Imagine a World Without Science

December 11, 2017

You don’t have to Imagine it.
It’s Alabama.

Raw Story:

United Nations official investigating poverty in the United States was shocked at the level of environmental degradation in some areas of rural Alabama, saying he had never seen anything like it in the developed world.

I think it’s very uncommon in the First World. This is not a sight that one normally sees. I’d have to say that I haven’t seen this,” Philip Alston, the U.N.’s Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, told Connor Sheets of earlier this week as they toured a community in Butler County where raw sewage flows from homes through exposed PVC pipes and into open trenches and pits.


The tour through Alabama’s rural communities is part of a two-week investigation by the U.N. on poverty and human rights abuses in the United States. So far, U.N. investigators have visited cities and towns in California and Alabama, and will soon travel to Puerto Rico, Washington, D.C., and West Virginia.

Of particular concern to Alston are specific poverty-related issues that have surfaced across the country in recent years, such as an  outbreak of hookworm in Alabama in 2017—a disease typically found in nations with substandard sanitary conditions in South Asia and Subsaharan Africa.

The U.N. investigation aims to study the effects of systemic poverty in a prosperous nation like the United States.

By many accounts, poverty in the U.S. is worse than in most developed nations, despite rhetoric espoused by President Donald Trump and others who claim that the U.S. is the “best country in the world.”

According to the Census Bureau, nearly 41 million people in the U.S. live in poverty. That’s second-highest rate of poverty among rich countries, as measured by the percentage of people earning less than half the national median income, according to Quartz.

These income and wealth disparities affect minorities the most. Black, Hispanic, and Native American children, for example, are two to three times more likely to live in poverty than white kids, according to a study using Census data by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Economic inequality and racial discrimination have also been linked with civil rights abuses, particularly in Alabama and other states across the South. Furthermore, police shootings of unarmed black men and women are of deep concern to the U.N.

“Alabama” Lyrics:

[Verse 1]
Oh, Alabama
The devil fools
With the best laid plan
Swing low, Alabama
You got the spare change
You got to feel strange
And now, the moment
Is all that it meant[Chorus]
You got the weight on your shoulders
That’s breaking your back
Your Cadillac
Has got a wheel in the ditch
And a wheel on the track

[Verse 2]
Oh, Alabama
Banjos playing through the broken glass
Windows, down in Alabama
See the old folks
Tied in white robes
Hear the banjo
Don’t it take you down home?


You got the weight on your shoulders
That’s breaking your back
Has got a wheel in the ditch
And a wheel on the track

[Verse 3]
Oh, Alabama
Can I see you and shake your hand?
Make friends down in Alabama
I’m from a new land
I come to you and see all this ruin
What are you doing, Alabama?
You got the rest of the Union
To help you along
What’s going wrong?


11 Responses to “Imagine a World Without Science”

  1. J4Zonian Says:

    “United Nations official investigating poverty in the United States was shocked at the level of environmental degradation in some areas of rural Alabama, saying he had never seen anything like it in the developed world.”

    Wait til they see Mississippi.

    • dumboldguy Says:

      “Wait til they see Mississippi”

      LOL—-you may be the first to say it, but I’m sure many of us had the same thought.

    • Lionel Smith Says:

      Wait til they see Mississippi.

      Which makes me wonder about other states that have seen the heavy hand of resource extraction or heavy industry with regulation laxity often because of corruption.

      Jared Diamond on Montana in ‘Collapse’ comes to mind. Montana being one of the coal states with more such states along the Appalachians where mountain top removal has interfered with watercourses and created tailing ponds with the industry having marched on or atrophied leaving the hazards behind.

      Even the well healed need to pay attention to how they will be affected by the spread of disease, they should discover how people of all classes were affected by the cholera outbreaks in Victorian London and the wider country. The people the wealthy rely upon for domestic services will be in contact with the pestilential detritus off the blighted neighbourhoods.

      • andrewfez Says:

        Even right now, here in LA, and even in my neighborhood, we have childhood exposure to lead (measured via blood tests) at levels comparable to Flint. I don’t know if it’s from old pipes or what, but it’s affecting neighborhoods with homes ranging from 400k to 5M dollars.

      • dumboldguy Says:

        In addition to the more “natural” poisoning Lionel and Andrew point out, we now have an estimated 100,000 man-made chemicals floating around in the environment, only a few thousand of which have been studied re: their effects on humans and other living things.

        I remember some magazine or newspaper writer a few years back who talked his editors into spending several thousand dollars to test his blood for 100’s of man-made substances so that he could write an article—the results came back that he was a walking chemistry experiment. Not sure if this link is to that piece, but it speaks to a similar situation.

        (May I hypothesize that Trump’s mental issues result from the chemical burden that he has accumulated from his fast food diet?)

        • Lionel Smith Says:

          An informative book on the ‘poisoning’ of the planet is:

          ‘Our Stolen Future’ by Theo Colborn, John Peterson Myers, Dianne Dumanoski Also informative is the revisit video talk by Dr John Peterson Myers fifteen years later.

          Another book worth dusting off is ‘The Betrayal of Science and Reason: How Anti-environmental Rhetoric Threatens Our Future’ by Paul R. Ehrlich and Anne H. Ehrlich.

          The Ehrlichs suffered much abuse over one of their other books ‘The Population Bomb’ which has now been the subject of a more recent appraisal, look up the PDF ‘The Population Bomb Revisited’ for more.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            Glad to see that someone has read Our Stolen Future, a great “blast from the past” that is even more relevant today. A more recent book from Dianne Dumanoski (2009) is perhaps the greatest single summary of our dilemma that I’ve read yet (although, like almost everyone else, she hasn’t got many answers). Well worth the time to read the 300 pages.

            The End of the Long Summer: Why We Must Remake Our Civilization to Survive on a Volatile Earth, PB, Three Rivers Press. Used copies go for as little as two bucks, new is ~$15

  2. So is this the song that inspired that verse in “Sweet Home Alabama” by Lynyrd Skynyrd? I heard old Neil sing about us/I heard old Neil put us down/Well Neil Young should remember/Southern man don’t need him around, anyhow.

  3. Lionel Smith Says:

    This article at the Guardian today underlines the topic of poverty in bold: A journey through a land of extreme poverty: welcome to America

  4. Lionel Smith Says:

    And if Trump is dumped you get, Oh! Bubkes! Mike Pence a more dangerous beast as his track record shows. Duplicitous, grabbing, self promoting, stealthy.

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