mm317: Water — the theme — part 2

MUDGE’s Musings

Yr (justifiably) humble svt always considered himself the curmudgeonly anti-environmentalist.

MUDGE’s reaction to soft-headed hand-wringing over pollution, water shortages, spotted owls and the like was: guys, the human species is going to use this planet up; there’s no going back. So stop wasting time looking backward (golden age for environmentalists: the year 1700? — when the average Western European lived to the ripe old age of 25), and start looking outward, toward new planets to discover and migrate to.

That’s what I used to say. It still may be correct, in a macro way, but it’s not going to happen in my lifetime, I reluctantly conclude, so I’d best pay more attention to what I breathe, eat and absorb, or that lifetime might be shortened drastically. Not to speak of the lifetimes of my children and grandchildren.

But, oh,  the final frontier

We’ve commented frequently on topics such as alternative energy for transportation (none too soon, paid $3.26/gallon the other day); alternative energy for electric utilities; and the safety and continuity of our food supplies.

And water (here and here and, the source of today’s title, here).

A couple of environmentally discomforting stories hit this week, obscured perhaps in the shadows cast by the unseemly fall of hubris filled governor (political hypocrisy, THE story of the week, disquiets us pretty much every week), and water is the theme.

1. Great(ly polluted) Lakes

nytimes

Health Report Raises Dispute Over Great Lakes Pollution

By GARDINER HARRIS |  Published: March 13, 2008

WASHINGTON — Top federal health officials said Wednesday that they had asked the Institute of Medicine, the government’s premier medical adviser, to referee a dispute over a report suggesting that pollution in the Great Lakes region may have serious health consequences for people who live there, including infant mortality and breast cancer.

“It’s a good way to get a really high-quality and completely objective scientific review,” said Dr. Henry Falk, who oversees environmental health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But Dr. Christopher T. De Rosa, a federal toxicology official who was a co-author of the report, said the Bush administration had suppressed it “because it implies injury.” He bemoaned the decision to ask for a review from the Institute of Medicine, which is part of the National Academy of Sciences.

“How much review is enough?” Dr. De Rosa asked in an interview. “If you get caught up in analysis paralysis, you never get anything out.”

As a resident of a Great Lakes state, I find the report of pollution unsurprising, and the report of suppression of such a report by the slimy administration of George III even more so.

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Health Report Raises Dispute Over Great Lakes Pollution – New York Times

I could tell such stories: beaches closed regularly due to E coli breakouts; PCBs, an ugly component of the effluent of industrial processes that were freely spewed into our water supplies for 100 years, found in toxic quantities in sport fishing grounds, and thus in the sport fish; city tap water in such distress that there was not enough chlorine in the world capable of masking its unfitness.

And this is the water that the Bill Richardson, governor of New Mexico and once (and future?) presidential aspirant, would like to import.

Bill, after you buy our water (and based on some suppressed reports, I think we’re going to have to insist on cash in advance!), I’ve got a bridge for sale also.

2. Uncle Salmon — collapsing like the housing market

Our second salutary tale, also from the always busy NYTimes, discloses a crisis in the supply of much in demand California salmon.

nytimes

Collapse of Salmon Stocks Endangers Pacific Fishery

By FELICITY BARRINGER | Published: March 13, 2008

Federal officials have indicated that they are likely to close the Pacific salmon fishery from northern Oregon to the Mexican border because of the collapse of crucial stocks in California’s major watershed.

That would be the most extensive closing on the West Coast since the federal government started regulating fisheries.

“By far the biggest,” said Dave Bitts, a commercial fisherman from Eureka, Calif., who is at a weeklong meeting of the Pacific Coast Fisheries Management Council in Sacramento.

“The Central Valley fall Chinook salmon are in the worst condition since records began to be kept,” Robert Lohn, regional administrator for the National Marine Fisheries Service in Portland, Ore., said Wednesday in an interview. “This is the largest collapse of salmon stocks in 40 years.”

Is it the vastly puzzling ocean, in one of its species-unfriendly cycles? Is it the voracious thirst of the irrigators of the California bread basket and grassy lawn lovers of Southern California, pulling way too much out of the Sacramento River? Could it possibly be a combination of both? Any way you look at it, a valuable foodstuff, the Central Valley Chinook salmon is gone, for now.

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Collapse of Salmon Stocks Endangers Pacific Fishery – New York Times

This blue planet, the only one we have, for now, is blue due to its abundant water, the fundament of life itself. That’s the 250,000 mile view.

Look closer though, and there’s not enough of the potable stuff to go around, and look really close, and you might not want to see, much less drink, what’s under the microscope. And neither, apparently, do the fish.

Not a recipe for sustained survival. Final frontier, anyone? Anyone?

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE

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