12 September 2018

Pig shit

With the coming of hurricane Florence, the Carolina coastline is about to get a nasty taste of the consequences of human misbehavior -- and I'm not talking only about the greenhouse-gas emissions that drive climate change and consequent extreme weather events.  There is also pig shit involved.

The Daily Kos explains.  Hog farms in the region generate huge amounts of pig shit, which creates serious problems even under normal, hurricane-less conditions.  The post quotes Steve Wing, a professor of epidemiology:  "It’s easy for a big hog operation to have as much waste as a medium-sized city."  Dense concentrations of humans -- that is to say, cities -- can be kept sanitary only by means of sewer systems.  Without these, the giant cities of Roman times or the even larger ones of today would have been uninhabitable; the filthy cities of medieval Europe were cesspits of disease, despite their smaller populations.  Such hygienic standards are impossible to maintain with other animals such as pigs when they are crowded together on farms in far higher densities than would ever occur in nature.

As a result, hog farms accumulate lagoons of pig urine and excrement, the stench of which makes the air around them unendurable.  As even these fill up, the stuff is sprayed on fields in the form of a mist, as fertilizer.  The mist, of course cannot be confined to the fields but drifts with the wind, causing health problems for the residents of nearby communities.  In North Carolina, the problem is so bad that it has led to a class-action suit.

This is an inevitable result of the practice of farming self-aware animals so that humans can kill them and eat their flesh.  Not only is it a grossly inefficient use of farmland, but unnaturally dense concentrations of animals produce unnaturally dense concentrations of shit.  There is no way around this.  We are literally beshitting the air people breathe, for the sake of perpetuating the cruel production of unhealthy food.

Now, enter the hurricane:

During big storms, uncovered lagoons -- especially those that haven't been drawn down -- can fill up with rain and overflow..... Here's the really bad scenario: Water starts overflowing and erodes the lagoon wall, causing a wall to collapse, spreading animal waste across the landscape and into rivers. Rising rivers could also inundate some low-lying lagoons and hog houses..... Those lagoons are full of nothing but feces and urine.....

Humans abuse and kill pigs for the sake of pork and bacon which aren't even healthy for us.  A post-hurricane landscape stinking of pig shit is a natural price to pay for that.  If the pigs could understand, they might even call it karma.


Anonymous Marc McKenzie said...

Reading this reminded me of a story written by SF writer Alan E. Nourse back in the 1950s-60s, where a scientist discovers that man and pigs are in fact related to each other in more ways than one. I remember it being quite funny, especially the last line of the story which referenced Francis Bacon. :)

But in all seriousness...yep, a storm of Florence's magnitude will certainly do a hell of a lot of damage to these hog excrement pools. It also doesn't help that we have a president and an administration who simply do not give a tinker's damn about disaster preparedness--unlike the previous President (and the President from the 1990s).

But hey, both parties are the same, and there's no difference.

13 September, 2018 08:23  
Blogger Ten Bears said...

Not to detract from the gravity of your socio/anthropological observations, but there are as much coal ash in barely containable containment "ponds" as there is pigshit. As with the storm surge flooding in and around Houston a couple of years ago flooding what amounts to the world's largest petrochemical production facility the slipstream ecological impact of our behavior beggars human comprehension.

I think I have made clear how I feel about religion, but sometimes, just sometimes, I think maybe what's going on is proof of god, and man is she pissed.

We are fleas agitating the hide of a far greater organism.

13 September, 2018 10:27  
Blogger Mary Kirkland said...

Oh damn, that sounds bad but you know if that happens we'll probably never hear about it on the news.

13 September, 2018 10:40  
Blogger Nan said...

Ewww! There are no words ...

13 September, 2018 11:53  
Blogger Martha said...

This post really spoke to me. The pork industry is one of the most cruel and vicious ones on the planet. It makes me sick just thinking about what these intelligent animals go through.

13 September, 2018 14:47  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Marc: I think I read that story too. In some ways, mainly the circulatory system, pigs do closely resemble humans, or so I've read. And they're about as intelligent as dogs -- smarter than most of the animals carnivorous humans eat.

Thomas: I'm sure that's true as well. Fossil fuels just generate more toxic filth of another kind -- more trouble waiting to happen.

Mary: It will be interesting to see how much they do say about it -- and how much the blogs and independent sources like Daily Kos do.

Nan: Ewww indeed. That stuff really does stink like nothing else. I once worked at a place where I was exposed to the smell. I'd never want to do that again.

Martha: Thank you for seeing my deeper point. It was actually that, almost ten years ago, that put me on the path to giving up meat-eating entirely.

13 September, 2018 19:03  
Anonymous NickM said...

I am a sequential veggie. I gave up pork 25 years ago. Chicken next. I clung onto ham because I like ham but I gave it up because I like pigs more. I don't eat farmed fish. People think it's my wife (a vegan) who is taking me down this road. Maybe but I didn't exactly not have a choice in getting married did I? I mean you fall in love for reasons and it wasn't just a shared liking of Blondie. It was for much less important things than that ;-)

14 September, 2018 10:04  
Anonymous NickM said...

I just learned that corvids (which I always thought smart) can understand "process". They can use tools sequentially. Only us and apes (not Trumpanzees) can also do that. The little buggers can plan! They can figure they need to do A before B and both before C. They are almost certainly smarter than pigs (though pigs are smart too).

The worst Dame Judy I ever encountered was outside a kebab shop in London E1. God knows but it was around the erstwhile haunt of Jack the Ripper.

14 September, 2018 10:12  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Nick: It's a good thing the expression "eating crow" is figurative only. I've seen some amazing examples of the intelligence of those birds.

14 September, 2018 18:20  

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