Showing posts from September, 2016

Are You Afraid of Zika?

Since I live in Florida, where there's active Zika Virus transmission, I've tried to pay attention to the news on this disease. I wouldn't say I'm afraid of Zika, but being a cautious Virgo, I want to know what I'm up against. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a special Zika Virus section on their website. Yes, the active transmission area, in Miami-Dade County, is 6 hours south of my home. But somehow the virus ended up there--so how can I be certain the mosquitoes that carry it won't migrate this way? How dangerous is Zika? The news makes it sound like Zika is no big deal unless your pregnant or wanting to become pregnant. For pregnant women , Zika's effects are tragic, resulting in microcephaly and other severe brain defects. With microcephaly , a baby's head is much smaller than normal because the brain stopped growing before or after birth. These children may endure a lifetime of problems including seizures, develo

Cleaning Up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch--Aerial Survey

In the August 24 blog we learned about the Ocean Cleanup crew and their successful Mega Expedition to the Great Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch . Actually, there are garbage patches the world over, but the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is an area where a large amount of debris accumulates due to ocean currents. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has an interesting podcast on the Great Pacific Garbage Patch . The goal of the expedition was to collect data and map the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre, also called the Eastern Garbage Patch. Now Ocean Cleanup --the world's largest project to rid the oceans of plastic--is preparing for an Aerial Expedition to begin on September 26, 2016. The crew will calibrate their ocean plastic sensors and practice surveying above Googles Moffett Airfield in California. Through September and October, they'll fly their beautiful C-130 Hercules aircraft low and slow over the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The project wil

Does Buying From Your Local Farmers Market Help the Environment?

I've been trying to include more fresh vegetables and fruits in our meals. And I've read that it's especially important to buy organic to avoid pesticides and other chemicals that can affect my health. I recently posted on FaceBook how much I enjoy shopping at our local farmers market. It's a fun atmosphere, with live music, colorful produce, jams and jellies, natural soaps and more. Sometimes I run into friends, and get a chance to connect with others in the community. I also like the idea of supporting our local farmers, and knowing my food came from a wholesome source. The food is fresher and seems tastier. And the prices are great too! But can shopping at the farmers market help the environment? Certainly the food has traveled less to get there. Statistics show that most food travels an average of 1,300 miles over a week or more. Buying at the local green market means less fuel is burned and less pollutants disbursed by shipping from far-away places. Als

How Tropical Storms Affect the Environment

Hurricane season started on June 1, but the real activity usually comes around this time of year--late August through September. Right now, Florida is getting soaked while awaiting the arrival of Hurricane Hermine . We see the devastation these storms create for people, pets, livestock and property. But how do birds, wildlife, and other aspects of the environment fare? I've always wondered and worried about the animals that get no warning of what's to come. It turns out, the impact to the natural environment severe. Extra nitrogen and phosphorus pollution from leaves and vegetation stripped by high winds and washed into receiving streams can lower oxygen levels as the debris decomposes. Low oxygen, called hypoxia, is the most common cause of fish kills after hurricanes according to . Also, salinity changes as saltwater is pushed inward during a tidal surge--or as fresh water flows outward from flooding, can cause aquatic critters to relocate or die