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Weapons of Mass Destruction

Hans Blix couldn’t find them. The US military couldn’t find them. But George Dubyah knew what he was looking for all along. The Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) were right under the noses of the CIA and MI6, cleverly disguised in a code word.
Hans Blix couldn’t find them. The US military couldn’t find them. But George Dubyah knew what he was looking for all along. The Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) were right under the noses of the CIA and MI6, cleverly disguised in a code word.

Many of us had reservations about the real reason for sending the military into Iraq. Sure, Saddam was there, and no one denies that he is one bad dude, surrounded by an infamous bunch of scoundrels. There never has been any proof that Saddam was in cahoots with Bin Laden, but George and Tony did not let facts get in the way of what was supposed to be a quick foray into Iraq.

Many of us also suspected that the real reason for invasion was oil. Mind you, the world could have had Iraq’s oil simply by lifting the embargo, but then we have a problem with George Bush senior and his Gulf War. Senior Bush was determined to exact a price for that war and the price was the economic destruction of his former ally, Iraq.

The code word that the so-called intelligence services missed, was, of course, oil.

WMD are usually thought of as nuclear bombs or biochemical weapons that can destroy targets with a few well-placed applications. From mustard gas in WWI to the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, we know what these weapons can do. Oil as a WMD?

Oil may be the ultimate WMD as we befoul our biosphere with its pollution. For over a century we have been using oil and its by-products to make life more enjoyable, more comfortable, and easier to travel. We may not be around long enough to fully assess the impact of oil upon us, but the rapid proliferation of respiratory diseases, cancers and climate changes should be warning enough. Are we all becoming collateral damage?

We can and should use more energy-efficient vehicles to reduce pollution and consumption of fossil fuels. I ride my motorcycle as often as I can. I burn ethanol blend in all of my engines – what my wife calls ‘herbal’ gas – as small effort at conservation. But in the end, there are just too many oil-consuming vehicles. The fact that there are simply too many people using this non-renewable resource is for discussion on another day.

Experts of all stripes will argue until the methane-producing cows come home about global warming and the affects on the environment. What is the effect of increased radiation due to the thinning of the ozone layer on the flora and fauna? The scientists test and extrapolate theories on the macro side, but what of the local environment, our own small part of the world?

The City of North Bay recently circulated a questionnaire on the use of pesticides, the focus being on water quality. The concern seems to be mostly about using pesticides on lawns, especially those near Trout Lake, our source of drinking water. (Herbicides, I guess don’t affect drinking water.) No matter that these studies have been done in other jurisdictions and the application of poisons banned, we will hear from the concerned citizens and draw our own conclusions.

How large an area around Trout Lake is sensitive to the poisons used? Each little creek flowing into Trout Lake is being mapped in case we do declare a pesticide-free zone. Rules are being drafted as to what dire circumstances will allow the application of poisons. Why cut or pull noxious weeds if you can spray them? Other cities’ bylaws are being scrutinized for legalese for the eventual ban of pesticides in North Bay.

It is interesting to note that nothing is being said about Lake Nipissing. I guess it will still be all right to use pesticides if your drainage is into Nipissing. Nobody draws drinking water from that Lake. Well, eventually the folks in Toronto might, but that’s a long ways from our town. It makes me wonder just how lucky is the fisherman who catches a pickerel or two from Nipissing.

Are we concerned only about our own little corner of the world? How big is the ‘world’ for a garden toad? A chipmunk? A honey bee? How much collateral damage is done by one can of bug killer? How much collateral damage by a bag of weed and feed?

I am reminded of treaty talks with a First Nations delegation where one of the elders said he was speaking for the fish and birds and so needed a special vote. Who speaks for the critters we kill with our WMD delivered by pressurized cans or spray-tanks on trucks? Who speaks for the birds that eat these poisoned bugs, the animals that ingest tainted leaves? Who speaks for the larvae poisoned just before they enter our food chain?

What would the little ones say about the perfect green lawns we create by applications of fertilizer, pesticides and herbicides? Can they safely find the little islands of refuge in the extra flowerbeds we plant in our Competition to Bloom? Perhaps it is just as well that we don’t hear them, for I suspect it would not be pleasant.

Oil as a WMD? Lawns sprayed with a WMD? I suppose it is all a matter of perspective.


Bill Walton

About the Author: Bill Walton

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