Friday, April 18, 2014

RePortlandia: Don't drink the Air Force water

I've watched a few episodes of Portlandia--who hasn't? I admit, I love this town, and I find Portlandia insufferably snarky. We are just like the program, only more so and with heart, not the fruitball unctuousness that Fred and Carrie bring to it. They show how Portland is not like real America and they exaggerate in order to make fun of us, but we are actually balancing what they show as unbalanced, which is what bothers me so much about that program. They are inauthentic and Portland is for real.

So, this week a 19-year-old pees into an open reservoir on Mount Tabor and the city flushes 40,000 gallons of potable water.
Hey, that is overly cautious and instantly drew fire from scientists and empiricists who said, oh come on, that much urination in 40,000 gallons is irrelevant. Those scientists are right, but the water bureau folks are correct too. Imagine if they said, oh, not to worry, it's all natural and insignificant. Really. Imagine the storm of public outrage that those water officers would treat us that way. So while we are learning that a bit of whizz in our water isn't going to make any difference, we are also spared the litigious howling that might have resulted from no action.

At least we aren't receiving direct and massive chemical and toxic pollution from a military base and then told first not to worry, and then that the solution to pollution is dilution--such as the water bureau in Albuquerque had to deal with from Kirtland Air Force base, which spilled millions of gallons of jet fuel onto and into the Earth and thus migrating groundwater. Seriously. From the story by reporter John Fleck:
Air Force officials this week backed away from including a proposal that Albuquerque’s water utility simply dilute contaminated water and deliver it to customers as one of the options if toxic chemicals from a massive Kirtland Air Force Base fuel spill ever reach municipal drinking water wells.
That was an Air Force suggestion, met with citizen outrage, and subsequently withdrawn. You may not be able to fight city hall, but you can fight the most powerful military on Earth and win, if you are organized and outraged. We shut down a thermonuclear command facility that the Navy arrogantly said it would need for another 35 years despite near-unanimous opposition. Albuquerque citizens just shoved the Air Force back over an encroachment it was making into the public's health.

The world needs to learn nonviolence, conflict transformation, strategic nonviolent combat, and structural nonviolence. Then we could help military members get work helping instead of hurting. Then we could get war profiteers honest work. Then we wouldn't have massive pollution coming from an entity--the Pentagon--that is above the law.

Fleck, John (16 April 2014).

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