Opinion

We Got No Stinkin’ Pollution

Pollution is a word which gets tossed around indiscriminately by people who wouldn’t know s**t from shinola, as we used to say. You might think that the human species spends time dropping turds every ten feet so they can find their way home from a polluting festival. Then the punch line, which will have something to do with their own environmental virtue.

What law would you make to stop pollution? is a question asked by an individual which pretty well sums up public misunderstanding of the word pollution.

We make cars and a jillion other things. We create electricity and we eat, a portion of which we get rid of. Things not used in the process are waste streams and if and until they contaminate something, air or water for example, they are not polluting.

Let’s take human waste that is discharged to a stream, for example. Organic material will biodegrade unobjectionably in the presence of dissolved oxygen in the receiving stream. That means it will become inorganic elements like nitrogen and calcium which occur naturally in nature and rendered non-polluting. As long as there is still oxygen in the stream, all organic material will be converted to harmless inorganic elements.

Cities Get Bigger, We Respond

With population growth, more and more organic wastes will be dumped into the stream. How do we know when enough is enough? We do two things: (1) we monitor the oxygen content of the stream and (2) we measure the Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD) of the material being dumped. As long as the total BOD remains less than the oxygen content of the receiving stream, it will remain healthy.

When the BOD load increases, treatment plants are constructed to remove as much of that load as is needed to keep the stream healthy. In 1908 we saw the first Imhoff tank installed, which is able to remove 30 to 60 percent of the load prior to hitting its outfall.

Continued population growth brought development of the Trickling Filter and, later, the activated sludge process which raised removal efficiencies up to the 90-percent level. This was followed by Tertiary Filtration which elevated our removal capabilities up to the 98-99 percent range.

Making this happen has been via the efforts of many professionals: sanitary engineers who design the treatment facilities, regulators who monitor performance, skilled operators who keep treatment facilities tuned up and running, contractors who build them, and vendors who furnish the latest available hardware. A similar skill set goes into water treatment, industrial waste treatment, and solid waste.

In the same manner, air is kept breathable and groundwater contamination is removed. In all, the environmental market is worth $250 billion per year.

And by the way, those smoke-stack plumes that give “environmentalists” the vapors is what happens when warm moisture-laden air hits the cooler-climate outdoors. It’s the same thing as clouds in the sky. NOx and other bad stuff has been removed.

Why Do I Need to Know This?

You don’t. But when I hear the steady drum beat about how we are indiscriminately polluting the earth, it becomes the ignorance which needs treatment. And that is because creepy politicians have politicized the s**t out of s**t. (Okay, so creepy and politician is a redundancy. Let’s move on.)

A most egregious environmental warp is the notion of man-made climate change, weaponized by the UN circa 1990 and handed down to elites whose mission is to tell the rest of us how to live. Carbon dioxide was declared a dangerous pollutant in 2009 by Obama’s EPA. Trees disagree with that but they don’t vote, one of the few things some politicians won’t allow near a ballot box. But I digress.

A summary version of why this is a “lot of hot air”:

  1. Carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere has no measurable effect on planet temperatures. Proponents of man-made climate change (MMCC) pointed to elevated CO2 levels in the atmosphere during warm periods when examining ice core samples as proof of their theory. Closer examination of those samples showed that the elevated concentrations in the atmosphere occurred at the end of the warm period making it an effect, not a cause. When temperatures are elevated, oceans give up their CO2 to the atmosphere. Something else caused the warming.
  2. 400 ppm CO2 is supposed to be close to a point of no return. This is the mathematical equivalent of one part in 2500 parts. Specific heat of carbon dioxide is roughly only twice that of other atmospheric constituents. Causing a measurable temperature increase would be like powering the lights of a major sports stadium through a single household extension cord. For those who avoided high school physics, specific heat is the amount of heat energy in BTUs or calories required to raise the temperature of a substance by one degree. A specific heat twice the other air components would have enough heat energy to raise the other 2499 molecules 2/2499 multiplied by the temperature differential,  equating degrees.
  3. The apparent agent of planet temperature change is sun-spot activity. The Maunder Minimum, a 200-year period of almost no sun spot activity, is associated with the Little Ice Age which ended in 1849. It has been gradually warming since and is still not as warm as the Medieval Warm Period which saw orchards in Greenland.

So, when people like AOC conflate CO2 production with turd droppings in the process of irreversibly polluting our planet, they are full of poopie-doo. If you put your trash in a garbage can for periodic pick-up instead of scattering it about the neighborhood and are not defecating on your neighbor’s lawn, you are not a dirty, evil monster spreading clutter to our extinction.

The opinions expressed here by contributors are their own and are not the view of OpsLens which seeks to provide a platform for experience-driven commentary on today's trending headlines in the U.S. and around the world. Have a different opinion or something more to add on this topic? Contact us for guidelines on submitting your own experience-driven commentary.
Wayne McLaughlin

Wayne McLaughlin is an OpsLens Contributor and US Army Veteran.

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