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Manifest Destiny West to East

Updated on January 12, 2013
Image credit: radiantskies / 123RF Stock Photo
Image credit: radiantskies / 123RF Stock Photo | Source

The migration of our early American population from east to west that gave rise to the concept of manifest destiny will likely form a neat couplet with a different sort of motion going from west to east: poison. This is not to say that things could actually have been different. They really couldn't. Where else in America could toxic waste logically be buried? Rhode Island could not realistically accommodate much in the way of industrial excess within its relatively tiny borders. There are far too many people and scarcity in terms of vacant land. But in the west, land is plentiful, and people live mostly in tiny clusters here and there. Such nice people, too. But will they become tomorrow's mutants?

The evidence is out there. And it is never pointless to hash and rehash what is already known. But the simple enormity of the number of offenses against mother earth and her children, that is to say, human beings, is staggering. The purpose of this hub, gleaned mostly from reading and, admittedly, not field work, is that there is no guarantee that toxic waste can be contained. It can only be temporarily stored in a drum, then stashed in an offbeat location -- hence, major disposers of toxic waste look optimistically toward the American West. And whatever the macabre ingredients are, they will invariably interact with and eat through any substance and eventually filter directly into the earth to infect its water systems. Ultimately, toxins will launch themselves into the air. To begin with, the seepage is minute, microscopic. Later, who knows? It will not become a tidal wave overnight. But the fact is that no scientific solution to date can prevent leakages. The gradual and automatic soiling of not just areas surrounding dumping sites but everywhere else, including the atmosphere above, is inevitable.

So, all this garbage with its fancy names, sometimes referred to in code, can be read about elsewhere in great detail and at even greater length. The body of literature on the business of secreting dangerous, unwanted commercial byproducts in faraway places is large and readily available. There is only a single conclusion. It is a ticking time bomb. At present, people live with it. They put up with it. They are aware that it is out there, somewhere, and that someone, it is hoped, must be in control. But the issue remains tucked away in the background -- physically and mentally. Again, it could not be otherwise. Toxic waste is a fact of life as ever-present as carbon. And the kind of life style we endorse insures that the manufacture of life-killing chemicals will only increase over the years to come. Still, it is anybody's guess as to when a true catastrophe rather than isolated incidents will occur. The meltdown in Japan showed just how wide-spread were the vicinities secondarily affected: nearly everywhere.

It is always possible that something can be done -- a new and powerful invention, perhaps, or an idea that has not yet stormed anyone's mind. But the process of undermining all the things that support life on earth has long since begun. If we are talking millions of years, as is the rule rather than the exception in geology or plate tectonics, then it is not worth getting worked up. And yet, there is one unpredictable element that is relevant today and that is war. Its manifold preparations insure that uranium and other radioactive metals will pollute till the end. All this waste could actually be used to help destroy a hostile nation. The stuff is incompatible with human life. Barrels and barrels, or drums and drums, of toxins are readily on hand. Bomb 'em or dump 'em: what's the difference? Instantaneous death or the installment plan. No doubt there are rules and regulations about military actions. The Geneva Convention is explicit and strict in its sets of concerns. But when hatred ramps up to such a degree, powerful bombs and gook that is not exactly biodegradable seem interchangeable.

One also has to wonder why westerners, descendants of gunfighters and pioneers, made of the sterner stuff, are so weak when it comes to dumping in their own backyards. Maybe it is the money; maybe it is just pitching in. Putting hazardous matter somewhere is a necessity. All the same, it remains to be seen how this drama will play itself out. The creepy-crawl eastward, northward, southward, and possibly a little further west, of anti-nature, might eventually become everyone's destiny.

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