Friday, April 29, 2016

Save Snags for Wildlife

This post continues a series on simple things you can do to help the planet. 
A snag is any dead or dying standing tree. For wildlife purposes, snags should be at least three inches in diameter at breast height and at least six feet tall. However, I have a couple of snags that are about two feet tall that chipmunks, field mice and shrews inhabit. 

Today is Arbor Day and wood is good. A tree that outlives its ornamental value can serve as habitat. Wildlife use nearly every part of a dead tree in every stage of its decay for a place to live and raise young, as a food source and hiding place. Snags also serve as nurseries for insects, mushrooms and lichens. 

Think of snags as condos, townhouses and rest stops. Let them soften with age and blend into the landscape. Allow vines to trail over them and leaves to fall inside them. Dead trees help wildlife and when you preserve those that are safe to leave standing, you do your part to help the planet.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Earth Day Every Day

I'm glad we celebrate Earth Day. But instead of once a year, I think every day should be Earth Day. Now more than ever.

The beginnings of this environmental movement were so full of promise, but in the 46 years since Earth Day began, we haven't accomplished much. Nearly 50 years is a huge window of time in which we could have worked wonders. Now it seems we've gone into reverse and destroyed a lot more. Need proof? Climate change, coral bleaching and ocean acidification, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. I'll stop there; it's too painful.  

And what about our forests? Earth Day Network is a fine organization and I love the work they're doing, but in urging the planting of trees, I can't help wondering: what about halting the practice of cutting them down?  

Preserving and protecting the trees we already have and planting new ones are just some of the simple things we can all do to help Mother Earth, our one and only home.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Say no to neonicotinoids

Photograph: Michael Kooren/Reuters

This post continues a series on simple things you can do to help the planet. 

In the past 20 years, neonicotinoids (pronounced nee-oh-NIK-uh-tin-oyds) have become the fastest growing class of pesticides. A series of high-profile scientific studies has linked neonicotinoids to huge losses in the number of queen bees produced and big rises in the numbers of "disappeared" bees – those that fail to return from foraging trips. Read my previous post to learn more about these and other pollinators at risk.

Neonicotinoids have been banned in Europe and the ban should be extended worldwide. Until then, we can all do our part by refusing to buy these products, helping others learn about them and ignoring the profits-before-public-health push back from Bayer and other manufacturers. 

Excellent information can be found at Friends of the Earth and at the Center for Food Safety. Click here for a list of products to avoid

Monday, April 4, 2016

Consider the bees

Photographed in the wild then released unharmed, these North American native bees—not life-size but proportionate to each other—hint at the vast diversity of our most important plant pollinators.

This post continues a series on simple things you can do to help the planet. 

Bees matter. It's that simple. They ought to be valued for their own intrinsic right to exist, but our best efforts to help them must focus on the dire consequences that a bee-less, and zero-pollinator world would have on our food supply.

And right now, bees are in super serious trouble. Colony-collapse disorder has massively reduced honey bee populations and President Obama has taken action with a federal strategy to protect bees and other pollinators. 

It's a good start, but it's not enough and time is of the essence. I'll have more to say in my next post.