know which of the many packages of beef are in fact “organic,” grass fed andgrass finished all through their lives? It takes just a bit of research because despite how packages may be labeled in supermarkets, the beef may well be grain finished. Yes, the cow was grass fed – up to the very end. I have found the best way to insure that I’m getting grass finished beef is to buy it directly from the ranch/producer or from a certified, verifiable source.
If at all possible, start by finding out if there are local ranchers that you can buy grass fed beef from directly. In doing so, however, you may be required to buy a large quantity of beef, such as a 1/4 beef or a 1/2 beef. The product most always comes cut, packaged and frozen. Sometimes you can specify how you want the beef cut: steak, roast, hamburger, etc. Even 1/4 beef will require a lot of freezer space. Remember you are paying for the beef and the butcher fees, which is one reason why the meat is more expensive.
There are other places you can find organic, grassfed beef also. Americangrassfed.org has a great map of the United States on their website showing the locations of members who belong to this organization. There’s also a site called Grass Run Farms (grassrunfarms.com) where you can find producers.
If you don’t have the time or wherewithal to pick up your product, check out Root and Revel (rootandrevel.com) for meat delivery services. I myself have never used these services, but the website lists the top 7 online sources for organic, sustainable grassfed meat delivery.
Remember that 100% grassfed/finished beef is going to cost you more than the store product. If you have storage, though, and can afford it, the price per pound is usually lower the more you purchase. Also, you will likely notice a difference in taste between grain finished beef and the grass finished. You will quickly adjust to the new flavor.
In changing from grain finished to grass finished beef, you are reportedly getting far more Omega 3 fatty acids and CLA (both are considered good fats) than omega 6s. It also has less saturated fat if that is a concern for you.
And, according to American Grassfed Association, grassfed beef is far better for ecosystems and wildlife habitat. It greatly reduces the use of petrochemicals, improves the soil with organic matter and reduces greenhouse gases, especially CO2. Also remember that cows, goats, bison, etc. evolved to eat GRASS, not cereal grains which can upset their digestive systems and lead to disease which then forces ranchers to have to use antibiotics. When these animals are given antibiotics, you end up with these in your system also when you eat the meat.
I urge you to check out these resources. Perhaps you eat so little meat (or none at all) that it doesn’t matter. And that’s okay, but I think people have the right to know the truth and not be hoodwinked into buying a product that is not truly what it implies.
For expert information about your beef, visit riverwatchbeef.com. It is shocking what you will discover.
“What is man without the beasts? If all the beasts were gone, men would die from great loneliness of spirit, for whatever happens to the beasts also happens to man. All things are connected. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the children of the earth.” Chief Seattle
I don’t know about you, but I’ve about had it with the doom and gloom that Covid has gifted us, and I’m more than ready to move on despite the escalation of the pandemic.
I think we all need a dose of good news! Here it is…
GOOD NEWS #1
For those who are environmentally aware – or involved – or interested, hang on to your hats. The Army Corps of Engineers has at long last denied the application for a permit to operate the Pebble Mine, located in the pristine Bristol Bay of Alaska.
Earlier in 2020 the Corps denied the project as it was then planned and required a new mitigation plan. Most opponents to the dam worried that the Corps might buckle to the big money group wanting to create an open pit copper-magnesium mine. Most locals were gravely concerned about the impact of such a disastrous enterprise on the salmon run in the area, the world’s largest run. But salmon weren’t all that was at stake – other fisheries and numerous wildlife and the health of people in the area were also at extreme risk. The Corps finally agreed that “the mine would cause significant degradation and significant adverse effects to the waters and fisheries of Bristol Bay.” The icing on the cake for this decision may have come with the release of “The Pebble Tapes,” secretly recorded in a meeting and released to the Corps.
Over the years, literally thousands of people have petitioned and donated money to organizations fighting this catastrophic proposal. Ultimately it became clear that the Corps did not have confidence in the Pebble Mine plan to mitigate the damage that would be done to nearly 200 miles of streams, 4500 acres of impacted waters and wetlands.
I think an important take-away of this decision is the fact that for once money did not prevail and influence the final decision. Anymore this is breathtakingly rare.
GOOD NEWS #2
Dam Removal showing success already!
Another win for the environment is the removal of the dam on the Pilchuck River. The dam was removed in August, and already an increased number of salmon have been seen in the river. According to Matt Puley, a project coordinator, they’ve even seen chinook salmon navigating the river.
Earlier in 2020 a dam was removed from the Nooksak River, and the Nelson Dam is scheduled to be removed in 2021. Other dams are being considered for removal too.
Washington State is certainly not new to dam removal.The Elwha and Glines Canyon dams were built in the early 1900s. Of course, the dams blocked salmon from migrating upstream to spawn and disrupted the flow of sediment. It also flooded homes and cultural sites. However, in 1992 Congress passed the Elwha River Ecosystem and Fisheries Restoration Act, authorizing the removal of the Elwha Dam and then the Glines Canyon Dam. The removal of the Elwha started in 2011 and was followed by the Glines Dam in 2014. Once again, the Elwha is a free-flowing river!
GOOD NEWS #3
And, not to be overlooked, according to the Capital Press, “Plans to remove four hydroelectric dams along the lower Klamath River in Southern Oregon and Northern California are back on track, with possible demolition happening in 2023. The removal of these dams will open about 400 miles of stream habitat for coho and steelhead, both threatened species. AND, if successful, “…it would be the largest dam removal and river restoration project in U.S. History.
The agreement was negotiated and signed by the states of California and Oregon, PacifiCorp, KRRC and the Yirok and Karuk tribes. According to Governor Kate Brown, “We are taking an incredibly important step forward toward restorative justice for people of the Klamath River. The agreement is about far more than the removal of four dams. It is a stop toward righting historic injustices.
More importantly, Joseph James of the Yurok Trive said the project “is about healing and restoration for the river, for the salmon, and for our people…we want to emphasize that the Yurok Tribe will never rest until the dams are out and the river is healed.”
GOOD NEWS #4
The Southern Resident Pod has two new babies that have joined their dwindling numbers. Perhaps there is yet hope for this REMARKABLE species to survive.
Why is all of this so important?
In the words of Chief Seattle:
“What is man without the beasts? If all the beasts were gone, men would die from great loneliness of spirit, for whatever happens to the beasts also happens to man. All things are connected. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the children of the earth.”
The drinking water of about 244 million Americans is compromised and potentially unsafe to drink. That number represents nearly 2/3 of the American population.
(The following article is from Saving Our Oceans and is being reprinted with the permission of the publisher.)
Water, water, everywhere, nor any drop to drink
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
Chapter 5: Fresh Water Has Problems Too
While cleaning the oceans of debris is a major challenge and task, it’s not the only task on which survival depends. And frankly, cleaning up the oceans cannot be accomplished without stopping the fresh water pollution that is the primary cause of ocean pollution. Some say that as much as 70 to 80 percent of the ocean’s pollutants comes from rivers and streams.
It’s quite easy to conclude that fresh water pollution is as serious as ocean pollution when one considers that the drinking water of about 244 million Americans is compromised and potentially unsafe to drink. That number represents nearly 2/3 of the American population. Much of the contamination happened in previous years (although it seems likely that there’s still some occurring) and just like plastic, contaminated water doesn’t simply go away. While plastic is a pollution problem, fresh water issues go far beyond plastic bottles left along the shoreline.
Lakes, rivers, streams, and aquifers across the country are home to cancer-causing ingredients from industrial waste, farm fertilizers, and chemical toxins. Whether one believes in global warming or not, there’s also the presence of brain and flesh eating bacteria in the mix that relishes warm waters. There are even more culprits, but these will suffice to make a point.
Let’s start with lakes first, and then delve into the serious issues with “potable” water. The EPA, with the assistance of state and tribal agencies, did water quality assessments for a large number of lakes. 55 percent of the lake water studied was considered to be of acceptable quality (whatever that means), but the other 45 percent had waters “impaired for at least one type of use,” such as drinking water, recreational fishing, swimming, or aquatic life support. Man-made lakes, often serving as dams, accounted for 59% that were impaired. (ThoughtCo. “Lake Pollution: Types, Sources, and Solutions.”) Plastic pollution was not part of this study, unfortunately. When plastic pollution is assessed in lakes, it appears that 100 per cent of them have some degree of contamination.
Algae blooms occur in both fresh water and salt water. These “blooms” are a serious problem that lead to toxin build-up causing oxygen levels to drop which kills fish and is dangerous for swimming. In fact, algae can be deadly to both humans and animals.
Some areas studied had nitrogen and phosphorus pollution which can come from inefficient sewage treatment and fertilizers. This is a far more serious problem than one may realize. Dead zones in lakes and the ocean where there are insufficient oxygen levels are often caused by fertilizer run-off, resulting in death to animals, fish, and plants that enter these zones.
A combination of fresh and salt water, the Baltic Sea is the largest man-made dead zone, and the northern Gulf of Mexico is the second largest and covers over 8700 square miles. Lake Erie (fresh water) and Chesapeake Bay (a combination of fresh and salt water) also have large dead zones. According to ThoughtCo, a 2008 study found over 400 dead zones in lakes and oceans worldwide. “The underlying cause of any dead zone is eutrophication…which is the enrichment of water with nitrogen, phosphorus and other nutrients causing algae to grow out of control or ‘bloom’.” Unfortunately, some fresh water dead zones are not recognized or identified as such.
“Pollution is the primary human source of the nutrients that cause eutrophication and dead zones. Fertilizer, manure, industrial waste and inadequately treated waste water overload aquatic ecosystems. In addition, air pollution also contributes to eutrophication.” Waste water is often piped into rivers and coasts.
The study also found that 42 percent of lakes had metal contamination with mercury and lead predominating. Coal-fired power plants are a leading cause of mercury contamination, and lead can be caused by fishing tackle dropped in the water (but often the surviving fish are already inedible due to toxins).
Basically, phosphorous, mercury, sediment and bacteria and pathogens are the main culprits. Added to this, however, are deadly microorganisms like lethal brain-eating bacteria. Although the incidence of people contracting brain-eating bacteria is fairly low, it’s a ghastly brain infection with very few surviving.
The problem with fresh water pollution, however, is it goes far, far beyond lakes. While lakes often provide drinking water, rivers are another very large source of household water. The list of unscrupulous companies that have contaminated drinking water for literally millions of people is shocking. It seems there are endless accounts of “manufacturing, mining and waste disposal companies – and dozens of others – who are among the country’s worst water polluters.” In all fairness, when some of these companies were dumping toxic waste, it’s possible they didn’t understand the ramification of these toxins contaminating groundwater that then causes cancer and all manner of debilitating diseases. This does not absolve them of responsibility for the death and destruction they caused, however. As they say, ignorance of the law is no excuse…neither is ignorance of the ramifications of one’s actions. Unfortunately, these rivers carry contaminants to the ocean, adding their toxins to the mix.
“Hundreds of these companies have been contaminating drinking water throughout the country for decades with everything from arsenic and lead, to mercury and chromium – most coming from improper dumping and waste disposal….” (Environment, “Industrial waste pollutes America’s drinking water.”) “Mining and smelting operations are responsible for contaminating water with heavy metals in almost every state in the nation.”
Example: “In Ringwood, New Jersey, Ford Motor Co. dumped more than 35,000 tons of toxic paint sludge…poisoning groundwater with arsenic, lead, and other harmful bacteria. Today, more than 43 years after the dumping ended, those toxins are still in the groundwater and threaten a reservoir providing water to millions of residents in New Jersey.”
Example: “In North Carolina, the state has told residents living near coal-fired power plants their water contains elevated levels of chromium-6 and other chemicals.”
Example: Anaconda Aluminum in Montana produced manufacturing wastes that contaminated local water sources with lead and chromium. Gulf States Utilities in Louisiana discharged toxins into marshlands polluting waters with benzene and other chemicals, and the Conklin Dumps in New York leaked volatile organic chemicals into groundwater.”
Various industries located on or near the Ohio River which borders six states and provides drinking water to nearly 3 million people, have dumped over 600 million pounds of toxic substances into the river.
These toxins cause extraordinary health problems in people and animals. Dioxins (byproducts of incinerators) are the most commonly released chemicals. “They are known carcinogens and exposure has been linked to health effects such as heart disease, diabetes, and reproductive issues. Almost every living creature on Earth has been exposed to dioxins, according to the National Institutes of Health.” (“Industrial waste pollutes America’s drinking water.”) And how much of all these poisons floating downstream make it out to sea? We already know that fertilizer runoff provides a lot of contaminants to the Gulf of Mexico helping to create the giant dead zone there.
While many of these offenses may have occurred before people understood the severity of the problem that their illegal dumping was causing – or would cause – that does not appear to be the case with 3M and their fight to avoid massive pollution and restitution lawsuits.
“Chemical industry giant 3M is waging an aggressive campaign to stave off new regulations and potentially billions of dollars in damages stemming from a contamination crisis that has fouled tens of millions of Americans’ drinking water.” (Politico.com Energy and Environment)
As expected, the company has engaged lobbyists to work in Washington ostensibly to woo state attorneys general to their side as the company faces massive financial liability for toxic pollution that has been tied to two of its popular products that have turned up in the water supplies of some 1500 U.S. Communities.
3M argues that the chemicals are not hazardous according to their studies, an opinion many independent studies dispute. The issue that 3M is facing is that there are multiple lawsuits in the wings including personal injury, class-action, and property damage suits. “Altogether, industry experts say the company’s liability could reach the tens of billions of dollars.”
The chemicals known as PFOA and PFOS have been used for five decades in products like Teflon and Scotch Guard. They take years to break down and are called “forever chemicals.” They accumulate in bodies and cause cancers like kidney and testicular cancer, immune disorders and many other ailments – “and have been found in more than 99 percent of Americans’ blood.”
3M is known to support various political candidates, including attorney generals in Michigan, California, Ohio, and Alabama – “all states with major PFAS contamination.”
“In Alabama, where the chemicals made by 3M’s manufacturing plant in Decatur have contaminated the Tennessee River, a drinking water source for 4.7 million people…” the newly elected attorney general will not be joining a water utility’s lawsuit against the company. Is it possible that the contributions he received persuaded him otherwise? Let’s hope not. But he was not the only person dissuaded. “The representatives of a collation mainly supported by 3M (Responsible Science Policy Coalition) have met with congressional officers and EPA political appointees arguing that the weight of current science evidence does not show PFOS or PFOA to cause adverse health effects in human at the current levels of exposure.” This goes entirely against the findings made by leading independent scientific researchers, the EPA and the CDC. This type of behavior is extremely disappointing and disturbing. If people are willing to do this to other people and the planet, it should come as no surprise that they would do worse to animals. We are all apparently just “collateral damage” – just a member of the herd – when we die of chemical induced cancers and other illnesses caused by their toxic products.
The bottom line: “3M’s own documents handed to the Minnesota attorney general office show that the company has known since the 1970s that the chemicals in question were toxic.”
With countless numbers of attorneys, lobbyists and “representatives” involved, the delay tactic for solving this issue may be even longer than the tobacco industry’s delay in finally coming to terms with the fact that tobacco causes cancer. How’s your water today? Perhaps you should have it checked.
Closer to home, “PFAS… have been found in five Washington drinking-water systems at levels over the Environmental Protection Agency guidelines, as well as dozens of private drinking-water wells near firefighting training areas where the foams were used.” (PFAS are used in fire retardants, such as firefighting foam.) This discovery contradicts somewhat the 3M disparagement of their products being deadly even in small doses.
Also troubles still haunt Hanford, Washington, the site where 56 million gallons of radiative waste are stored. Although there have been problems with leakage, and threats of leakage, the waste has probably not made it to the Columbia River or to underground aquifers (that are known, anyway). However, during the time the nuclear power plant was in production, water was released into the river; in fact, “Groundwater contaminated with radioactive waste from the decommissioned Hanford nuclear facility in Washington state is still ‘flowing freely’ into the Columbia River…” according to a program manager with the U.S. EPA. This is a river regularly used for fishing, swimming and boating activities. How much is withdrawn for irrigation? How many cancers have resulted from exposure to this freely flowing contaminated groundwater? Are the fish safe to eat?
It seems state leaders are becoming seriously galvanized to take a better look at the quality of water their constituents drink. Like plastic, PFOS and PFAS are ubiquitous. Partly this increased interest in local water safety may have been prompted by the “lead” scandal in the water supply of Detroit, Michigan’s residents, another debacle that exposed citizens, especially vulnerable children, to life-long debilitating toxins.
Thus most toxins in the water are the result of farming, mining, industry and activities of this nature. Some, however, are deadly pathogens of nature. Brain-eating bacteria (amoeba) officially known as Naegleria fowleri may be the worst. The infections occur when contaminated water gets in the nose. The amoeba travels up the nose and into the brain which it destroys. The disease itself is known as PAM (primary amoebic meningoencephalitis). This disease is almost always fatal (97 percent).
The bacteria have been reported worldwide and live primarily in warm water, but can live in colder water for a length of time. In the United States the bacteria is most commonly found in warm lakes or rivers in the south, and even in water parks and pools. Some estimate that about 8 people a year die from this infection, mostly young males, but these estimates vary depending on the source. The exact number is unknown because PAN is difficult to diagnose in its early stage where it might be cured. It’s sometimes mistaken for bacterial meningitis. Likely climate change will contribute to this infection if temperatures continue to warm.
Unfortunately, the bacteria can also be found in drinking water – and that was the situation in 2017 in Louisiana. Health officials reassured people that contaminated tap water would not lead to an infection, “but using it for nasal irrigation or accidentally getting it into your nose can.” (“Brain-Eating Amoeba Found in Louisiana Tap Water, People Warned to Avoid Water in Nose.”) Residents were given a list of things to do to avoid contracting the bacteria, such as flushing out pipes by running showers and water hoses for a full five minutes before use, and also they could boil their water or use distilled or sterile water for washing and making nasal rinses. Yet another warning about the presence of the amoeba in drinking water was issued by the New York Post in June of 2018.
At the risk of being morbid, I will only briefly mention flesh eating bacteria – known as necrotizing fasciitis – a rare condition, but not as rare as brain-eating bacteria. There have been between 600 and 1200 cases of this disease every year since 2010. This is not necessarily a water-born disease, although it can be. The water version is from an ocean-dwelling bacterium called vibrio vulnificus. The bacteria can be found in warm coastal waters during the summer months. People can develop this infection by going into the water with an open wound and having the bad luck of coming into contact with the Vibrio. One can also become infected from eating contaminated seafood.
It might be worthwhile to consider using a water filter for all potable water, particularly water from private wells. (City water sources are likely tested more often than private wells although many people find the taste of treated water to be repugnant, but water filters may help with that.) These filters do not need to be elaborate systems. Some refrigerator filters work fine for filtering drinking water. There are many relatively inexpensive filtration products available. Using one of these for drinking water is not being paranoid. Doing so is completely understandable and justifiable considering the chemicals and toxins dumped in the water supply.
To order your signed copy of Saving Our Oceans directly from the publisher, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
People need to know the truth about critical freshwater sources and issues.
2020 will no doubt be a year that no one will forget. Will we want to forget? YES. The pandemic has jerked people around endlessly: Masks, no masks, advice to get outside, advice to hunker down, close schools, open schools, close schools.
*The weather in 2020, particularly in hurricane country, has served up fear and excitement…rather like a horror movie might.
*Riots and protests: democracy at work or terrorism in play?
*Unemployment and evictions have abounded.
*The stock market has offered its thrills and chills.
*And, of course, the election has been a nightmare for everyone regardless of who wins. The election may last longer than the pandemic!
When the pandemic was first declared, we at Moonlight Mesa expected an onslaught of book orders. After all, we reasoned, people were being confined at home (hunkering down in place I think they called it) and would tire of daytime television in short order. Wrong. Spring book orders languished horribly. Then, come late spring and summer when we traditionally have our slower months, sales unexpectedly bloomed. Best summer sales ever.
Fall arrived, but so far sales have failed to be as robust has usual.
But overall, what’s been selling for us? Nonfiction. Nothing else: NONFICTION.
Unfortunately, while the sales of all our nonfiction books have been very respectable, sales of Saving Our Oceans have greatly disappointed us, and we feel this book is one of the most timely, important books we’ve yet published. There are several likely reasons for this poor response – one being that the vast majority of people DO NOT LIVE BY OR NEAR THE OCEAN and aren’t really engaged with the issues. This is understandable – but not excusable when one considers that the ocean provides 70 to 80% of the oxygen we breathe. And, the other issue (no surprise) is that people who actually live in coastal states may already be aware of many of the issues that Saving Our Oceans covers.
However…there are chapters in Saving Our Oceans that should be read by everyone no matter where they live. People need to know the truth about freshwater sources and its critical issues (which the book also covers). Because we feel this information is vitally important, future blogs will offer chapters from the book. It’s not too late to avoid another catastrophe that will put the pandemic to shame in comparison, but time is running out.
(Or, you can buy the book. It’s priced at just 12.95 to expedite sales. All proceeds are donated to the Friday Harbor Whale Museum and the Save Our Wild Salmon Coalition, both in Washington State.)