Head in the sand not working? Try water! It works for denial at China’s Lake Tai

Studying the apathy that dulls environmental awareness is a constant theme in my life. When the “canary” is chirping happily, who cares about the lethal gasses and pressures seeping out of the coal seam and ready to kill in an instant?

Apathy makes Great Leaps Forward around polluted Chinese Lake Tai. Environmental catastrophe won’t go away.

Studying the apathy that dulls environmental awareness is a constant theme in my life. When the “canary” is chirping happily, who cares about the lethal gasses and pressures seeping out of the coal seam and ready to kill in an instant? In my article “Desperately Seeking Salmon,” I posit that the denial of our killing of precious water resources is helped by the related devastation of natural Salmon fishery stocks and the bizarre genetic engineering work-around that will conceal it for millions of Americans.

Most recently (December 2010), California courts have thrown out regulations limiting takings from what’s left of the Sacramento Delta water supplies in order to appease Southern California city and agribusiness interests.

What’s worse, commercial interests and lobbyists wield such strong influence on the weak regulatory systems as exist (FDA) that an aroused public sufficiently informed and strident is the only force that can counter these waves of catastrophic environmental impacts. Apathy plus untested technological projects like GE Salmon and farming are two of the biggest threats to your clean water, safe food, and a sustainable future. The struggle turns on who or what can exploit your apathy against you and ways you can lawfully and ethically activate energy to deflect them.

U.S. Government political bias is seen in international relations. Europe’s reluctance to meekly accept US promulgated pro-GMO rhetoric has the US seriously considering painful retaliation to opponents of GMOs in Europe.

In the Washington Post, Pollution in China’s Tai Lake worse despite national push for environmentalism By William Wan of the Washington Post Foreign Service Friday, October 29, 2010, a similar dynamic jumps out. Activist Wu Lihong has dedicated his life (including being arrested and tortured) to reviving Tai Lake. Runaway industrial development has the priority, despite the rhetoric of authorities charged with environmental protection. The lake seems doomed. Some much touted progress had been made but that effort seems exhausted and shuttered polluting factories are reopening. Should Mr. Lihong and others continue the struggle to clean up the lake? Will others hear about it, care and join in the work?

As in the GE Salmon scheme unfolding in North America, the attention populations pay to these issues is the most important metric of our environmental awareness – where, in fact the actual “voting” with activism, dollars and ethics takes place. Here’s what the news article mentions…

But the worst sign of all is the fact that almost every city on the lake has quietly begun finding other sources of drinking water. Opinions on cleanup projects, which are costly but seldom publicized, indicate that even as local authorities devote billions to repairing the lake, few believe it will recover. ‘The fear is that once these cities no longer depend on the lake for drinking water, the urgency will disappear,” said Ma Jun, director of the non-governmental Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs.

I have just this morning learned about Tai Lake. I will be emailing the author. I will talk about this at every point, When I can, I will volunteer to publicize these things. I am careful with water. I “vote” with my food dollar. Will this save wild salmon? Will it get the algae out of Tai Lake? Not necessarily. But apathy and looking the other way will never, ever help.

distant US Capitol dome

U.S. Capitol SOTU eve, 2011 - photo Russ Imrie

Russell Imrie is a sometimes content producer, webmaster and an American Indian self-styled social critic now living in the Washington DC area.

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