Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Wanderers 2007.03.07

Again, I missed it, needing to catch up on office work, plus feeling feverish a little, having spent the previous night on the river on a stakeout of the moon.

Glenn filled me in over Thai food: an accomplished engineer of vast environmental experience, Charles Lytle talked about how the instrumentation has gotten really good, to parts in a quadrillion sometimes, to where it's getting easier than ever to trace pollutants to their sources.

This level of technical sophistication is a problem for the politically minded, who'd rather not see those detailed maps showing up on flatscreens all over the place. It's harder to just nod nod wink wink in the presence of so much empirical data. Polluting companies therefore can't simply arm twist, hoping their exotic pavement materials, or fireworks fallout, will go undetected and unreported.

Still, despite these advances on the Sherlock Holmes side of the business, law enforcement has a tough job: rains from the other side of the Pacific often have a higher mercury content than local laws permit and overfishing hurts everyone, but how good are those eyes in the sky at really catching those heinous criminals, especially on cloudy days?