January 14, 2011

Every Man For Himself, Land For Grabs

I’m not going to lie; I am from New York City and have been here since the subways were fifty cents and cabs were a few dollars at most. My carbon footprint has been left, over and over again. I try to avoid it, but my career and my life is here. It is my nature and way.

It is not only because mass transit is cheaper that I take it. It is because it’s economically and environmentally friendlier. Trains hold a thousand people, while a cab at most holds 4. On any given day there are thousands upon thousands of cabs running up and down 5th Avenue and Broadway alone. Multiply the number of people by the transit amount, the numbers can get interesting.

Over the years, pollution and environmental ownership has become a major problem. It is not just a problem for major corporations, but it could even be your neighbor down the street. Recently on January 12th, the EPA reported there was a property filled with more than 100 containers of paint, solvents, and other hazardous materials with piles of broken electronic equipment. As a result of this, the EPA had to spend an estimated $763,000 and six months of work to clean up. It doesn’t always start at the top.

From land comes pollution in the ocean. After pollution hits the ocean from us, we see crucial damage back our way. Recently, Tysons and Perdue wanted to build hundreds of chicken houses near their facilities in Accomack County, VA. This would mean bringing in over 4 million chickens per year. Now I want to point out that I am in no way a vegetarian but I am also not about animal abuse, so this is about neither. The question here is, where will all of the waste go from the mass slaughter houses?

The coincidence here is that these plants are strategically placed next to the Chesapeake Bay, giving Perdue and Tyson tons of water to dump their chicken (pardon my French) shit in. “Billions of pounds of chicken litter have flowed into the bay in the decades since international poultry conglomerates such as Perdue and Tyson targeted the Delmarva Peninsula for their multi-million-dollar operations,” said Waterkeepers. The group added that the industry has been “treating the Chesapeake Bay like an open toilet.” See, I wasn’t kidding. Kathy Phillips, a coastkeeper on Maryland’s Eastern Shore took water samples from that same bay and found out that “The Pocomoke River is already impaired with nitrogen, phosphorus, E. coli, and fecal coliform bacteria. That’s exactly what was pouring off this facility and the Pocomoke River was carrying it to the Chesapeake Bay.” Phillips adds that “The Eastern Shore is one of the most abundant and productive coastal waterways in the United States, if anybody’s really serious about cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay, then these discharges have to be controlled.”

Is it every man for himself when it comes to land? Can we just take what we want from the Earth? According to some estimates, more than 50 percent of the tree cover has disappeared due to human activity. Since the 1970’s in Brazil, more than 600,000 square kilometers of forest have been destroyed, which is just under 300,000 square miles. For some perspective, from Maine to Los Angeles it is only 2,880 miles. In Brazil by 2022 it will lose approximately 50% of its forest by 2022. You might be sitting there kind of puzzled and saying “Yeah, so? We need paper, products, etcetera,” but there are real problems with forest erosion. With forest erosion, we lose soil, the water cycle is disrupted, biodiversity takes a deep plunge, flooding and drought becomes a risk, and climate change becomes even more of a problem. Why do we do all of this and risk everything? To grow crops, graze land, create fuel, and the best, “urban construction.”

Now I wont be that negative and highlight someone trying to make a difference. Lets turn our heads and take a look at The Environmental Lands Conservation Program of Osceola County, Florida. What this organization does is they acquire environmentally significant lands through county property taxes and protect them. Its organizations like this that keep our rivers and lands alive. Go out, find that organization, and be a part of something that can help all of us in the long run.

Read 3 Comments and Reply

Read 3 comments and reply

Top Contributors Latest

Jake Bernstein  |  Contribution: 800