To the whingers it's blue-green algae, the toxic growth that fouls our rivers and lakes and triggers massive coastal dead zones but Nixon vice-president and jailbird Spiro Agnew knew those types as 'nattering nabobs of negativity.'
Okay, it's not ideal for your pets. These three little guys splashed around in it one afternoon and were dead of liver failure before the next sunrise, but hey, we have to eat after all. That blue-green algae is a by-product of agricultural chemical runoff that puts food on your table.
Here's what Lake Winnipeg looks like:
It's smelly and yucky and gross. It's also laced with neurotoxins. You think that's bad, you oughta see what's going on in China, a.k.a. The Peoples Republic of Neurotoxins R Us.
This post isn't really about algae. It's about our global indifference to the increasing backup of all forms of pollution and contamination. To borrow a few lines from the previous post:
Robbing Peter to pay Paul. Robbing the poor to pay the rich. Robbing the future to pay the present.
That's the way we like it and we're damned good at it.
Sure it's a one way street to the cliff edge. Sure, there's a day of reckoning. Still, that's the way we like it.The algae, that's the easy stuff. You can see it from space, you can splash in it, you can burn your skin and self-inflict neurological damage, you can even kill your dogs, but there is so much more.
Speaking of neurotoxins, lead is a winner. You've probably heard of Flint, Michigan's problem with toxic levels of lead in the municipal water supply and the fiasco that ensued from a state government in no great rush to come to the rescue. Now it's Newark, New Jersey, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania's turn in the spotlight.
No amount of lead is considered “safe,” but the federal government has set a limit of 15 parts per billion in drinking water. At one point, tests in Flint revealed lead levels at over 100 ppb. In July, a test showed Newark water lead levels at 55 ppb. In both cases residents say the city’s denials and delays came at a cost to their wellbeing.
“The mayor keeps saying that this isn’t like Flint,” Newark resident Shakima Thomas told Grist way back in November. “It is the same as Flint in the way that they tried to cover it up. We were victimized by this administration. They gamble with our health. They put politics first before justice.”
And that pattern appears to be continuing. Some experts say they already have a good idea of where the “next, next Flint” might be.These are not insurmountable threats. All it takes is government willing to spend money to protect citizens. When members of Congress got wind they were drinking contaminated water they sprang into action.
Given the proper incentive though, she said, change can happen fast — like when Washington, D.C. discovered it had a lead problem back in 2004. “They got that taken care of very quickly, by comparison,” she said, “because there were members of Congress drinking the water.”Such is life in the era of Every Day Low Taxes.