Environment

The tick season is here. Alas, most of us know all too well what that means. In this area, chances are about zero that readers aren’t acquainted with at least someone who’s been infected. But the threat keeps getting worse. Now there is Powassan to worry about. 

As a result of climate change, the tick season is advancing. These days, disease-carrying ticks and their most likely hosts, white-footed mice, can be active by late April, two to three weeks earlier than they were two decades ago.

This is the most dangerous time because the ticks are larval—just out of the egg stage and tiny, the size of a small period or poppy seed. Their prey of choice are the white-footed mice that are prolific, but carriers of dread Lyme disease and its variants.  There’s a 90 percent chance the pathogens in the blood the tick sucks from the mouse includes the Lyme bacterium, Borrelia burgdoferi, which goes right to the next human meal they encounter.

Earthquakes in your back yard?

I know of few environmental topics that engender more emotion than proposals to extract natural gas using hydraulic fracturing methods (i.e., fracking) to open up the pores in bedrock.  Now don’t get me wrong: I am not in favor of an expanded use of fossil fuels from any source.  We must get off the rich diet of carbon from fossil fuels if we are to avoid the worst of potential changes in our climate.  Fracking promises that we will delay the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy, because it can potentially supply inexpensive natural gas for another generation.

by Carola Lott
Bob Austrian photographed these red tailed hawks who were making a brief stop in a tree next to his house.
by Carola Lott

Since the first Earth Day in 1970, Dutchess Day School has celebrated the event with action. In 1970 the student body and faculty cleaned up trash along the roads around the school. Since then the school has participated in fund raising drives, volunteer work in town and on campus, and many other programs. This year, the entire school gathered for an assembly on Friday, April 24, to pledge support of stewardship of the planet. Each grade created a list of promises—promises that can and will be kept—with older students scribing for the younger. The pledges will be transcribed by students in each class and posted on a wall of the school in the next few days. Barbara Bettigole, 4th grade teacher and member of the school’s sustainability team, led the assembly and also initiated a “buy local” campaign, encouraging students and teachers to bring labels from local vendors to put on display in the dining room. Mrs. Bettigole says, “It is part of the school’s mission to help children understand their role in preserving the planet, in big ways, and small.” 

 

 

 

 

The tick season is here. Alas, most of us know all too well what that means. In this area, chances are about zero that readers aren’t acquainted with at least someone who’s been infected. But the threat keeps getting worse. And now there is yet another disease to worry about.

For one thing, as a result of climate change, the tick season is advancing. These days, disease-carrying ticks and their most likely hosts, white-footed mice, can be active by late April, two to three weeks earlier than they were two decades ago.

This is the most dangerous time because the ticks are larval—just out of the egg stage and tiny, the size of a small period or poppy seed. They have a choice but why not a prolific carrier of disease such as a white-footed mouse that’s passing by. Up to 90 percent of the time this means  the pathogens in the blood the tick sucks from the mouse  includes the Lyme bacterium, Borrelia burgdoferi,  which goes right to the next human meal they encounter.

Danger to the water we drink
by Kevin McEneaney

Coal combustion in the US, largely in power plants, generates ~130 million tons of ash each year.  Some ash is collected from the bed of combustion chambers (bottom ash), while other ashes are collected as fly ash from smokestacks and from air pollution control devices, including flue gas desulfurization (FGD) fixtures.  Currently only a small portion of coal ash is utilized as an additive to cement and in road construction. The remainder is often stored dry in large piles exposed to rainfall or in a wet slurry in unlined lagoons near the point of production.

Air Pollution

As I sat in the audience of the NC BREATHE Conference in Raleigh a few weeks ago, I sensed a certain amount of schizophrenia between the science and policy of air pollution in North Carolina. Unfortunately, a similar dichotomy is found in many states across the country.

On the one hand, I was surrounded by a room-full of physicians and scientists who relayed data about the link between air pollution and common human ailments, such as asthma, emphysema and pneumonia, and who talked about the state-led, bipartisan innovation, the NC Clean Smokestacks Act, that connected science and policy and resulted in reduced emissions, cleaner air, and better public, environmental, and economic health.