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Thread: 'Gaia theory and PCB release in a native community

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    Post 'Gaia theory and PCB release in a native community

    As a recent senior scientific advisor to a developing region close to Turkey where a large stock of PolyChlorinated BiPhenyls has been accumulated, I was initially shocked when the Leaders and scientific’elite’ amongst the native population applied the ‘Souk mentality’ regarding disposal, rather than a scientific risk-based decision as advised by me, regarding controlled disposal.

    (The ‘Souk mentality’ is where even the most toxic material is perceived to have a commercial value, and if someone can export it or sell it to a neighbour in the next village to make a few Rupees of profit, then profit comes first to the morally and scientifically bankrupt….. In the ‘west’ the application of the ‘Souk Mentality’ to hazardous materials disposal is rightly illegal. In the developing countries the ‘Souk Mentality’ is regarded as fine and the ‘normal decision’.)

    For those who do not know, PCB has mutagenic properties (can introduce genetic change within the cell structure) amongst other extremely serious chronic hazard characteristics. Limits of PCB uptake into the human body are often quoted in picogram per kg of bodyweight, therefore an inventory of over 200 tonnes of free liquid PCB (in drums) and a further unknown tonnage in leaking hardware is a potentially significant environmental stressor.

    The decision choice taken by ‘Leaders’ to a)sell the hardware containing the material as ‘scrap’ via export to a developing country or b) sell it to an unsuspecting scrap dealer in their own community, c) lose it in the desert by uncontrolled ‘desert dumping’ are all unacceptable as two million people are at risk of chronic health impacts by adoping the ’Souk ‘ mentality of regarding PCB scrap as something to be ‘buried in the sand’ where their aquifers (hence water supply) may be at risk. Selling PCB scrap as ‘valuable scrap metal’ would also be unacceptable in the ‘West’ where PCB scrap andliquids are ranked amongst some of the most highly contaminated hazardous materials known to mankind.

    When advised to not adopt their three choices above, the ‘Leaders’ played the game of applying ‘Junk Science’ to try to prove that there were no PCB materials by undertaking a quantitative scan for two congeners only(one a solid under normal conditions), instead of a general qualititative scan for the presence of any halogenated biphenyls.

    Unsurprisingly , by taking a stab at trying to pin down two congenors specifically (and with 209 PCB congeners possible) the chance of finding 2 specific compounds is less than one percent, thus the wrong decision was made and none of the 207 other possible PCB materials was even searched for, but it was the ‘right’ decision that was wanted ! by the ‘Leaders’ of the particular national industry in the country concerned …

    The country’s leading scientific research establishment had done only the limited the tests the ‘Leaders’ had told it to, rather than enable them to question the reason for testing or given a description of the goal of testing in order to formulate a suitable and honest analytical mechanism.

    Apart from moral outrage, placing written scientific arguments to the ’Leaders’ and scientific elite of the country concerned, all to no avail: resignation followed(with respect to both the awful potential fate of 2,000,000 inhabitants of a major city in the small country concerned, as well as on a personal level resignation in disgust from the job as advisor . I stress that I am no longer in the country in question .)

    What has this got to do with the Lovelock’s Gaia theory?.
    Well, if it is accepted that the Earth is a self-regulatory mechanism, and if we accept that in the developed and healthy ‘west’ , scientific decisions generally take precedence over commercial decisions, is it a case that in a tribal developing country where in-breeding is the norm amongst the indigenous population, that PCB release could in fact be unintendedly beneficial?

    Because of tribal inbreeding, exacerbated by religion-based in-breeding(marriage is often within the immediate family, cousin with cousin, brother with step-sister, Sunni will marry Sunni only, Shia will marry Shia only, the negligible native Christian population will only marry amongst its own small group); the negative impacts of in breeding are all too readily apparent. Congenitally deformed and crippled children are frequently seen, mental retardation in neo-nates is common. Registration of live births (in a neighbouring country suffering the same insidious cultural problems arising from chronic inbreeding) is only at the age of 18 months. This registration of a child's bith onlyat 18 months of age is because (as western nurses and midwifes have revealed to me in my research) ‘If the common incidence of serious deformities is noticed in that crucial 18 month period, euthanasia is applied to the infants concerned and the family ‘takes care of its own problem” - easy to do if the child is unregistered and unrecorded on the paperwork as a live birth until only 18 months after live birth…….

    Despite that systematic elimination of ‘worst case deformities’, many children with deformities arising from ‘having a family tree that has no branches’ survive as poor and weakened specimens of humanity into adulthood, where again tribal custom dictates that they will be married off at puberty for commercial reasons or to gain other advantage in the backward community concerned.

    Thus the release of anthropogenic substances with Mutagenic properties, such as the ‘Leaders’ apparently grossly stupid release of PCB in its community, is arguably of benefit to them. Anthropogenic mutagen release may be the only chance that the in-bred community has to gain genetic diversity, as the background level of contributory factors leading to genetic diversity is thus increased. The community ina neighbouring region suffering the same issues of religion-based inbreeding has also been impacted (positively?) by the environmental release of depleted Uranium munitions – Again this could be beneficial in terms of the background presence of mutagenic factors in primitive communities where incest and in-breeding are the ‘norm’.

    Is this proof that the Lovelock’s theory is real and is occurring?, the ‘Will of Allah’ ?, or Gaia’s ‘hand of nature’ ? – or is the 'Leadership's' release of a ‘unintendedly beneficial’ man-made anthropogenic mutagen merely an unintended consequence of their own stupidity ?


    Ogmios.
    Last edited by Ogmios; Thursday, October 9th, 2003 at 07:32 AM.

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    Two things are happening here. One in the short term, one in the long term. In the short term, you are saying that the genetic load on this population will be increased but this may lead to favorable mutation. Must mutation is not favorable. Homozygous recessive mutation may manifest itself all the more in an inbreeding population. This is a bad situation.

    In the long term---well, as someone said, "In the long term we all are dead". In the long term your assumption of increased genetic diversity benefitting the population would be equally valid if they were exposed to nuclear radiation instead of chemicals. I just don't see this as beneficial.

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    Yes it is bad, and the tip of the iceberg in terms of the ecological disaster facing many developing countries where industrial development is put before long-term welfare for their own communities. I have recently been fighting an (Arabic) naval organisation that insists on 'saving money' by dumping a corrosion inhibitor from its warships(containing Hexavalent Chromium) in a desert location where the lives of the subsistence farmers are not worth the cost of "Western style management' of a toxic substance..........

    I have as much chance of stopping the ongoing 'Hex Chrome dumping disaster' as after the Gulf war when I took on the Corps of Engineers in a certain country for practices that could have been better.
    Wish me luck!

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