Every pedestrian who loses to a driver is tragic. (http://www.startribune.com/minnesota-pedestrian-death-spike-illustrates-grim-us-trend/409805035/) Last year, I was knocked down by a car as I crossed 50th Street with the walk light in Minneapolis. By contrast, when I’m crossing busy Tower Avenue in Superior, Wis., cars and trucks from every direction stop and wait for me. Why would drivers in Superior have a different standard? Many of us want and expect walkable communities. Law enforcement and everyone must do better.
This is my letter to the editor published in the Startribune.com on January 9, 2016.
As Wisconsin and the world have probably just experienced one of the warmest years on record, Scott Walker, governor of Wisconsin, is deleting climate change from existence, or trying anyway. Sorry governor, climate change is not going away!
I have a cabin in Wisconsin, and can rattle off the climate changes I have seen in just the last few years: First I have lived through three very dangerous storms. All three were 100-year events with flooding and loss of many trees. Second, Lake Superior and Lake Michigan, lakes surrounding Wisconsin, are warming at a pace never seen before. Third, good winter snow is a thing of the past. Either it doesn’t snow, or after it snows, it rains or warms up making winter sports icy and dangerous. We experience long droughts, then too much rain at one time. And finally, the night temperatures are rising; it doesn’t get as cold on winter or summer nights. Where I sit in Wisconsin the climate is changing!
The governor must feel the need for some attention, or maybe he is applying for a position in the Trump administration? What is the purpose, to waste taxpayer money?
As a taxpayer in Wisconsin I do not appreciate such a waste of time and resources. Can this be good for the Wisconsin economy? I know people who refuse to spend any money in Wisconsin. They drive through refusing to stop or spend a dollar. Why would businesses want to locate in such a backwards place?
Magnificent Lake Superior has over 300 rivers and streams that drain into it. Last week it was a brown lake because of mega rainfall in northern Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan where many rivers dumped sediment from the storms. I am on a road trip from Duluth, Minnesota along the south shore of Lake Superior to Sault Ste Marie and the St. Mary’s River. Canada is on the other side of the lake and across the St. Mary’s River.
An ore boat leaves Lake Superior on the St Mary’s. River headed toward Lake Huron
Even though 300 streams drain into the big lake only one, the St. Mary’s River, carries boats and water away from Lake Superior. The St. Mary’s River carries about 42 billion gallons of water from Lake Superior daily.
Lake Superior, looks browner than this picture below appears. I think the sun makes it look bluer than it is.
When I see the mowing down native plants pollinators I get angry. My husband and I have just completed a driving loop from Minneapolis to Chicago and back through Iowa. We have traveled Interstate East 94, West Interstate 80 and Interstate 35 North. The entire road trip I surveyed the status of mowing and blooming plants. The shoulders of most of the interstates are not over-mowed, but they are mowing the center median which doesn’t make sense? The best plants can grow in the median if allowed to survive. Some farmers are mowing along the interstates and they do get a little extreme with their mowers. Educating, educating and educating is what we need to continue to do, and it does make a difference. Below is a sample letter I sent to my rural town road crew. I hope you can modify it and send to your local and state government.
Dear local government road crew,
Pollinators, (bees, butterflies and birds) are in trouble in the United States. They have faced serious habitat loss. Last year and the past few years their numbers seemed smaller compared to the years before. Bees and butterflies need the nectar and pollen from flowers for their survival. The Obama Administration is working to plant pollinator plants along our interstate highways to improve bird, bee and butterfly habitat. The plants along the roadways in our town are a natural habitat for birds, butterflies and bees. Now as the daisies, lupine and other wild plants bloom we have beautiful roadways for residents and food for butterflies and bees.
I am writing to ask you to not mow the entire right-a-way along our town roads until maybe late August or even better would be September. I know you need to mow for safety, and that is important. Could you please not mow every flower down until early fall? Maybe mow just a strip along the roads leaving plant food for our pollinators. The bees, butterflies, birds and humans would thank you for the needed nectar, and fabulous summer beauty.
If I can get a commitment from you to mow a little later, I will spread milkweed seeds along the town roads creating more butterfly and bee habitat.
Wisconsin energy co-ops to create monarch butterfly habitat
Wow, who doesn’t love June? The weather is perfect, and everyday brings new budding/blooming flowers, birds and butterflies. The red-eyed vireo, song sparrow, and least fly-catcher sing constantly in our yard. Painted lady, northern-crescent, and tiger swallowtail butterflies add to the beauty of the days.
The best plants are those that pollinators frequent. The bees and the hummingbirds love
the wild geranium, and the flowering maple is a favorite for bees and many birds.
The dominant roadside flowers are daisies, lupine, hawkweed and buttercups that create a beautiful mix designed by nature. Unfortunately, the road crew of my town cut down all these blooming beauties. So much for our butterflies and bees which are now in a struggle to survive. Mowing roadsides in late September would help pollinators and enhance enjoyment for you and me.
In the past two weeks I have spent 5 days in Iowa, and then a week in Northern Wisconsin away from the agricultural belt. As I biked and walked in Iowa the lack of butterflies was disheartening. I even saw and smelled the Iowa DOT spraying along the highway. In contrast northern Wisconsin is more grass/hay country, lower pesticide use, and the butterflies aren’t like what I would like to see, but they are flitting around when you look for them. The bee population up north is still questionable, but better than what I saw in Iowa.
I agree with this excellent letter to the editor in today’s Minneapolis Star Tribune:
Thank you for “Bees at the brink” (June 29). Our rural surroundings have changed since we moved to south-central Minnesota in 1960. Our small farms have mostly disappeared, and our once-vibrant town struggles to stay alive. There was much more variety in the landscape: I remember picking strawberries along Hwy. 169 with my children; we heard and saw meadow larks and pheasants, and clouds of monarch butterflies were a part of every spring and summer. Now what do we have? Corn and soybeans from horizon to horizon; hedgerows with their diversity of plants and animal life gouged out; wetlands drained, and herbicides ensuring that few bee-friendly flowers grow on roadsides and lawns. Our state and federal supports, with their continuing crop insurance programs — even for marginal land — and cutbacks on set-aside acreage such as CRP and CREP help to perpetuate the increasing sterility of our natural environment.
Economic success should not be the only determinant of wealth. We lose too much if it is.
Yogi Berra on November: “It’s getting late earlier”
Strong winds dominate, as winds and waves pound the lake’s sandstone cliffs. The sun sets at 4:28pm and sunny days are few.
2 adult eagle have a favorite pine tree in front of our house where they perch to watch the beautiful lake. The chickadees, nuthatches, gold finch and squirrels are gorging for the months ahead. I scatter milkweed, aster, hyssop, vervain and cone flower seeds as I dream of the pollinators we will see in the summer.
A large young buck walks the road and I tell him to go hide in the woods because it is hunting season. Later, three hunters jump out of their truck and shoot rifles from the road near signs prohibiting firearm shooting. In the direction of their shots live 2 houses of children. They are grouse hunting and the sheriff tells us that grouse hunters can shoot from the middle of gravel roads, but what about those of us who live here and desire safe peaceful outdoor time? Yes, we can live together, but all need to follow the rules, and respect everyone’s outdoor space.
Looking at this above chart, it is not surprising there are super storms on our oceans. Tens of Thousands are paying for the price of carbon with the loss of lives, homes, and destruction of their world.
I am grieving for the people of the Philippines. What a horrific storm for this Pacific island to withstand. As Typhoon Haiyan was destroying the Philippines, individuals in Minnesota were meeting to plan how to adapt to our changed Minnesota climate. Is it possible for the Philippines, Hawaii, Florida or other ocean locations to adapt to super storms like this? It seems impossible to adapt to a winds of 195 miles an hour or mountains of water washing over the land. Without a doubt the warming and rising oceans played into this disaster. Residents reported, “Surges of water as high as the trees.” Can humans continue to inhabit land with the threat of such devastation? Yes, they are paying for the cost of carbon pollution with their health, their lives, and the loss of their world as they know it as they become climate refugees.
I thought the extreme weather event I experienced in 2012 was frightening when thunderstorms kept rolling across Duluth and northern Wisconsin for 2 days and 3 nights. The heavy rain, thunder and lightning just wouldn’t stop! Today I am happy to be land-locked.
While this storm was pounding and destroying life on the islands of the Pacific, Minnesota leaders were meeting to discuss how to adapt to Minnesota’s changed and changing climate. How are we going to adapt and prepare for climate change? The average temperatures on earth continue to rise. 2013 will be the 37th consecutive year with a global temperature above the 20th century average. These rising temperatures allow the air to hold more water, More water in the air creates more of these extreme weather events. In Minnesota we have droughts alternating with floods.
Below is a must read op-ed by Mark Seely of the University of Minnesota about Minnesota’s changed climate.
It is August and August is the best month of the summer. The air is dry, nights are cool, and daylight still dominates. Sunsets are magnificent.
It is disheartening to hear the discussion of all the nitrates that are being deposited in our Minnesota lakes including Lake Superior. Nitrates poison the lake, and cause thick algae to grow choking out good plants and light for the fish and other aquatic animals. Nitrates in the lakes are caused by fertilizers on our lawns and fertilizers in the production of crops. What we put on our lawns and fields ends up in our lakes and streams. Is this why some call August the “Dog Days of summer” because we have spent the summer poisoning our lakes?
Those of us who live in the land of lakes forget how lucky we are to have our beautiful lakes, and we all need to work for good lake quality whether it is being careful not to spread invasives or being aware of the chemicals we use. With climate change Texas and the Southwest USA are dealing with severe water shortage(see articles below). Let’s take care of our wonderful water resource!
The below ideas for protecting our lakes is from the Superiorforum.org , Sigurd Olson Institute, Northland college, and the EPA, and Great Lakes Restoration Initiative:
Be conservative with your water use.
Recycle as much as you can with the 4 Rs: reduce, reuse, recycle and repair. And….NEVER burn trash.
Curb Yard Pollution. Put your lawn on a chemical-free diet!!
Stop aquatic invasives by cleaning plants and animals off your boat.
Plant native plants, and reduce turf grass.
Plant native trees According to Audubon, oak trees are the best for attracting insects and birds.
Install a rain barrel
Create an energy-efficient home.
Bring hazardous waste to waste collection sites.
Love our lakes!
I would add several more:
Rain gardens are excellent for capturing harmful water runoff.
Keep leaves and trash out of streets and storm drains-Adopt a storm drain!
Never use cleaning products or hand sanitizer with triclosan.
Reduce all plastic use–If you must use plastic bags and bottles, be sure you recycle them.