I know, it’s one of the biggest blogging clichés in the book: the blog that starts out quickly, then ends just as quickly — usually when the blogger realizes that writing a good post once a week (along with fulfilling other obligations) is harder than it seems. So I apologize for the disappearance and will try to improve my short blogging game, while also delivering a longer essay every once in a while. I’ve actually been working on one about lawns for a while and it will hopefully be posted soon. I don’t enjoy being a cliché :-(.
That said, there’s been some good news on the environmental front: there’s been a sharp decrease in the amounts of dangerous pesticides found in America’s agricultural waterways! From the NY Times:
From 1992 to 2001, 17 percent of agricultural streams and 5 percent of other streams contained at least one pesticide whose average annual concentration was above the maximum contaminant level for drinking water. But in the second decade, from 2002 to 2011, the survey found dangerous pesticide concentrations in only one stream nationwide.
And what caused this decline? Republicans’ favorite boogeyman that they keep being wrong about: increased regulation.
The decline occurred in part because manufacturers introduced new pesticides that are less toxic or require smaller applications than older compounds. Much of it was driven by regulatory actions that canceled or restricted the use of particularly hazardous pesticides like dieldrin and lindane.
Republicans always claim that regulations will put companies out of business. But what usually happens is that those businesses, given enough time and incentive to comply, simply adapt. What businesses really hate is uncertainty — if you tell them what they need to do far enough in advance, they’ll make the needed adjustments so they’re ready to sell products that comply with the regulations. Republicans act like businesses are the greatest, smartest, most righteous force in the world capable of solving any problem, yet will simply wither and die in the face of ANY new regulations, regardless of the good those regulations could do for average Americans.
But don’t break out the party hats just yet…
While human-health hazards declined over 20 years, the share of streams whose pesticide levels posed a potential threat to aquatic life remained mostly steady: Between 60 and 70 percent of agricultural streams and roughly 45 percent of streams in mixed-use areas, registered levels above the benchmark for potential harm to aquatic life.
Urban streams — the survey monitored 30 — were the glaring exception. There, the proportion of streams with pesticide levels above the aquatic-life benchmark soared from 53 percent in the first decade to 90 percent in the second, even as other pesticides were phased out.
Read the article to find out why, as well as experts’ belief that stream pollution is probably worse than we think since the survey didn’t measure for all pesticides. In any case, it’s a good reminder that we shouldn’t be complacent. We need to be vigilant and active and demand strict regulations on dangerous chemicals until humans and animals can enjoy America’s waterways, whether they’re in the country or flowing through our cities.