Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Next: Denude Our Borders

Not such a long time ago, the United States was engaged in a ground war against a brown people of diminutive size who refused to come out into the open and fight.

They would hide in the bushes. In the jungle.

Out military happened upon the obvious answer: get rid of the jungle. Denude the rainforests of eastern Southeast Asia. That way the small people would have no where to hide and shoot our soldiers.

They adopted a chemical herbicide that was called Agent Orange, to effect this, and got maximum returns for their efforts. The forests disappeared.

As a side effect, both the Vietnamese who lived there and the American soldiers who fought there started exhibiting long-term effects of exposure to Agent Orange.

Long-term effects that included cancer. Agent Orange was a carcinogen.

Today, Agent Orange is no longer used.

However, the need to keep diminutive brown people from hiding in the bushes has apparently not waned. Today, small brown people continue to hide in the bushes in their attempts to evade capture as they illegally cross the border in the Rio Grande Valley, north to America.

Today, thick carrizo cane (Arundo donax L.) occurs on the banks of the Rio Grande, up to 1.1 miles thick. This cane was planted there hundreds of years ago by Spaniards. It is not native. But it is a good cover for the small brown people.

Enter stage right a plan to denude the banks of the Rio Grande, thus depriving these people of places to hide.

There are three options in this plan”

  1. Cut the cane by hand and “paint” the cane stumps with an herbicide called Imazapyr, a product of chemical giant BASF.
  2. Bulldoze the cane, digging up the cane roots as well.
  3. Spray the Imazapyr herbicide from helicopters. Spray it directly on the cane repeatedly until all of the cane dies.

Of the three options, the last one is obviously the most controversial. Followed by the first one. It isn’t clear whether the 2nd one includes an herbicide.

Now I have to wonder about the sanity of wholesale spraying an herbicide, one that is non-specific and will kill anything classified as a plant. Especially adjacent to a river that forms an international border. Where the other country on that border uses the river water in its water supply system.

While Imazapyr is listed in chemical data pages and on its MSDS as non-toxic to animals, it is an irritant if inhaled or comes in contact with the skin. It is also known to cause irreversible sight loss.

It also hangs around in the environment for an awful long time, up to months, and can get into the groundwater. The only good news is that if it gets into the river, it will break down in sunlight in only two days.

But that doesn’t help Nuevo Laredo, a city that sits on the river bank opposite a targeted “cane forest”. Two days is not long enough to break down contaminants in water when they are introduced right there in front of them.

A final plan on cane removal has not materialized. In the meantime, let’s hope that sanity prevails and no one adopts the least troublesome “Final Solution” to the “Cane Problem,” the one that would be most beneficial to the corporate profits of BASF.

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