Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Far more valuable than money!

Headline: Prescription Drugs found in water supply.

Headline: Local municipalities sue to prevent forced payments for bay cleanup!

What is it about this stuff that local governments fail to grasp?

You simply cannot build and build and build some more without paying the price required to protect the environment.

Up to a point, the earth and Mother Nature are forgiving, but only up to a point. Beyond that point there is a price to pay. Al Gore’s devotees deal in carbon footprints.

What about blue dollars? How about the blue dollars that will protect and ensure the world’s water supply?

Everything that we pour down the drain, or flush, or simply dump onto the ground, winds up in our water supply. Now, apparently, the drugs that we enter into that system are affecting the meat supplies. Your next Big Mac may have epinephrine in it. The next steak you cook at home may be contaminated with Xanax! The next Big Bucket you get from KFC may have traces of Darvocet in those legs and thighs.

And all those drugs will be in addition to the antibiotics we feed the animals to keep them healthy up to slaughter time, and the chemicals in the water supply from what we spray to protect crops, and chemicals that alter feed genetically.

Remember the saying, “You are what you eat.”

Two months ago we began posting a series of articles from the Bay Journal News Service. They dealt with the environment, in particular, as it applies to the Chesapeake Bay. [Read the posts at: Vanishing Acts: The mid-Atlantic's disappearing landscapes, Gift of Water, gift of life, and Doing the right thing? Developers, Social Responsibility and the Environment]

We followed with a piece of our own called Downstream, which detailed many of the pitfalls of our own area in relation to the Chesapeake Bay, and indeed, to ourselves.

These posts are not predictions for the future, they are about what is happening NOW!

Go back to the headlines above: Prescription Drugs found in water supply, municipalities sue to prevent forced payments for bay cleanup. As we detailed in Downstream, as long as voters continue to elect pro-development legislators, pro-development township supervisors, pro-development zoning board members, borough, town, city and county government leaders who are pro-development, as is the case in nearly all the governments in Adams and York Counties, as well as Franklin, and Cumberland, development will continue, and it will expand.

As long as development continues [at a constantly increasing rate as is the case now], and grows, the higher the rate of pollution we inject into the eco system in which we live, and in which others live…downstream.

The developers don’t care. They will make their money by the truckload, scooping it up with front end loaders, and carting it off with them when they leave for Florida, California, the Bahamas, and Hilton Head. They could care less about the environment.

Bob Monahan isn’t content with scarring the landscape with useless hotels and restaurants that are dying in Gettysburg because of a lack of available workforce to staff them, and a lack of available customers. Now he wants to build an enormous mall in Hanover, literally right beside the awful conglomerations of malls that is Eisenhower Boulevard and the North Hanover Mall. He is arrogant enough to insist that the next township construct a bypass stretching west toward Gettysburg and US 15, which would ease the flow of traffic between Gettysburg and his new mall, and also allow easier truck traffic to it.

He likely has thoughts of opening a trucking terminal mall along the bypass. Ostensibly, the bypass would relieve the traffic congestion in McSherrystown and [probably] Brushtown.

It would likely kill the retail businesses currently along PA 16 through McSherrystown.

“Good neighbor” David Sites, a Gettysburg developer is not content with filling Cumberland Township up with strip malls, and housing developments, so he attends meetings of the Gettysburg Borough Council and Zoning Committee, where he arrogantly dictates to them what ordinances and laws they must change to survive in the 21st century!

And all is legal. All is just fine with the local governments these developers come into contact with because the elected government officials are all pro-development.

And so the region speeds along blindly approving one project after another, and making the local and downstream environment more poisonous by the hour.

So, who is responsible? Well, when you added that room onto your house the contractor that did the drywall was very nice, and helped you get the permits from your local township. So at election time you looked at the choices for township supervisor and saw his name, and of course you voted for him.

Did you think he would be anything but pro-development?

Yes, it really is that simple.

Yes, we have ALL been that careless.

Yes, it is vital to change this situation NOW.

The next generation may die in a world without the Maryland Blue Crab. So what, you ask? The loss of the Maryland Blue Crab from the Chesapeake Bay is nothing but a result, a symptom, of a poisoning of the environment. Kill off the crabs and you kill off what eats them in their habitat.

Wikipedia says, “Crabs are omnivores, some feeding primarily on algae, others taking any type of food, including mollusks, worms, other crustaceans, fungi, bacteria and detritus, depending on their availability and the crab species. For many crabs, a mixed diet of plant and animal matter results in the fastest growth and greatest fitness.” Kill off the crabs, and what the crabs eat will thrive to choke the bay, killing off innumerable species. Algae will choke the waters and the thriving bay area fisheries will fail totally. So will the tourist beaches – Who wants to spend a week at the shore when it looks like a scum covered pond?

And those species that enter the Chesapeake Bay to spawn will die before they can create another generation. The algae will rob the water of sunlight and oxygen.

Why in the world, then, would any municipality continue on this headlong path to environmental disaster? Why would any municipality sue the Commonwealth to block being forced to make payments for Bay cleanup? Who do they think is polluting the Bay?

A few years ago we noticed that Plum Run, which runs through the Battlefield here at Gettysburg, was overrun with crayfish in the pools at the Devils Den/Slaughter Pen area. In the evenings we noticed the raccoons raiding the trash bins for the white paper bags full of chicken bones, leftover fish sandwiches, leftover hamburgers, etc. We watched white bags move off into the woods in the gathering darkness under raccoon power. And because harvesting the white bags from the trash bins was easier than harvesting their natural food of crayfish, an over-population of crayfish occurred. As far as we know this situation still exists. We shudder to think what would happen if the supply of leftovers were to disappear – would the raccoons go back to fishing for crayfish? This is a direct example of man’s presence affecting a balance of nature.

So when you build on fresh ground, ground where no construction existed before, you reduce the amount of ground that nature can use to filter impurities from the air, from the water, and from the ground. So you build and put human waste into a sewer system that collects and concentrates the waste from a large area, then “treats” it with chemicals, and flushes the “treated” water into a local stream. Build enough in an area and what falls from the sky,. Or gets squirted from a hose will no longer go through the filtration system of the ground, but will run off through storm water systems, washing every chemical in their path into those same streams.

Downstream! Get it? The question is no longer where do you draw the line, but how quickly you can draw it.

It isn’t just the Chesapeake Bay, but also the Delaware Bay, the Mississippi Delta, the Florida Everglades, the Savannah River, and so on, ad infinitum.

Most likely global warming is nothing more than a cyclical event occurring naturally in the cycle of earth’s climate. Like ice ages, it will come and go. But even if it is coming, we as likely as not will not be here to witness it, having poisoned the water that will rise to flood our world, so we could no longer drink it.

Some things are simply far more valuable than money!


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Anonymous said...

"Far More Valuable Than Money" was an excellent article and quite to the point. The almighty dollar is behind all of our development. And when there is no money to be made by local citizens, it is just apathy and self-centerdness that fills in the total picture of our dying earth. Every extra light that is left burning, every time you mow your grass, spread a "bit" of fertilizer, dump that turpentine down the kitchen sink, fill up 5 bags of trash every week for a 2 household family, we are killing the earth. It always seems to be the next guy will fix it and get it right - when the next guy is us. Thanks for your excellent essay - it should be submitted to the Gburg Times - Oops, won't get printed there will it!