RE: global warming and sea level rise

From: Harvey Newstrom (
Date: Wed Jul 25 2001 - 15:23:27 MDT

Mike Lorrey wrote,
> > We have tar balls wash up on shore.
> Do you know for a fact that those tar balls do not come from natural
> seepage?

Yes. Our wetlands management officials have become very proficient in
tracing the sources of water contaminants to their source and proving it.
Florida has very strict water contamination laws and can now force polluters
to pay for the cleanup costs. Of course, the polluters always claim it's
not them, so the state has to prove in a hearing that the pollution has been
traced to a specific company. Therefore, they not only identify the type of
contaminant, but identify chemical markers that point to a specific company
or a specific location.

> > We have bacteria blooms.

Not here. The wastewater management authority can measure the bacteria
blooms and the water to determine what caused it. Typically, specific kinds
of chemicals and wastewater will result in different bacteria blooms. By
measuring the chemical composition of the water, they can match it to the
particular wastewater plant that leaked. They also get heavy fines to pay
for the cleanup. One of my brothers is in the wastewater business, and he
frequently works with officials to determine if specific bacteria or algae
blooms come from any of the plants that he manages. He must provide
chemical records for what has recently been used at the plant to identify a
chemical "fingerprint" to identify or exonerate each particular plant. Most
of our bacteria problems are traced to wastewater leakages and accidents.

> According to sources, there is more oil pollution from natural seepage
> than from leaks from oil drilling and transport.

Any studies not funded by the oil companies that show this?

> > We didn't have to do this when I was a kid.
> And back in the 'good old days', nobody knew about these things, and
> people just died for the same reasons that were attributed to other
> sources that people were aware of.

You don't give oldtimers enough credit, Mike. When peoples start dying for
no reason, it is easy to figure out that all the dead people ate the same
thing before they died. Fishing communities and clamming communities are
aware of their environment. They know if something is wrong with the fish.
Also, people don't just die suddenly for no reason. Bad mussels or bad fish
will make a lot of people sick, and it is easy to figure out that they ate
something bad. Your theory that maybe nobody noticed this stuff before
might be a good conjecture, but I don't think it holds up to investigation.

> I remember when the Androscoggin River up in northern NH was colored
> orange and smelled to high heaven from pulping operations in Berlin.
> Between the mill and the hydro station downstream in Berlin, there would
> be 1-3 feet of suds on top of the orange water, and when the wind
> shifted direction, those on the west side of the river received the full
> brunt of the stink of the mill (which is why nobody lives on the east
> side of the river). The mill spewed out a terrible orange/brown plume of
> smoke that could be seen from 20 miles away (and smelled from that
> distance).
> Today, the mill is still in operation, but the river is no longer the
> mess it once was. It is clear and smells fine. The mill still smells
> from the smell of rotting bark and the bleaching of pulp inside, but the
> river is now a fine place to do fly fishing, and there are no worries
> about them being toxic. The mill only emits a slight plume of white
> steam, and they've stopped shipping logs down the river, everything is
> by truck now. Atlantic salmon are back in migration in the watershed
> now, as their spawning streams are protected from streamside logging,
> and erosion controls are used.

Wonderful example, Mike. I hate to ask, but did the Mill clean up its own
act by itself, or did the government or public have to pressure them to do

> As for my local area here in Lebanon, I've got pictures from early in
> the 20th century when there would be log jams miles long on the
> Connecticutt river. They would scour out the beds of the river of all
> life, and wipe out bridges as well. Today, there are no such log
> shipments, and everyone gets in a tizzy if someone's riverbank collapses
> from natural erosion.

All true. But are these examples of why we shouldn't worry about pollution?
Or are these examples of how bad it was before we started worrying about it?

Harvey Newstrom <> <>

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