Laura Erickson's For the Birds

Friday, April 27, 2007

Bad news from coast to coast

You know that myth about ostriches, that they hide their heads in the sand so they don't need to face reality? On days like this, I wish I were a mythical ostrich rather than a conscious person. First I read about algae killing seabirds, sea lions and dolphins on the California Coast. Then I find out that this year Wood Storks had ZERO nesting in Corkscrew Swamp.

We need to do something before it's too late.


  1. Agreed these aren't happy stories, and I realize hydrologic engineering has depressed the Wood Stork in Florida historically, but poor rainfall is the culprit this year (as it was last year). And an algae bloom is a natural periodic occurrence.

    What are we to do before it's too late?

  2. Most of the predictions I've read with regard to climate change include more and more devastating droughts even as the precipitation that does fall happens in more major storm events. For Florida and other places to survive, we need to be far more judicious about water consumption. I'm not seeing that Floridians have had to shut down their swimming pools, for example, so they're still getting to squander precious fresh water even as an important species is vanishing.

    And algal blooms are indeed natural, but often affected by various pollution levels and other situations. We've had massive seabird deaths each of the past three years on the Pacific coast--this is the only one attributed to an algal bloom. Disasters will always happen. The trick is that when we aren't proactive about protecting the environment and keeping species at healthy levels, disasters are more genuinely and thoroughly disastrous.

    What can we DO? Start putting teeth back into the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts again, and reducing consumption of natural resources, for starters. Wood Storks have been having a horrible time for more than just the past two years. They're dwindling because of a huge array of problems, all related to us humans and our endless development and squandering natural resources in Florida. And we humans have been overfishing the oceans, using them as a dumping grounds, destroying coral reefs, etc. etc. I'm tired of people just throwing their hands up and saying there's nothing we can do when there are so very many things we SHOULD be doing.

    I'm uneasy providing a forum for people not willing to identify themselves. My reputation is on the line with every word I write. I prefer discussing issues with honest, straightforward people willing to put their reputations on the line, too.

  3. There is so much we can do... and should do! I think the problem is that we just aren't paying the price, literally. I currently pay $31 a month for all the water my family can use , when we lived in Germany our water bill was $200 each month. You can bet we figured out ways to conserve.We washed our clothes much less (learned to air them out)and the added benefit was that they lasted longer. We washed in cold water, took short showers and did what we could to save money. When our wallets are hit, it is amazing how we can learn to adapt. Sadly, I think that is what it will take for many people to change. Maintaining lawns in desert climates like Las Vegas, Arizona and California, washing our cars, swimming pools, inefficient washing machines and other appliances... the list goes on and on. Laura, you are right, the time to do something is now, before it is too late! Today we finished changing out the last of our old incandescent light bulbs and now the entire house is CFL's. It is truly the easiest, and very least thing that ever person should be doing.

  4. Per capita consumption of water in Florida is about 150 gallons a day, which makes personal consumption probably in the neighborhood of 20-30 gallons per day. Deporting all 337,000 illegal aliens in the state would save around three billion gallons a year. That probably saves about half the water of your suggestion of criminalizing swimming pools, and it doesn't involve any new laws.

    Further, the sharp rise in labor
    costs to pool cleaning services deprived of exploited illegal workers would reduce the number of pools.

    Before it's too late. Are you with me?

  5. I'm not "with" anyone without enough courage of their convictions to disclose their name.

    But are you saying if illegals were somehow magically disappeared from Florida, suddenly people would let their pools go dry? That rich farmers would stop irrigating and start growing crops more suitable to the climate than sugar? I don't think so.

    Poor people use far fewer resources than wealthy ones. So banishing illegal aliens would provide far less savings of water than you indicate. It's the people with swimming pools, not the ones cleaning them, that are squandering water.

    Environmental problems don't honor borders. Humans, like birds, migrate about in search of resources. As long as the world population continues to grow like slime mold in a petri dish, there are going to be huge problems. I don't pretend to have a clue how to solve our problems with illegal aliens, but I think the first place we should start is with imposing huge fines on every American corporation that advertises jobs outside of the country. Are you with me?