Chemical Weapons

We have an administration in this country that has shown it doesn’t care about the health of the American people.  It is working hard to take away health care from our nation’s most vulnerable, allows industry to pollute our precious air and water, and has left the Paris Agreement which is a teamwork agreement with 175 other countries to work on climate change.  But when this administration  speaks out, it speaks out about the Syrian people which they have banned from entering The United States?  All this is impossible to make sense of, but the below letter to the editor had a lot to say:

CHEMICAL WEAPONS from Startribune.com

There are two kinds: Syria’s, and those sprayed on food

The hypocritical attitudes of the current administration in Washington were clearly depicted on Page A4 of Wednesday’s Star Tribune with the juxtaposition of two news stories.

One article notes the White House’s warning that the Syrian regime would “pay a heavy price” if it used chemical weapons against its own people. The next article describes the EPA’s reversal of the ban on spraying chlorpyrifos on food in our country.

The EPA’s own studies have proved that chlorpyrifos harms children’s brains and that pregnant mothers “ingesting even minuscule amounts” can interfere with babies’ brain development. Is there a connection between this chemical and the 78 percent rise in autism in the last decade?

Why would EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt side with Dow Chemical rather than the American Academy of Pediatrics, whose 66,000 members are deeply alarmed with the decision? Could it be that the $13.6 million Dow spent lobbying last year or the $1 million donated to President Donald Trump’s inaugural influenced Pruitt’s decision?

The big question to be answered: Why is the White House outraged by the Syrian children being sprayed with chemicals while allowing chemicals to harm American children? Just whom is the Environmental Protection Agency protecting?

Kathleen Ziegler, Lino Lakes

Information from Earth Justice on chlorpyrifos

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June on Lake Superior

Magnificent skies

June is a month of variety, fresh green plants, and interesting skies. As the month ends, I reflect on the beauty of Lake Superior and the landscape that surrounds it. The length of the days and natural beauty is energizing. Everyday differs with the direction of the wind, and the big lake is usually part of this equation.
The birds are secretly nesting and raising their young, but I watch an unaware flicker fly in and out of her nest hole with food.

Wild geranium, easy to grow, is loved by bees and butterflies.

 

White Admiral Butterfly
Lupine on Lake Superior

 

 

 

 

 

The lupine, wild geraniums, Canada anemone, thimbleberry, and raspberries bloom while the milkweed takes over the garden path.

And.. everyday enjoys a new butterfly.

 

A Simple Idea to Improve Water

How can you keep rainwater in your yard?

It’s raining where I live. Do you ever wonder where all that rainwater goes? Our earth naturally manages rainwater, drainage, and wetlands, and it is able to naturally purify and clean our water. Unfortunately, we created an impossible situation with our concrete urbanization and all the chemicals we use. Instead of allowing the rain to fall and soak into the ground we get it away from our houses and buildings as fast as we can sending water rushing down our storm drains into our lakes and rivers. As this water cascades over concrete and asphalt it picks up chemicals, pollutants, trash, lawn clippings and leaves which wash into our lakes, rivers, and oceans.

This is a classic example if everyone were to do just a bit to give some of this natural cleaning back to the earth, it would make a big difference in our water quality.

No one wants a wet basement, so always keep water 10 feet from your house or apartment, but beyond the 10 feet you can do many water managements things with a few flexible downspout extensions which you can purchase at hardware stores.

Below is an excellent blog from the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization on a very simple way to use some of the water running off your home, and making a big difference for water quality.

 

From the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization : “Your goal, as an eco-friendly house-dweller, is to soak as much of that water into the ground as possible. The soil will filter out the pollutants and the water will move downward until it reaches the water table. As a bonus, any plants, trees or other vegetation in the area will soak up a portion of the water to use as fuel.”  Read the entire blog here.

The Mississippi River Shed drains much of the United States

The same thing can be accomplished on agricultural land that uses buffer strips of trees and deep-rooted plants along ponds and streams.   These buffer strips absorb the chemicals!  The Gulf of Mexico thanks you! Read at Gulf

Celebrating Butterflies

Hobomok skipper on Canadian anemone

I love butterflies, and National Pollinator Week gives me an excuse to concentrate on what brings butterflies to my yard and to my walking routes. This week I learned two new skipper butterflies: the hobomok skipper and Arctic skipper.  Both are crazy for wild geranium, The yellow swallow-tail, painted lady and admirals are plentiful now also, and a few monarchs are checking out the milkweed.  Also, this week I saw one pearl crescent and a silvery blue.

Arctic skipper on wild geranium
Favorite butterfly books

Below are two books that help me identify butterflies, and here is an on-line butterfly guide.

Have fun land I hope you enjoy butterflies as much as I do!  Get out for a walk and look!

 

An American painted lady

Happy Summer!

Get Outside and Enjoy!

Today is a new day. It’s the first day of summer. Go for a walk, listen to the birds chirping. Take in the fragrance of the Earth. And resolve to keep fighting for what you believe in.” Dan Rather

 

Enjoy!

” I allow myself to appreciate each moment for the richness it brings to my life.” Attitude of Gratitude

 

Everything Is Connected

The Mississippi Watershed by Jon Platek This how trash can reach the ocean.

This morning while walking around the lake by my house, I was sad to see plastic bottles bobbing around in the lake. The amazing thing is that those plastic bottles from a lake in land-locked Minnesota could end up in the Gulf of Mexico. 80% of marine litter originates from land. The Minnehaha Creek drains this lake into the Mississippi River, which flows into the Gulf of Mexico. Plastic in a Minneapolis lake, could float the Mississippi River into the Gulf of Mexico, these plastic bottles and bags are a dangerous threat to marine life, and they are unpleasant to water recreation.

I am sure you know most of the ways to avoid plastic, but you might learn something from this list on reducing plastic use. The excellent list below is from the NRDC https://www.nrdc.org/:

“Plastic, of course, is uniquely problematic because it’s nonbiodegradable and therefore sticks around for a lot longer (like up to 1,000 years longer) than other forms of trash. And we’re not just talking about people dumping their garbage overboard. Around 80 percent of marine litter actually originates on land—either swept in from the coastline or carried to rivers from the streets during heavy rain via storm drains and sewer overflows.

So the best thing we can do to protect our waterways is trying to keep as much plastic as possible out of the waste stream in the first place. The good news? There are many small ways you can have a big impact.

1. Wean yourself off disposable plastics.

Ninety percent of the plastic items in our daily lives are used once and then chucked: grocery bags, plastic wrap, disposable cutlery, straws, coffee-cup lids. Take note of how often you rely on these products and replace them with reusable versions. It only takes a few times of bringing your own bags to the store, silverware to the office, or travel mug to Starbucks before it becomes habit.

2. Stop buying water.

Each year, close to 20 billion plastic bottles are tossed in the trash. Carry a reusable bottle in your bag, and you’ll never be caught having to resort to a Poland Spring or Evian again. If you’re nervous about the quality of your local tap water, look for a model with a built-in filter.

3. Boycott microbeads.

Those little plastic scrubbers found in so many beauty products—facial scrubs, toothpaste, body washes—might look harmless, but their tiny size allows them to slip through water-treatment plants. Unfortunately, they also look just like food to some marine animals. Opt for products with natural exfoliants, like oatmeal or salt, instead.

4. Cook more.

Not only is it healthier, but making your own meals doesn’t involve takeout containers or doggy bags. For those times when you do order in or eat out, tell the establishment you don’t need any plastic cutlery or, for some serious extra credit, bring your own food-storage containers to restaurants for leftovers.

5. Purchase items secondhand.

New toys and electronic gadgets, especially, come with all kinds of plastic packaging—from those frustrating hard-to-crack shells to twisty ties. Search the shelves of thrift stores, neighborhood garage sales, or online postings for items that are just as good when previously used. You’ll save yourself a few bucks, too.

6. Recycle (duh).

It seems obvious, but we’re not doing a great job of it. For example, less than 14 percent of plastic packaging is recycled. Confused about what can and can’t go in the bin? Check out the number on the bottom of the container. Most beverage and liquid cleaner bottles will be #1 (PET), which is commonly accepted by most curbside recycling companies. Containers marked #2 (HDPE; typically slightly heavier-duty bottles for milk, juice, and laundry detergent) and #5 (PP; plastic cutlery, yogurt and margarine tubs, ketchup bottles) are also recyclable in some areas. For the specifics on your area, check out Earth911.org’s recycling directory.

7. Support a bag tax or ban.

Urge your elected officials to follow the lead of those in San Francisco, Chicago, and close to 150 other cities and counties by introducing or supporting legislation that would make plastic-bag use less desirable.

8. Buy in bulk.

Single-serving yogurts, travel-size toiletries, tiny packages of nuts—consider the product-to-packaging ratio of items you tend to buy often and select the bigger container instead of buying several smaller ones over time.

9. Bring your own garment bag to the dry cleaner.

Invest in a zippered fabric bag and request that your cleaned items be returned in it instead of sheathed in plastic. (And while you’re at it, make sure you’re frequenting a dry cleaner that skips the perc, a toxic chemical found in some cleaning solvents.)

10. Put pressure on manufacturers.

Though we can make a difference through our own habits, corporations obviously have a much bigger footprint. If you believe a company could be smarter about its packaging, make your voice heard. Write a letter, send a tweet, or hit them where it really hurts: Give your money to a more sustainable competitor.” NRDC

I would add one thing to the list. Never use Styrofoam! Some stores package fruits and vegetables on Styrofoam trays! Awful.

Finally, current status of the Mississippi River in the Twin Cities from Friends of the Mississippi.