Remembering Purpose

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.

Photo by change.org

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?)

Photo by John Boyd

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!

Publisher to Push for Rights of Nature/Environmental Issues

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!”

Rampageous Abuse of Animals

Ask yourself: would you prefer to be boiled alive or be dead first before being tossed in the pot.

The Rights of Nature must be acknowledged – It’s not that complicated

Just when I started believing that animals were no longer being used for medical and military experiments, I was shocked to find that 75 pharmaceutical companies are currently using animals to test various Covid 19 medications/vaccines. SEVENTY-FIVE, and that’s the ones we know about. This form of animal abuse needs to be stopped once and for all. Most of the vaccines and medications they test on animals intended for use on people usually don’t even work on animals.

No living creature should be forced to participate in scientific experimentation.  This is not Nazi Germany…yet. (Medical experimentation on unknowing victims has, unfortunately, happened in this country which may well account for the reluctance to trust the government and medical professions.) And no person should be forced to be vaccinated against their will, or be threatened for refusing.

Science has very strong evidence that all “creatures” are sentient beings, yet continues experimentation. We are very closely related to other mammals. Humans and mice share nearly 90% of human DNA. Think that’s a lot? Humans and chimpanzees share 98.8% of DNA, and humans and Gorillas share 98.4% of their DNA.  That’s CLOSE! We even share DNA with fruit flies who, by the way, also are partially sentient.

Now it is strongly believed that these sentient qualities even extend to crabs, lobsters, shrimp, prawns, octopuse, and squids.

Indeed, boiling live crustaceans is illegal in some countries, primarily Switzerland and New Zealand at this time. Ask yourself: would you prefer to be boiled alive or be dead first before being tossed in the pot.

Ironically, the Rights of Nature laws exist in about 17 countries. Ecuador adopted the Rights of Nature into their constitution. In the U.S., dozens of cities and counties have some form of Rights of Nature in their laws, codes, etc. protecting the environment and animals. CELDF (Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund) is an organization that helps communities defend themselves against harmful organizations. NRDC (Nature Resource Defense Council) is another organization trying to protect valuable habitat and animals. It’s still not enough.

Wild Law – A Manifesto for Earth Justice, by Cormac Cullinan, explores “earth and nature” issues, including the abuse and destruction of both. Basically his argument is that far too many people (which includes corporations and governments) connect poorly, if at all, with the rest of life on earth.

Let’s stop treating animals and nature like they are simply there for our use and disposal.

HOPE is alive!

It’s very hard not to get enmeshed in the media’s negativity, sometimes outright lies, and congress’s shenanigans. But work to save our planet’s environment and inhabitants is ongoing, even if it’s not the top headline…or any headline. There truly is reason for HOPE

Many people are apparently suffering emotional slumps since the horrific introduction of Covid to the world. Every time conditions are looking better, another variant or surge comes along. It’s easy to see how a person can get lost in the misery of it all.

Maybe there’s not much hope for the virus ending but, if one looks carefully, hope is quietly becoming more noticeable in other areas.

Recently I read a quick review of Jane Goodall’s new book: The Book of Hope: A Survival Guide for Trying Times. Being a “Bookaholic” I couldn’t resist buying it. Honestly the book was a beckoning to me to terminate any depressing ideas about the state of the world and to move on. Yes, the virus may wax and wane for many decades, but I’ve come to believe that to get past covid a person needs to start living again. No more sheltering behind locked doors. (I was terrible at “isolating” as it was.)

While reading The Book of Hope, I began to notice all kinds of recent, hopeful news about a topic I truly care about: the Rights of Nature (whether it be animal or environmental). An unexpected example popped up in an email. APS, a local electricity provider for much of Arizona, is striving to protect and restore wildlife. Imagine! An electric power provider working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Arizona Fish and Game Department, the Liberty Wildlife Rehabilitation Foundation, and Wild at Heart.

Another example, the latest SeaDoc Blog/Newsletter does have some disappointing news, but a take-away is that it’s a terrific reminder of the many, many people who are working tirelessly on marine environmental issues. Even though one of the articles states that Puget Sound isn’t doing well, the article suggests that things are improving. And regularly there are positive reports of orca news on a few websites.

Discussion of stopping clear cutting and instead working toward forest preservation at the latest (highly polluting) big-wig European conference is a first and a terrifically positive sign.

GARN, The Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature, just held their 5th International Rights of Nature Tribunal. The Tribunal heard the most fundamental ecological cases facing the world today: the false solutions to the Climate Change crisis and the Amazon, a threatened living entity. The two cases were heard by a panel of globally recognized Rights of Nature judges. The prosecutors presented the false solutions to the climate change crisis and the Amazon as a threatened living entity case.

“The aim of this Tribunal is to bring maximum visibility to the current key struggles to protect the world’s ecosystems and confront the false solutions that are being presented in the face of these crises as well as the solutions emerging from civil society, and to offer legal rulings and precedents that may aid communities and activists in their struggles to protect and restore these ecosystems and advance the legal recognition of Nature as a rights-bearing entity.”

And Celdf (Community Legal Environmental Defense Fund) continues to help communities defeat environmentally unwanted and damaging actions that large corporations and government agencies try to impose.

It’s very hard not to get enmeshed in the media’s negativity, sometimes outright lies, and congress’s shenanigans. But work to save our planet’s environment and inhabitants is ongoing. Even if it’s not the top headline…or any headline…there truly is reason for HOPE!

Repeating the Past?

This adventure is somewhat different than our first time out, but every bit as exciting. Am I afraid? No. I’m only afraid to die just sitting around waiting for the inevitable end while dreaming about the past.

Can a person repeat a grand experience?

 Absolutely… sort of…depends…it may be a bit different the second time around, but it can be just as good as the first time, perhaps even better.

Too often as people grow older, they remember with great nostalgia an event or a time in their life when their world could not have been more perfect. Well, it can be that way again if they dare. A few people do so.

 About a year or so ago I was reading an article that asked me to close the page and answer this question: when was I the happiest? In an instant I recalled the joyous seven years my husband and I lived aboard our Cal 2-34 sailboat and traveled 25,000 miles. I even wrote an award-winning book about it: Life Was a Cabaret: A Tale of Two Fools, a Boat and a Big-A** Ocean. (Cabaret was the name of our boat.)

When I returned to the article, there was a another question: “Why aren’t you doing that now?” Instantly I knew that I had to return to the sea.

Our move, like most relocations, was very  difficult and complex, but once I’d realized when I had been the very happiest in my entire life, I had to proceed. We had no reason not to. Our children were grown and had established their own lives; we were retired, and we had no real ties to the town we’d been living in for the past 15 years. My husband was 100 percent in favor of the whole scheme and had talked many times about “living aboard” again and traveling. (That helps a lot!) Maybe he had long ago planted the seed that burst into bloom when I read the article!

The day our house sold we left Arizona bound for the Pacific Northwest where we’d both grown up and had started off on our early adventures. After 3 months of searching we finally found a boat we could afford that had ample room for us to spend lengths of time on it and that was sea worthy enough to make long passages. Although tempted to buy a sailboat once again, we debated the pros and cons many times before we decided to buy a “stink pot” power boat. I’m glad we did! I feel like we live in the lap of luxury compared to the small quarters of the adorable vessel that had pleased us immensely when we were younger. Sailing is, to be honest, more of a young person’s “gift,” not so much people in their 70s.

Differences? Too many years have passed to name them all, but mainly we are older by 40+ years now than our sailing days. We’re living in a different type of boat altogether than previous. But I will say our excitement, plans, and adventures are every bit as good. We may not do ocean passages again, but we can do Alaska to South American with stops along the way with no problem.

We spent this summer upgrading the boat with new electronics, replacing the propane stove (which I loved) with a diesel cook stove that will help with keeping the boat warm. (We had another boat with a diesel cook stove and I actually liked it!) We made many changes and additions. We also did some trial runs and got in lots of island hiking.

Next summer we will at long last head north and explore the Broughton Islands and then circumnavigate Vancouver Island. We plan to return to Alaska the following year and possibly spend two years there where I hope to explore all the places we missed out on the first time. Then perhaps it will be a long haul to Ecuador, Peru, Chile and on to the Straits of Magellan and Patagonia. In these travels I hope to share what knowledge I’ve gained as a Certified Marine Naturalist with others and to invite people to join the JUST ONE THING Alliance.

Perhaps we’re more audacious than a lot of people because we’ve been boaters for many years and kept a small tugboat in the San Juan Islands that we spent summers on. What we’re doing obviously won’t work for many people, but everyone has a time in their life they can in some fashion “re-experience.”

We will absolutely miss our small family, but we definitely plan to return at regular intervals and wear out our welcome. Perhaps they will join us on occasion!

This adventure is a somewhat different than our first time out, but every bit as exciting. Am I afraid? No. I’m only afraid to die just sitting around waiting for the inevitable end while dreaming about the past.

Covid and Hearing Loss

Many who’ve had Covid have their own tale to tell…regardless of science.

So much speculation about covid! The more the scientific and medical community dig, the deeper the mysteries of this virus. There will likely be studies into the next century trying to determine the cause and effects of Covid 19 and its offspring variants. Many who’ve had covid have their own tale to tell regardless of the “experts.”

I can tell you with certainty that because of my bout with covid I now must wear hearing gizmos (for some reason I can’t bring myself to call them hearing aides.)

Let me be honest…my hearing before my covid experience was not ideal. Occasionally I had to turn up the volume on the television, okay? That was about the extent of my problem. This is a common issue nowadays due to most programs, other than news and programs of that ilk, being filmed on site…and not in a studio. In addition, actors whisper or speak in low voices. Often there are sirens screaming in the background or dramatic music of some sort playing. Plus, in all honestly, women’s voices being at a higher pitch than men’s are often more difficult to hear with all the background hub-bub. But my hearing pre-covid was acceptable.

I was down with the virus for about five days (although it took me about two more weeks to get my energy back full force). However, to the point: upon my “return” I immediately noticed that I could hear people on television talking but I could not understand a word. Not a word. Just voice noise. Naturally I blamed the television acoustics. “We need a new television with speakers.” Then I repeatedly told my husband to speak up and to quit slurring his words. “Tom, your speech is really getting slurry. Are you okay?” Then I noticed I often had to ask people to repeat themselves, or I just guessed at what they said. I even tried to read lips sometimes. This was far more difficult than I imagined. “People need to learn to enunciate!” I exclaimed. Worse yet was when a person wore a mask AND cowered behind a plastic barrier. Occasionally, someone I could understand came along. I noticed it was usually always a male and we’d be outside – not in an indoor setting.

After four months of asking people to repeat themselves or guessing at what they said, or saying “what?” continually, I had my hearing tested. I thought I was doing quite well in the little booth…until human voices became part of the test. I had to repeat what a woman said at a social gathering…each time the gathering grew louder. It was a pointless test…I could only detect one or two words when at the quietest level.

Needless to say I was shocked at the hearing test results. But the other shock came when I was told that both my eardrums were riddled with scars. I have never had an ear infection. In my entire life no one, doctor or nurse, has mentioned anything about scars on my eardrums. How do eardrums get scarred? Could it be covid?

Everyday that I put my hearing gizmos in, I pray this is just long covid or a temporary loss and that one day my hearing will be back, but my hopes for a recovery are fading. Even though I feel very sad about all of this, I know I’m lucky not to be totally deaf.

This is not definitive proof for a scientist that covid caused my hearing loss, I know that. But it’ll be hard to convince me otherwise.

My Gizmos…

When Will We Come Roaring Back – If Ever?

It has become fairly obvious that most big government legislators have never owned and operated a small business. Why else would their rules and regulations favor big box stores and not the small, backbone businesses of America? Unless they forget all this once in office.

This is the question teasing many businesses now that they have been finally allowed to “open” for business. Already, though, some are beginning to worry about possible “restrictions” again. So far, we’ve actually not heard of businesses being shuttered, however we think many may be cowering in anticipation of the next blow. Interestingly, defiance to this possible threat seems to be growing.

This applies to most small businesses, including the smaller independent publishing companies. There is no predicting what months books will fly out the door, and what months inventory doesn’t move. Indeed, last summer (usually our slow time) we had two outstanding bumper months and one month that saw all of 3 books sell. Conversely, usually winter months are our ticket to staying open, yet winter months this year were mournful. Books are, however, a “luxury” to many – not a necessity.

So what gives? We have no idea. That being said, it’s become clear to us after enduring this past year that the westerns and nonfiction have overall at least survived covid. Casey Tibbs – Born to Ride, an awarding winning biography, out of the blue had a shockingly successful month after a dismal spell. To be fare, Casey Tibbs sells every month, but every year come rodeo time this award-winning biography sees a surge in sales. This year was no exception

And we are continuously stunned when, month after the month, the small, unassuming A Beginner’s Guide to Owning a Mule outsells all other books combined. Who knew people wanted to know about mules? Not that we’re complaining!

The latest books to jumpstart again are the Jere D. James westerns. This 7-book series waxes and wanes. Unfortunately, we withdrew two of the books from Ingram’s catalogue because of low sales and now regret doing so. Looks like we may be adding them back into Ingram’s inventory.

Book 5 in the Jake Silver Adventure Series

C.L. Lee Anderson’s newest book, The View from My Old Saddle, was released right before the big lockdown. Lee’s first book, Developing the Art of Communication, is a fairly consistent seller, but the second one has not had a chance…yet. With things now opening up, it too should take off among the equine folks. It’s dynamic, infuriating, true, and controversial. It’s great, in other words.

Lee on his horse Concho – The View from My Old Saddle

Sadly, The Littlest Wrangler, J.R. Sanders award-winning young reader book, is not currently available and the orders are stacking up. Due to a publishing snafoo it won’t be available until late, late fall. Some Gave All, Sanders’ award-winning, biographical account of Old West Lawmen Who Died with Their Boots On continues to receive wonderful reviews.

All in all, we’re not totally discouraged here…but just after things started looking up we’re concerned they may falter. Maybe when everybody returns to work we’ll have a better report.

It does seem fairly obvious, that most big government legislators have never tried to own and operate a small business. Why else would their rules and regulations favor big box stores and not the small, backbone businesses of America?

“All who wander are not lost”

I am finally home.

The above quote, or something like it, is generally attributed to J.R.R. Tolkien. It’s an apt quote, however, for the last year or so of my life, or so it seems.

My last blog in April somehow got lost while I was on the highway heading home. I guess it did anyway. However, I’m now mostly settled and back in business.

I’ve traded in my adorable 26′ tugboat for a 43′ craft that is more suitable for the lifestyle I plan to live from here on out to the very end of my years. My husband and I have resyned our nomadic years. Our children are grown adults with children of their own. My animals are gone, except for my dog. There was no reason to continue the status quo.

Wondering if we’d ever find anything we could afford was often depressing, but the idea of buying yet another house when we returned to the Pacific Northwest somehow seemed anticlimactic…”Let’s buy another boat! One we can travel farther on and live longer on!” My husband took no persuading.

After spending four months searching for the perfect craft, we found it. I confess I also bought a tiny house in Arizona so I could escape the rainy, windy winters here in Washington State and see my family during the holidays…besides my grandsons, ages 3 and 6, still think we’re the greatest thing since popcicles and I don’t want to miss out on that.

Moonlight Mesa will continue to operate – just from afar. Any books we publish from here on out will probably be ebooks. I’m still waiting for the one manuscript from “Barbara” that sounded so enticing three years ago when she queried and teased me with four finished chapters.

Book sales, unfortunately, mostly languished during the pandemic months, with the exception of A Beginner’s Guide to Owning a Mule. Ingram sent out 159 copies of the book one month alone.

But the best news of all…I can now begin earning my Marine Naturalist Certification. Currently I’m being trained to work as a docent in the Friday Harbor Whale Museum. Ever since I took the Marine Naturalist class two years ago I’ve wanted to complete it by becoming a Certified Naturalist. Hard to do in Arizona! I’m on my way now! I’m incredibly happy that my husband and I are back among people who also love the water, whales, and sea life.

Indeed, I am finally home.

Going Home

It’s been a long time since any of us have sat down to blog. Ironically, this was everyone’s first choice to do…but now there is only one of us. For starters…the house (home office) sold and we are in the process of relocating our business to Washington State. Yes, we finally came home. The move was not easy , however. Both of us came down with Covid in the process of packing up. I think it was from the people traipsing through without a mask. I recovered in about 5 days. Unfortunately, my husband developed Covid pneumonia…an emergency room visit complete with an experimental infusion likely saved his life. Recovery is a bitch, though, but it’s far better than dying.

So, after several years of wanting to “go home” we finally have done so. However, these things aren’t always easy. Currently we are living on our small Nordic Tug, and by small I mean 26 feet long. Cozy.

However, we surprised ourselves by waking up one morning and thinking, “We need to have some adventure while we still can,” and so we set off in search of a “bigger” boat we could live, travel, and work on instead of buying yet another house. Mission accomplished, and we are now waiting for the boat’s survey to be completed and we’ll be moving aboard a 39′ Kadey Krogan. It will seem like a mansion compared to our tug. I figure we have about two more weeks of waiting until the boat is ours! (Assuming it passes the survey.)

So, where does that leave Moonlight Mesa Associates? Moonlight Mesa will become a DBA (Doing Business As) instead of an S Corporation. That way we keep our name, email, accounts, etc. Officially it will be Becky Coffield DBA Moonight Mesa, or RLCoffield DBA etc. You get the idea.

For two years we’ve been planning on moving north from Arizona, but I got hung up because of the mules we owned/rode. I just couldn’t see moving them to Washington. They got a new zip code, however, after my mule launched me onto a pile of rocks, nearly killing me. Then, after spending months cleaning up the three fires we had at that location, we finally got on the market, sold, and got out of town as soon as my husband was well enough to travel. It’s been grueling. We’ve been in Anacortes, WA for a month now but it still doesn’t feel real…like this is really home. Maybe once we’re on the new boat…

Meanwhile, books have sold, primarily the Beginner’s Guide to Owning a Mule, but all of the nonfiction titles have been active. I have my work cut out for me, however. Now that I’m finally here, I want to start on getting my Marine Naturalist Certification, working with the Whale Museum, and doing what I can for the Save Our Wild Salmon Coalition. Not to mention, the JUST ONE THING Alliance has come to a halt with all the uproar in our lives. And we have books to promote.

Top of my list, however, is to get a laptop for the boat. Running a biz with my tablet and tiny keyboard lacks efficiency to say the least.

So until next time, stay safe. Thank you for your support. Hopefully Washington will prove to be more supportive of our goals and interests than what we had before where we were truly fish out of water.

What’s in YOUR Water?

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.

Photo by NRDC.ORG

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.

Release date: May 2019

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