W R Collier Jr- The animus over the EPA’s accidental dumping of some 3 million plus gallons of toxic sludge into the Animas river is growing, and both environmentalists and those who generally oppose the EPA are reacting with hostility. But the EPA’s response, while “proof” to some that the earth is ultimately impervious to the impacts of human activity, is raising eyebrows
In essence, the EPA Administrator told the media that, despite a massive dumping of heavy metals and other toxic elements, the Animas river is now “healing itself” and “returning to normal.” In fact the agency has allocated $500,000 to the “response efforts.” This is of course the same EPA that wants to shutter most coal-fired power plants in order to decrease global warning by about two one hundredths of a degree over 30 years- as if that is either measurable or possible.
This is the same EPA that practically declares a national emergency (I am being hyperbolic on purpose) if you break a light bulb. It is the same EPA that has created a very complicated regimen for out-processing liquid flushed from a radiator, meaning it is more expensive and less convenient to get your radiator flushed.
In all of its preachments (for the EPA’s blind faith in a “living planet” that seems almost to be godlike, borders on the fanatical) the EPA uses apocalyptic language that spells doom, shear and utter doom, if its preachments do not become strictly adhered to regulations. But when the EPA itself actually has an accident, it is suddenly “not a major problem” that 3 million or more gallons of what it deems “toxic material” has been introduced into a river system. Suddenly, this little Animas river is able to heal itself. But human CO2 emissions, which are a tiny fraction of the amount of CO2 produced naturally and are minuscule compared to the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, are deadly: this despite the fact that CO2 accounts for 4 one thousandths of the whole atmosphere.
In other words, a massive atmosphere is somehow grossly impacted by a minuscule emission of CO2 from humans while a small river system that was turned yellow by a massive release of toxic material is not impacted “seriously.”
Are of these statements false or are both true? Or are both false? We don’t have a way of determining the answer to these questions, at least not one that everyone can agree to.
A tiny amount of some elements can be deadly: consider how deadly one tiny drop of cyanide is. But large amounts of other elements, when combined with larger mixtures, can be harmless. So, is CO2, even in the comparatively small doses produced by human activity, really deadly to the atmosphere? In other words, is it like cyanide? On the other hand, are heavy metals and other chemicals which were released into the Animas river harmless?
The real issue I have with our dependence on fossil fuels is one of scale, centralization of power, and, yes, environmental impact. Using fossil fuels requires massive scale operations, it creates large corporate economic powers that control access to energy, and it can lead to poisoning our environment. I don’t want to ban fossil fuels, but I do embrace creating alternatives that put control over energy in the hands of individuals and local communities. And I want clean air and water.
The entire debate about global warming is ephemeral and far too much tied to equally centralizing policies that dis-empower people and communities for anyone to trust its veracity. In other words: people suspect the theory because its solutions tend to read more like Marx’s “solutions” than actual efforts to “save” the planet by empowering people.
By saying that this toxic release is no big deal, the EPA is ceding any moral high ground and it is making the case that all the global warming alarmism and all the environmental impact concerns are over-blown.
Because the use of alternative energy is so tied to these things, their discrediting is likely to impact people’s view of alternative energy. This would be most unfortunate as the deeper issues of energy freedom for people and communities and of having little impact on the natural order as good stewards of God’s green Earth are practically ignored.
First, they are ignored by the left because they do not require or empower the government to intervene very much and because they would give individuals and communities energy independence, which means they would need government less. Second, they are ignored by the right because they don’t just ask about the cost comparison for today in terms of raw dollars but they add the freedom quotient: the value of energy freedom as a precious commodity. Third, they are ignored in general because most people in Western Civilization are short-sighted followers of a “world as spoil” mentality.
What the EPA has done at the Animas River is not only pollute God’s green earth, but they have polluted the whole discourse on good stewardship and energy freedom for individuals and communities.