Climate Data Slapping Us in the Face!


Yes, it has been a hard winter for most of us in North America. Drought, heavy snow, and the Polar Vortex all have contributed. Minnesota has experience the 6th coldest meteorological winter on record and Wisconsin the 5th coldest. Yet Alaska, and most of the earth are hotter than average. Globally it has been the 8th warmest winter! See map below. A few weeks ago I heard Mark Seeley from the University of Minnesota, speak on climate change. Seeley says that the climate data is, “slapping us in the face” telling us the climate is changing.
Several things he said were new and interesting. First, not all places are experiencing climate change to the same degree. The Southeastern part of the United States has not seen the changes we have experienced in the north. Second, there a latitude bias–The further from the equator the more evidence of change. Third, there is a winter bias, winters are showing more temperature warming.  Fourth, the minimum daily temperature is warming more than the high daily temperature. In other words, our night temperatures are warming! Finally, there is more moisture in the air which he says is the “ultimate greenhouse gas.” And more moisture in the air can cause more violent storms.
Unfortunately, the change is happening so fast we will have to adapt quickly. We need to limit the carbon we are pumping into the air, and make preparation to prepare for the future.




World Water Day, What can you do?

Lake Superior
Lake Superior

Living in the land of Ten Thousand Lakes and having a love affair with Lake Superior, I know first hand that clean water is important!  I think of the West Coast of the United States and their severe drought every time I turn on the faucet.  Below are water saving ideas from me and The World Wildlife Federation.  This is serious.   Water will be the next “most valuable resource,” and our survival as a people depends on adequate sources of clean water.

My list gives you more specific action.  Here are ideas to help you protect the earth’s fresh water:

1. Reduce or eliminate all your use of chemicals in cleaning agents, and lawn and garden products.  Tough I know, Read on…

2. Baking soda and vinegar will clean almost anything. See my chemical free cleaner on my Reduce Chemicals Page:

3. Use plants in your yard that do not require chemicals(native plants) and reduce the size of your lawn.  Native plants also don’t need to be watered!

4. Install rain barrels under your drain spouts or put rain gardens in areas where your water drains. Use this water to water your plants.

5. Install a septic holding tank if your sewage does not drain into a public sewage system.

6. Purchase as many products you can afford that are organic or GMO free to reduce the amount of nitrates running into our lakes and streams.

7. Adopt a storm drain, keeping leaves, trash and yard waste from washing into our streams and lakes.

8. Never use cleaning materials that contain Triclosan.

9. Purchase products made from recycled materials. Recycled paper uses 60-70% less energy than virgin pulp and 55% less water.

We love playing in our lakes
We love playing in our lakes

And from The World Wildlife Federation:

We all can do something to help fresh water. This World Water Day, March 22, you too can take action. Here’s how:

Raise a Glass…and Awareness
Express appreciation of fresh water by making a toast, taking a picture, and sharing it across social networks with #ToastToWater.

Crowdsource Scientific Data
Next time you’re near a river, stream or lake, take and pictures of the freshwater fish you encounter and upload them for conservation scientists around the world.

Adopt a Freshwater Species
Make a donation to symbolically adopt a freshwater species, such as a pink river dolphin or hellbender salamander.

Walk for Water 
Join WWF, the State Department and other conservation organizations in a 6k Walk for Water on April 23 to learn more about freshwater issues and how they impact people and nature. While the main event will be held in the District of Columbia, people around the world will take the symbolic walk and share their experience with #6kWaterWalk. Want to learn more? Join freshwater expert Karin Krchnak in a related #WaterTalk on April 2.

Build a Rain Barrel
The average roof collects 600 gallons of water for every inch of rain. Capture some of that stormwater and help protect freshwater resources by building a rain barrel.

Learn about Unseen Water
Water is in almost everything. Take your average cotton t-shirt as an example: it can take 2,700 liters to produce the cotton needed to make a single t-shirt. While it’s important to fix leaky taps and buy efficient washing machines, we need to also be conscious of the unseen or “virtual water” we consume every day.

Thank you, at the end of the day, we will all be healthier!
Thank you, at the end of the day, we will all be healthier!

Big Question: Do Plants Contain Neonicotinoids?

Bees love bee balm and Anise Hysopp
Bees love bee balm and Anise Hysopp

I am a firm believer in Education, and thank the media for making an issue of the loss of our bees.  News today that two major garden stores/growers, Bachmans and Gertens, in the Twin Cities will not use neonicotinoids on their own plants this year.  They are also educating their sales force on neonicotinoids.  This does not mean all their plants will be neonicotinoids free, because some of their suppliers might still be users.  As you shop for garden plants this year, you still need to ask, OR just purchase local native plants.  Read the full story:

“Neonicotinoids are a class of neuro-active insecticides chemically similar to nicotine. In March 2013, the American Bird Conservancy published a review of 200 studies on neonicotinoids including industry research obtained through the US Freedom of Information Act, calling for a ban on neonicotinoid use as seed treatments because of their toxicity to birds, aquatic invertebrates, and other wildlife. The use of some members of this class has been restricted in some countries due to some evidence of a connection to honey-bee colony collapse disorder.” From Wikopedia

Cone flowers: Easy to grow, and loved by bees!
Cone flowers: Easy to grow, and loved by bees!

What You Can Do to Help Bees and Other Pollinators

Bees love St John's Wort and Vervain
Bees love St John’s Wort and Vervain

It seems crazy to be talking about pollinators as another Polar Vortex hits Minnesota, but I really liked the below post on “10 things You Can Do To Help Bees.”  Also, the thought of flowers makes us happy!! I consider myself a pollinator plant gardener and get enormous joy from the birds, bees, butterflies and other wildlife that love my chemical free plants and yard. Bees are important for the survival of many of our foods and flowers, and the drastic decline of our bees and butterflies can be blamed on many things, but habitat loss from droughts and floods; pesticide use; and the mono culture that has been created with our corn and soybean culture are three of the top concerns.  All of us can do better for our bees and butterflies.  See what you can do.

What can you do for pollinators?

1. Plant bee-friendly plants.  A few of my favorites that bees also love are chives, Anise Hyssop, bee balm (Menardia), golden rod, and asters.  Do not purchase plants at Lowes or Home Depot. They may contain hidden pollinator killing chemicals.  Find native plants for your area:
2. Dandelions and clover are good for pollinators and bring many pollinators into your yard. Both bees and monarch butterflies love dandelions!

3. Don’t use chemicals or pesticides on your lawn or garden, and never use the Neonicotinoid pesticide.

4. Purchase organic food and local raw honey

A new book by Heather Holm
A new book by
Heather Holm

See the link below for the remainder of the list: