Home > The Goofy Book 3: Writing Experiments > Ch. 66: Protecting The Planet From Itself (Part 1)

Ch. 66: Protecting The Planet From Itself (Part 1)

Recently I was overcome by a conservative memo regarding water pollution which, I’ll be honest, surprised me.  Although, this environmental awareness ploy affected me more with a personally growing sense of sarcastic ridicule than the intended heart strung responsibility to clean up our natural habitat (which is now concrete and plastic).  In this sense I must clarify my description of conservative to refer to their clean water conservation efforts and their attitude that didn’t directly promote roundhouse kicking freshwater streams as this would surely give off the wrong impression while being quite exhausting attempting to inflict pain and reason unto a watery surface.

“Going Green” (with proper capital punctuation) has been one of the most successful fads turned standard practice next to mandatory Facebook updates about where you’re eating a bagel and the production of mind-numbing reality television.  Business tax credits, homeowner benefits, and more are all available to household decision makers who want to gain some personal wealth and pompous social credit while also potentially wanting to save a tree or two.  Most individuals feel no accountability towards preserving the delicate ecosystem of which we take the greatest advantage daily.  We’re still going to build our malls, progressively cut deeper into forests, and hopefully begin researching efficient methods to obliterate entire species of jellyfish but whatever the case may be we can try to go about it somewhat cleanly.   Yet sometimes in the presence of environmental education activism will tend to get a little caught up in the moment and rattle off “concerns” that make you assume the planet itself has been fiddling with the pros and cons of suicide.

This “Did You Know? / Ways to make Tech more Green!” flyer found its way into my hands one day and the first definitive conclusion I had reached after reading the card was that dirt should apparently never come in contact with free-flowing water.  This thought puzzled me momentarily as my mind reeled.  I recalled numerous memories of seeing water practically lying peacefully on top of dirt and / or rocks, and not once did I question it.  Hell, I even believed that dirt needs water otherwise you end up with a barren desert that, while providing a very rich skin tan in a matter of minutes, isn’t a very pleasant place.

One of the first bullet points on the card states that the foot traffic dirt paths across the Virginia Tech Drillfield pollute a nearby creek with sediment when washed away during a rain event.  This upfront claim would be hard to argue against, except for the implied severity of pollution.  Typically when we hear that some rogue source is polluting the local environment we’re thinking on a grand scale of unwarranted damage.  However, hearing that dirt is occasionally washed into more water during a black cloud downpour is anything but urgent.  Do we really need to prevent these faint traces of dirt from settling down in the creek bed and strengthening their presence with other sediment particles?  It rains a lot in Blacksburg, but not enough to cause any unnatural damage to these streams.  Maybe the stream is tired of its current size and is praying to get filled with dirt so it can overflow and run a different course.  You don’t know and neither do I.

To further our proactive conservative efforts here, it was also recommended that we should only walk on the paved paths across the Drillfield.  This means no more afternoon football games, no relaxing on the soft green grass and definitely no more military drills on the Drillfield because the Earth’s surface is too fragile to be trampled upon.  In order to do whatever necessary to prevent soil destabilization we must never venture off the asphalt was permanently poured onto the ground.  Doesn’t this seem maniacally backwards?


  1. Heironisaurus Rex
    2011/06/09 at 1:37 pm

    An explanation for the protection of water systems from increased sediment runoff…

    Naturally a small amount of sediment DOES runoff the land during torrential rain storms or even just during the spring when melting snows causing even the smallest of creeks to become raging rivers; however, human activities have a tendency to increase the amount of loose sediment on the surface creating unnatural quantities of sediment runoff. Yes, dirt is already in streams. The issue is not the natural dirt already residing in the streams but instead the silt that covers up rocky habitat. The best habitat for aquatic creatures, namely fish and insects, require more than just a murky silt covered bottom layer to live. Silt, the inorganic muddy layer that covers rocks and sand in polluted rivers, is responsible for loss of species diversity and a change in an ecosystems structure. If you were to sample a polluted creek, you wouldn’t find much in the slower waters thick with a silty sludge, instead you might see some hardy fish remaining in the faster rocky outcroppings or woody debris. Stroubles Creek, the creek running beneath the drillfield, is nothing like it was 100 years ago because of this silty layer and fish that used to live in it, no longer can. If you don’t like fish think of it this way, the dirtier the rocks the dirtier the drinking water for those people who rely on those rivers.

    In response to playing football or walking across the drillfield, I agree that it’s a bit of a stretch to say that we shouldn’t be allowed to do those things. To fix the problems with sediment runoff we need to improve things such as the riparian zone along river banks that prevents erosion, decreasing the impacts of construction (where more than just dirt flows into rivers), and increase education to those surrounding communities within various water sheds. This field is intensively studied and there have been efforts to require certain measures to be taken to prevent such sediment runoff. A prime example of this are the rain gardens along paved roads and parking lots, anywhere there is a road, water cannot seep into the ground and all of the chemicals and salts that we pour onto the asphalt runoff into streams. Sometimes, there is a sense to environmentalism, it’s not backwards, what is backwards is the way we constantly destroy and manipulate the only habitat we have to live in.

    I am very interested in part II.

    • 2011/06/09 at 1:59 pm

      Thanks for reading Heironimus Prime. And hahaha as you can tell I use no facts or research whatsoever before writing because I’m in the ignorant entertainment business, and I assure you that Part II should be even worse with disregarding any scientific background or studies O:P

      PS: I’ve got a Geosciences Minor too which typically would add some environmental education into these things, but I only have it because I liked to play with rocks haha.

  1. 2011/06/12 at 4:52 pm

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