Whose Fault Is It?

Whose Fault Is It?

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Whose Fault Is It?

Whitney: Hey, Jessica, have a seat. You always seem to be looking for a place to hide. It must be tough with your dad on the television almost every night now. Cafeterias sure aren't private, and you do have to eat!

Jessica: What a pain hiding from people sometimes! Still, dad's been in politics for awhile now, so I'm getting used to it. Brett! Lorrin! I'm over here.

Brett: Hi, guys. Jessica, that was a good report you gave today in Environmental Studies, even though I think you're wrong, of course!

Lorrin: You two never agree on anything!

Jessica: Well, I have the facts to prove my point. Dad showed me some of his research. Industries and factories are directly at fault for pollution. It is a simple as that.

Lorrin: Now, you two will drag me into this. I don't like it the way politicians push the blame off on those without the money or power to do anything about the destruction. We elect government representatives to fight for our rights and well being.

Brett: Well, I simply don't see it that simply. We are all responsible for our environmental destruction.

Whitney: Now that is simple. It seems to me that much of this environmental destruction issue is in our heads. Things seem fine to me. I don't see dead fish, breathe black air, or contract unexplainable illnesses, and neither do any of you that I know.

Jessica: I think you would feel differently if you saw EPA test results on the air you do breathe. The EPA sets limits on the amount of toxins that various industries, cars, and other polluters are permitted to release into the air.

Lorrin: Yes, but the EPA as a governmental agency only performs those texts once a year.

Brett: The EPA is underfunded and understaffed. Not only that, but when it does shut down factories, in many cases, the people who become unemployed complain about the lack of work and the factory is usually reopened. Similarly, when factories are to be inspected, they are usually informed weeks before the inspections occur, allowing time for temporary arrangements to clean up their toxic emissions and making the tests invalid.

Jessica: The EPA must give a company at least one day notice before an inspection.

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In most cases, the "temporary arrangements" take at least a week to implement. What really happens is that most successful companies will pay a person for the right information well in advance of any inspections. Many agents, given their pay, jump at the chance for more money.

Whitney: First of all, the government makes enough money to pay whomever they want. Second, why waste our money on the EPA when we, the people of the world, can live on the earth with little or no difficulty.

Brett: The ozone layer is a good reason why. The ozone layer is a part of the stratosphere which protects the earth from the sun's harmful radiation and ultraviolet rays. That layer is thinning out more and more as each day passes.

Lorrin: There is an issue for politicians. They drag their feet on better regulations for cars, and they provide tax breaks for those who build huge homes. Also, they allow lumber companies to harvest too many trees, particularly on federal lands.

Jessica: But again, it is the people who work in the factories who complain when their industries must clean up the environment. Besides, most of the "fancy cars" such as the one my father drives meets the exhaust emission standards for the year 2000.

Brett: As you all have shown, we each play a part in this problem, whether by using a can of hairspray or driving a large car. Everyone in his or her own way has contributed to air pollution which, like it or not, does deplete the ozone layer.

Whitney: You people are brainwashed into paying both too much attention to and too many taxes for this so-called problem. Rush Limbaugh, who hosts his own television and radio show, says that "the real crisis . . . is our gullibility." In a Newsweek article I was reading lately, Derek Barton, A Nobel Prize chemist, says that "there's so much propaganda [around the ozone issue] that [he] just [doesn't] believe it."

Brett: I read that article too, and the problem I have is that Limbaugh is not an expert on the ozone layer, and Dr. Barton was also quoted as saying that he "hasn't looked into it successfully."

Jessica: One article I saw by William Stevens quoted two scientists from Environmental Canada--J.B. Kerr and C.T. McElroy--who found that the amount of radiation hitting the earth near Toronto increased 6.7% last summer and 35% during last winter.

Whitney: So what. That's just Canada and they're only two scientists.

Lorrin: In an article by S. Fred Singer of the Science and Environmental Policy Project, near the equator in Argentina there is a 45% increase in ultraviolet rays reaching the earth.

Whitney: I think I will stick with the Nobel Prize winning scientist.

Brett: Even if you were right here, Whitney, you cannot ignore the issue of water pollution. Do you know that 356,000 tons of waste are dumped into the Mississippi River each year? Not only that, but the mighty Mississippi, though bordered by 11 states, receives the wastes and pollutants of 31 states? Residents near this great river will not eat the fish from the river, and they advise other people to avoid eating it as well.

Whitney: During spring break, my family stayed on the Mississippi, and I ate the fish without getting sick.

Brett: I am not saying that every fish in the Mississippi will be contaminated, or even half of them. I am trying to say that when you eat a fish from that river, you have a chance of getting sick from the pollutants you consume.

Jessica: The problem isn't only in the United States. For example, the U.S. does not have a river in the top five of most polluted rivers. That is not to say that our rivers don't need help, but in Poland, the Vistula is not even safe for people to swim in, let alone eat its fish.

Lorrin: Yes, and in Africa, the children drink the water they bathe their animals in because their governments will not build water treatment plants.

 Brett: Death is not the only negative aspect of water pollution either. Disease and birth defects can result from drinking polluted water. One thing is sure, we all have a problem, and arguing about who is to blame won't solve it. The government will have to become more active, industries will have to develop a better empathy for those who live around their plants and factories, and ordinary people will have to understand that their lives may change if their neighbors hope to enjoy better lives.

Lorrin: I guess what it comes down to is that although the effects of our environmental destruction may not be seen during our lifetimes, they will be seen during someone's, and that someone can not fight what we are doing now. Only we can do that.
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