Archive Page 2

The story of a dog, a dead rabbit and a plastic bag

We did a little science experiment in our yard, unexpectedly, thanks to the laws of nature and survival of the fittest a while back that we came across last week.

A little background:

About a year ago, our aging dog managed to kill a rabbit and eat about half of it before my husband called her off it.

He brought her in the house, where she promptly threw up, right in front of the fridge and my daughter.

As she stood over the steaming pile of blood, bone and guts exclaiming “eeeww” repeatedly, my husband swore, then cleaned up the mess and buried the remains (including the part the dog didn’t eat that was still in the back yard) in a plastic grocery bag behind our shed. He marked the spot so we would know where it was.

Fast-forward a year.

While digging a new compost area last week, he dug up the bag that had contained the remains of the rabbit. Guess what?

The rabbit was gone, completely decomposed and turned to dust.

And the bag?

Completely intact. And I mean completely intact. It had decayed not one little bit.

So please, ponder that the next time you’re in the grocery store or anywhere else they are likely to give you a plastic bag. That bag, which took chemicals to create, will be around for a very, very long time.

— Linda J.

 

New monitoring efforts to track water quality improvements in KY and 11 other states

A task force of federal and state officials announced Wednesday two new efforts to monitor water quality through reductions in nutrients in Kentucky and 11 other states flowing from farms and other sources into local waterways that reach the Mississippi River and ultimately the Gulf of Mexico.

The Mississippi River/Gulf of Mexico Watershed Nutrient (Hypoxia) Task Force, which began in 1997, set up the Mississippi River Monitoring Collaborative to analyze data from the states to see which conservation practices are working and where “new strategies” are needed, according to a news release.

The monitoring efforts will specifically track nitrogen and phosphorus throughout the watershed, according to the release.

Nutrient runoff from agricultural, urban and industrial sources has polluted waterways for decades and contributed to a hypoxic zone in the Gulf of Mexico – an area of low oxygen that is largely uninhabitable by fish and other marine life, the release said.

The Task Force consists of five federal agencies, 12 states and the tribes within the Mississippi/Atchafalaya River Basin.  For more information, visit http://water.epa.gov/type/watersheds/named/msbasin/index.cfm

 

Leave the believing for faith and religion, not science

Do you “believe” in the science that led to the cure for polio?

How about modern medical treatments of everything from acne to zoster (shingles)?

Do you “believe” in the science behind the technology that created the World Wide Web , and the computer, iPhone, iPad, Android, or whatever you are using to read this?

Do you “believe” in the science that led us to drive cars vs. horse carriages, to cross the country or the world in an airplane, or the science behind the development of heating and air conditioning?

If you “believe” in these things, how can you not “believe” in climate change?

And why would you need to “believe” in technology or medical breakthroughs or humans traveling to the moon?

Belief is for things that facts, study and science can’t explain: say, religions.

Belief as explained by Webster’s New World College Dictionary: “1 the state of believing; conviction or acceptance that certain things are true or real 2 faith, esp religious faith 3 trust or confidence 4 anything believed or accepted as true; esp. , a creed, doctrine or tenet 5 an opinion; expectation; judgment.”

Science, by Webster’s (online): “1 the state of knowing : knowledge as distinguished from ignorance or misunderstanding 2 a : a department of systematized knowledge as an object of study <the science of theology> b : something (as a sport or technique) that may be studied or learned like systematized knowledge <have it down to a science>3 a : knowledge or a system of knowledge covering general truths or the operation of general laws especially as obtained and tested through scientific method b : such knowledge or such a system of knowledge concerned with the physical world and its phenomena : natural science 4: a system or method reconciling practical ends with scientific laws <cooking is both a science and an art>”

Need more?

Climate Change 101

Nearly 100 peer-reviewed papers

NASA’s Climate Change: Evidence

State of the Climate Report 2011

Note the peer-reviewed links. That’s important, they are annotated and documented, i.e., not made up.

I would be happy to read any current (within the last three years) peer-reviewed study or studies documenting how climate change is not happening to support the climate-change deniers’ “belief”. Any takers?

— Linda J.

Monday green links

Kentucky’s heat wave this weekend is the second hottest stretch on record…fracking bill was vetoed in North Carolina to the pleasure of environmentalists and dismay to Republicans…fires continue to rage in the west…tips to be green.

It’s hot

Fracking

Western fires

3o tips to go green

Seen anything else you would like me to post?

— Linda J.

Appeals court focuses on facts, science

What a good idea.

A court, and a high court at that, ruled Tuesday in favor of facts, science and reality.

I knew they could do it!

The subject is, of course, the EPA ruling on greenhouse gases that came down Tuesday afternoon.

I especially loved the quote cited by the Associated Press and McClatchy writer Renee Schoof:  “It makes no difference that much of the scientific evidence in large part consisted of ‘syntheses’ of individual studies and research,” the court said. “Even individual studies and research papers often synthesize past work in an area and then build upon it. This is how science works. EPA is not required to re-prove the existence of the atom every time it approaches a scientific question.” (The bold is my doing)

That is just beautiful.

— Linda J.

Time to speak out

I’ve bitten my tongue for far too long. I’ve let climate-change deniers have their say to avoid stepping on various toes and I can’t do it any longer.

Climate change is real. Period.

There, I said it.

It took a vacation to “my” Colorado mountains for a family reunion to open my eyes to how bad things really are.

If you don’t believe me or the consensus of real scientists who deal in facts, I have a challenge for you: Take a trip to the Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado and go up to about 9,000 feet. Take in the wonder that is around you for a while and then start looking at things in detail. You will start to notice dead and dying lodge-pole pines; in some places whole mountainsides wiped out.

You will see burn piles where last winter, after snow fell, rangers burned 5,000 piles of beetle-infested and dead trees, according to rangers I spoke with. The burn marks were evident at that altitude and they’ve already started building piles to burn this winter (when snow’s on the ground so as to not spread fire).

Who did I get this from?

  • Two different park rangers at two different locations, one as worried as I, the other slightly more optimistic.
  • A wildlife biologist who lives there (extended family member to fully disclose).
  • I also observed the destruction myself.

One of the rangers told me he started a talk at one of the campgrounds two years ago detailing how climate change is affecting the park.

Today, groups are studying a little mammal, a cousin to the rabbit, called the pika. It’s the park’s canary-in-the-coal-mine, if you will, a term I used with the ranger. Groups are studying its changing migration patterns and watching the little guys for signs of extinction. It will go first, the ranger said.

There wasn’t enough cold last year to kill the beetles that are eating the trees from the inside out. Some always survive and kill a few trees. But the trees need at least a week of below 20 degree weather in winter to kill off the bulk of the beetles. That didn’t happen.

Can I say that again? There weren’t 7 consecutive days of high temperatures below 20 degrees Fahrenheit in that part of the Colorado mountains last winter. That’s stunning. I remember that kind of cold in Denver, much less the mountains.

Then there are the fires raging all across the parched west, including the one west of Fort Collins, about 50 miles or so as the crow flies from the northern edge of the park. All those dead trees are tinder for a spark; fuel for fires started by nature or humans and quickly spread by winds that won’t quit.

Or check out Africa, where parched is taking on a whole new meaning. Or the arctic, where polar bears can’t find enough ice to survive.

How much observable data do you need?

Study what’s really happening, then come back and tell me climate change isn’t real with a straight face.

And just for fun, watch this clip of physicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson on Real Time with Bill Maher cleaning the clock of climate denier and former GM chairman Bob Lutz using changing migration patterns as his example.

Closer to home, Kentucky didn’t have much of a winter last year. School actually got out on time, which didn’t happened in three prior years that I’ve paid attention because of a school-age child. And many of the “snow days” in those years weren’t because of snow, they were because of ice. We get ice because it doesn’t get and stay cold enough to snow.

We might have an extreme winter this year, Colorado might have little winter again, or the reverse might be true or some combination of severe storms, or drought, too much cold or not enough. Remember the deadly and destructive March 2 tornadoes? Awful early in the year, don’t you think?

That’s what climate change is: Long-term it means the planet is warming, but short-term, it means changing weather patterns, and more extreme and severe weather (droughts, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, etc.).

There’s no more “normal.”

We better get used to it since politically no one seems willing to stand up to the deniers.

My take on the new federal school lunch rules

Yawn.

I’ll give President Barack Obama’s team credit for trying to make school lunches healthier, but that’s about as far as I can go.

By the time all the rules are in place schools will be using whole grain breads and pastas , reducing sodium and fat content considerably, and upping the servings of fruits and veggies.

Great so far, until you hear this: these things are being “phased in” so parents don’t have to worry about tensions over food with their kids.

Seriously? You’re the parent, they are the kids. Act accordingly and it won’t be an issue.

And worse still, they caved because of Congress being beholden to lobbyists for the starch and pizza industries.

Yes, pizza is still considered a vegetable and there are no rules limiting french fries.

I’ll say that again, pizza is considered a vegetable.

So, do any of you wonder why we pack our daughter’s lunch every day and have since the first week of kindergarten?

— Linda J.

“Startling” new estimates detail extent of white-nose bat syndrome epidemic

A hat tip to Lu-Ann Farrar for finding this and putting in her Kentucky News Review today.  It’s an important update especially since a white-nosed bat was found in the state last April:

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (PDF) has issued a report saying that at least 5.7 million to 6.7 million bats have died from white-nose syndrome since its detection in 2006.

When the disease is found in a location, the mortality rate can be 100 percent.

“This startling new information illustrates the severity of the threat that white-nose syndrome poses for bats, as well as the scope of the problem facing our nation. Bats provide tremendous value to the U.S. economy as natural pest control for American farms and forests every year, while playing an essential role in helping to control insects that can spread disease to people,” said Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe.

The disease was found in Kentucky in April 2011 in a little brown bat from a cave in Trigg County in Western Kentucky, about 30 miles southeast of Paducah. The Herald-Leader and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has collected information and reported on the disease.

 

We’ll test for radon in our house, will you?

All but a small portion of western Kentucky are in the highest two levels of elevated radon, an odorless invisible naturally occurring gas.

While the EPA suggests every householder test for radon, it is more imperative in the highest two levels. Click this link to see map where Kentucky is.

My mother-in-law, the best person in the world, got us a radon tester for Christmas after she saw news stories about deaths in Kentucky due to radon.

We’re installing it this week and I will let you know what we find, if we have something to fix and how it’s fixed.

What a great Christmas present, don’t you think?

Here’s a blog item from the EPA on radon. It’s worth a minute of your time to read.

— Linda J.

There’s a reason nail polish stays on so long, and it’s not good

Still using nail polish? I am, but I’ve made sure the brands I use don’t contain toluene. Now I need to add formaldeyde and dibutyl phthalate (DBP), the other two that make up the “toxic three”.

Many brands still use those chemicals. That’s why they are so shiny and stay put so well.

You’ve no doubt heard of formaldehyde,  the chemical that preserves dead animals, but what about the other two?

According to an article on HuffPost Green, “DBP is a known reproductive and developmental toxin, while toluene is a possible reproductive and developmental toxin and can also cause headaches, dizziness and fatigue.

While reading this article, I started thinking about my daughter, who always comes home from a weekend at Grandma’s house with newly painted toes and fingers.

I think I’m going to have to start furnishing as safe a polish as I can find for them to use, because I don’t want to stop their fun.

And here’s where I’m going to find it: The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics has a searchable database where you can look up all sorts of things about the products you use.

— Linda  J.

 

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