Most of the time, we don’t
give it a second thought.
We turn on the spigot and
water comes out. It has been established by testing all across the
the water that does come out of our spigots is potable (drinkable) and
equal or better quality than the water that comes in bottles, which are
tinted blue to give the impression that it comes from a pristine spring
somewhere in a forest glade.
sleeping giant may take long to wake, but when it is awakened, it can
be a formidable opponent
But we pay dearly for that
water that comes in bottles and people who drink from them believe
all of the good water in lakes, reservoirs, rivers, streams, and ponds
tainted so it is not drinkable, they will still have their bottles.
There was an illustration
in a magazine a few months ago that explained bottled water very well.
one of those blue-tinted bottles with a
it, about one-third up from the bottom. That line delineated the amount
petroleum that was used in bringing the bottle of water to the retail
example: there was the cost of making the plastic for the bottle,
bottle itself, running the plant that filled the bottle with water
water from a municipal water system that just filtered one more time),
the bottles, transporting the bottled water (usually by truck), and the
in money and oil in maintaining a retail sales outlet.
If our public water
supplies across the country are ever so polluted that it will take
extraordinary efforts to make the water clean enough to drink, it can
imagined how much it will cost to have clean water come out of our
how impossibly expensive it would be to have water delivered to our
huge trucks (again, at a tremendous cost in fuel for delivery).
Try turning off your
spigot for just a day and you’ll see how important that free-flowing,
water is to your life, and how many times a day you turn it on…and
waste a lot
of it. Filtration systems for cities, large or small, are very
depending on the water source, could be very slow in providing the
water we are accustomed to using. It could be that future meters will
count the gallons of water used in each home, but they may be used to
the amount to which you are limited each day.
Our water supply is in
danger and the most glaring example is our oceans and the damage that
done to them, particularly over the past half-century. The fish and
life have been reduced in number, such that there is little chance for
of some stocks.
We’re finding out that the
oceans are not limitless, just as America’s forests were not
limitless. We can, and have, severely damaged them
we continue to do so. We depend on forests and the oceans for life,
just as we
depend on farmland to feed us.
little, the power of working people in their workplaces has been made
puny.In the past week, there
have been news reports of toxic algae blooms on lakes, particularly in Wisconsin, but
have been reports of blooms in 20 states. The algae (cyanobacteria),
when contacted, can cause sickness and, sometimes, death. Dogs that
in the water sickened and five of seven of them died. One owner, who
the algae off his dog, was seriously sickened by the growth, which is
as looking like green paint, pea soup, or thick, green cake. It can
areas of lakes and ponds or other slow-moving bodies of water,
the temperature is high, as in this time of global climate change.
In Minnesota, the state’s Pollution
Agency has this advice: “Scientists do not yet know what causes some
produce toxins while others do not, so the safest course of action is
contact with all blue-green blooms.” This, of course, has a potentially
profound impact economically, on commercial fishing, recreational
boating, on swimming and water sports, and on the tourism, on which
and river communities depend for their livelihoods.
Some of the causative
factors include the presence of quantities of phosphorus and nitrogen,
which comes from agriculture and from over-fertilized residential
are other sources, but these two are cited as the most common
are places where this problem is bad, possibly the worst, in the
month, a court suit is opening, over the pollution of the Chesapeake Bay, which, for decades, has been
continually degraded by runoff.
This time, giant
agribusiness and its stand-ins couch it in terms of a “war on the
conducted by environmentalists. There has been a tension between
environmentalists for as long as the environmental movement has
existed. It was
perhaps first played out between factory workers and environmentalists
efforts were made by union workers to reconcile the two back in the
1970s, as: Safe
jobs and clean air (or water). There was some success in this effort,
Corporate America does not like to be trifled with and they have
overwhelmed their opposition, with money for advertising, lobbying, and
Next week, this drama will
play out on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, where Waterkeeper
Alliance is taking to court a poultry operation that is connected to
one of the nation’s largest chicken producers and retailers, for what
Alliance says is the pollution of feeder streams of the Pocomoke River,
feeds into the Chesapeake. The Chesapeake is famous for its crab cakes
other culinary delights that come from its waters, but the alarm has
raised for decades about the declining (some say plunging) quality of
waters and the effect on the food that comes from it.
The court drama next week
focuses on a family, the Hudsons, who
reported 80,000 chickens each year for Perdue. The Waterkeeper
Alliance says that the Hudsons
are violating the Clean Water Act and Maryland
anti-pollution laws. The operation’s run-off goes into ditches, which
a river, which flows into the bay, the Alliance
The Alliance also maintains that Perdue
equally responsible, since it owns the chickens and provides the feed
orders the protocols that their contract farmers are required to
during the life of the birds. Good corporate overseer that it is,
tried to separate itself from the Hudsons,
saying that they are independent family farmers and has even tried to
that the Hudsons
have been problematic as contract farmers. This tactic has not worked
court case may determine who owns, and is responsible for the massive
of manure (just one of the pollutants in question), from the
agribusiness are following this case closely, because it could set
for the kind of industrial farming that is done all across the U.S.
time, the power of Corporate America is nearly complete. Its tentacles
into nearly every aspect of our lives, affecting the quality of our
air, our soil, and, perhaps most importantly (next to water), the
our food. Often, in “contract farming” operations, the giant
most of the product, from start to finish. The family farmer is often
an employee, without any benefits of wage work.
month, a court suit is opening over the pollution of the Chesapeake
Bay which, for decades, has been continually degraded by runoff
Above all, however, the
power of Corporate America determines how much economic and political
will be shared with the American people (The answer? Not much.) The
Court has made certain that the power of corporate money will silence
voices of the people in this nation of Free Speech, in the wake of its Citizens
United decision. Little by little, the power of working people in
workplaces has been made puny. The laws that were passed to protect
rights, under the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt, have been
away, decade by decade, until there is not much left to keep the living
standard of all workers at a decent level.
As this case of the Waterkeeper
Alliance will examine, the power of Corporate
America is enough to control everyone who actually works for a living -
workers, public workers, small farmers, and most others. Corporations
politicians are determined to change or eliminate the laws that protect
water, air, soil, and food, so they have a free hand in making their
what the “deregulation” of virtually everything is about. Their goal is
empowered to make all of the decisions for the people. It’s why they
bought and paid for so many politicians at every level of government.
to own the majority everywhere.
Try as they might, though,
they can’t control everything. They can’t control the blue-green algae
can’t advocate the use of less fertilizer, pesticides, and herbicides,
farms and on residential lawns, because their profits come from those
can’t control nature, although they are working on that.
turning off your spigot for just a day and you’ll see how important
that free-flowing, low-cost water is to your life.This is
why the oil and
gas industry has pulled out all the stops in pushing for hydrofracturing
(or fracking) for the two fossil fuels.
method, they actually inject toxins into the earth to get the
gas out of the shale formations, but they tell us that fracking
is safe because it is done miles under the surface, as if there is
shifting of the earth’s crust. And they back up their contentions with
ubiquitous television advertising that shows happy little communities
areas full of happy people. And, they turn loose their multitude of
don’t show the noise, the ruination of residential water wells, the
use at each drill site of millions of gallons of pure water (that they
make toxic), the air pollution and dust, the pools of stored toxic
traffic congestion, and the increase in crime that goes along with a
short-lived boom economy.
corporations ride roughshod over the people, but the people are pushing
and they are bigger than Corporate America. The sleeping giant may take
wake, but when it is awakened, it can be a formidable opponent. The
movement opened up a national debate about power and who wields it.
The debate about how power
is wielded by our own and other countries’ transnational corporations
over. The people, as long as they allow the continued existence of
corporations, must take responsibility for forcing them to make the
for all living creatures. And, the small stirrings of the people need
turned into action.
BlackCommentator.com Columnist, John
Funiciello, is a long-time former newspaper reporter and labor
lives in the Mohawk Valley of New York State. In addition to
labor work, he
is organizing family farmers as they struggle to stay on the land under
enormous pressure from factory food producers and land developers. Click
here to contact Mr. Funiciello.