'what do you think of chester declining to say that dioxin is harmful, or a health concern? do you think the enviro folks are losing ground? seems like it. heck, look at the story on birnbaum that the sag news had. interested in your thoughts.'- anonymous lurker Apr 16... pushed me right into the 'arms of the opposition' as my browser gravitated over to Gary Lone Tree's version of Dr. Birnbaum's presentation last week. Gary says Dr. Birnbaum was unaware of the Michigan Department of Community Health Study. I personally doubt that statement. The difference is that he does not know how to properly interpret the data. He bases all his 'science' on his statement... 'These are NOT "normal" ranges. Dioxin is a toxic contaminant, theoretically you should not have ANY in your body.' As a matter of fact most of his essay is critical of Dr. Birnbaum!
Dioxins and all the chemical cousins, furans, have always been around... as products of various types of combustion. This would include not only forest fires, home heating, backyard cleanup burning, but volcanic action and all matter of natural and unnatural disasters. We, the human element, obtain our dioxins through ingestion of animal products. Yes, other animals are not as discriminant in their food choices as the human animal. Dioxins are stored in their fat. Most of us are carnivorous so we eat other animals. The dioxins in their fat are absorbed into our fat. Dr. Birnbaum knows this. Apparently Lone Tree members do not.
Now onward to the Chester opinion, or lack thereof. I was not at the meeting to hear him in context. From the little I know of Steve Chester, he is dedicated to his environmental obligations as Director of MDEQ. At the same time, he undoubtedly has respect for Dr. Linda Birnbaum. She has traditionally leaned toward the extremist side of environmental opinion. She is however,first and formost a scientist. Science is her life. She will report what she sees and apparently, in her oversight role with the University of Michigan study comparing dioxin in the soil with dioxin in the body, she is seeing the reality of 'no significant difference' between dioxin in humans living in the Tittabawassee River floodplain and humans living in other parts of the country.
Do I think the enviro's are 'losing ground?' That's a tough one. It would appear they are losing credibility in the situation here on and near the floodplain. Of course they never had it with the real scientists living in the Midland area because these people are as renowned as Dr. Birnbaum. Their only 'fault' is their expertise is challenged by the public attitude about the undesirability of chemicals and the chemical industry in general. Most of this public opinion is based on the dogged efforts of local environmental extremists who have an axe to grind against The Dow Chemical Company. They have been using scare tactics ever since the creation of Lone Tree Council in the 1970's.
Environmental activism in general is fueled nationally and internationally by full-time businesses. The environment may be their name but money is their game. They are deeply entrenched in our society, knowing that all of us are interested in maintaining a clean and safe environment. At the national level, environmentalist businesses sponsor meetings and pep rallies urging the environmental extremist subculture forward. So, are the enviros losing ground? I hope they are on this issue. Most of us just want the whole thing to go away and hopefully the latest studies will prove what long-term residents already know... there is no imminent danger in the backyards of residents in the Tittabawassee River floodplain. Then maybe the local environutz will just leave us alone!!!