Vietnam War

A Vietnam War Story We were Never Told.

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There has been a lot of chatter on Facebook lately about the anniversary of the “Vietnam Conflict,” to most of us it was the Vietnam War. Since we have just celebrated Veterans Day there have been many expressions of gratitude for all of our military veterans. People have been posting thank you statements on social media to those who served in the Vietnam War which became politically unpopular.

War Protest
Vietnam War Protestors | Image by PBS Ken Burns Through The Ringer

Many of our service men were treated poorly and even being called “Baby Killers” by those who protested the war with large gatherings the often resulted in violence.

Napalm Bomb
Napalm Bomb Exploded | Photo by pinterest.com

All sorts of weapons were used from handguns, to rifles, to hand grenades, to tanks and bombs. There were many types of bombs including the highly publicized incendiary bombs loaded with napalm. A bomb you may not be familiar with was used along the coastline and harbors to protect the shore from a beach attack. They are called sea mines. Mine fields were set up in the ocean along coast to prevent an amphibious attack by the enemy.

CME
Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) | Photo by King Makers IAS Academy

A small article brought this topic to my attention because many sea mines exploded in August of 1972 with nobody actually detonating them. Instead, it seems, a solar storm triggered the mines to explode without actual physical contact. The article explained that a research paper was accepted for publication in the journal Space Weather. It shows that many sea mines spontaneously exploded along the coast of South Vietnam. It happened on August 2-4, 1972 and the cause has been determined to be a giant sunspot that sent super strong magnetic waves to earth.

Mining Harbor
Mining Haiphong Harbor | Image by georgetrowbridge8b.com

The research paper is titled “On the Little-Known Consequences of the 4 August 1972 Ultra-Fast Coronal Mass Ejecta: Facts, Commentary and Call to Action” by Delores J. Knipp, Brian J. Fraser, M.A. Shea, and D.F. Smart. I normally do not use really long quotes, but in this case quoting the entire Plain Language Summary is necessary. “The extreme space weather events of early August 1972 had significant impact on the US Navy, which have not been widely reported. These effects, long buried in the the Vietnam War archives, add credence to the severity of the storm: a nearly instantaneous, unintended detonation of dozens of sea mines south of Haiphong, North Vietnam on 4 August 1972. The event occurred near the end of the Vietnam War. The US Navy attributed the dramatic event to ‘magnetic perturbations of solar storms.’ In researching these events we determined that the widespread electric and- communication- grid disturbances that plagued North America and the disturbances in Southeast Asia late on 4 August likely resulted from propagation of major eruptive activity from the Sun to the Earth. The activity fits the description of a Carrington-class storm minus the low latitude aurora reported in 1859. We provide insight into the solar, geophysical and military circumstances of this extraordinary situation. In our view this storm deserves a scientific re-visit as a grand challenge for the space weather community, as it provides space-age terrestrial observations of what was likely a Carrington-class storm.”

Apollo 17 Moon Landing | Image by Sky Image Lab

The storm was well known by NASA because it occurred between the return of the Apollo 16 flight in April and the planned December flight to the Moon of Apollo 17. If the astronauts were in space during the blast it would have made them sick and necessitated an immediate return to Earth.

Map of Vietnam
Vietnam War Map 1964-1975 | Image by maps.com

Just how did these researchers prove the case for a solar cause for the sea mine detonations? The researchers went through page after page of declassified Naval records to document just how devastating the series of solar pulses became by triggering the detonation of two dozen mines in a mine field near Hon La (well south of Danang) a period of about 30 seconds. The count went up to over 4,000 magnetically sensitive mines being detonated during that two day solar storm. The storm also played havoc with most of the satellites that were orbiting the Earth at the time.

There you have it. Scientists continue studying solar storms to help find ways to prevent the serious communication problems that these storms are capable of producing.

Chinese Sea Mine
Chinese 13th Century Naval Mine | Image by commons.wikimedia.org

But who invented sea mines? A little searching provided the answer. Since the Chinese developed black powder so it’s not to surprising that they would find a way to use it to defend their harbor from attack by the Mongols. Sea mines have been used in for coastline and harbor protection for centuries now.

Let me know what you would like me to talk about or explain. You can comment below or email me at: [email protected].

Groups call for buffer zones in pesticide use

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Aerial spraying of pesticides, or “crop dusting,” is a practice dating back to 1906.

Several public advocacy groups held a rally today against pesticides at the Wayne Morse Free Speech Plaza during the Saturday Market. Pitchfork Rebellion, an anti-pesticide group from the Triangle Lake area organized “Occupy This! Rally for Pesticide Justice and Jobs!” The event called for banning aerial spraying of pesticides near homes and schools, creating a buffer zone to protect people’s health.

The rally began with a performance by local reggae/jam band Sol Seed, followed by a spoken word protest performance calling for a “pure organic Oregon.”

Then “Day,” a resident of the Triangle Lake area, took to the stage. Day is one of several residents of Triangle Lake who has been documented to have the pesticides 2,4-D and atrazine in his urine. 2,4-D, or 2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid, is a major ingredient in Agent Orange, one of the chemicals used by the U.S. military as part of its herbicidal warfare program during the Vietnam War. A professional analysis of four public streams near Day’s and other residents’ homes found these pesticides in all of the streams.

Several environmental groups held a rally today against pesticides at the Wayne Morse Free Speech Plaza during the Saturday Market.

Day said,

“We’re just a bunch of hillbillies from Triangle Lake tired of getting hit by pesticides everyday.”

Studies by numerous organizations, from the EPA to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to public universities, have documented the effects of human consumption of pesticides. Pesticides can cause damage to the human nervous system, reproductive system and other organs, developmental and behavioral abnormalities, disruption of hormone function as well as immune dysfunction.

Day introduced Roy Key, a professional forester of over 40 years. Key said he was there to talk about the dangers of pesticide poisoning in Lane County.

“I’ve been in the forest business for 40 years. I’ve managed forests without herbicides or pesticides. You don’t need those substances to manage the forest.”

Key compared pesticide use to his experience in the Vietnam War.

“It’s just like Agent Orange all over again. But here in Lane County.”

Key called on attendees to tell Oregon governor John Kitzhaber to stop the use of pesticides in the state near homes and schools.

Day, a resident of Triangle Lake, has been documented to have the pesticides 2,4-D and atrazine in his urine. A professional analysis of four public streams near Day’s and other residents’ homes found these and other pesticides in all of the streams.

Oregon already has a buffer zone to protect waterways and salmon species. Streamside protection rules for non-federal forest land in Oregon were adopted in 1994. All private, state and local government forest landowners or operators conducting pesticide operations near streams, lakes or wetlands must comply with these rules. In November 2011, a federal judge upheld buffer zones for pesticide use near streams and rivers. Dow Chemical Company, a leader in specialty chemicals based in Michigan, filed a lawsuit seeking to undo the Oregon rules, saying that they were too restrictive. The restrictions ban the ground spraying of three agricultural insecticides within 500 feet of waterways with salmon. They also ban aerial spraying within 1000 feet of said waterways.

While Oregon has a buffer zone for pesticide use near water, it has not adopted a buffer zone near human activity. The Oregon Department of Forestry says,

“Currently, there are no regulations in Oregon requiring a buffer zone for aerial application of herbicides near specific structures or facilities, including schools.”

There are, nonetheless, safety requirements in how pesticides are used, both in residential and forested situations:

“While pesticide use in a residential setting must abide by pesticide label safety requirements, forestry applications must follow those requirements plus additional regulations spelled out in the Oregon Forest Practices Act.”

Pesticide companies, such as Dow Chemical, argue that their products abide by these safety requirements. Concerning 2,4-D, the substance found in Triangle Lake residents, Dow Chemical has said the following:

“2,4-D is available for use in U.S. crop production today because EPA has determined, after evaluating all human health and safety considerations – including the concerns expressed by activists – that current uses (including currently authorized uses on corn) pose ‘a reasonable certainty of no harm.’ This EPA conclusion was reached only after the Agency had considered all relevant data…This regulatory conclusion is supported by mainstream health and safety experts who have thoroughly evaluated the product.”

The application of pesticides has had a long and controversial history. Dr. Patricia Muir, Professor at Oregon State University’s Department of Botany and Plant Pathology, says that, following World War 2,

Ingrid Edstrom, nurse practitioner at Eugene’s Infrared Breast Thermography LLC, spoke of the link between pesticides and breast cancer. “Oregon has the second highest breast cancer rate per capita in the nation,” she added.

“Chemical pesticides have become the most important consciously-applied form of pest management.”

The Oregon Department of Forestry explains this popularity according to pesticides’ cost-effectiveness:

“Many landowners see herbicides as the most cost-effective means of achieving their reforestation goals following logging or fire, or for converting neglected brush land to forests.”

The first important pesticide was DDT (otherwise known as dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane). Muir says,

“DDT was discovered in 1939 by a Swiss chemist Paul Muller. In its early days, it was hailed as a miracle…It was inexpensive and easy to apply. It was so effective at killing pests and thus boosting crop yields and was so inexpensive to make that its use quickly spread over the globe. In 1948, Muller was awarded the Nobel Prize for its discovery.”

As years went by, however, DDT was labeled both directly and indirectly toxic to many organisms. Most disturbingly, as Muir explains, DDT

“showed up in human breast milk at remarkably high concentrations — so high that the milk couldn’t legally be sold through interstate commerce if it were cow’s milk! [DDT] is the most widespread contaminant in human milk around the world.”

While DDT was banned by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 1972, other pesticides are commonly used in Oregon. The last year in which Oregon has data compiled for pesticide use is 2008. That year it was reported that 280,001 pounds of pesticides (chlorpyrifos, diazinon and malathion) were used in the state.

A rally attendee protests 2,4-D, one of the pesticides found in streams near Triangle Lake.

The groups that rallied today are hoping to change how those hundreds of thousands of pounds of pesticides are administered. They asked all attendees to fill out postcards to Governor Kitzhaber to ask for expanding pesticide buffer zones to include not just fish, but people.

Christina Hubbard, the Project Director of Forest Web, also spoke at the rally. Forest Web is a grassroots conservation organization based in Cottage Grove. Hubbard said,

“Forest Web stands in solidarity with these groups. I’ve personally been working with Day since 2007. A lot of these pople have had major clinical studies done on their urine and it is documented that they have pesticide poisoning.”

Hubbard says this rally’s message is not particularly radical.

“Really what this is about is creating a reasonable buffer zone for aerial spraying. This is common sense, to protect homes and schools.”

For more information about Oregon’s use of pesticides in agriculture, go to the Oregon Department of Agriculture’s website at http://oregon.gov/ODA/PEST/. For more information about Oregon’s use of them in forestry, go to the Oregon Department of Forestry’s website at http://www.oregon.gov/ODF/privateforests/pesticides.shtml. Websites for the groups involved in the rally are: Pitchfork Rebellion, http://pitchforkrebellion.com/; STOP, http://stop-oregon.org/; Forest Web, http://www.forestweb-cg.org/.