Methyl Mercury is the stuff of environmental nightmares.
It's infamous from the syndrome called Minamata Disease, in which marine microbes and algae convert tiny traces of mercury into powerfully toxic compounds that concentrate in marine food chains to wreak neurological havoc on those consuming anything from tuna to tilefish. Mercury's chemical cousin cadmium also forms lethal methylcadmium compounds, and is carcinogenic to boot. Little wonder the editorial page of The New York Times obsesses over mercury released by distant coal burning and cadmium entering the Hudson watershed. Passions run high on the issue, Witness what one Live Earth speaker said :
"Get rid of all these rotten politicians that we have in Washington, who are nothing more than corporate toadies,"
Pronounced Robert F Kennedy Jr. president of Waterkeeper Alliance ,somewhat hoarse from shouting:
"This is treason. And we need to start treating them as traitors."
Yet despite the Times passionate anti- heavy metals campaign, its op-ed page magnanimously gives space to the scientific wit and wisdom of the owner of the nation's only 'primary producer of Cadmium' . Before this Live Earth impresario could mention the heavy metal holdings in his Green portfolio,
Primatologist Jane Goodall chimed in with a greeting in chimpanzee language, the reunited Smashing Pumpkins did "Tarantula." and Pink Floyd's Roger Waters offered an inflatable pig as a children's choir sang Another Brick
in the Wall."
To be fair, the upstaged political rock star never sought to become a Superfund site owner. His Pasminco mine royalties stemmed from a sweetheart deal his daddy did with a bona fide Russian robber baron who worked for Big Oil. Occidental Petroleum president Armand Hammer leased the mine from Albert Gore Senior before Al Junior inherited his senate seat and his position as an A-list toxic heavy metal magnate. Young Al got his last check from the now dormant mine beneath his property in 2003.