Wednesday, October 19, 2016
The Danger of Stored Waste
I read this disturbing article the other day in the Washington Post - Factory Farming Practices Are Under Scrutiny Again in N.C. After Disastrous Hurricane Floods.
The short version of that story is this: enormous, factory-scale facilities for raising and slaughtering cattle, pigs, and chickens generate vast amounts of waste material - manure, urine, and other things - that are stored in huge "lagoons." And when major storms roll up the coast and flooding ruptures those lagoons, all that bacteria-laden, foul-smelling sludge spills out and combines with flood waters to compound what is already a disaster.
But the problem isn't limited to animal waste. What about our political waste? Consider the impact on our health and environment of the election detritus ...
Tens of millions of yard and highway signs that will end up in landfills;
Hundreds of millions of feet of film and thousands of hard drives full of digital video which contain heavy metals and other toxic materials;
Millions of pages of "opposition research," most of it without context;
Tens of billions of cubic feet of hot air* and poisonous gas;
Countless hours of annoying robo-calls that choke telephone lines, aggravate nerves, and provide no useful information;
Hours of threats and vitriol that have poisoned the well of good citizenship and denigrated the once-noble tradition of public service.
Oh, and then there's Congress ... as complete a waste of air and space as I've seen in my lifetime, hopelessly mired in the muck of I'm-Right-You're-Wrong-Screw-You hyperpartisanship**. We might as well just clean out the Capitol Building and rent the space to Super PACs and the NRA ... we'd be no worse off, and the rent would help pay off the national debt***.
Not all the toxic sludge that threatens our physical and mental environments can be blamed on industrial waste. Unfortunately, the industrial waste will be much easier to clean up in the long run. There's not a Superfund that's super enough to clean up the rest.
Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.
* As if global warming ... uh ... climate change isn't enough of a problem already.
** Please spare me the juvenile argument that the other side did it first/is worse.
*** Assuming they actually paid it, which is probably not a good assumption.