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A Water Pollution Tale

  1. Oct 1, 2006 #1
    A rather curious development was reported in the Friday (Sept. 29) Washington Post --- that "nature is apparently polluting itself". Within most rivers and streams within the Maryland, Virginia area --- it has been found through water testing(for bacteria) --- that most of the pollution is coming from animals in the wild, like deer, geese and raccoons; not from people, their pets and domestic farm animals. Much of this stems from the fact that we have large and growing populations of these creatures.

    This would seem to hint that, just maybe, there was a flaw in our original clean-water assumptions. The question to be answered then is --- "how clean should the environment be"? What if wildlife pollution exceeds the set standards?
    1) Do we kill the animals to meet the standards? (Sounds like a political nightmare)
    2) Do we try to clean up behind them? (Sounds like a bank-breaker.)
    3) Do we bring back the natural predators. (Imagine a Congressman looking out his window at a bear walking down Massachusetts Avenue.)

    We needn't worry though. Those who do our thinking for us have apparently come up with an answer --- "Just ignore the wildlife and deal with leaking sewer pipes" (and other human sources).

    KM
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 1, 2006 #2

    Mk

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    No, no, no. It is all in the last thread. Moonbear's posts and the middle part of Micheal Crichton's speech covered this fairly well I believe.
     
  4. Oct 1, 2006 #3

    DaveC426913

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    And what thread would that be?
     
  5. Oct 2, 2006 #4
    Nature is emo and is commiting suicide, I wonder why(!)
     
  6. Oct 2, 2006 #5

    Chi Meson

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    I live 300 yards away from an estuary that used to be full of life. People could catch fish and shell fish to their hearts content. Right now, there are no fish there, and all of the shell fish are toxic.

    Tell me, why don't you, Rush O'Riley, that the killings of our waterways are because of raccoon poop. Tell me that it is OK to dump our mining waste in streams since deer are going to pee in in anyway.
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2006
  7. Oct 2, 2006 #6

    DaveC426913

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    While the anecotal recount may be true, it does not invalidate the OP's point that Man is not the only polluter. And I don't think anyone's suggresting that makes it OK to continue for us to pollute. What it deos indicate is that we may not know as much as - nor be as responsible as we thought for - pollution.
     
  8. Oct 2, 2006 #7

    JasonRox

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    So, who did these tests? Who paid who?

    Honestly, I'm not that stupid to fall for this kind of crap. We messed up the planet in so many ways. The least we can do is help the wildlife and give back a little.

    Sadly, if outside intelligence ever found this planet, I'd be embarassed to say I'm human. This planet is a mess.

    Note: This post isn't geared towards you Dave. :tongue2:
     
  9. Oct 2, 2006 #8

    Chi Meson

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    What this test is doing is trying to redefine pollution as "anything that is not water." If anyone is suggesting that "natural pollutants" are just as bad as heavy metals, VOC's, acids and bases, then you really are missing something.

    This is another case of "trees cause more air pollution than industry," or whatever the actual RR quote is.

    I am nota raving liberal, but this right-wing envorinmental backlashing really ticks me off. The "logical conclusion" of the OP is a standard neocon non-sequetor that always convinces the weak minded that "environmentalism has gone too far." I'm very thankful, actually, that there are streams in Maryland where the contaminants are NOT primarily man-made toxins.

    What does the OP really intend? Just say it. So far I'm reading it as "Our environmental laws are too extreme; if we allow nature itself to add toxins to our waterways, then we too should be allowed to dump our refuse into rivers and streams."

    Am I reading you correctly? IF not, tell me what you do mean.
     
  10. Oct 2, 2006 #9
    I don't see the need for a 'rant' session; no one has suggested your "neocon" reaction of easing up on protection of the environment from man's ravages. On the other hand, it is equally a non-sequitor to apply the "neolib" response by ignoring the effects of factors that are not directly contributed by man (but that have come about indirectly because of man's actions) --- such as those stemming from the burgeoning overpopulation of certain species (because their natural predators have been eliminated or because easy sources of food and shelter have been provided them). We have caused these species overpopulations, and it has its consequences, and no head-in-the-sand approach is going to rectify this.

    First, the rivers and streams of the Virginia/Maryland vicinity have largely been cleaned up of heavy metals and industrial wastes, and whatever remains I trust can be taken care of. There are still problems of the likes of phosphate and silt run-off, such as from farms, homes and construction sites, but these too are not being ignored. What the article was dealing with was specifically "bacterial contamination", most of which can to a large extent be isolated to and identified with the animal species (including man) in which they reside. The entire purpose of the effective laws is to make the lakes, rivers and streams suitable for "swimming". If that is to be done, it makes absolutely no sense to simply push to reduce to a negligible amount those bacteria contributed by man and his animals --- while ignoring those from creatures in the wild. Our "animal rights" notions are taking us into realms of the absurd --- notions that didn't even exist before the 1970s, and are now taken by many as universal and sacrosanct.


    Actually, I read it just the other way --- which is not logically equivalent to yours --- that "if we can't allow man to overpollute the waterways, we can't allow nature to do it either --- the result is just as disasterous.

    Actually: "Neocons" and "Neolibs" are so different that they are almost alike. A Neocon is so certain that he is correct that he doesn't even bother listening to counter-arguments --- while a Neolib is so uncertain of himself that he doesn't dare face a counterargument, lest it overwhelm his own. He simply resorts immediately to name-calling and demonizing. As result, both extremes come across making equal impressions of intolerance.

    KM
     
  11. Oct 2, 2006 #10
    The concerned States did them.

    KM
     
  12. Oct 2, 2006 #11

    Chi Meson

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    Your steady moderate tone here is in contrast to your OP which does sound (sorry to say) like it came from the neocon playbook. ("Those who do our thinking for us" etc) Oddly, my next line of argument was to be essentially what you just said about habitat and predator reduction. As this is a man-made problem, I am of the opinion that if we can't live with the appropriate ecological balance, then we don't get to swim in the water.
    RE intention of OP:
    I disagree with the "just as disaterous" part. Nature has a long way to go be for it achieves our level of disaster. And I again think that the conditions here are anything but natural.

    It appears you are in favor of either culling the wildlife to reduce bacterial contamination OR removing environmental restrictions on levels of human contamination.

    In a much calmer tone I ask, is this what you mean?
     
  13. Oct 2, 2006 #12

    JasonRox

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    So, the Republican party probably did. :rolleyes:
     
  14. Oct 2, 2006 #13
    I have this little thing for allowing "bureaucrats" to set policy, even though I know that politicians have neither the guts nor often the intelligence. Our rules and policies are established by unelected officials within agencies, and this has always been a problem in my way of thinking. There is nothing different in this case. They have (according to the article) decided to push for enforcing human compliance while at the same time ignoring the effects of animals in the wild. This is probably due in part to the fact that the public at large is relatively compliant, whereas animal rights groups are not.

    And I disagree with you! Where bacteria is concerned, that which comes from wild animals is just as harmful as that from humans, and in this case, nature has more than matched man.

    Concerning removing restrictions --- no! Concerning the other --- precisely! I have no "Bambi" inhibitions. (This will probably get me demonized by Bambi lovers.) Now, I admit a problem. I don't have the faintest idea how it can be done.

    KM
     
  15. Oct 2, 2006 #14

    Actually, Maryland is a Democratic state with a Republican governor, and Virginia is a Republican state with a Democratic governor, so I suspect that the parties had to cooperate in both cases --- as strange as that might sound.

    KM
     
  16. Oct 2, 2006 #15

    Mk

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  17. Oct 2, 2006 #16
    Getting back to the OP. Wildlife and nature itself can of course account for certain types of polution. But what could cause this:

    http://www.usatoday.com/tech/science/discoveries/2006-09-06-intersex-fish_x.htm?csp=15

    I am betting that this problem is not caused by bear poop.
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2006
  18. Oct 2, 2006 #17
    We have an increasing population in many species of wildlife because man has killed off their natural enemies. There is no longer a balance of nature.
     
  19. Oct 3, 2006 #18

    Chi Meson

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    I think that we all agree on this point. What does happen after this point? My own general opinion is that we must lie down in our own mess. As to the point of culling wildlife, we have a nature preserve where I live. Every few years they have to thin the deer poulation in order to preserve the preserve. Animal rightists are up in arms. The hunters are up in real arms. The hunt proceeds each time.

    If the problem is raccoons, just wait for the first case of rabies. Whoosh! watch as raccoon heads pile up at the local animal pathologist lab. Now if the problem is squirrles, I dunno. They repopulate so quickly...more hawks? Canada geese? Make it illegal to feed them during winter.

    Then again, if solutions were simple, there would never be a problem.
     
  20. Oct 4, 2006 #19

    DaveC426913

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    Let's just put this in perspective.

    There is no such thing as a "balance of nature". Species wipe out other species all the time. Extinction and population blooms are part of nature. True, the ecosystem is often relatively stable over long periods, but species come and go.

    I do not state this to justify the loss of habitats and species, I merely wish to ensure that we don't make the classic mistake of presuming there is a "balance of nature" that we are trying to "protect".
     
  21. Oct 4, 2006 #20
    ^^^^^^^^^You beat me to it Dave.
     
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