Culture

Speaking of fake environment issues, …

Spread the love

… like this one, here’s a doozy from the archives:

On the first Earth Day, in 1970, some scientists predicted that pollution would make “breathing helmets” necessary in ten years’ time. 

Prophecy above may be used as a substitute for the usual Sunday apocalypse. Of course the prediction was fulfilled. It “shows environmental concern.” Such predictions are always granted Fulfilled status.

Also file under: You’d think people’d notice that there are enough real environment issues out …

4 Replies to “Speaking of fake environment issues, …

  1. 1
    DrREC says:

    “On the first Earth Day, in 1970, some scientists predicted that pollution would make “breathing helmets” necessary in ten years’ time.”

    Don’t know why that is a doozy, if you were living in this:

    http://www.scientificamerican......-1970s.jpg

    or this:

    http://thebenshi.com/wp-conten.....smog-2.jpg

  2. 2
    dmullenix says:

    My home town is Nekoosa, Wisconsin, Population 2515. It’s a paper mill town in central Wisconsin, on the banks of the Wisconsin River. It has the last of a dozen or more paper mills on that river. There’s one just upstream in Port Edwards, another farther up in Wisconsin Rapids, another one in Biron and so on up the river. The last one is somewhere north of Wausau.

    Prior to the ’70s, every mill (like virtually every other industry in America) dumped whatever liquids it didn’t want directly into the river. It was the normal thing, nobody even thought about it. I remember my father coming home from work one day and telling me how some other workers messed up an entire vat of chemicals, so they just dumped it in the river and started over. He referred to it as “Feeding the fishes.” It was normal.

    Of course, nobody fished in the river. It was rumored that if you caught a fish in it, you could render it edible by putting it, live, into a tank of water and letting it swim around for a week or so, changing the water every day. At the end of that time the fish would allegedly be edible, although it still tasted horrible. Nobody I know ever tried it.

    Our church, the Nekoosa United Church of Christ, was on the bank of the river, right next to the bend where the bridge was located. I remember standing behind the education building one day and marvelling at the fact that I could not see the water. Every square inch of the river, from bank to bank, down to the dam on my right and past the bend on my left, was completely covered with what looked like at least a foot of ugly yellow foam! Not an inch of water was visible.

    The entire length of the river wasn’t covered with that foam, of course. If you went upstream a ways, the foam thinned out and you could see huge blobs of some sort of puss-like material floating on the surface, along with the occasional dead fish.

    Mike Thompson and I decided to try waterskiing in the river one day. We figured if we did a dock takeoff, we wouldn’t get very wet and we’d be ok. We both went into the water of course, and we both itched for days.

    If you take that bridge into town today (just take highway 73 from Interstate 39), you’ll still see the church to your left and the paper mill beyond that, and the river going around the bend to your right. But right in front of you, at the end of the bridge, you’ll see a huge, ugly 10 foot long painting of a blue green fish. It’s part of a sign advertising the yearly fishing competition our town is now known for.

    Most of the credit for the difference between then and now goes to Senator Gaylord Nelson, our Senator, who is mentioned in your second cite. warning that we may need breathing helmets someday. He started Earth Day and sheparded the growing environmental movement that resulted in laws that curbed dumping into our waters and our air.

    I don’t know how it was in Canada, but here in the US smog and particularly the Los Angeles smog, used to be a staple of late-nite comedians. There were days in LA and other cities, where the air quality got bad enough so that you noticed that people were dropping dead from it. On better days they were still dropping dead, but more slowly so you didn’t notice so much. Take a look at DrRec’s pictures for examples. That’s all gone today too.

    It turns out that we don’t need breathing helmets today, but it’s not because the hazards were fake or exaggerated. It’s because we started passing environmental laws back in those days that turned the situation around to an absolutely amazing degree.

    Come down to Wisconsin some day and I’ll take you to my home town and show you the river and feed you a fresh fish and let you take a deep breath without coughing and gasping for air.

  3. 3
    Elizabeth Liddle says:

    Yes, it was a very useful prediction, but of course predicated on the assumption that we didn’t fix it.

    So we fixed it.

    That’s why, fortunately, we don’t have to wear breathing masks, although in some cities, people do anyway.

    And smog still occasionally kills.

  4. 4
    ocbouvieri says:

    Please understand…the first “Earth Day” in 1970 came the year after our society was so rudely introduced to the consequences of our unrestricted discharge of pollutants into the environment: the Cuyahoga River fire of June 1969.

    A very rude awakening to the consequences of our actions indeed.

    But..do not denigrate the initial reactions to that conflagration. Do not denigrate the gloom-and-doom predictions of the time that immediately followed the fire. Why? Because AT THAT TIME those predictions seemed reasonable given the THEN current state of affairs.

Leave a Reply