Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Pollution In Rural Areas of Korea

Many city dwellers of today have at one time or another dreamt of leaving the city for the quiet and tranquility of rural life. Some have realized that dream, but it has not always been what they expected. A professor of horticulture, in his column for the Catholic Times, explains what they are likely to find when taking a trip to the country. Often in the evening they will probably become aware of a smell not noticed before: it comes from incinerating farm rubbish.

Burning to dispose of rubbish has always been part of rural life, but in the  past the material burnt was mostly organic; that is not the case today. Weed killers, vinyl, pesticides and other chemicals used on the farm are now part of the matter incinerated. He quotes a study indicating that 85 percent of the residue from the burning is used to make compost, which is then returned to the earth as fertilizer, posing a serious health hazard for all, no matter where they live, as it  becomes part of the food chain. 

We have been given, the professor reminds us, water air, earth, mountains, oceans--all of the natural world, and it is our duty to pass it on unpolluted to future generations. Our cities have done a good job segregating disposable trash and garbage that is biodegradable from hazardous materials. The government should now step up its efforts in the rural areas, including  programs to educate the public  on environmental issues. Though recycling of vinyl has begun in the country, there is much more to be done.

The professor is surprised and  depressed that the mass media, environmental groups and social movements have not made the impending degradation of the rural areas more of an issue. He surmises that since pollution has been a common element in much reporting over the years, these singular kinds of  environmental problems are overlooked. However, it is precisely the lack of concern, or any consciousness of wrong doing, that should make us turn  our attention to what is being done. The material incinerated today is no longer the organic matter of the past.

He concludes with the hope that Christians will get behind this movement for a cleaner environment, not only in the cities, where pollution is obvious, but where it's not so obvious, in the rural areas. Much of the failure to deal with environmental issues in the rural areas comes from a lack of knowledge. He suggests that the government work together with the rural agencies to convince farmers of the serious nature of the problem, so that the present hazards they face, as well as everyone else who eats the produce they grow, can be eliminated.

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