Monday, March 7, 2011

Musings: Dirty Business

It started out gray, though the kind of gray that offers the promise of light, when Koko and I went walking this quiet Monday morning. Sure enough, it wasn’t long before the dark clouds blowing south fast were edged in pink, stained apricot, the green ridges of Makaleha assumed that unearthly golden glow and Venus, perched in the east, looked down on it all and twinkled. And then, as is so often the case, it all went gray again.

As is so often the case after a big rain, some of Kauai’s coastal waters are polluted with dangerously high levels of enterococcus, an indicator of feces contamination. While the state Department of Health issued a brown water report on Feb. 24 for the eastern coastline extending from Nawiliwili to Hanalei Bay, the regular testing done by the Surfrider Foundation gets a lot more specific. In short, Niumalu Beach Park, Nawiliwili Stream, Hanamaulu Beach and the end of Weke Road in Hanalei are places where you don’t ever want to get in the water.

While Surfrider reports some Kauai beaches are getting cleaner, new research and computer models are offering a look at how climate change may contribute to increases in waterborne toxins and microbes harmful to human health, according to scientists at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

One of the things researchers expect to see within the next 30 years are prolonged episodes of toxic algal blooms, which would adversely impact shellfish fisheries. Then there’s the problem of desertification, which increases atmospheric dust. When mixed with seawater, the iron-rich dust “significantly stimulates growth and persistence of Vibrios, a group of ocean bacteria that occur worldwide and can cause gastroenteritis and infectious diseases in humans,” according to a report on the AAAS meeting on the NOAA website.

And as we’re already seeing here in the Islands, more intense and prolonged rainfall increases the likelihood that outdated sewage systems will overflow, releasing disease-causing bacteria, viruses and protozoa into drinking water and onto beaches.

As the reader who sent me the link noted:

….the younger generation and their kids might have to wear HAZMAT suits do go surfing.

Even now our local areas are becoming sources of ear and lung infections…….surfing Kalapaki and Hanalei Bay.

We are wasting money and blood on wars……..we have bigger “wars” to combat …. the continuing degradation of our environment.

I couldn’t agree more. But after reading an article about how there are now far more men than women on the planet — an ominous trend if I ever saw one —a move away from the typical blood and guts warfare doesn’t appear likely:

The question left open by economists is what the consequences will be of such a large surplus of young men. History offers a disquieting answer. According to the German scholar Gunnar Heinsohn, European imperial expansion after 1500 was the result of a male “youth bulge.” Japan’s imperial expansion after 1914 was the result of a similar youth bulge, Heinsohn argues. During the Cold War, it was youth-bulge countries—Algeria, El Salvador, and Lebanon—that saw the worst civil wars and revolutions. Heinsohn has also linked the recent rise of Islamist extremism in countries like Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan to an Islamic youth bulge. Political scientists Valerie Hudson and Andrea den Boer warn that China and India could be the next countries to overdose on testosterone.

Meanwhile, NATO forces in Afghanistan are doing their best to cull the male population, killing nine boys under the age of 12 in an airstrike last week. Oops. Sorry.


Anonymous said...

Dirty business! Meanwhile as our county council endlessly discusses and diddles with our plastic bag ban and worry about the dangers of cross-contamination from reused bags we find that, "Researchers at the University of Arizona tested the handles of 85 shopping carts in four states and found 72% were covered in fecal bacteria. Researchers say they actually found more fecal bacteria on grocery cart handles than you would typically find in a bathroom, mainly because bathrooms are disinfected more often than shopping carts."

Kinda makes all the chin music about paper or plastic bags seem silly when the odds of your hands being cross-contaminated with fecal matter from a shopping cart is 3 out of every 4 times you go shopping. Clean those carts or provide plastic surgical gloves to all shoppers

Anonymous said...

I heard that someone recently contracted meningitis after swimming at Lydgate and died a few days later.

Anonymous said...

Plastic bag contamination? Much to do about nothing!

But that's how politicians like to diddle....with issues that are little.

Sorry to say......
The really big issues confronting our island are on the back burner.

I really think we do not have the best and the brightest running our government.

Dr Shibai

Anonymous said...

Water is valuable.Does anyone know why Kauai doesn't preserve this resource ? Perhaps Kauai should sell 100% pure rainwater.