Garbage causing real world problems

I just taught some kids today about the beauty of God’s creation and they all came up with ideas to be good stewards of creation in this world, like clean up litter. That was an easy one. I come home, relax and make dinner. Come to the computer to check out what is the news: two major stories about disrespecting our planet.


Burning garbage in the open during the war in Iraq and Afghanistan was widespread, and it is reported to be used now even after the investment of incinerators. The biggest one mentioned in the article was near the major American military base in Iraq. It is cheap, but unsafe and the military is stupid to allow this when they well know that it is harmful to the health of the soldiers. Thousands are reporting symptoms on a private website with more adding themselves or their dead loved ones everyday.

Based on what the pits burned, scientists deduce that they emitted toxins including hydrochloric acid, arsenic, formaldehyde, heavy metals, and dioxins. Health effects associated with the inhalation of such substances include cancer, neurological defects, respiratory diseases, and organ degeneration.


Open-air burn pits are much more hazardous than alternatives like closed incinerators or landfills. The pits tend to smolder at low temperatures over long periods, consistently releasing toxic plumes into the air. Those plumes are comprised of fine particles that can travel over long distances and leech deeply into the lungs.

Burn pits and their effects on people was disturbing to read about, truly there is something wrong with soldier’s training when they continue to put their lives at risk. Soldiers’ concern should not be about getting sick from garbage, rather the focus should be the war efforts. The photo above shows U.S. Army soldiers watching garbage burn in a pit at Forward Operating Base Azzizulah in Afghanistan Feb. 4. A judge recently dismissed 57 lawsuits filed by military personnel who said they were injured by toxic fumes from the pits. It sounds like there is something going on here that shouldn’t be. 

In other news, Russia made a pledge for a clean Olympics but it is undermined with illegal construction dumping that will adversely affect the water supply.  Interestingly noted is that no money has been allocated in the Sochi Olympic budget for waste disposal. The plan is to burn it all, there only a small household waste recycling plant in the area, not equipped to handle the Olympic crowds. After reading the previous article about strange health problems from burning garbage, that option is cheap but it sounds less than appealing.

I don’t really have any ideas to remedy these issues, I wish there was a way to clean up the dump in Russia for the people of Sochi (the article mentions that scientists say the water will be affected for the next 10-15 years at the least).

One really novel idea would be for both the military and the Russian government to own up to the harm they have caused the environment. Why is it so hard for them to own up to what they have done wrong? Proof of sick people and concrete scientific studies are lost on them. Perhaps once we admit that we are harming our planet then we can move toward a solution for a better future. 


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