Thursday, April 28, 2011

Spring! The season of rebirth. And carcinogens, neurotoxins and endocrine disruptors wafting across our suburban lawns

I posted a version of this a year ago. And probably will each spring when the annual rain of poisons descends on my neighborhood:

The lawn care trucks are back at it, hosing down suburban lawns with toxic chemicals that they’ve convinced us are necessary for healthy grass.

It’s a dangerous and sophisticated marketing con job that we’ve all bought into. Wholesale application of lawn chemicals is not only unnecessary and a waste of money, it is dangerous for children and pets.

The group Beyond Pesticides says that of 30 commonly used lawn pesticides 19 have studies pointing toward carcinogens, 13 are linked with birth defects, 21 with reproductive effects, 15 with neurotoxicity, 26 with liver or kidney damage, 27 are sensitizers and/or irritants, and 11 have the potential to disrupt the endocrine (hormonal) system.

Children’s developing brains, nervous systems and reproductive organs are the most sensitive to long-term damage from environmental toxins. If you were intentionally applying the same chemicals to your child’s bedding, a call to the child welfare agency would be in order.

Lawn chemicals poison your pets, too. This study by Purdue University researchers showed herbicide-treated lawns increased the risk of bladder cancer in Scottish Terriers by four to seven times. That adds to other research showing the danger to dogs.

Pets and people aren’t all. Birds, frogs, insects and other critters are at significant risk from the overapplication of this crap.

But companies continue peddling their toxics to a largely indifferent public. And the industry’s clout in Michigan’s Capitol have ensured that meaningful reforms have been muzzled.

There are plenty of alternatives to artificially and chemically dependent turf grasses for your landscaping. And even if you insist on the turf grass, you can find companies who will keep it healthy without spraying dangerous chemicals on it.

You can establish a clover lawn, which creates its own fertilizer as a nitrogen fixer.

You could replace grass with hardier native plants. Such plants don’t need chemicals to thrive because nature has already designed them to thrive in Michigan’s climate and soil.

Or you could simply hire a lawn care company that will agree to manage your lawn with nontoxic products.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Consumers Energy asks to cut customers' renewable energy cost by 72 percent !

Mitten State reported weeks ago that Consumers Energy customers’ utility bills would be lowered because renewable electricity was turning out to be substantially less expensive than originally predicted.

Today we learn just how much. The utility is asking to reduce the renewable energy charge on residential bills from $2.50 to 70 cents per month – a 72 percent cost cut.

Whether the money goes back to ratepayers or is funneled into solar energy development is a discussion worth having. But the bottom line is that meeting Michigan’s target of generating 10 percent of its electricity from clean, renewable energy by 2015 will be neither as difficult nor expensive as  opponents  would have you believe.


Monday, April 25, 2011

If eggs and meat are made in the supermarket, where does your tap water come from?

My drinking water source. Eat your heart out.
We’ve probably all heard stories about city kids who think eggs are made in the supermarket, or can’t identify where their meat comes from.  Eventually they learn – at least in a book-learnin’ kind of way – that eggs come from chickens and meat from dead animals.

But apparently most don’t ever learn where their water comes from. A Nature Conservancy survey released last month shows 77 percent of Americans who use municipal water can not identify the source of their tap water.

By itself, that lack of knowledge  probably isn’t a big deal. We pay taxes and pass laws to have other people make sure that safe water comes out when we open the spigots. 

But in a more global sense, our lack of connection with the natural world is symptomatic of larger problems. As the Nature Conservancy asks: “If we are less aware of our dependence on nature for our most essential needs, are we less inclined to get personally involved in protecting it?”

For the record, my tap water comes from the Detroit River, a majestic natural wonder which carries most of  the greatest freshwater system on planet earth on its journey to the Atlantic Ocean. Your water should be half as awesome!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Detroit News duo vie to pen most outlandish, spiteful tirade against all things environmental

Editorial columnists gone wild!
Pointing out errors, inconsistencies and tortured logic in Detroit News editorial writers’ ugly screeds against environmentalists and all they stand for could be a full-time job. Since Mitten State is only part-time – and because the News tells us that environmentalists hate jobs – we valiantly resist the urge to spend too much time playing Whack-a-Mole with them. Alas, pair of jaw-droppingly stupid columns this week are too irresistible to let pass by.

First, News editorial board member and cartoonist Henry Payne invoked the visage of Nazis in his column titled Sieg Heil, warmingmongers!. He warns darkly of coming “civil unrest” and “grim war” in the United States because of President Obama’s “radical green vision.”

Yes. Civil unrest and grim war. From the radical green vision of a president who’s backing so-called ”clean” coal; expanding oil drilling in previously off-limits areas of the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska coastlines;  and authorizing massive taxpayer subsidies for new nuclear plants.

(Aside: The News’ editorialists rail constantly against taxpayer subsidies for clean energy like wind and solar. On the topic of taxpayer subsidies for coal, gas, oil and nuclear power they are as quiet as church mice.)

Feeling challenged to up the ante in their game of  batshit-crazy, Payne’s colleague Manny Lopez ginned up an incomprehensibly inane blog post incorporating climate change with lunatic murderer Charlie Manson, Koran-burning Pastor Terry Jones and Al Gore. 

On a junior high schooler’s Facebook page the post would be judged a failed attempt at clever. From the Opinion Page Editor of the state’s second-largest newspaper, it’s just embarrassing.

Friday, April 15, 2011

New study finds uh....what was....oh yeah what were we talking about?

Sometimes you learn stuff that just makes you go:

“Dude…..I’m like, so….um…you know when the uh….oh, man, .I forgot what I was going to say…..hey, are those Cheetos all gone?”

So it is with the news that our nation’s stoners are responsible for massive amounts of climate-altering greenhouse gasses. Yes, a new study concludes that marijuana cultivation consumes 1 percent of our nation’s electricity. That’s enough to enough to power 2 million homes. Each joint smoked represents about two pounds of climate-trapping carbon dioxide emissions.

The study may have even underestimated stoners’ impact on the environment. It did not, for example, factor in late night pizza delivery, gasoline burned while idling at green lights, or the number of baked people still awake at 3 a.m. watching Fast Times at Ridgemont High.


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Beekeeping's subversive secret: These little traitors are anti-free market Communist heathens

The hive. Karen did the artwork.
I’m in bee school. The wise old hands from the Southeastern Michigan Beekeepers Association are teaching me and several dozen other wannabes the ancient art and science of this fascinating trade/hobby. My bees arrive in 10 days. 

Bees are good for the environment. They pollinate lots of plants and flowers. Michigan’s cherry crop is 90 percent dependent on honey bees for pollination. California almonds growers – who produce 80 percent of the world’s almonds – are 100 percent dependent on honeybees.

Commercial beekeepers truck their hives around the country and get paid by farmers to let them pollinate their crops. No bees, no almonds, and not many cherries. Life without almonds or cherries would be unimaginably drab.

Honey also has antibacterial and other healing properties that may include protection against pollen allergies.

The health of the nation’s honey bees is not good, probably as a result of the stress we put on them using nasty pesticides and other chemicals. Trucking them cross country all year doesn’t help. So in a small way maybe my bees will be good for nature.

Here’s my worry though. In bee school I learned that bee colonies are, themselves, individual organisms. Individual bees are part of the collective, kind of like The Borg on Star Trek. They share all the work and all the rewards equally. Bigger, stronger and more industrious bees don’t get
Dead heroes with only their little bee butts showing
astronomical rewards. If they collect more pollen, they don’t eat more honey or get to take fancy vacations or  hire lesser bees to pick mites off their fur and polish their wings.

On Sunday I saw a colony that died over our cold winter from starvation. Many bees had burrowed deep into the honey comb to get the very last drops of stored honey. Instead of eating it they passed it back to those behind them. They died as unselfish heroes, with only their little bee buts showing from the comb cells.

Do you see where this is going? Yes, bees are at least Socialists. Probably Communists. And as soon as the Tea Partiers come down from the euphoria of the new Ayn Rand movie they’re bound to introduce legislation banning these buzzing threats to the American Way.

I’m really going to miss almonds.


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

D'OH!! Climate skeptic scientists' data inconvenient for billionaire oil magnates who helped fund it

So two oil magnate billionaire brothers walk into a bar scientific discussion. They spend a bunch of money to help fund a fresh analysis of climate change data conducted by a scientist who’s outspokenly critical of the consensus on global warming.

The brothers are enthused, since they have a lot to gain if the nation believes that burning up fossil fuel as quickly as we can pry it out of the earth is a good thing.

The skeptic community is enthused, since they believe this man is one of the only scientists not on the planet that is part of an evil conspiracy to perpetrate a massive hoax on the world’s people in order to, um .... get more grants or something.The scientist is the toast of anti-government hacks like Michigan's own Oakland University teacher who goes by the name The Blog Prof.

The ending of this story has not been written. But there was a pretty damn good foreshadowing of it the other day  when the scientist testified before Congress. The results so far, the scientist said to the chagrin of the billionaire brothers, are nearly identical to the results obtained by all the other leading scientific organizations on the planet and reported by the International Panel on Climate Change.

This has infuriated the skeptics who once vowed to accept the conclusions of this lone, honest scientist. Even if the conclusions challenged their theory. Now they say this man, clearly, is part of the evil conspiracy.

As Linda Ellerbee used to say, “…and so it goes.”