Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Do we really want to go back to the polluted environment of the 1960s?!

By SJ Otto
I remember when I was a kid, maybe 9 years old, I lived in St. Louis, MO. Most of the small creeks I lived by were open sewers. I remember being taken to a beautiful park, back in those days, for a picnic with my family. I remember walking through a path that went past a large creek. The creek went over the path and from there went to several deep pools. Some were between three to four feet deep. I looked down deep in the water and it had a gray tint to it. There were no fish in it. It had no tadpoles or crawdads. Those are found in most healthy streams. This stream had nothing living in it, except some frogs along the shore. The water smelled like sewage.
This was common back then. There was a creek down the street from me. We found minnows and crawdads in that stream. We enjoyed going long that creek to find all the animals that lived in it. But there was a sewage treatment plant at one point. after the creek passed that plant it was dead. No minnows or crayfish could be found past that. There were some frogs along the creek. There were snakes along the sides of the stream from time to time and some large rats. There were blood worms in the creek, tiny red worms that looked like threads. They seem to be able to tolerate the low level of oxygen in that stream. The water always had a gray tint and there was often that ugly clump of bubbles found in dirty streams.
I like to swim in streams. As a kid I used to go swimming with my family at the Big River, in Missouri. Occasionally we also swam in the Meramec River and a few other streams in that state. After I moved to Kansas I have swum in the Fall River, the Walnut River and the Wakarusa River. I've waded in the Arkansas River but that is nothing to brag about. I would never swim in any of these if they had no fish in them. I would hate to imagine what these rivers would be like if we get rid of the EPA and other environmental agencies.
By the time I left St. Louis for Wichita, in 1969, they had just put in a new sewer line along the creek by my house and the pollution went away. Then I started to notice fish returning and the stream was alive again.
My point to all of this is that I have no desire to go back to the bad old days when our water ways were nothing but open sewers. We have a lot of politicians calling for an end to the Environmental Protection Agency. Many of their supporters are calling for this also. When I think back to the wasted environment I had to endure as a child, I can't image anyone wanting to return to that. And that is what we will have if this country goes backwards and starts to chip away at our environmental protections. Before that we had rivers in the east were completely dead. Their water was often a horrible pee green color or had water that looked like red paint. This kind of half hazard treatment of out lands and waters should be a thing of the past. We should never want to see that kind of industrial abuse ever again. And yet we have given our government in Washington over to such men as Donald Trump, who sees our environment as some kind of impediment to business. We can make money in many ways. But it is really hard to replace the natural world once we have killed it off.

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