Poisoning the Planet
Gloria Steinem observed, "Rich people plan for three generations; poor people plan for Saturday night." The implication is that failing to see beyond short-term results keeps people, nations, and all dwellers on this planet, impoverished and in jeopardy.
It may be easier to deal with impaired life strategies in small cohorts. Motorcycle enthusiast organizations, for instance, fought laws requiring riders to wear protective helmets. It was restricting individual freedom, they cried. Yet it was all of us who paid for medical intervention when a rider's injuries could have been lessened by headgear. So we passed laws making it illegal to put your head, and our wallets, in jeopardy while riding your motorized two wheeler.
Many businesses sound the same lament when asked to consider the impact their immediate gratification practices have on others. Under our weird legal system corporations, although a paper fiction, have "personhood" and we shouldn't restrict their right to earn a livelihood. So news reports regularly tell us of lives lost, economies harmed, and living beings suffering because businesses didn't practice responsible citizenship.
Even so, it is interesting to see that while major, multi-national corporations have directly contributed to large-scale environmental, human and wildlife disasters, they are not the principal cause of the top ten pollution problems our planet is facing. This conclusion is found in a recently concluded study by the Blacksmith Institute in concert with Green Cross Switzerland. The report, titled "World's Worst Toxic Pollution Problems," aims to identify where these pollution sites are, and who or what caused them. See the chart below.
According to the Blacksmith study, "abandoned, outdated and poorly regulated small and medium-scale economic activities create the majority of toxic hotspots, in terms of both number of places and people impacted." Seen on a world map, there is an expected geographic correlation between prosperity and the major pollution sites.
Big business doesn't get a total pass, though. "Demand for commodities and consumer goods, driven largely by the economies of high-income countries, has increased the severity of the impacts from mining, product manufacturing and recycling, among other economic activities," the report continues.
In the US, for instance, the infamous Gulf of Mexico dead zones continue to poison enormous quantities of wild fish. The cause is agricultural chemicals transported by rivers from the fields and factory farms of distant states.
Key Pollutant and Source Industry
Artisanal Gold Mining
Pesticide Pollution (considering only local impact)
Mining and Ore Processing
Mining and Ore Processing
Lead-Acid Battery Recycling
Naturally Occurring Arsenic in Ground Water
Pesticide Manufacturing and Storage
In all, the Blacksmith study estimates a total of 38 million people are affected both economically and healthwise by the identified pollution. More if the scope is expanded to include lesser causes of pollution. The report also admits that the real number is additionally greater as there were factors that could not be quantified. We can only guess the effect on the animals in all those environments.
Even with these deficiencies, this report offers and overview and insight that is helpful when discussing environmental, human and animal issue on our beleaguered planet.
Published by admin on 10/19/2012 22:03:27