June 3 Sources: Sewerage = Fertilizer

Among this week’s sources are lots of interesting articles pertaining to the best ways to address environmental issues. There is also one comparing a water crisis to the oil crisis. I have heard this kind of comparison before and it is just wrong. Water is the ultimate renewable resource. It must be managed well locally, but water is not something we can run out of on a global basis.

We just mange the water resource wrong because we insist on treating it as a free good and refuse to recognize good solutions to problems when they are right in front of us. For example, I recently attended a conference on biosolids. Biosolids are processed municipal or agricultural wastes. They are related to water in that when you flush you produce biosolids precursors and processed biosolids are around 70% water.

I really want to get biosolids for my land, but we always get complaints. Some people see biosolids as a pollution problem. They are not. They are a fertility building opportunity in forestry or agriculture. Biosolids can help us rebuild our depleted soils and complete the virtuous ecological cycle from waste to product to consumption to waste to product anon. Our forests and meadows can absorb all the properly applied biosolids we produce w/o compromising the quality of ground or surface water. We are doing it already and have been for many years, but developed countries are still too often burning and wasting biosolids by dumping them in landfills. In some countries they still just crap in the river, wasting the resource and ruining their drinking water.

The solutions are so simple, but so hard to do.

Anyway, other sources are below.

The 2008 Presidential Campaign - The Brookings Institution has created a special project designed to inject ideas into this debate.

Democrats Have an Early Lead ... in the Web 2.0 Race - Even Republicans admit it. Could web 2.0 be the left's version of talk radio?

Republicans Say Campaign Coverage Too Easy on Democratic Candidates - About half the public believes that press coverage of 2008 presidential candidates has been fair, but there are partisan differences in these evaluations. A plurality of Republicans say the press has been too easy on Democratic candidates.

U.S. Society

A Book for Real Boys - A new book rightly points to those attributes which we all must recognize as uniquely male, flying in the face of political correctness and efforts within education to avoid "gender bias."

A Slower Flow from Mexico? - While short-term changes in immigration flows are difficult to measure, several indicators suggest a possible slackening in migration across the U.S. border since mid-2006.

Analyzing Economic Mobility: Measuring Inequality and Economic Mobility - There is no comprehensive measure of economic inequality and mobility, but several metrics, used together, can give a more complete picture.

Identity Theft Protection Act

The Capitalist Foundations of America - Are the origins of the United States religious and political, or did economic motives drive the early colonists?

The Senate's Workplace Immigration Enforcement Proposal: Too Much Federal Meddling – Rather than place great and unnecessary burdens on all workers and employers, Congress should focus workplace enforcement efforts where they are likely to do the most good.

America's Image Abroad: Room for Improvement - Recent polls show that large majorities of Muslim populations believe the U.S. seeks to undermine Islam as a religion. Defeating terrorist ideology requires that we dispel such negative perceptions and win support from moderate Muslims worldwide through deeper cultural engagement, people-to-people exchanges, targeted assistance that asserts America's "soft power," and unified public messages that are consistent with our actions.

How to Succeed in Second Life - Coke, Others Plunge in, but If They're Not Careful, Their Virtual Plays Will Result in Real-World Headaches.

Policy Markets - The Joint Center "Policy Markets" web site provides resources for those interested in information markets. These markets--also known as event, prediction or decision markets--allow buyers and sellers to buy and sell contracts based on their expectations regarding the outcome of an uncertain future event.

Responsibility in the Global Information Society: Towards Multi-stakeholder Governance - In a world where information and communication technologies (ICT) are fast becoming ubiquitous and indispensable, the ICT industry has a crucial enabling role in social, economic and human development.

Foreign Affairs

A new direction for France - As a candidate, Nicholas Sarkozy promised to reform the French economy. Now he must deliver.

A Six-Day War: Its Aftermath In American Public Opinion - For 40 years since the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, the U.S. public has sympathized more with Israel than with the Palestinians almost regardless of the news of the day, through the making and collapse of peace agreements and attacks and reprisals by all sides.

America and the War on Terror - Public opinion on the war on terror, President Bush, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

China Naval Modernization: Implications for U.S. Navy Capabilities - Background and Issues for Congress

Genocide Doesn't Just Happen - Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir should hang in the halls of infamy somewhere between Hitler and Pol Pot. But few Americans recognize that he and his National Islamic Front regime are directly responsible for the death of a staggering 2.4 million of his countrymen, the displacement of seven million more, as well as the enslavement and misery of hundreds of thousands of others, including tribal people in northern Uganda.

Hugo Opportunity - It is time for Americans actively to oppose authoritarian regimes such as that of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela.

Iran’s Assault on Civil Society - The good news is that Iranian civil society is booming.

Iran's Continued Defiance

Iran's Growing List of Hostages - The U.S. must firmly demand the release of Iran's newest hostages and rule out making any concessions that would encourage Iran to take more hostages in the future.

Majorities of British, Germans and Italians Believe There Are Too Many Legal Immigrants - Concerns over immigration and what to do about it are not limited to the U.S. Two-thirds (67%) of British adults, 55 percent of adults in both Germany and Italy and 45 percent of adults in Spain believe there are too many immigrants in their country.

My Saudi Sojourn - A detailed account of a scholar's cultural immersion in Saudi Arabia.

The Subjection of Islamic Women - How does Islamic feminism differ from American feminism? What can American feminists learn from Islamic ones?

The United Nations Human Rights Council: A Disastrous First Year - Advancing fundamental human rights is a U.S. priority, but the U.N. Human Rights Council has proved to be ineffective.

U.S. Implements Darfur ‘Plan B’

World Publics Think China Will Catch Up With the US—and That’s Okay - Majorities around the world believe that China will catch up with the United States economically. It’s a prospect that leaves most of those polled—even Americans—unperturbed

Energy, Economy & Environment

A New Political Climate for Global Warming - Climate change is now a key issue in the 2008 presidential campaign, sparking a larger debate about energy use and provoking policy prescriptions ranging from diplomacy to conservation to investing in research and harnessing market forces. President Bush has called for a summit on the issue as well as goals for curbing greenhouse gases.

Capitalism against Climate Change - The NCEP recommendation for a new emissions-trading program aptly balances the need for environmental policy action with a mechanism for prudent economic risk management.

Climate Change: Caps vs. Taxes -Which climate policy approach will succeed the Kyoto Protocol: cap-and-trade or a carbon tax?

Experimenting with Carbon Sequestration - Each year, the world releases more than 25 billion tons of carbon dioxide. Scrubbers exist to strip pollutants such as sulfur from smokestack emissions — could a carbon dioxide scrubber be built to suck CO2 out of the atmosphere and help combat global climate change?

Foreign Investors Prefer Predictability to Democracy - A study of recent investment flows says that being a democracy may actually make it harder for a developing country to attract capital from abroad.

Gas Prices Grab the Public's Attention - Interest in news about inflation at the pump goes beyond learning where to find the cheapest gallon and extends to impacts on the national economy.

Gas Prices: Breaking Records and Bucking Trends - What is to blame for high gas prices?

Is Water the Next Oil? - In increasing population, pollution, waste and global warming all threaten the world’s water supply.

Markets vs. Government - Government intervention is often called for when markets do not perform well. Presenters at this event will revisit the important debate about the appropriate role for markets and government.

Scientists Seek New Ways to Generate Hydrogen - Scientists are conducting research that they hope will result in new ways of generating hydrogen. One researcher says that an aluminum alloy could be used to produce hydrogen from water. New discoveries in the field could potentially make fuel-cell vehicles more practical.

Posted by Jack at June 3, 2007 9:19 PM
Comment #222185

Jack, Since your last post on water I have been doing a little studying on the subject. There is a tremendous quantity of saltwater on the earth but freshwater is harder to find, much harder. We as a people are using up the underground aquaifiers much faster then they are being refilled by rain water. We are polluting the aquifiers and the ground water rendering it un- drinkable. To compare water to oil is doing water a disservice. If all the oil in the world was gone tommorrow you and I could still live. If all the freshwater was gone tommorrow we could both start saying our goodbyes because we wouldnt last a month. Water is much more important than oil.
BTW 2 of the weekly mags have articles on the state of water- US News and World Report was one I forget the other.

Posted by: j2t2 at June 3, 2007 10:47 PM
Comment #222190

The hydrogen link kind of cracked me up. I’m glad the professor acknowledged the laws of thermodynamics. Anyway, it’s a clean method to power cars if the electricity used to create and recycle the aluminum is clean. The main advantage over electric cars I can see is that energy is not lost over power lines; however, you’ve got to drive the aluminum to a clean power source to get in recharged, so to speak. I dunno. If you can generate clean electricity locally, electric cars still seem a better bet — you wouldn’t have to lug around a pound of aluminum for every mile you want to drive! Still, who knows? We might seem some hydrogen/aluminum cars.

Posted by: Gerrold at June 3, 2007 11:09 PM
Comment #222191


I understand that water is more important than oil in the final analysis. But water is not like oil in that it cannot be used up on a global scale.

There are problems with “fossil” water, aquifers that we could pump out. That could leave some places very dry.

But it rains on earth every day. All this water was “used” and will be used again.

Let me be very clear. Access to water will be a major issue, maybe the most important one in the next decades. But we have to recongize the nature of the problem. It is not a matter of a finite resource. The problems with water are location and quality.

You really cannot “save” water and some places you would not want to. I have a couple of creeks that origninate on my farm. The water runs down the hill. Should I save it? The trees are using it every day and about once a week rain replenishes it. I live in a place where it rains enough. If I lived in the Sonora desert, it would be a different story. But that is the point.

Posted by: Jack at June 3, 2007 11:10 PM
Comment #222195

Jack, I agree that for the forseeable future it is an issue of availability and quality. Although in your area it rains weekly, out here in the western states we count on melted snow from the mountains for our water source. Hopefully, global warming doesnt mess with the snowfall.
One can also hoped that the amount of rain that makes its way to the aquafers matches what is being drawn up for crops and other usages. I kind of doubt it though as I havent heard of any aquafer levels rising or for that matter groundwater levels dont seem to be rising. Seems to me that if rain alone would keep up with usage we wouldnt even have a problem. Maybe its time to consider harvesting the run off from the melting polar ice caps as opposed to letting the water run into the sea.
Much like energy independence we must also start making water conservation a national priority. Mandatory low flow heads & toilets, reuse of grey water and such.
I guess where we will probably disagree is how best to manage the water. Im hoping to see the US nationalize our natural resources to keep the corporations out of the picture. Its asking to much of a corporation to do what is right for this Country and its people.

Posted by: j2t2 at June 3, 2007 11:56 PM
Comment #222210


I think we should use the term water wise use instead of water conservation. I am not really perfectly clear how I should express my thought on this, so please excuse any clumsiness. What I am trying to say is that water is really very different from almost any resource we use today. There are natural and agricultural systems that use prodigious amount of water and that is a good thing. I have heard smart people say that we should cut down forests or get rid of certain types of trees to “free” or “conserve” water. They are correct in the narrow sense that these systems are “wasting” water, but they are missing the bigger point that water is not like other resources.

If you save water today, you will not have more water ten years from now. The amount never changes, only location and quality. What counts is the effectiveness of the systems that consume water and protect water quality.

The fossil water in aquifers is more of a standard resource situation. The Ogallala aquifer, for example, was filled thousands of years ago and it is possible to draw out water significantly faster than it can be recharged. However, as we learn more about ground water we find that the system is much more dynamic than we initially thought. Underground water is not like underground oil.

Anyway, sorry for the rambling. I am trying to figure out how to express this. I know that the characterization of water as a resource like oil or metal is wrong, but I am not sure how to describe it correctly. Maybe the bottom line is that water is more like a living system.

Re nationalization of water - how? We have complicated rules on water use already, but you have to let individuals and landowners use the water on their properties. My pine trees use less water than most broadleaf trees and if I just had grass a lot more water would run off my place. Will the Feds tell me in detail what I can plant (or let grow, since much is natural) on my land?

A lot of the problems you have in the west are the RESULT of federal control over water and lack of market mechanism. When water rights are distributed politically, those that get them are much less encouraged to be careful, while others who may be able to use them more effectively cannot get access. We do disagree. I would like to see a more market driven approach to water resources and I think that is the only way we will be able to “conserve”, “save” or use the resource wisely.

BTW - a market driven approach need not mean corporations own the resource. It just means that we take advantage of the incentives and information contained in prices.

Posted by: Jack at June 4, 2007 7:57 AM
Comment #222223

Jack, Two of the problems you are not addressing is population growth, and desertification.

If global warming does change our climate, we may well see some areas (i.e. the west and even the south) become deserts.

Other Nations may simply not want to be nice guys and share.

Recycling water takes energy. It is the “next” oil crisis, and much more dangerous.

Posted by: barneygoogle at June 4, 2007 10:50 AM
Comment #222228

Heck.I threw out the paper. There was a piece on a report by a N.CA. reaseach group that will recieve some attention when diseminated. They are predicting about a five-fold increase in rainfall for the west coast as a result of warming. Way too much water. In a good year we have local flooding problems already. What the report does show conclusively is that no one really knows what will happen.

Years ago there was some proposals to use sewage as fertilizer for algae production.The algae to be used for alcohol fuel production. It did not pencil out well at the time. It might now. Anything that turns a problem into a plus has a definite advantage. This is valuable stuff and should be used accordingly.

Posted by: BillS at June 4, 2007 11:10 AM
Comment #222261

Isn’t Virginia experincing a dought sitation like the rest of the South? That is the major flaw in your “we have water” article. We have it has LONG as it does rain. As long as the rain doesn’t turn to steam on its way down. Or evaporavate. Etc.

I am gratful for the little rain we recieved due to Barry this last weekend. Come south if you want to see a desert in the making.

Be sure and bring you camera - you wouldn’t want to miss the lakes before they’re gone.

Posted by: Linda H. at June 4, 2007 3:56 PM
Comment #222271


We do not need anything exotic. Farms and forests can handle all the waste we produce. We just need to use the resource and defray the ignorance about it. In all fairness, it does stink for a while, so you probably do not want to use it in urban areas, but the more we learn about biosolids, the better they seem.

Linda H

We had a little more rain than usual in April; a little less in May. We had a nice soaking rain yesterday. Of course, we have had drought before. I was just reading that when the colonists landed in Jamestown, Virginia was experiencing a seven year drought. If you study tree rings, you see that weather is almost always extreme. It is only over time that it evens out.

Drought doesn’t change the fundamental fact about water. It is a renewing resource and the amount of water on earth never changes. It has to be managed as part of a living system. It is not like oil in that respect.

You and I have lived through many droughts and many periods of too much rain. When I was a kid growing up in Wisconsin, we had a drought so long and widespread that it actually lowered the level or Lake Michigan. Your lakes will fill again.

I read that the drought in the south was exacerbated by the unusually calm hurricane season last year. Tropical storms and hurricanes bring lots of rain inland. There is always a silver lining to the dark cloud … and the reverse.

Posted by: Jack at June 4, 2007 8:27 PM
Comment #222279

Jack, Exactly what kind of time frame are you talking about when you say water is always replenished? If we are using the water from the aquifer to the point where the lakes are not being replenished I would consider that a problem. Now eons from now Im sure the groundwater will eventually fill the aquifers once again but it happens over greater periods of time than a year or ten.

Posted by: j2t2 at June 4, 2007 9:04 PM
Comment #222281

As a point of interest. The city of Santa Rosa ivested heavily in pipeing treated waste water to the Geysers steamfield where it is pumped underground to replenish the natural steam production that in turn supplies most of our electric power. Pretty elagant system though I would rather have seen dual pipeing to flush toilets ,water lawns and crops.
One potential hazard with biosolids is desease possibilites,hepatitus etc. Also people sometimes flush things that can be chemical hazards,lead paint,insecticides,hair dyes etc(read the label). Hard to test for all of these. Some public education could help plus of course not using them on produce. Potential runoff should be addressed.

Posted by: BillS at June 4, 2007 9:31 PM
Comment #222286

the south was exacerbated by the unusually calm….

You made my point.

Posted by: Linda H. at June 4, 2007 10:04 PM
Comment #222297

Linda H

What are you trying to say? Weather is usually unusual. It is statistical. Only in the long run does it even out. Maybe we will have an unusually active season this year.


It depends on where. I was talking about the lakes in the SE. Those lake will refill when rains come.


Biosolids like most opportunties, need to be managed properly. The disease problem is easily handled by proper treatement. Biosolids are not raw sewerage.


Opportunities always need to be managed. They always carry risks and costs. Nothing is free.

My point with water is that the way it is managed differs from the way we would manage a finite resource. If we set about to solve the wrong problem, it creates even more trouble. If we adopt the same sort of saving regime for water as for oil, it will not solve our problem.

A drought is a problem for farmers. There were droughts before there were farmers. Remember the story of Joseph in the Bible. The seven good years followed by the seven lean years? Managing water resources was the basis of our first civilizations. We are still doing it. We learned some things and are still repeating some of the same mistakes.

But remember that we use some of the same water that the ancient Sumerians used to irrigate their crops. The world doesn’t have significantly more or less water than it did back then.

Scholars think that the green lush marshes of outhern Mesopotamia were the inspiration for garden of Eden. They were in equalibrium with their human population for thousands of years until Saddam drained them, but they are now being restored. Nature is very resilient.

Posted by: Jack at June 4, 2007 10:55 PM
Comment #222334

In Florida (and I suspect most of the eastern Unitied States that don’t use western water rights) the water belongs to the State. What this means is that you can apply for a permit to take water, but must show the justification for the take. The water management districts apply permit conditions that may stipulate things such as conservation, use of reclaimed water, limit quantities, etc. They may also deny a permit if the resource is stressed.

There are national standards for land application of biosolids that are promulgated and enforced by the USEPA. (States, counties may and do have more stringent regulations.) The conditions governing the use of the biosolids are dependent on the degree of treatment (e.g., pathogens present) and levels of contaminants. Biosolids can be treated to be fairly easy to use and apply (think Milorganite, which is pelletized sludge from the City of Milwaukee).

Posted by: Mike in Tampa at June 5, 2007 12:38 PM
Comment #222341

Read about biosolids. This is these are the presentations from the conference I attended.

Posted by: Jack at June 5, 2007 1:27 PM
Comment #222342

Only in the long run does it even out.

The problem Jack, is how long will it take to “even out”. 1 year - or 100+ years. If it takes a long time to “even out”, we are up the proverable creek - I’ll be it an empty one. We humans are totally dependant on water for our very existence. I for one don’t like the gamble that we will have enough fresh drinking water to last until it “evens out”.

Not only is this true, but our enviroment is no longer the same as it has been over the course of the centuries. Our climate is changing, and we don’t have the knowledge to predict what this climate shift will do to our snow and rain water, particularly if if continues to get hotter.

The long run idea simply doesn’t necessarily apply anymore. History may not reflect correctly on the future as it once did.

This crisis is not even in the same league as our problem with oil. I already try to live without much oil, and oil products as I can. I seldom drive, open my windows as often as possible, recycle, etc. in a small attempt to do my part to help my grandchildren and great-grand children inherit a cleaner and healthier earth.

It is not a question of how well we will live, but whether we will live.
(Please pardon my grammar and spelling - I do not have access to a spell checker at this time)

Posted by: Linda H. at June 5, 2007 1:55 PM
Comment #222359


Fresh-water is not as renewable as you might think.

When rain falls through a sky that contains sulfer from the burning or refining of fossil fuels, SULFURIC ACID is the result. Smog from automobile fumes create acid rain as well.

In my own part of the world, a few foolish local yocal county managers have done some really hidous things…such as using MINE TAILINGS to re-surface roads along rivers. The result is MERCURY poisoning in fresh water that ultimately ends up in the drinking water for some VERY HEAVILY populated areas.

It is not enough that fresh water falls from the sky if that fresh water only becomes poisonous before it ever gets to you.

Posted by: RGF at June 5, 2007 4:52 PM
Comment #222381

Linda H

Don’t worry about the spelling. I never criticize anybody for that.

I do not really know what we are arguing about. Weather is always extreme. I believe we have to manage water resources as part of a living and renewing system. You manage a forest differently than you do a gold mine. Just like if you manage the forest properly, you can have wood essentially forever, the same goes for water. Something like gold or oil runs out. Water does not.

We should always strive to leave our environment better than we found it. Wise application of biosolids will help do that.


Acid rain is less of a problem now than it was in 1990 in the U.S. The cap and trade worked very well. You still have some problems at higher altitude foggy places, but generally forest health has returned. I watch these things very closely. I was very worried about the situation in the early 1990s, but our response to the situation is a significant success story.

I regret that your local government officials made such serious errors with the road surfacing. You should work to elect better people. Fixing the damage may be expensive if it as serious as you say.

I am not trying to make light of your situation, but some chemicals are naturally occuring and at some levels they are harmless. The difference between poison and medicine is in the dosage.

We do have to worry about growing coal pollution from China etc. That is a problem that is about a decade off, but it will be serious.

Posted by: Jack at June 5, 2007 10:09 PM
Comment #222439

You have a lot more faith in Mother Nature than I do at this point.

While every so often she rasies her head and reminds us she is more powerful than mankind, I still believe she needs a helping hand or two. Especially now that we have managed to send the entire climate into a whirlwind of change and no one knows what this change will hold for the future.

We have no way to predict how much rain fall will occure, and even if one tries to look at the past, we can no longer be certian that those statistics are relable in toady’s climate. Since I am not a gambling person, I figure we should play it safe, rather than sorry.

This is of course is not just a national problem, but a world probelm. Rain comes from evaporation, and as the lakes ,rivers, and oceans begin to dry, there is obiviously going to be less rain - thus less water to drink.

As for acid rainfall, I’m afraid,it’s still very much a live and well, particularly the mountains of NC. Every year I make a trip up Mt Mitchell and just look and see what’s left of the trees. I was up there over Memorial Day. I wish I could report that evyerthing is hunky-dory, but the trees are dying at a rapid rate, and the top of te mountain makes me wan to cry because it is so desolate looing. I remember 25 years ago when it was lush and beautiful.

As, I’m sure you know, much of the snow and rain water than occures in the mountians of this state provide the run off water for the lower parts of this state. The ground water. the drinking water. If it is not good water for the trees, imagine what it will do to our bodies.

So, no, we are not really on the same side - I maintain that if we and the rest of the world do not start trying, testing and using,(and quickly)better ways to have cleaner air, whether it rains every year or once in a hundred years, we are headed to a major deadly crisis. A water one.

Posted by: Linda H. at June 6, 2007 4:09 PM
Comment #222460

The Brookings Institution has created a special project designed to inject ideas into this debate.

That’s good. The parties and the networks weren’t doing a very good job with that…


How do you go about getting biosolids from the cities to the middle of nowhere?

Posted by: TheTraveler at June 6, 2007 6:59 PM
Comment #222470

Linda H

I am still not clear about how you would differ in your response. I supported the cap and trade and would not object to ratcheting down the levels of SO2. I do not object to driving up electric rates in the name of forest preservation and I advocate a carbon tax, which would make the coal fired plants much less competitive.

Acid rain is a significantly reduced. I mentioned the problem with high foggy places, as you mentioned. But you also should be clear on how and what. Many of the trees dying in the N. Carolina mountains are hemlocks. This is a terrible tragedy. They are beautiful trees and very important to the local ecosystems. Acid rain is not the main culprit, however. The problem is an invasive species call the wooly adelgid. It is killing hemlocks from Carolina to Maine. The adelgid will also attack Frazier fir, also common in your N. Carolina mountains. This bug is a native of Eurasia and has been around a while in N. America, horrible creature w/o natural enemies in N. America.

The other variable with acid rain is soil type. Acid rain is not very acid, even at its worst. It is not harmful to people any more than orange juice. It tends to affect thin, granite based soils that are already fairly acid (soils under pines are usually acid because the pine needles make it so). Acid rain makes soils more acid and leaches out nutrients. The biosolids I talked about can help with this. Many are stabilized with lime. When biosolids are applied to acid forest soils, they raise the Ph.

Anyway, I would bet that nobody on this blog is sadder about the fate of the hemlocks than I am. I have planted hemlocks in Wisconsin and New Hampshire and they have always been one of my favorite trees. I watched them die in the Shenandoah. It was terrible. I am concerned about invasive species in general and spend many sweaty hours battling against them. But I really do not see very much useful in your take on the environment. I understand that you are frightened and unhappy with the state of affairs, but the next question always has to be, “so what do you want to do about it?” There are forest management techniques that can greatly improve soils and tree survival. I employ them and try to help others learn and use them too. The U.S. has addressed the acid rain problem and pollution is greatly reduced compared to past decades. I am willing to do more, which is why I advocate steep carbon taxes. I would accept banning private automobiles in fragile park regions. What more do you advocate?


You try to apply biosolids as close to the source as possible. They are moved by barge or truck.

BTW - they have to be moved in any case. It is usually as far or farther to a landfill than it is to a appropriate field or forest.

Posted by: Jack at June 6, 2007 8:28 PM
Comment #222471


I grew up in Houston. I don’t like to go back and visit much by I still do since I have friends there. The air smells MORE like sulpher than ever before…The sky on the South side in neighborhoods like Clear Lake, Bay Town, Kema and Pasadena still have irridescent glowing skies even on new moon nights. All that means is that ACID RAIN is still VERY real.

As for the mine tailings and the mercury pollution whee I am now, that horror took place 20 years ago but it still presents a problem in the present because everytime it rains or snows, water runs through and picks up mercury from the roads. That water then runs down stream to supply major urban areas and small towns alike.

Posted by: RGF at June 6, 2007 8:28 PM
Comment #222481


Acid rain over the U.S. is much less than it was 10 years ago. Your local situation might be different.

As I wrote Linda H, I have no trouble with imposing tighter caps. You have to recognize that we (not the firms) will pay them. As an environmentalists I accept the costs.

I think it is necessary to accurately assess the situation w/o being too optimistic or pessimistic. Saying that we have made great progress does not mean we need to stop.

Too bad your town has that legacy problem. If it is a serious problem, you may have to clean it up locally or try to get the Feds to help. I guess since your local government is responsible, there is nobody to sue.

Posted by: Jackj at June 6, 2007 9:37 PM
Comment #222483


You keep asserting that the acid rain problem has improved. Yet, I know first hand that all along the Gulf coast, things are much the same or worse. Can you back it up?

I even tried litmus paper about three years ago just out og my own curiosity. I cannot comment about the problem generally. I accept that you may know about this than I, but I want to know what you know if it will bring me hope. What I DO know is that acid rain is still very much present along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. Not coincidentally, we have a great many refineries in that part of the country as well as many other petro-chemical (plastics, tar, etc) industries.

Posted by: RGF at June 6, 2007 9:58 PM
Comment #222490


EPA publishes statistics on SO2, NOx etc. All are down a great deal since the 1990s.

Forests are generally healthier. That is why you do not read so much about it anymore.

Most forest soils are naturally acid, BTW. Just having acid soil is not a problem. Your litmus test tells you nothing unless you know what the soil SHOULD be like. It depends on how much and what is growing. Different types of plants prefer different ph.

I lived in E. Europe where I saw the results of real acid rain. Communists were good a polluting. I have seen nothing like it anywhere in the U.S.

As I told Linda H. acid rain is only one of the things that could cause forest decline. Usually, if you see dead trees, it is some kind of bug or fungus. Down were you live, you have some formidable pests. Invasive species are a much bigger threat to forests than acid rain. On my list of worries, that is one I think about all the time. Acid rain, not so much, or on the piedmont forests I look at, not at all. Pine forests in Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas and Alabama are generally healthy. At least they are very productive, so if anything is harming them, they are not being harmed much. If acid rain was a big problem, it would show up on the bottom line.

My understanding is that acid rain was a serious problem, but it has been largely addressed. That is not to say that everything is pristine or perfect, but it is better now than it was in 1995 and it will probably be better in 2015 than it is today.

BTW - some forests are just poorly managed. We have excluded fire from forests for too long that inferior and sick trees persist. Trees live a long time, but they do not live foreever. There will always be some declining and dying.

Posted by: Jack at June 6, 2007 10:42 PM
Comment #222492


I appreciate your effort to assuage my concerns. However, the litmus test I did three years ago in Houston was on rain that fell from the sky to my paper and never touched anything else. It showed high acidity. I do not know how high. Litmus paper doesn’t show that very well, but it does show acidity.

I am furhter disheartened since your information comes from the EPA and our own government. Just follow the degree of difference between the reports from our own State Department and the reports coming out of the Human Rights NGO’s around the world and you will get a good idea of the capacity our government has for treating us like mushrooms (keeping us in the dark and feeding us shit).

Posted by: RGF at June 6, 2007 10:52 PM
Comment #222494


Rain is also naturally acid because it combines with CO2 and produce carbonic acid. Natural rain has a ph of around 5.5 and can go as low as 4.5. Most things are not neutal ph. Your skin is acid. Orange juice is acid. There is a range where it makes a difference and where it does not.

I generally trust the EPA figures. Most of these guys are career bureaucrats and scientists. The measuring devices are simple and it would be very easy to prove them wrong if there was a systematic error.

My own experience as a forest watcher tells me that the problem has abated to a large extent. As I wrote, I worried a great deal about it in 1990. You could see the problem. Now you can see the recovery.

Besides, as I was writing about biosolids, biosolids tend to be lime stabilized and decrease soil acidity.

Posted by: Jack at June 6, 2007 11:10 PM
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