Awakened by the muffled, distant howls of slaughtered Indians, Uncle Sam rises from his bed and hits the light switch…blissfully, purposefully unaware of how valley fills enable him to gain access to that electricity day after day.

***

Here’s how The Sierra Club begins its discussion of mountaintop removal mining: “In places like Appalachia, mining companies blow the tops off mountains to reach a thin seam of coal and then, to minimize waste disposal costs, dump millions of tons of waste rock into the valleys below, causing permanent damage to the ecosystem and landscape.” That is a valley fill.

Then comes word-on October 18, 2008-that the Interior Department has “advanced a proposal that would ease restrictions on dumping mountaintop mining waste near rivers and streams, modifying protections that have been in place, though often circumvented, for a quarter-century.” This from a New York Times article, which continues: “The department’s Office of Surface Mining issued a final environmental analysis Friday on the proposed rule change, which has been under consideration for four years. It has been a priority of the surface mining industry … The proposed rule would rewrite a regulation enacted in 1983 that bars mining companies from dumping huge waste piles, known as “valley fills,” within 100 feet of any intermittent or perennial stream if the disposal affects water quality or quantity.”

***

Like any good American, after subconsciously blocking out the faint sounds of slave chains clinking and bull whips cracking, Uncle Sam’s first chore of the day is to check e-mail. No time for him to contemplate e-waste, now is there?

***

E-waste (discarded electronics and electrical products) has some potential in supplying secondary raw materials to keep the entire system afloat, when not properly treated properly it becomes a major source of carcinogens and toxins.

“A whole bouquet of heavy metals, semimetals and other chemical compounds lurk inside your seemingly innocent laptop or TV,” adds Jessika Toothman at HowStuffWorks.com. “E-waste dangers stem from ingredients such as lead, mercury, arsenic, cadmium, copper, beryllium, barium, chromium, nickel, zinc, silver and gold. Many of these elements are used in circuit boards and comprise electrical parts such as computer chips, monitors, and wiring.”

According to the EPA, in 2005, “used or unwanted electronics amounted to approximately 1.9 to 2.2 million tons. Of that, about 1.5 to 1.9 million tons were primarily discarded in landfills, and only 345,000 to 379,000 tons were recycled.”

***

Uncle Sam decides he wants eggs for breakfast and what Uncle Sam wants, Uncle Sam gets. Not even the din of doomed chickens can slow down this hungry man.

***

Karen Davis of United Poultry Concerns has written a narrative of what a battery hen might say if it could speak human language. The narrative begins: “I am battery hen. I live in a cage so small I cannot stretch my wings. I am forced to stand night and day on a sloping wire mesh floor that painfully cuts into my feet. The cage walls tear my feathers, forming blood blisters that never heal. The air is so full of ammonia that my lungs hurt and my eyes burn and I think I am going blind. As soon as I was born, a man grabbed me and sheared off part of my beak with a hot iron, and my little brothers were thrown into trash bags as useless alive.”

Battery hens produce the vast majority of eggs you’ll find in your market.

***

With food now in his stomach, Uncle Sam joins the vast majority of Americans who take at least one form of pharmaceutical drug each day. Choosing to ignore the agonized screams of tortured animals, Uncle Sam gulps down his pills.

***

Aysha Z Akhtar, M.D., M.P.H., is a senior medical advisor and Jarrod Bailey, Ph.D., is a senior research consultant for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. “The more we study the relevance of animal tests, the more apparent their shortcomings become,” Akhtar and Bailey state in a Feb. 9, 2007 letter published in the British Medical Journal. “Even subtle physiological differences between humans and animals can manifest as profound differences in disease physiology and treatment effectiveness and safety. For example, numerous differences in spinal cord physiology and reaction to injury exist between species and even strains within a species. These differences likely contribute to the repeated failure of spinal cord treatments that have tested safe and effective in animals to translate into human benefit.”

“Results from animal tests are not transferable between species, and therefore cannot guarantee product safety for humans,” agrees Herbert Gundersheimer, M.D. “A major shift in our research paradigm is long overdue,” declare Akhtar and Bailey. “The move away from animal experiments toward more accurate methods of studying disease and intervention is scientifically superior and more ethical for humanity, as well as for animals.”

“Ask the experimenters why they experiment on animals, and the answer is: ‘Because the animals are like us,'” writes Professor Charles R. Magel. “Ask the experimenters why it is morally OK to experiment on animals, and the answer is: ‘Because the animals are not like us.’ Animal experimentation rests on a logical contradiction.”

***

Uncle Sam’s medicine is washed down thanks to store-bought water. As he packs his water bottle in his work bag, he could swear a cruise missile has soared past his house but instead nods his head in disbelief.

***

“Americans buy 30 billion single-use water bottles every year, the majority of which end up in landfills,” writes Dominic Muren at TreeHugger.com. “In fact, 845 bottles end up in the land fill every second. All these water bottles are made from petroleum, and require petroleum to be shipped around the world. All that, and there’s no evidence that bottled water is any cleaner than tap-water.”