Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Johnston Atoll

Another of the several isles, atolls and islands which constitute the United States Pacific Remote Islands National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) Complex and as such are managed by the Fish and Wildlife Service of the US Department of the Interior, the others being Howland Island, Jarvis Island, Kingman Reef, the Midway Islands and Palmyra Atoll. A major contribution to wildlife conservation and the saving of the planet from global warming - and if you'll believe that, you'll believe anything! I am seriously thinking of undertaking a PhD on the significance of bird-shit in 19th century world history - I have a deep suspicion that it may not be more important than either imperialism or colonialism, but that neither of those would have taken place without it.

One might naively have presumed that owning islands in the middle of the Pacific was a military stratagem, a convenience for refitting aircraft carriers and launching drones and testing missiles, but let me assure you that all those reasons, indeed the only reason, was pure bird-shit. Guano, to use its technically correct name. Vast quantities of the stuff, accumulated over millennia by the flocks of birds that fly over the Pacific every year. The British and Americans both laid claim to Johnston Atoll in the 1850s, though it was the latter who undertook the mining for the next thirty years, which was all it took to deplete the resource and render the island no longer of  interest. That is to say, no longer of interest as guano. But what use owning an island if you can find no useful use for it? There must be something. Surely. Let the CIA tell its own tale:
"Johnston and Sand Islands were designated wildlife refuges in 1926. The US Navy took over the atoll in 1934. Subsequently, the US Air Force assumed control in 1948. The site was used for high-altitude nuclear tests in the 1950s and 1960s. Until late in 2000 the atoll was maintained as a storage and disposal site for chemical weapons. Munitions destruction, clean-up, and closure of the facility were completed by May 2005. The Fish and Wildlife Service and the US Air Force are currently discussing future management options; in the interim, Johnston Atoll and the three-mile Naval Defensive Sea around it remain under the jurisdiction and administrative control of the US Air Force."
Mars and the Moon will look like this 100 years from now as well
To which one can only say again what I said at the beginning, and especially in relation to my opening paragraph: "bird shit!"

Marks For: 0

Marks Against: U+221E (not a typing error; look it up for yourself)

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