Glennon's "Fouling Our Own Nests" mostly depicts the state of affairs in Lake Havasu City in Arizona and the other parts of the United States. Following the pollution of River Colorado that supplied water to more than 20 million people in Arizona and California and other rivers in the country, there was a concerted effort to clean the river to avert looming humanitarian crisis. This paper analyzes the argument in Glennon's "Fouling Our Own Nests" with a view to understanding its implications for the United States.
The Author’s Main Argument
The main argument that the author makes is that there is a severe water quality problem facing the residents of Lake Havasu City. The grounds for this claim are that, in spite of being one of the largest cities in the United States, Lake Havasu did not have a functioning sewerage system, meaning that most of the human wastes got into the nearby rivers such as the Colorado. In terms of quantification, the author indicated that 55,000 residents of Lake Havasu City frequently used septic systems of waste disposal, meaning that a large amount of wastes increasingly found their way into Colorado River (Glennon 65). Since the excretion of human wastes is consistent and increases with a rise in population, there was potential danger of the seepage of human wastes into the river. Due to the steady leakage, the concentration of nitrate in the river increased tremendously thus affecting the quality of drinking water (Glennon 65). The author quoted a survey that the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation conducted in 2005, in which the report claimed that there was a high concentration of nitrate in drinking water (Glennon 65). The findings of the report and the reality on the ground were a clear manifestation that both the residents and tourists were actually soiling their own water supply (Glennon 66). The author also claimed that down the river, approximately 20 million people used its water, meaning that the compromised quality of water endangered the lives of people who use the river water (Glennon 66).
The warrant that the author noted was the involvement of Arizona Governor on the issue. The pollution of Colorado River prompted an immediate reaction from the governor, who formed a stakeholder group called Clean Colorado River Alliance in 2005, to find urgent solution to the problems related to water quality (Glennon 66). This was a reactive approach to the issue rather than a proactive way to solve a problem of this magnitude.
I believe that the author’s central claim concerning water pollution is justifiable, because with increased population and inadequate sewerage system, there is a probability of waste materials reaching the nearby river. Moreover, the concentration of such waste materials causes serious threats to the human population who use the river water. Although the problem is blamed on the residents and tourists, the authority of the land had to take the greatest responsibility, because the leadership should be in charge of the provision of clean drinking water and sewerage system.
The Author’s Sub-claims
One of the sub-claims was that the water pollution caused by increasing the nitrate level could lead to severe human health risks, such as blue baby syndrome in children and E. coli in adults (Glennon 66). According to the author, approximately 940,000 Americans are infected with waterborne related pathogens annually. Thus, this has become a national problem (Glennon 66). The author also claims that millions of Americans obtain drinking water from unregulated and untreated wells which are prone to nitrate concentration from human and animal waste leached into aquifers (Glennon 66). The other claim was that the increased and unregulated use of nitrogen fertilizer in the U.S. polluted surface water, while others leach into the soil, then to aquifers and, finally, into the wells (Glennon 67).
The author also justified the claim about water pollution by noting that the New River carries more than 20 million gallons of raw sewage daily, 30 viruses, 25 agricultural pesticides, and unregulated industrial wastes (Glennon 68). These statistics of high quantities of harmful substances find way into aquifers and wells, thereby increasing the rate of pollution of groundwater. The author also noted that a rocket-fuel chemical also contributes to increased water pollution (Glennon 69). This chemical affects the functions of thyroid and brain of a human. According to the author, MTBE, Methyl Tertiary Butyl Either, also causes serious water pollution; this an oxygen enhancer that oil companies add to gasoline to reduce the emission of carbon monoxide (Glennon 70). He also noted that a study of private wells in 2006 indicated that the level of Chloroform, MTBE and arsenic was more that the standards that EPA recommends for drinking water (Glennon 71).
Glennon also identified animal feeding and related operations as significant contributors to water pollution (Glennon 72). The contamination caused by such animals as cows, chickens and sheep is in form of waste that they excrete on the surface. Moreover, Glennon claimed that the use of chlorinated solvents in industries and military operations pollute groundwater as well. For instance, spillovers and leakages of TCE leak into groundwater and it is very dangerous to human health (Glennon 74). He also reiterated the high cost of water pollution in terms of meeting health implications of drinking such water (Glennon 75).
How the Grounds Support the Claims
The author’s assertion about water pollution revolves around the infiltration of animal, industrial, and human waste into the subsoil, then to aquifers and private water wells. This is unavoidable if proper waste management is not implemented. It is evident that people continue to soil their own environment. It is justifiable that even if the wastes are dumped on the surface soil or water, they eventually find way into the rivers and carried downstream (Vigil 32). The more wastes get into rivers and aquifers, the more dangerous substances continue to affect people who use such water. This means that the author’s claims are important to the authority and they necessitate urgent measures to address a broader problem of human health risks resulting from pollution.
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