Author Topic: PBS Frontline: Lessons for the First Coast About Consequences of Growth  (Read 2348 times)

stjr

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Frontline aired "Poisoned Waters" tonight on PBS and it is a "must see" for those concerned by urban sprawl and its insidious destruction of our quality of life.  One conclusion is that nothing will change without widespread LOCAL community engagement.  Tysons Corner, Virginia (outside Washington, D.C.) is given as an example of an environmental disaster caused by urban sprawl.

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More than three decades after the Clean Water Act, iconic American waterways like the Chesapeake Bay and Puget Sound are in perilous condition and facing new sources of contamination.

With polluted runoff still flowing in from industry, agriculture and massive suburban development, scientists note that many new pollutants and toxins from modern everyday life are already being found in the drinking water of millions of people across the country and pose a threat to fish, wildlife and, potentially, human health. 

Here is the link to watch the full show:
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/poisonedwaters/view/

Here is more about the show's content:


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In Poisoned Waters, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Hedrick Smith examines the growing hazards to human health and the ecosystem.

"The '70s were a lot about, 'We're the good guys; we're the environmentalists; we're going to go after the polluters,' and it's not really about that anymore," Jay Manning, director of ecology for Washington state, tells FRONTLINE. "It's about the way we all live. And unfortunately, we are all polluters. I am; you are; all of us are."

Through interviews with scientists, environmental activists, corporate executives and average citizens impacted by the burgeoning pollution problem, Smith reveals startling new evidence that today's growing environmental threat comes not from the giant industrial polluters of old, but from chemicals in consumers' face creams, deodorants, prescription medicines and household cleaners that find their way into sewers, storm drains, and eventually into America's waterways and drinking water.

"The environment has slipped off our radar screen because it's not a hot crisis like the financial meltdown, war or terrorism," Smith says. "But pollution is a ticking time bomb. It's a chronic cancer that is slowly eating away the natural resources that are vital to our very lives."

In Poisoned Waters, Smith speaks with researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), who report finding genetically mutated marine life in the Potomac River. In addition to finding frogs with six legs and other mutations, the researchers have found male amphibians with ovaries and female frogs with male genitalia. Scientists tell FRONTLINE that the mutations are likely caused by exposure to "endocrine disruptors," chemical compounds that mimic the body's natural hormones.

The USGS research on the Potomac River poses some troubling questions for the 2 million people who rely on the Washington Aqueduct for their drinking water.

"The endocrine system of fish is very similar to the endocrine system of humans," USGS fish pathologist Vicki Blazer says. "They pretty much have all the same hormone systems as humans, which is why we use them as sort of indicator species. ... We can't help but make that jump to ask the question, 'How are these things influencing people?'"

"The long-term, slow-motion risk is already being spelled out in epidemiologic data, studies -- large population studies," says Dr. Robert Lawrence of the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. "There are 5 million people being exposed to endocrine disruptors just in the Mid-Atlantic region, and yet we don't know precisely how many of them are going to develop premature breast cancer, going to have problems with reproduction, going to have all kinds of congenital anomalies of the male genitalia, things that are happening at a broad low level so that they don't raise the alarm in the general public."

Smith also investigates the state of Puget Sound's environment, where decades of pollution have endangered such species as orca whales, whose carcasses have shown high levels of cancer-causing PCBs.

"We thought all the way along that [Puget Sound] was like a toilet: What you put in, you flush out," says Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire, who notes that about 150,000 pounds of untreated toxins find their way into Puget Sound each day. "We [now] know that's not true. It's like a bathtub: What you put in stays there."

Smith reveals that some of today's greatest pollution threats stem from urban sprawl and overdevelopment, as new housing and commercial developments send contaminated stormwater into rivers and bays, polluting local drinking-water supplies.

Smith speaks with scuba diver Mike Racine, who describes runoff into the depths of Seattle's Elliott Bay as a "brown, noxious soup of nastiness that is unbelievable."

"The irony is that everybody looks at that [picturesque] scene and thinks that it's great; everything is right with the world in Elliott Bay," Racine says. "But in point of fact, not 100 feet away from where they are drinking a nice glass of wine off their white linen, there is this unbelievable gunk coming out of the end of this pipe."

In addition to assessing the scope of America's polluted-water problem, Poisoned Waters highlights several cases in which grassroots citizens' groups succeeded in effecting environmental change: In South Park, Wash., incensed residents pushed for better cleanup of PCB contamination that remained from an old asphalt plant. In Loudon County, Va., residents prevented a large-scale housing development that would have overwhelmed already-strained stormwater systems believed to contribute to the contamination in Chesapeake Bay.

Reversing decades of pollution and preventing the irreversible annihilation of the nation's waterways, however, will require a seismic shift in the way Americans live their lives and use natural resources, experts say.

"You have to change the way you live in the ecosystem and the place that you share with other living things," says William Ruckelshaus, founding director of the Environmental Protection Agency. "You've got to learn to live in such a way that it doesn't destroy other living things. It's got to become part of our culture."
Hey!  Whatever happened to just plain ol' COMMON SENSE!!

gatorback

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I saw that episode and thought of Jacksonville and the sprawl and the similarities.  I think one big difference is the St. Johns is cleaner now then before and well, Jacks loves to build roads so that what is in the show isn't going to fly in Jacksonville unfortunately.  Prove me wrong please.
'As a sinner I am truly conscious of having often offended my Creator and I beg him to forgive me, but as a Queen and Sovereign, I am aware of no fault or offence for which I have to render account to anyone here below.'   Mary, queen of Scots to her jailer, Sir Amyas Paulet; October 1586

stjr

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I think one point of the show was that "clean" isn't as clean as we once thought and that the environment is more fragile than previously realized.  Everything is relative.  Just because it is "cleaner" doesn't mean that it's "clean enough".  Unfortunately, I think the waterways of Northeast Florida have a long ways to go and that we risk backsliding more than moving forward from this point with the recently approved water withdrawals and continuing allowance of unabated development further and further along our shorelines, tributaries, and wetlands.
« Last Edit: January 16, 2011, 01:22:48 AM by stjr »
Hey!  Whatever happened to just plain ol' COMMON SENSE!!

BridgeTroll

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The thousands of old septic tanks around jacksonville must be removed...
In a boat at sea one of the men began to bore a hole in the bottom of the boat. On being remonstrating with, he answered, "I am only boring under my own seat." "Yes," said his companions, "but when the sea rushes in we shall all be drowned with you."

hooplady

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The thousands of old septic tanks around jacksonville must be removed...
...and we've come full circle to poop yet again.

BridgeTroll

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 :D :D
In a boat at sea one of the men began to bore a hole in the bottom of the boat. On being remonstrating with, he answered, "I am only boring under my own seat." "Yes," said his companions, "but when the sea rushes in we shall all be drowned with you."

tashi

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I watched that FRONTLINE and felt the same way about the growth and sprawl around here. They are destroying wetlands, not punishing construction companies for improper protection of storm drains, allowing people to blow their yard debris into the street, all the land being clear cut for development. They lack inspectors for storm drain and construction, and when I complain to the city about violations they could care less.

Most of the yard chemicals are endocrine disruptors that are being applied to the lawns and businesses. Most people think it is safe to use because the lawn companies say they are safe (if you have a lawn company ask to have an MSDS sheet of what they are using). When it rains, it goes into the storm drains and straight into the water ways.

Last November St. Vincents Hospital had someone spraying ATRAZINE all around the river and hospital. That is a restricted use chemical and are not suppose to use it near waterways. They don't care about the health of people or the river.
Humankind has not woven the web of life.  We are but one thread within it.  Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.  All things are bound together.  All things connect.  ~Chief Seattle, 1855

Ocklawaha

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I don't like pollution any better then the rest of y'all, remember my trip up Hogans Creek? Sort of like paddling in Sludge Muffins. Some were shocked that I did it, but I have to wonder how bad it really is?

There is a true historical account of a town in Montana, which was a division point (yard - crew changes etc) on one of the transcontinental railroads. In those days the railroad employed 1 in 11 Americans, in some cases entire towns were built with company houses. The station agents family would live upstairs in the depot. In this mountain town, there was a flowing creek that collected the raw sewage and any other discarded junk.
The children of the railroaders made a regular habit of playing in that stream in spite of dire warnings from the parents and train crews. This game of sneak and swim went on for a number of years.

Suddenly the town was struck with a violent fever. Many died, the adult population was decimated, those that were not dead were bedfast. The railroad nearly ground to a halt as the telegraph office closed when the operators got the fever.

In those days it was nothing for the young people to learn the code and work the keys just for fun. When the older children learned that their families jobs were threatened by the illness, they took over the station. It is said that more then a dozen little kids from ages 5 - 12 ran the railroad for something like a week, until the fever finally broke.

To this day, the medical profession studies why the fever wiped out the adults and didn't touch the children. Other cities had extremely high child mortality rates in this emergency. It is generally agreed that the towns kids were immune to whatever struck down the adults, moreover that the immunity probably came from years of swimming in the towns waste.

So dirty? Yeah, I don't like it, clean it the hell up, but maybe it's not what we think it is? Have you hugged your potty today? It might be time!


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stjr

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It is generally agreed that the towns kids were immune to whatever struck down the adults, moreover that the immunity probably came from years of swimming in the towns waste.

Ock, kind of like dogs not getting sick rummaging and eating our garbage?  Is chocolate a subliminal substitute for the poop we should be eating?!

Oooops, here come the poop jokes again  :D!
Hey!  Whatever happened to just plain ol' COMMON SENSE!!