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Showing posts from June, 2012

A Sign For Our Times

June 25, 2012 - Picture this:  It's been six weeks since it last rained.  The heat has been extreme. Your soil, primarily clay, has begun some major cracking.  The grass, despite weekly watering, can best be described as brittle.  So far, you've bit the bullet when it comes to your flower beds because you can't bear the idea of not watering them.  The flowers aren't exactly fluorishing - they'd really prefer rain - but some are hanging in.  Your roses, blissfully unaware there's a problem, carry on without effort.  The vegetable garden, wisely located in part shade, is doing ok.  Not without watering, however. 

That's the problem.  Guilt about watering so much.  It's difficult, but the time has come to consider triage.

Life in suburbia means keeping the neighbors happy to an at least minimal standard.  Let's be honest, though: nobody's yard looks good.  Well - there is that couple down the street who water all day, everyday.  But that's jus…

Take One Cup of Algae ...

June 17, 2012 - References to algae as a source of biofuel have been on the upswing, so I thought it might be time to find out if there's anything to it.  Climate skeptics have done the requisite piling on, accentuating their disbelief with snide comments alluding to "pond scum."  Funny thing is, that's exactly the kind of algae that renders the best fuel!  With over 100,000 species to choose from - kelp is one of them - it's fortunate indeed that the one that seems to work best can literally be found in just about everyone's backyard.  When we lived in North Carolina, we had a portion of a former farm pond on our property, which extended into our neighbor's yard.  Because we left the trees and grasses surrounding the pond in place, we had no problem with algae.  Our neighbors, on the other hand, had cleared away trees and undergrowth, allowing the sun to shine directly on their pond for hours.  Algae loves sunshine, and they had a pondful to prove it.

Ri…

Pick Your Poison

June 11, 2012 - Do you ever play that game: which would be worse - a fire, or a flood?  Once something burns up, it's irretrievably lost.  With flooding, there's the possibility, however small, of saving things.  Fires are terribly polluting, and add a lot of carbon dioxide to the already overloaded atmosphere.  Dirty or polluted water could ruin a home or even a town. In the event that clean-up is possible, it's a labor intensive, dangerous job.  A home with smoke damage might be similarly hard work to clean up.  A home that's burned to the ground probably requires a bulldozer, once the surviving possessions have been sorted.  Insurance is available for both kinds of catastrophes.  In either case, nature is capable of repairing at least some of the local environmental damage.  The psychic, emotional, and physical toll on humans is another matter entirely.

The cost of fires begins with the training of firefighters, and the procurement of sophisticated equipment.  Flood…

Microloans Come Home

June 4, 2012 - Yes, it's June already.  Time passes quickly, and that brings me to an important question: what are you doing to prepare yourself for the coming changes?  Are you growing a garden this summer?  Have you purchased a vehicle that gets higher gas mileage?  How much of your outdoor water comes from rain barrels?  Hope you're learning to go easy on the air conditioning.  Make sure you've got fans available.  Stocking up on your basic food requirements?  Candles?  Soap?  Baking soda and vinegar?  Most important of all, have you talked to your kids about what lies ahead?  Let them know their future will require lots of planning - and lots of courage.

You can use as your model the United States Department of Agriculture.  It appears they've been keeping their ear to the ground, because they've come up with a financial tool that's perfectly suited to the times in which we live.  Swarms of young people are demonstrating a readiness to take on the hardships…