I’m down to the last ten thousand pages of Execution, book five in the C.L. Bluestein Seduction Series. Now I get to plot my revenge, dream up all kinds of murderous outcomes, and choose which ones to use. Like the other books in the Seduction Series, its major theme is the harm caused by profits over people. This time, I focus on the climate crisis, a topic very familiar to me. I am a co-host for the Good Men Project’s podcast Climate by the elements. For more than three years, on our monthly interactive calls, we connect the dots on all aspects of society and government affected by the climate crisis. So, believe me when I say, just recently I came across an article that really threw me.
On Monday, 9/19/2022, the Guardian published an article that surprised me, and not in a good way. I present it here in a fictionalized format mainly because I can’t get it out of my mind and it is a perfect example of profit over people.
Somewhere between the Department of Health and the Environmental Protection Agency sits a decision maker, John. He is tasked with decisions the higher-ups don’t want to be bothered with, such as: Should we have a staff picnic? Should there be at least two extra rolls of toilet paper in the employees’ bathrooms? Trivial, maybe, but someone has to do it.
One day, John gets a call. “Hey. It’s Fred. The toxic sewage sludge tanks are full. What do I do with the next delivery?”
John says, “I’ll have to get back to you.”
“Wait. Don’t hang up. I’ve got an idea.”
“My uncle runs a dairy. He sells his manure pile to local farmers to fertilize their fields. It’s good money.”
John says, “Government isn’t in the business of making money.”
Fred says, “What if we go into business and contract with treatment plants, government and commercial, to remove sewage sludge.”
“What are we going to do with it?”
“Sell it to farmers. It’s almost the same as manure except it’s human, not cows, or industrial waste. Not any different, really. Waste is waste.”
“Fred, it’s toxic.”
“Come on, John. Not spread out over a field.”
“Hmm. A cheap form of fertilizer.”
“Exactly. We’ll make a fortune helping farmers.”
John, the decider, doesn’t hesitate. “I’m in.”
Okay, that’s not what really happened, but I bet it’s damn close. The result is that farmers did purchase the sludge, full of PFAS (a forever toxic chemical), and spread it all over their fields. They then grew food that made its way to market as fresh or processed consumables for humans and animals. My gag reflex kicked in here. The PFAS and other toxic biochemicals in sewage waste do not decompose. Some remain on the fields’ surface, and some leach into, and pollute, the water system, contaminating water sources. These water sources either flow into larger bodies of water and into the gulfs, bays, and oceans or back into water treatment plants, public and private, which then produces more sewage sludge. The cycle is self-perpetuating. The inevitable build-up contributes to the destruction of arable land and water ecosystems, fresh and saltwater.
Back to writing, although my rant/diversion may give you a little idea of how my mind works. It’s also why I rarely sit down to a blank page and have nothing to write. In fact, it is more the case, that I’ve too much on my mind to pick just one thing. When that happens, I walk my dogs, let the ideas simmer, and then I return with a more clarified vision.
That same process happened as I approached the final chapters of Execution. There are a number of ways the ending can go, and not one of them stood out. It’s a pantser (seat-of-the-pants) approach, although I always work from a “big picture” outline and character arcs. When I get down into the details, the chapters are character driven within the storyline. However, at this junction, “my people” were not forthcoming. I stopped worrying about it and gave “them” time to figure it out.
Patience and persistence paid off. As I got ready to go to bed, the answers flooded my brain. I grabbed a pen and paper and wrote them down as fast as I could. Now, constricted only my typing speed and work time (dog-defined), I’m excited to see how it all plays out.
After that, it’s editing, revising, and formatting. Still, I can’t wait to share Execution with you.
Image:Gerd Altmann from pixabay.com