Many of the environmental issues involve systems so large, and complex and far-reaching, you can feel irrelevant. Really, how much can one person or even a small business do to change the U.S. dependence on fossil fuels for transport and electricity? Chnage a few light bulbs, walk more. But every day in every way, you and I are consumers and we spend whatever money we have on services and products that have an environmental and energy cost. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the food we buy, prepare, consume.
So let's begin by immediatley laughing out of the room any idea of the good, wholesome, clean American countryside. Just as the steel mills and tanning factories of yor spewed out pollutants we are still cleaning up, today's rural factories are still spewing. And they are factory FARMS that produce much of the meat eaten by Americans. And would you believe? They've found a friend in the federal government. Of course, the Environmental Pollution Agency (EPA) is far more worried about the factory farms than your health. Here's the top line in the WashPo's piece today, "the Environmental Protection Agency wants to drop requirements that factory farms report their emissions of toxic gases, despite findings by the agency's scientists that the gases pose a health threat."
How big a deal are factory farms? Big in terms of output of all kinds. Big in terms of profit, and thus in political contributions. Here's a rant even I have to admire about factory farms and the stuff they put into our food supply, our rivers, our air.
And that clean country air? Fergeddaboutit. Here's one example. Not to pick on Iowa, neccesasarly, but here's another.
And before you inhale, here's the EPA's map of air pollution hot spots. Don't expect them to highlight the massive methane and hydrogen sulphide from all those pork factories in Indiana.