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#41

Another example from recently, the American Cyanamid company treated the wetlands of Carteret NJ as its personal cyanide waste dump for process waste from the 1930’s until, shockingly, the 1970’s. Not the other way around or anything. It’s massive and irreversible. The only way around it is remediation to prevent the cyanide from continuing to leak into the waters around New York Bay. Jersey and Christie rammed through a measure to “remediate” it by topping it with a layer of contaminated soil, otherwise known as a soil dumping scheme. I wonder why? The federal EPA was against it but local regulation won the day. There’s bound to be a major sludge release there one day as they haven’t fixed the problem but merely covered it up with more waste, genius.


#42

Hooker Chemical acted quite responsibly, they did line the canal with special clay that wouldn’t leak, and they capped it with the same. They warned the city government. It was the city government who developed it in ways that the company warned them not to. I think this is a case where government management of property is inferior to private management. A school bought the land, but it was the city who removed dirt above the site to be used in constructing the school. The city also constructed sewer lines, which caused more breaches in the barrier.

This would be a different department of the city government than would be the environmental department, which again, would be mostly a state thing, not city. These are just government workers not being careful how they do their jobs, where quality isn’t valued as in a private company who depends on earning money.


#43

By the standards of the day they indeed did. By modern standards, not by any means. And, they were apparently content to have the mess they created off of their hands and they didn’t make much noise even though it should have been obvious that a massive problem was waiting to happen. I agree it was primarily a failure of government, but local government. Local government can too easily be blinded by its connections to various local interests. The power of the national government is needed when such potentially long-term and massively damaging problems are on the table.


#44

We have the advantage or retrospect, so we make laws guided according to how these disasters occurred, which they didn’t have back in the 40s or 50s; industrial chemicals just aborning.

And the consequences of Love Canal came later, in the late 70s or early 80s, by which time the federal government was already handling these things, and not doing very well, I must say. They said they contained it in 2004, but there’s still problems there.

My point being, we haven’t seen local state government (not city) being brought in to solve the problem yet. They probably could have handled it more properly than the federal government did. They were not given a chance, because they weren’t aware of it when it was in their hands. They hadn’t made specific regulations for that specific case because it was a new field, such disasters were unknown, unheard, and unimagined at the time.

But the company knew, they were the ones who exercised much precaution, they knew, they warned the city, they sold it to the city, tried to get them not to develop on it, but it was the city that seemed to not care.


#45

Indeed.

And the consequences of Love Canal came later, in the late 70s or early 80s, by which time the federal government was already handling these things, and not doing very well, I must say. They said they contained it in 2004, but there’s still problems there.

They didn’t know about it. The stuff was already buried, Hooker wasn’t saying anything, the local government was sleepwalking. The problems are historical like in many places due to poor practices, and aren’t easily resolved.

My point being, we haven’t seen local state government (not city) being brought in to solve the problem yet. They probably could have handled it more properly than the federal government did. They were not given a chance, because they weren’t aware of it when it was in their hands. They hadn’t made specific regulations for that specific case because it was a new field, such disasters were unknown, unheard, and unimagined at the time.

Local government did nothing but amplify the problem and cause it to affect people directly. So no. The only way to handle it after the pollution has occurred is with massive amounts of money and major engineering projects, something the federal government is better at, including being able to extract money from the original polluters.

But the company knew, they were the ones who exercised much precaution, they knew, they warned the city, they sold it to the city, tried to get them not to develop on it, but it was the city that seemed to not care.

Lots of fault to go around. Hooker was actually somewhat responsible. There are hundreds of sites around the country where that wasn’t the case at all.


#46

What is the purpose of first world nations obsessing over such things when nations such as China and India are dirty as hell? For any global progress, it is those nations that must confront the issue. And I don`t think they will be successful at this because of the inherent chaos and disorder inherent in these cultures. You make them clean overnight – you will take away their entrepreneur drive. China will become Singapore – a gormless but clean state where getting the locals to take risks is a chore indeed. Reforming the Chinese to make them clean? Mao tried to change Chinese thinking (the premise of the Cultural Revolution was not entirely incorrect) and reform traditional thinking and it was a colossal failure. I predict similar things for any green push.

Do not get me wrong, I favour private sector green innovation but my secular minded intellect despises the religious eco extremism of most green-minded people. And they also have a limited grasp of reality. Battery powered cars replacing fossil fuels? My ass. The whole lithium supply, even with new finds, could only provide a very, very, very slim fraction of demand. Not gonna happen despite what the Gore-loving green profiteers, university leeches, and suburban idealists think. And to think they will reform the Chinese. Green imperialists are super naieve.


#47

While I agree that there is a big subset of ‘green imperialists’ who don’t have a clue about the underlying ecology, physics or chemistry of pollution and waste, there’s an equally big subset who know rather a lot; they tend to get ignored because it’s easier for opponents to focus on the strawmen.

Incidentally, the battery cars you (correctly) deride are being put out there by ‘private sector green innovation’. And what’s with the epithet ‘profiteers’? Surely you’re not suggesting profit is a bad thing? :slight_smile:

I do agree with Jotham that everything looks obvious in hindsight, and historical context is important. Nevertheless, there’s an incredible lack of “if you do that then this will happen” foresight, and someone back there mentioned that this is basically because bad behavior can turned into Somebody Else’s Problem.

I’m unfamiliar with the Hooker Chemical case that tempogain was discussing, but the question arises: how is it that a private company was allowed to appropriate a vast tract of valauble public property and destroy it, without at least some financial recompense to the nominal owners: We The People? As I said earlier, the concepts of pollution, toxins or eco-bullshit don’t even come into it. The value of some small part of the US has been permanently erased, which looks a lot like theft to me.

Sorry, but that’s an enormous pile of elephant bollocks. I gave an example elsewhere of low-hanging fruit: the sorry excuse for engineering that is the Philippines tricycle (motorcycle-sidecar) fleet. These are made from rebar and zinc plate, fall to pieces within a year, and are propelled by the shittiest possible smoke-belching engines. They are so loud you can’t have a conversation with someone in the seat next to you. They also cost a fortune: about US$3500 including the motorcycle.

Reason: nobody is allowed to import, or place on the roads, anything else. Proximate cause: Rich, corrupt Filipinos stuffing cash into their pockets. Obvious solution: buy some proper mass-produced tricycles, with electric motors, and set up solar charging stations on every spare rooftop. The economics of battery power in this instance makes sense because the equipment is being used almost constantly. Won’t happen because the people at the top of the heap want to go on milking the system at the expense of every other citizen.

So no, making poor countries green won’t kill their entrepreneurism; it’ll set it free. How are you going to open a coffee shop when you got CHUGGACHUGGACHUGGA tricycles driving past at 130dB? But, as I said, it won’t happen, for pretty much the same reason things don’t get fixed in the West. Same game, different rules.


#48

I’m all for better regulation too, but I gathered something else from your earlier posts.

If using drug Alpha on cows is illegal for everyone in the land from A to Y, but not illegal for Z, that means there’s less regulation overall than if it were also illegal for Z.

How do you figure that? By default laws apply to everyone equally, so the exemption is an addition, a complication.

That’s one way of looking at it. From Z’s point of view though, it’s simple: no such law comes onto my radar.


#49

It’s one of the better-known cases in the US, only because they wound up building houses right on top of the thing. It was a particular wake-up call, but there are loads of similar situations. Ultimately a lack of government oversight is responsible. They didn’t know better until the 70’s. There’s no excuse now.

Global progress would be great but many important issues are smaller in scale.


#50

The word environment refers to one’s surroundings. We’re talking about bodies of water in particular. Leave it up to each jurisdiction with a share of the water, and what do you expect to happen?

If Vietnam had the greenest standards and practices in the world, the Mekong delta would still be at the mercy of five other countries.


#51

That is a top-down elitist viewpoint and why green initiatives are doomed to fail in practical reality.


#52

??? That’s just a bald assertion. I’d say it’s a viewpoint based on the reality of the situation. Small-scale environmental problems impact the quality of life of people living around them. Efforts to deal with them are beneficial and save resources in the long run. Only your view seems to be top down here, that because global problems exist, other problems are insignificant? What other problems should we ignore because larger problems exist? That’s not logical.


#53

I see it as especially true with poverty issues. I have zero sympathy with welfare people in the US and Europe. They get 500 dollars a month? Too much. They have an apartment, a large screen TV, and greasy food – some of this heavily subsidized. My sympathies (having travelled and worked on projects in sub-Saharan Africa, as well as sponsoring three kids and working with AIDS/Malaria orphans) are with people that are really poor (e.g., women in Africa).

Just as with pollution, my interest is cleaning up the places that are really dirty. The US? Very, very clean even with the SUV culture.

Too many suburban liberals without a realist world view want to fix small problems and feel all good inside, instead of dealing with the much larger, systemic problems. They need to leave Malibu and grow the hell up. :joy:


#54

That’s not what we’re talking about.

Just as with pollution, my interest is cleaning up the places that are really dirty. The US? Very, very clean even with the SUV culture.

This seems to be your top down ethos at work again. It doesn’t matter how clean the US is relative to other places. I’m simply saying that environmental issues exist in the US which deserve federal attention and regulation. If you disagree that’s fine of course, but I’m not understanding the logic of your argument at this point. It’s like saying a dog bite is nothing compared to vitamin deficiency so you may as well ignore it.

Too many suburban liberals without a realist world view want to fix small problems and feel all good inside, instead of dealing with the much larger, systemic problems. They need to leave Malibu and grow the hell up. :joy:

If you say so. I’m saying that these are important problems worth our attention, and that it is irrelevant that more serious problems exist elsewhere in the world. I suspect the non-suburban non-liberals may not be living with a toxic waste dump in their vicinity, drinking poisoned water, etc.


#55

No, you’re talking about the city. No one has ever had the city in mind when talking about environmental issues at the local level, but rather the state. Cities usually don’t have an “Environmental Department” in charge of such, so that is an unfair characterization calling the city laborers who are merely blundering government workers the same as local environmental enforcement. Blundering construction workers on the federal level exist too. You’re comparing apples and oranges.

What Hooker should have done, as they were genuinely concerned about the situation, they should have alerted the state to the problem instead of assuming that city government officials were responsible in all things pertaining to the environment.


#56

But how would federal supervision have prevented Hooker? They wouldn’t have known about the situation same as the state unless someone had given them a heads-up. Unless you think they would have had more insight and already have delineated clear laws and guidelines that would have prevented the Hooker catastrophe. As I said earlier, we have those laws today BECAUSE of what we learned from Hooker and others, which they didn’t have back then. In the historical context this occurred, I really see little difference between federal or state supervision of the environment in this case. This happened in the 40s and 50s.


#57

That’s apples and oranges; it was the 50’s and 60’s. Hooker knew what was happening. They chose not to shut up about it and not tell anyone.

These issues are too big even for states. State politics are a rathole in the US. Problems easily transcend state borders. The Carteret soil dumping scheme I mentioned above is a good example, the Rahway Arch project. If the berms holding the waste fail NYS is going to be as affected as NJ if not more. States have environmental protection agencies, and have had for a long time. Federal oversight and standards are still needed however.


#58

Right, a lack of government oversight is what I said. These problems are huge. There’s more than enough need for oversight at all levels of government.


#59

Sometimes you get efficient work done at the federal level. We see this with Trump. In other cases, it isn’t, but mostly politicking and posturing, and then the whole nation suffers.

On the state level, however, one state’s deficiencies will not affect the whole nation; but rather a majority of states will have competency and uphold the environment better than if federal leadership happens to be lax at the time.

In general, it’s much more efficient to get things done on a state level than it is federally, when it requires revolutionary change in thinking or procedures. Trump may be an exception to this, but we won’t see many presidents like Trump again.


#60

Ok, you lost me now.