Tag Archives: poison

Mining’s Legacy – You SURE we want to frack?

Picher, Oklahoma

Mining waste from 20th century lead mining towers over the town of Picher Oklahoma. Or should I say, the FORMER town of Picher, one of an EVER growing list of ghost towns in the U.S., brought about by the short-term greed of humanity.

I had a meeting in Alaska a couple of weeks ago.  I flew from Sioux Falls, to Minneapolis, to Anchorage.  For work, I study land-use and land-cover change, and try to predict what will happen in the future.  So when I fly, I always (try to) get a window seat, and ponder the landscape below.  And, inevitably…it’s depressing. 

What I REALLY find laughable are those climate-change skeptics who seem to use their religious belief as a reason why climate change can’t be real.   A line of thinking for these folks seems to be that man is INCAPABLE of affecting the earth at that scale, that only “god” can do so.  All I have to say to these people…have you ever flown?  Have you ever LOOKED at the landscape below as you fly over?  On my trip, I flew over what some would think is some of the most “wild” landscapes in North America, in Alaska and western Canada.  But this “wild” landscape is anything but.  Clear-cutting of forest means that the once unbroken forests of the West are now a maze of cuts and logging roads.  Flying from Minneapolis over the northern part of the U.S., and you see the vast expanses of grassland that are now solid farm fields.  Fly over a major metropolitan area, and you see endless miles of homes, industry, and roads.

But yet some climate change deniers say humans are incapable of altering the earth’s ecosystem at that scale?  We’ve already forever changed a majority of the earth’s land surface.  That alone would cause climate change, even without the burning of fossil fuels. 

One sight you see ever more frequently when you fly are the effects of mining and energy extraction.  When you’re driving in the West, you see it, but the scale isn’t as readily apparent as it is when you’re flying over.  IN areas with natural gas extraction, when you drive, you may see an individual, small patch of land with a well. When you fly over, you see hundreds upon hundreds of wells, interconnected by a maze of pipes, electrical wires, and roads. 

There’s VERY little that has a more devastating, long-term effect on the landscape than mining.  The New York Times today had a story this week about the area around Picher Oklahoma, and Treece, Kansas, an area where suitability for human habitation has FOREVER been changed.   For the sake of a few decades of short-term financial gain, the lead mining waste in the region has forever altered the landscape, where just TOUCHING the water gives you chemical burns, where every breath of air draws in a dose of lead, where sinkholes from the mining activity may open up and swallow you at any time.

Fracking proponents say the practice is “safe”…despite the practice being VERY new, despite there being VERY little analysis of long-term effects.  Just in the last decade, when technological advances have made fracking economically feasible, people living near fracking activity have ALREADY been impacted by water that is no longer drinkable, and by ruined landscapes.  Once your underground water source has been contaminated by something like this, there’s no going back.  That water source is unlikely to be suitable for human use for many, many centuries to come.

People and their greed.  People and their complete and utter selfishness.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a poacher of wildlife at the small scale or an oil company at the larger scale…ALL people care about are themselves, and their short-term financial well-being. 

The people of Picher, Oklahoma and Treece, Kansas may have a word or two on the effects of such short-term greed.  Two once-thriving urban areas…now ghost towns.

Perusin’ & Musin’

Thinking AnimationSome random thoughts from perusing the web…

2010 a Record Year for Greenhouse Gas EmissionsDespite a slow global economy, global greenhouse gas emissions set an all-time high in 2010, with greenhouse gas quantities in the atmosphere now even worse than the WORST-case scenario projected by experts several years ago.  Just another day in climate change news, a day that also noted a giant crack found in an Antarctic glacier

Perry Drunk?  On Drugs?  Or just being himself? – Rick Perry today was forced to respond to allegations that he was either drunk or on pain medications during a recent New Hampshire speech.  Perry said no, he wasn’t drunk or on drugs.   You know, there just MIGHT be a problem with your qualifications for president if people can’t tell if you’re acting normally, or if you are drunk or on drugs. 

Senate GOP Blocks Infrastructure/Jobs Bill - Republicans again today showed that they will not allow any legislation to pass which might help the economy before next year’s elections.  They know their best chance to oust Obama is for the weak economic conditions to continue until the election.  Democrats have been trying to pass pieces of Obama’s jobs bill, without any success, thanks to GOP obstruction.  Today, GOP senators blocked a $50 billion infrastructure bill designed to get Americans working again by funding work to repair road and rail networks.  The bill would have been paid for by a 0.7% tax increase on people making more than $1,000,000 a year.   The debate today is also yet another example of what a joke Republicans are when they call for “shared sacrifice”, when they continue to shield millionaires from even the tiniest of tax increases. 

National Zoo Scientist Convicted of Poisoning Cats – A researcher at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. was convicted of poisoning stray cats in her neighborhood.   My first thought is that there’s no end to the sickening things people will do.  My second thought…I wonder if she’d be willing to help me with the neighbor’s cat that keeps EATING THE BIRDS AT MY FEEDERS!!!  Ok, no, I would never do such a thing.  But my GOD, what do you do with neighbors that refuse to restrain their cats?  What do you do with neighbors who deny that their precious cat could ever catch, much less eat, a bird?   It IS a very sweet cat, other than when it’s killing every living thing it comes across.  But I have about had it with that cat, and with my neighbors behind me.  We HAVE talked to them about it.  They MUST see me when I’m chasing their cat out of my yard about 10 times a day on the weekend.  If people want a pet, then for god’s sake, be prepared to act responsibly.

Nebraska 45, Northwestern 27 – I’m taking my 8-year old son to his first Nebraska football game this weekend!  He’s not a sports fan at all, but I think he’ll get a kick out of it.  He’s never been in an atmosphere like this.  Northwestern has a bad record, but they led in each of the 5 games they lost, including leads over 3 ranked teams in the 2nd half.   Northwestern has a great mobile QB in Dan Persa, and they can score on anyone.  They can’t stop anyone though.  I think Northwestern will give Nebraska all they can handle for the first half, before Nebraska pulls away in the second half.