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Covering The Earth
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The Concrete In The US Would Cover Ohio

 

By James Donahue

 

As I have driven the highways and byways of the United States I have been appalled by the fact that the landscape never changes. Except for a few spectacular points like the Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls, Yellowstone National Park and the Rocky Mountains, everything looks like one giant strip mall.

 

Every city and town is smeared with the same fast-food joints, Wal-Mart stores surrounded by shopping malls, deteriorating downtown stores, old factories puffing black coal smoke (if they are operating at all), and on the roads both ahead and behind us, there is a constant parade of cars, pickups and RVs all trying to get around each other. And all of it is surrounded by ugly grey smog.

 

And supporting this horror is the cement. Or asphalt which is made from crude oil.

 

I used to think about the work it would take to stand on a jackhammer and tear up all of the cement and asphalt surfacing and restore the Mother Earth to the state it was in before humans came along. And with those thoughts, I sometimes wondered just how much cement there is to get rid of.

 

Now, thanks to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, we know.

 

A report of "impervious surface areas" (ISAs) in the United States, which added up all of the concrete structures, parking lots and roads in the 48 contiguous states, shown they cover 43,480 square miles, an area nearly the size of the State of Ohio which is 44,994 square miles.

 

This is very bad news for everybody because it means that all of that land . . . usually some of the best farm and forested land in existence . . . has been buried under tons of cement. And cement has a tendency to collect heat, which is contributing to the problem of global warming and other severe earth changes.

 

In fact, it is established that all of this concrete cover is very bed for the world's environment.

 

The report noted that the replacement of heavily vegetated areas by ISA "reduces the depletion of carbon dioxide, which plants absorb from the atmosphere. This can speed up global warming."

 

The ISAs also can change the water cycle and disrupt aquatic ecosystems by changing the shape of natural streams, increase water temperatures, and wash pollutants into streams and ditches, and eventually into rivers, lakes and the oceans.

 

The report includes one other alarming fact . . . the concrete coverage of the contiguous states is slightly larger than that of the nation's wetlands, which cover 38,020 square miles. And while concrete roads and parking lots are continuing to be built, the wetlands are disappearing.

 

America's population is increasing by three million people a year and the concrete cover is spreading to match this growth. Every year, at least a million new homes are built and about 10,000 more miles of roads are laid.

 

This is just what is going on in the United States. It does not take into consideration the things going on over the rest of the world.

 

It is obvious that an excessive population is destroying our planet and putting us all in great peril. In the words of the vernacular: we are fornicating ourselves to death and burying ourselves in cement.