This weekend, it is Hurricane Florence which is making waves especially in North Carolina where she made landfall round about breakfast time on Friday. The press seemed to be making a hullabaloo about the potential for disaster associated with slurry lagoons associated with pig farms. That's my sort of story so I offered to talk about it at next Tuesday's Wexford Science Café. The poor old WSC, is tottering along with a thin load of passengers and not enough drivers, but it needs someone to speak each month and it's easier for me to deliver the shite, because I can always fork through the backlog on The Blob.
The Guardian dug through the archives for a story that characterised the state of North Carolina as thick as pig dribble for being in denial about climate change and sea-level rise. They passing legislation to prevent flood-protection action based on a 2012 report by its own Coastal Resources Commission that sea-level might rise by 990mm in the next 100 years. That was too disconcerting for the interests that were hoping to develop the Carolina coast so it looked like Florida's . . . and make themselves a fortune which they could spend before the sea washed away their whole project.
dining out on Carolina pork. As indeed have I this last week. Lst weekend, I bought a 900g bacon joint for €3.50, boiled it up and have eaten nothing else (bar some spuds and a handful of peas) all week. How can 'they' raise so much protein, sell it for so little and still make a profit? Well the answer to that is location, location, location. In Duplin and Samson counties, about a third of North Carolina's 9 million hogs are raised in intensive feed-lots. In those, dirt-poor, mostly black and hispanic, counties hogs outnumber people about 30-to-1. There is a certain irony in the fact that, going against the prevailing haemorrhage of capital, China's largest pig company has opened a plant in Duplin County - because labor costs are so low.
Local residents are hardly likely to complain about the smell because a lot depends on the industry: the arable farms are largely producing corn, soy and wheat . . . for the pigs. The pigs of NC deliver 5 million tonnes of wet animal waste each year. Much of this matter is stored in open lagoons quietly evaporating while replacing the coliforms with a succession of different bacteria. One potential effect is the nitrification - denitrification process which converts
- ammonia [pig-pee] to nitrites by Nitrosomonas spp.
- nitrites to nitrates by Nitrobacter spp.
- nitrates to N2 by Pseudomonas spp. and Alkaligenes spp.
November 2016 lagoon flooding occurred with Hurricane Matthew; it was even worse with Hurricane Floyd in 1999. If you can't learn from your experience you deserve a v e r y s l o w h a n d c l a p, lads.
Stop press: across the state line in South Carolina, they're leaving 650 inmates, and their guards, in prison while evacuating the surrounding county. Now there's a case for cost-benefit risk-assessment analysis. Remember that, when Mount Pelée erupted in 1902, Louis-Auguste Cyparis survived because he was in locked in jail, while everyone else in the city of Saint-Pierre [N=30,000] died inhaling boiling air in the pyroclastic flow.