Thursday, September 29, 2016

Lead in our water and excess carbon dioxide in our air: Is it stupidity, or a collective death wish?

Above: An artist creates a portrait of President Roosevelt, 1934. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Water

In 1939, in a message to Congress about water pollution, President Roosevelt said: "Unprecedented advances in cleaning up our streams have been made possible by the public works and work-relief programs during the past six years... As in many other fields of conservation, great improvement in the Nation's basic assets of water has been incident to the fight against unemployment." 

FDR and his fellow New Deal policymakers hired unemployed Americans to install new water mains, build new reservoirs, improve water utility plants, and much more, all across the country. Many of these projects are still in use today, well past their intended lifespan. 

Yesterday, we were advised by one of the water quality experts who helped uncover the Flint water scandal that we should not trust America's aging and deteriorating water supply system ("Expert: Without filter, no water safe from lead pipes," The Detroit News, September 28, 2016).  

Air

In a statement to the Society of American Foresters in 1935, President Roosevelt said: "The forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people." 

FDR and his fellow New Deal policymakers created the Civilian Conservation Corps, which hired millions of young men to plant and protect billions of trees. Much of their work, and many of their trees, are still with us today in our state and national parks. Trees remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and improve air quality.

Yesterday, we learned that the Earth's atmospheric carbon dioxide levels are now consistently at, or above, 400 ppm, even in remote places like Antarctica; and it's quite likely that we're heading towards 500 ppm ("We Just Passed A Grim Carbon Dioxide Threshold, Possibly For Good," Huffington Post, September 28, 2016).

Stupidity, or a Collective Death Wish? You Decide.

Despite years and years of warnings from scientists, tens of millions of people still cling to the belief that initiatives to clean our air & water are "liberal conspiracies," and that global warming is just a hoax. And they also believe that we cannot possibly tax billionaires more, or tone down our military spending, to replace decrepit water lines with increased infrastructure spending. Instead, they look at super-wealthy Americans and fossil fuel barons with wide-eyed adoration, and proclaim in joyous submission, "JOB CREATORS!" (meanwhile, the supposed "job creators" are constantly looking for ways to reduce the number of jobs, since the cost of labor infringes on profits). As if this were not bad enough, tens of millions of others are so apathetic that they can't be bothered to vote, let alone examine the science of climate change or question the state of our infrastructure.

So, there's lead in the water that's hurting our health, and there's excess carbon dioxide in the air that's threatening our very existence. And yet we keep ignoring our infrastructure, and we keep burning fossil fuels with reckless abandon. Stupidity? Or a collective death wish?  

3 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanatos: death wish is the flip side of libido: lust for life in the extreme as greed and so forth. Excess of libido brings thanatos as a balance to the excess, and no more explicit example is found than corporate USA and its poster child, Trump. He takes us down with him.
    The roots of the human misery to come is seen in our restless, colonizing heart. Chariots, ships, autos, planes, jets, rockets--we cannot stay put and we take extreme steps to get away, ‘get anywhere, get ahead of the pack and conquer. We are the fire that is burning us, we are the 400 ppb of carbon in our atmosphere, we are the lead in our water ...

    ReplyDelete