Massive Threats to Our Oceans

Minnehaha Creek drains into the Mississippi River which runs to the Gulf of Mexico

I’ve pledged to reduce single-use plastic in my life, Refuse plastic straws & cutlery, use refillable water bottles, coffee cups, & bring my own bag to the store. Together we can do this! Join me & take the challenge  Mick Jagger

Two thirds of our earth is covered by ocean, and our oceans are paying a price for our behavior on land.

The Mississippi River water shed drains much of the United States.

This afternoon I walked over the Minnehaha Creek, and saw plastic bags stuck in the ice. I live 1,500 miles from an ocean, but this creek, a few blocks from my house, drains into the Mississippi River which runs into the Gulf of Mexico over a thousand miles away.  When the ice melts, this plastic will probably take a long journey down the Mississippi River and end up in our oceans.What we do to the land, we do to our water.  Most ocean pollution starts out on land and is carried by wind and rain to the sea. Plastic from the land ends up in the ocean and plastic is so durable that the EPA reports “every bit of plastic ever made still exists.” Even the pristine Arctic Ocean is being inundated with plastic. Read at Arctic. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zy5c-BZUjHQ  See this video how Norway recycles plastic.

The second threat to oceans is our warming planet. Oceans in 2017 were warmer than they have ever been.  Most of the heat from our warming planet is absorbed by the oceans. More than 90 percent of the Earth’s heat related to global warming is absorbed by the ocean.  Read at ocean heat.

What are the consequences of warming oceans?  Warmer oceans could bring storms, rain droughts and winds like we have never seen.  The hurricanes in Houston and Puerto Rico are just examples of what could come. The warming ocean melts the glaciers faster causing sea rise.   Cities and countries will be under water if this trend continues, and many people will become refugees having to move inland causing refugee crisis to get worse and worse. Unfortunately, this is only going to continue with extreme drought in some places and too much water in others!

 

http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-42947155

http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/campaigns/ocean_plastics/

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Our World Is Moving in the Right Direction!

 I need a boost of positive energy, and these stories are full of hope and energy. I hope these positive stories get your week started with gratitude and full of positive energy.  Enjoy!

** McDonald’s has announced a new commitment to sustainability. The fast-food chain will launch recycling in all of its restaurants and by 2025, 100% of its packaging will be sustainable.  I am assuming this means compostable or recyclable? Also Boston will ban plastic bags, and Iceland and Denmark are doing research to create biodegradable plastic bottles.

** Recent victories for our oceans.

Car of the future!

** 52% of Norway’s new cars are electric

**  Clean energy investments throughout the world reach 333.5 billion in 2017.

** France will shutter all coals plants by 2021. Read at France and Macron 

** Reasons to be hopeful for our earth! From EcoWatch  

** And from Climate Reality local climate action reasons to be hopeful.

** Unique gym class in suburban high school is what we need during divisive times. Read at diversity

Other Good News:

https://health4earth.com/2017/07/21/ready-for-good-news/

https://health4earth.com/2017/06/01/its-good-news-2/

https://health4earth.com/2017/09/03/exciting-good-news/

Four Powerful Things You Can Do

Individually we are a drop, together we are an ocean.

As 2017 rolls out and 2018 rolls in, remember to set some environmental goals for the new year. As people of this planet earth we all should be aware of our warming climate, and how we are causing it!  Yes, it is very cold in many places this new year, but it is the over all tend that our planet is warming, not just one or two events, that we need to worry about. Extreme weather events, warming and rising oceans, and drought should not be ignored. CNN has an easy list of things you can do. Read it here.

Climate Reality, https://www.climaterealityproject.org/   has a more serious and difficult list, things most of us just don’t want to do, but should seriously think about! This is their list:

The four most powerful things you can do to fight climate change:

  1. Eat a plant-based diet
  2. Fly less, or not at all
  3. Drive less, or not at all
  4. Have smaller families

 

How Can We Embrace Water?

Wetlands along the Mississippi River

The earth has a natural balance. The prairies, lakes, wetlands, deserts, mountains and oceans and rivers all work together to provide food and habitat for living things. Unfortunately, some places have gotten out of balance. Some areas are suffering terrible drought, and others have more rain and water than they can manage.

Building cities, driveways, parking lots, and roads changes the earth’s balance. What had been surfaces that were pervious, water drained through, are changed into impervious surfaces, that do not drain.  Wetlands have gotten the shaft the past 200 years taking away the natural healing for our earth. Farmers have drained the wetlands to be used for agriculture and cities have drained and paved over these valuable places that naturally clean our water and provide homes for so much wildlife. When you build a city on a wetland you take away the natural ability to drain the area. You also destroy the dynamic life that lives there.

Houston sits on a wetland. Without any regulation parts of Houston were built on a wetlands. The concrete and asphalt took away the earth’s drainage capacity. The original wetland wants to flood, that’s what it is supposed to do, but all the hard paved surface has left only small patches of ground to drain the water and guess what? You have a flooded area.

How can Houston embrace their water? I hope that as Houston rebuilds from Hurricane Harvey they will work to maximize pervious areas, areas that drain, and limit the concrete and asphalt. It is impossible to plan for a 50 inch rain, but with some good science and skilled planning, some houses and many lives can be saved.  Regulation and good minds are needed instead of a “Do what you want” attitude.  I hope the people of Houston will try!   It is so wasteful and expensive not to try to change the way they do things.

Areas need to be created that capture the water so it drains into the earth not into the rivers and streams. Run-off creates polluted water.  The earth naturally cleans the water as it is absorbed by the earth.  I hope Houston is willing to replace some concrete with renewed wetlands and rain gardens that will keep such destruction from happening again! Homeowners could be required to install pervious or permeable driveways or gardens that absorb water, or some area on their property that absorbs a percentage of water. See permeable driveways for ideas.

I heard one Houston homeowner on the radio, his house had flooded 3 times in the past 5 years.  It is insane to keep doing the same thing over and over and expect a different result!  Maybe we can all learn something from New Orleans. See below.

After fighting water New Orleans is starting to embrace their water problem with a new paradigm. I hope Houston can learn from them. Read about it at New Orleans.

Also, Mayors along the Mississippi River are embracing wetlands to improve water quality and this will help New Orleans and the Gulf of Mexico, also! Read about at wetlands.

Houston, it’s your turn!  Wetlands can soak up lots of flood water. Can you do things differently this time around? Start listening to the scientists, engineers and environmentalists.

Houston helped put a man on the moon. Houston is the leader in the medical field. It could also begin to be a smart, resilient city if it puts its mind to it. That’s all it’s got to do. Read more at Houston.

 

 

 

Scientists, other experts and federal officials say Houston’s explosive growth is largely to blame. As millions have flocked to the metropolitan area in recent decades, local officials have largely snubbed stricter building regulations, allowing developers to pave over crucial acres of prairie land that once absorbed huge amounts of rainwater. That has led to an excess of

The Ugly Face of Plastic

Bring your own shopping bag

Plastic came into being about 1950. It is lightweight and easy to make into many things. Unfortunately, plastic is awful for our wildlife and waterways. Both are choking on this ubiquitous plastic pollution.
What are microplastics? They are tiny pieces of plastic that come from our clothes, plastic litter, and synthetic fibers. Read or listen to the entire story at MPR.
At the present these plastic particles are too small to be strained out of our water treatment plants so they end up polluting our waterways, lakes and oceans. There is a new laundry bag you can purchase (see below) that will filter the microfiber when you wash your clothes.

I love this list from MPR:

5 things you can do to reduce microplastic pollution

  1. Cut back on consuming single-use plastic products such as shopping bags, Starbucks cups and plastic utensils. Replace them with reusable items like travel mugs, silverware
    Microplastic in fleece is causing water pollution!

    and cloth bags.

  2. Buy only facial scrubs, toothpaste and other personal care products made with natural exfoliants, such as oatmeal and salt.
  3. Buy clothing made of organic or natural materials rather than synthetic fibers. Buy only what you need, and invest in higher-quality items so you don’t need to replace them as often.
  4. Don’t wash your clothes as often, especially items made from synthetic fabrics like fleece jackets.
  5. Invest in a mesh laundry bag, guppy friend, designed to capture shedding fibers during the washing cycle. Read about guppy friend here.

 

 

 

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

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.