Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Living in the wilderness and paying the price for militarism

Ah, we say, maybe I'll just sell it all and move to the wildest place and live a life free of civilization's woes and ills and contamination. I'll live like a native and learn those skills and what a different, clean life that will be. Good luck, Hoss!

Ringed seals are especially vulnerable to elevated exposure of PCBs as a result of their high trophic level, low detoxification capacity, large lipid reserves, and long life span.

--Tanya M. Brown, Aaron T. Fisk, Caren C. Helbing, and Ken J. Reimer, Canadian toxicology researchers, reported in the March 2014 issue of the academic journal Environmental Toxicology & Chemistry, p. 592
There is a military radar station inside the Arctic Circle on Saglek Fjord in Labrador, Canada, built in the 1950s, that has been polluting the soil and surrounding ocean with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). A team of researchers from several Canadian universities conducted a wide-ranging study of the food web from that base and found record levels of cancer-causing, immune-system destroying PCBs at all trophic (food pyramid) levels, from the benthic (ocean bottom) species to the top of the food chain. 

Those Canadians, eh? Just don't seem to care about the environment, eh?

Well, ahem, the base was a USAF early warning base, actually. Now, it seems, the Canadians are cleaning up our mess. Hey, only fair, right? We protect the world, they clean up our protection pollution. You don't hire the architect to push a broom, eh?

What if we focused on an ecology of peace? What if we didn't seek permission from most nations on Earth to give up some of their sovereignty, some control of the land and water and air and life, so that the US could come in, live very important lives of very important military enforcers for the very important US empire, and pollute not only the US base but other people's place? What if we would seek to build more collaborative projects with Canada that enhanced life rather than polluted it?

The ringed seals were only one of many species affected by these military pollutants. Seabirds, fish, and other species were contaminated. At least no humans were bothered, eh? Um, actually, the specimens tested were all taken from tissues of seals taken by Inuit hunters, the very top of the food chain there--highest trophic level, longest-lived, and so greatest bio-accumulants. As usual, the native peoples catch environmental hell as they simply live as they have for scores of thousands of years in the most wild-appearing areas. 

I recall hiking into various roadless area lakes in the Chequamegon National Forest when I lived in northern Wisconsin. There, where there were no pollutants except via the airshed, were posted signs on the trees by the lakes, warning of mercury contamination--primarily coal plants' pollution from far away. Hiking along wild stretches of the mighty Columbia River? Don't fish--stick with your bottom-of-the-food-chain trail mix. There is no more real wilderness. We need to clean up militarized civilization. It is profoundly uncivilized. This requires perpetual vigilance, eh.


Brown, T. M., Fisk, A. T., Helbing, C. C., & Reimer, K. J. (2014). Polychlorinated biphenyl profiles in ringed seals ( Pusa Hispida) reveal historical contamination by a military radar station in Labrador, Canada. Environmental Toxicology & Chemistry, 33(3), 592-601. doi:10.1002/etc.2468

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