Water Pollution in the name of Progress

As our demand for resources escalate, more community members are realizing the trade offs that come with living in the modern industrialized world.

A small suburb town Mayflower, Arkansas is witnessing the consequences of “progress.” The Pegasus pipeline, which is associated with the proposed XL Pipeline in Canada has covered residential land, forest area, and streams of water with crude oil. Residents are experiencing health issues and protests against the XL Pipeline are getting stronger. This “at home” example of consequences is likely to influence Obama’s position on the Pipeline. Below are images that were posted on the Huffington Post.

Screen shot 2013-04-13 at 1.39.29 PMScreen shot 2013-04-13 at 1.39.06 PM

Arkansas’ ecosystem has faced alterations accidentally imposed by people, and it emphasizes that we really don’t have control. In attempts to control our technological innovations, mistakes happen and consequences are unpredictable.

Why does the ecosystem of Mayflower Arkansas have to be a martyr? I can’t imagine how many other communities are suffering from oil  spills in other countries. The social and environmental consequences seem nearly invisible until a catastrophe happens.

The Huffington post indicated that news media was prohibited from entering the site; however, video journalist Adam Randall was able to capture aerial video footage of the oil spill throughout the Mayflower area.

The images from the oil spill are reminiscent to the water pollution produced in the textile dyeing industry. Below is an aerial photo of the Xintang’s Pearl river in China. It is polluted with indigo dye for blue jeans.

Screen shot 2013-04-13 at 2.21.53 PMMajor apparel companies are not treating their waste water because it is easier not to. However, contamination of water streams affects aquatic and human ecosystems.

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With emerging fears of limits of fresh water sources, the need for proper treatment of water is becoming more necessary. Several images are available of the textile dye waste water in China, but the contamination is also happening in other countries and across different industries. Below is an image of water pollution caused by a copper mine. Screen shot 2013-04-13 at 2.25.18 PM

Emerging water pollution caused by oil spills, textile dyeing/ finishing, and copper mines are a few examples of how ecosystems are being affected in the name of “progress.” Even though we do not directly pollute the water by causing an oil spill or dumping untreated textile water down our sinks, we contribute to this pollution as consumers.

When I first learned about the water pollution associated with textiles, I limited my consumption and only bought clothes from thrift stores. Through consumption of used clothes, I figured I was not contributing to the current fast fashion production of new clothes.

But with oil, copper mine, and other sources of pollution, I am unsure of what I can do. Petroleum and copper are components of several products and they may be more difficult to detect since products to do not carry labels of all of the raw materials used. If manufacturers won’t be ethical, the government must intervene for the well-being of community members. Governmental pressure can help mitigate future pollution and prevent more regional, environmental catastrophes from occurring.




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