Yet another hottest year on record. My snow shovel would be rusting if not plastic though there is no guarantee that climate instability will not visit us with a blizzard next year.

          Spring has finally arrived though it has been teasing us for weeks in the Beaver Creek Basin. Daffodils are beginning to fade. Scattered white Bradford pear petals gather in crannies. Purple grape flowers join dandelions to brighten our yards. (I had dandelions – those original smiley faces – in every winter month.) My lilacs are blooming.

          Another sign of spring in these parts is the blue-green spray covering many lawns, including city parks and hospital grounds. (The color is just to let sprayers know where they have sprayed.) The spraying mailer I received offered protection against weeds and insects along with aiding in plant growth – herbicides, insecticides, growth enhancers.

          Better or bitter living through chemistry? Humans conduct ongoing experiments on themselves.

          Along with the constant threat Earthlings face from global warming, we have also plagued ourselves with peril posing pollutants.

          Sure, we have had our requisite climate disasters so far this year.

          In January, the BBC reported of a sulfonic acid leak in the Rio Seco River in Brazil that “was released when a truck crashed, triggering a local state of emergency.”

          The Beeb also told us in February that Trinidad and Tobago was considering declaring a national emergency after about nine miles of Tobago’s southwestern beach had been hit with the oil spill from a ship that ran aground – whose dedicated crew abandoned it.

           And, in mid-March in northern Oklahoma, ranch manager Glenn Rard discovered oil tanks on the property leaking into a creek, telling KFOR-TV that the trouble happens “four times a year.”

          Acute problems grab our attention, but chronic conditions could prove more dire.

          In January, Jessica Corbett reported for Common Dreams that, “Aircraft measurements of pollutants over the Athabasca tar sands in Alberta, Canada show levels exceeding industry reports by 1,900% to more than 6,300%.”

          Jesse Cardinal of the Indigenous-led group Keepers of the Water told The Guardian that air quality there “is so bad they cannot open their windows because it hurts their lungs to breathe – especially at night.”

          Canadian Native Americans are not the only people experiencing tough breathing conditions. Aimee Picchi of CBS reported in February, “About 83 million Americans, or 1 in 4, are already exposed each year to air quality that is categorized as “unhealthy” by the Air Quality Index ,a number that could grow to 125 million people within decades, according to First Street Foundation, which analyzes climate risks.”

          And, people are not the only Earthlings struggling to catch their breaths.

          In a Penn State study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, lead author Max Lloyd observed, “We found that trees in warmer, drier climates are essentially coughing instead of breathing. They are sending CO2 right back into the atmosphere far more than trees in cooler, wetter conditions.”

          Some geologists are resisting the move to dub our current era the “anthropocene” because of the undue effect humans are having on Earth’s habitability. But polluted water and degraded air quality argue against them even before factoring in the polluting impact on physical bodies

          In mid-March reported that 97% of the Antarctic seabirds in a recent sampling had ingested microplastics.

          The story noted, “The impact ingestion of plastic particles can have on seabirds includes blockage of their gastrointestinal tract, toxicity and oxidative stress, as well as triggering immune reactions. Additionally, it is not only direct ingestion of particles that is of concern, as microplastics have been found in krill, a food source for some penguins, highlighting the larger-scale issue in the ecosystem and trophic webs.”

          And, it is not just seabirds at the ends of the Earth. Iceland’s RUV reported in February that, “Microplastics were found in all 62 placentas studied by the researchers in a new US study at the University of New Mexico.

          “Microplastics have previously been found in humans, including in blood and breast milk, which suggests that they are found in many places in our bodies.”

          “If microplastics are found in women’s placentas and people’s bodies in this proportion, there is a good chance that most mammals on earth have been affected by it,” according to

Matthew Campen, who led the New Mexico study.

          RUV  further noted that, “Campen believes that the increase in microplastics in humans can be attributed to a variety of health problems such as colitis, colon cancer in people under the age of 50 and declining sperm production in men.”

          In early March Barbara Mantel of  the Association of Health Care Journalists, reported for NBC that a study in The New England Journal of Medicine found: “People with microplastics and nanoplastics in plaque lining a major blood vessel in their neck may have a higher risk of heart attack, stroke or death.”

          Mantel documented that microplastics, “have been found in fresh snowfall in Antarctica and at the depths of the Marianas Trench, as well as in human blood, breast milk, urine, and placental, lung and liver tissue.”

          A study released in February by the Center for Climate Integrity links this Earthly saturation with microplastics to the same source as the climate change – the petrochemical industry. The report found evidence that petro powers knew that the plastic recycling they were promoting did not present a real solution.

          “This evidence shows that many of the same fossil fuel companies that knew and lied for decades about how their products cause climate change have also known and lied to the public about plastic recycling,” CCI president Richard Wiles said. “The oil industry’s lies are at the  heart of the two most catastrophic pollution crises in human history.”

          So, the blue-green lawns treated by governments, businesses and individuals can provide reminders of the overall disruption of the natural world being carried out on a grand scale – and the dangers this poses.

            (Gary Edmondson is chair of the Stephens County Democratic Party.)

Pollution poses persistent peril

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