Maggots in Your Compost? Why It’s Actually a Good Thing – Public Goods Blog

Do you suddenly see tiny flies and worms all over your compost?

grass, dirt, compost, rocks

Yes, those are maggots, but don’t freak out! Typically these wiggly creatures usually cause us to shriek or turn away in disgust. But here’s why it can be a good thing to find maggots in compost — and how to get rid of them if you decide they’re not.

Put simply, maggots are able to break down food waste in a compost pile, making it decompose even faster. Despite the fact that you are dealing with garbage and creepy crawlers, there’s still a certain beauty to composting.

Let’s explore why legless larvae tend to show up in your compost bin, and why you might want to overcome your fears and keep them around.

Source: Maggots in Your Compost? Why It’s Actually a Good Thing – Public Goods Blog

Farmville, Va., covid outbreak linked to ICE flights bringing agents to protests – The Washington Post

September 11, 2020 at 4:07 p.m. EDT

The Trump administration flew immigrant detainees to Virginia this summer to facilitate the rapid deployment of Homeland Security tactical teams to quell protests in Washington, circumventing restrictions on the use of charter flights for employee travel, according to a current and a former U.S. official.

After the transfer, dozens of the new arrivals tested positive for the novel coronavirus, fueling an outbreak at the Farmville, Va., immigration jail that infected more than 300 inmates, one of whom died.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said the agency moved the detainees on “ICE Air” charter flights to avoid overcrowding at detention facilities in Arizona and Florida, a precaution they said was taken because of the pandemic.

But a Department of Homeland Security official with direct knowledge of the operation, and a former ICE official who learned about it from other personnel, said the primary reason for the June 2 transfers was to skirt rules that bar ICE employees from traveling on the charter flights unless detainees are also aboard.

Source: Farmville, Va., covid outbreak linked to ICE flights bringing agents to protests – The Washington Post

Yale Experts Explain Biodiversity -Tom Lovejoy and Os Schmitz talk | Yale Sustainability

What is biodiversity?
Biodiversity – ‘biological’ (living) and ‘diversity’ – is the variety and variability of all life on Earth, including plants, animals, bacteria and microorganisms, and humans. The concept was introduced in 1980 by renowned conservation biologist Thomas Lovejoy (BA ‘63; Ph.D. ‘71), who is now the University Professor in the Environmental Science and Policy department at George Mason University. Lovejoy explains that biodiversity gives life on Earth an unimaginable variety.
“A single animal or single plant is more complex than anything else in the universe,” Lovejoy says. “If you looked at one chromosome from the cell of a mouse, you would have more information than all editions of the Encyclopedia Britannica combined.”
Os Schmitz, the Oastler Professor of Population and Community Ecology at the Yale School of the Environment, finds it helpful to think of biodiversity like an orchestra. “You’ve got a variety of different instruments,” Schmitz says. “You’ve got string instruments, woodwinds, brass, and within each of those groups, you also have different shapes and sizes of instruments that function together to create a wonderful harmony. That’s the kind of diversity that we’re interested in with species on Earth. There are groups of species we call carnivores, herbivores, omnivores, or microbes, and then within those groups are also varieties of different species with different sizes and different abilities.”
What are the benefits of biodiversity? 
Lovejoy explains that this “collective variety in nature” is integral to the heathy functioning of ecosystems. “All of these different individual species interact with one another and contribute to natural systems,” Lovejoy says. “Even something as domestic as a backyard lawn is composed of many, many species doing a lot of different jobs. Every time you look around, there is some sort of ecosystem service going on.”
Ecosystem services are the environmental, economic, social, cultural and spiritual benefits that are made available due to complex species interactions on Earth. We as humans rely on these benefits every single day.  Biodiversity is responsible for the production of oxygen, the filtration of natural drinking water, the fertility of our soil, the pollination of plants that allow us to produce crops, the protection of coastlines from erosion, and more. Lovejoy estimates that these services provide trillions of dollars of benefits to the human economy.

Source: Yale Experts Explain Biodiversity | Yale Sustainability

Opinion | A 150,000-Bird Orchestra in the Sky – The New York Times

By 

Contributing Opinion Writer

“NASHVILLE — At first they circle high in the evening sky. But as night descends, they, too, begin to descend, bird by bird, one at a time, and then all in a rush: 150,000 purple martins swirling together, each bird calling to the others in the failing light as they sweep past the tops of buildings in the heart of downtown Nashville. To anyone watching from the ground, they look like one great airborne beast, one unmistakable, singular mind.

Their music grows louder and louder as the circles tighten and the birds swing lower and lower, settling in the branches of sidewalk trees, or swerving to take off again as new waves of birds dip down. They circle the building and return. They lift off, circle, reverse, settle, lift off again. Again and again and again, until finally it is dark. Their chittering voices fall silent. Their rustling wings fall still.

It is not like Hitchcock: Watching these birds is nothing at all like watching crows and sea gulls and sparrows attack the characters in “The Birds,” Alfred Hitchcock’s classic horror film. The purple martins that have been gathering here the past few weeks are merely doing what purple martins always do this time of year: flocking together to fatten up on insects before making the long flight to South America, where they will spend the winter.”

Opinion | Fleeing the Trolls for the Grizzly Bears – By Nicholas Kristof – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Adam Ellis Harper

“PACIFIC NORTHWEST TRAIL, Mont. — What’s a person to do in a crazy summer when our president endorses a candidate who claims the world is controlled by a “global cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophiles,” when federal agents club a Navy veteran protesting peacefully, when the government delays postal services to impede voting (and thereby kills chicks sent in the mail)?

Take a hike.

For wilderness therapy, I came here to Montana to escape the hubbub and embrace the mountains, to sip from creeks, to sleep under the stars, to negotiate with honest interlocutors, like grizzly bears.

Over seven years, my daughter, Caroline, and I hiked the entire 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail, running from Mexico to Canada on the West coast. So with that trail behind us, we’ve started another adventure — hiking the newest of America’s grand trails.

In 2009, President Obama signed legislation creating the Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail — known informally as the Pacific Northwest Trail. It runs from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific, hugging the Canadian border, but it sometimes exists more on paper than on the ground.

Some 1,200 miles long, the Pacific Northwest Trail was cobbled together from existing trails and forest roads, so every now and then you get to the end of a trail and the guidebook tells you: Bushwhack seven miles until you get to the next trail.

That’s what happened to us on a Montana mountain called Northwest Peak. We forged our own trail and cowboy camped that night on a high (and freezing) ridge above timberline — soothed at night by a spectacular sunset to our west, and awoken by an even more vivid palette of reds to the east.

We then hiked and crawled over boulders along a knife edge of a ridge, thousand-foot drops on each side. It was terrifying and exhilarating to see a pebble skitter from your feet and plunge down — forever. It was some of the toughest hiking I’ve ever done on any trail (partly because there wasn’t a trail), and also some of the most glorious. This is why the Pacific Northwest Trail is often called “America’s wildest trail.”

I backpack every summer because it’s wonderful family time, when none of us can be distracted by phones, emails or screens, when we share the camaraderie of blisters and bugs — and awe. My wife, Sheryl WuDunn, and Caroline’s boyfriend, Adam Ellis Harper, joined the journey this year.”

The Link Between Parkinson’s Disease and Toxic Chemicals – By Jane E. Brody – The New York Times

“Michael Richard Clifford, a 66-year-old retired astronaut living in Cary, N.C., learned before his third spaceflight that he had Parkinson’s disease. He was only 44 and in excellent health at the time, and had no family history of this disabling neurological disorder.

What he did have was years of exposure to numerous toxic chemicals, several of which have since been shown in animal studies to cause the kind of brain damage and symptoms that afflict people with Parkinson’s.

As a youngster, Mr. Clifford said, he worked in a gas station using degreasers to clean car engines. He also worked on a farm where he used pesticides and in fields where DDT was sprayed. Then, as an aviator, he cleaned engines readying them for test flights. But at none of these jobs was he protected from exposure to hazardous chemicals that are readily inhaled or absorbed through the skin.

Now Mr. Clifford, a lifelong nonsmoker, believes that his close contact with these various substances explains why he developed Parkinson’s disease at such a young age. Several of the chemicals have strong links to Parkinson’s, and a growing body of evidence suggests that exposure to them may very well account for the dramatic rise in the diagnosis of Parkinson’s in recent decades.”

EWG Skin Deep® | Ratings for All Softsoap Products

Showing 77 Softsoap Products

Product Type
bar soap (2)
body wash/cleanser (20)
exfoliant/scrub (5)
liquid hand soap (52)
shaving cream (1)

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  • Product Type
  • bar soap (2)
  • body wash/cleanser (20)
  • exfoliant/scrub (5)
  • liquid hand soap (52)
  • shaving cream (1)
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Data: Fair


SOFTSOAP

Earth Blends Moisturizing Liquid Hand Soap, Pomegranate & Plum

Data: Fair


SOFTSOAP

Coconut Butter Body Scrub

Data: Limited


SOFTSOAP

Aquarium Hand Soap

Data: Limited

SOFTSOAP

Hand Soap, Bright Citrus

Data: Limited

SOFTSOAP

Milk & Golden Honey Moisturizing Hand Soap

Data: Limited

SOFTSOAP

Hand Soap, Coconut & Warm Ginger

Source: EWG Skin Deep® | Ratings for All Softsoap Products

EWG Urges Ban On Toxic Soft Soap Additive | EWG

FRIDAY, APRIL 8, 2011

 

April 8, 2011

Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP) Regulatory Public Docket (7502P)
Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW.
Washington, DC 20460-0001

Re: Petition for a Ban on Triclosan [EPA–HQ–OPP–2010–0548; FRL–8852–8]

To Whom It May Concern:

Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a non-profit public health and environmental research and advocacy organization based in Washington, DC. We work to combat the health risks from chemical contamination of food, water, consumer products and the environment. As a co-signer to the 2010 Citizen Petition for a Ban on Triclosan, EWG strongly supports a suspension of non-medical uses of triclosan while EPA reexamines the safety of currently registered uses. We are particularly concerned that EPA has not comprehensively assessed the safety of cumulative exposures of triclosan for the developing fetus, infant and child.

Triclosan has been used for 40 years as an antimicrobial ingredient in consumer and commercial products. Despite widespread concerns about the chemical’s toxicity—the fact that the chemical is detected in the majority of Americans, and its potential to harm aquatic life and form toxic byproducts in water or the environment—there are few restrictions on its use. The American Medical Association does not recommend use of antimicrobial products in the home (Tan 2002), stating: “No data support the efficacy or necessity of antimicrobial agents in such products, and a growing number of studies suggest increasing acquired bacterial resistance to them.” According to a Food and Drug Administration Nonprescription Drugs Advisory Committee, triclosan soaps are no better than plain soap and water for preventing the spread of infections or reducing bacteria on the skin (FDA 2005).

EWG research finds that:

  • A wide range of home products contain triclosan and contribute to exposures. EWG research shows that with no assessment of health risks to infants, regulators have approved triclosan for use in 140 different types of consumer products including liquid hand soap, toothpaste, undergarments and children’s toys (EWG 2008). This exposure has been allowed despite the fact that the chemical ends up in mothers’ breast milk and poses potential toxicity to fetal and childhood development.
  • Triclosan commonly contaminates the human body. EWG biomonitoring research has found triclosan in 42 of the 49 participants tested, including all 20 adolescent girls (EWG 2008).

Source: EWG Urges Ban On Toxic Soft Soap Additive | EWG

Where’s Airborne Plastic? Everywhere, Scientists Find. – By  John Schwartz – The New York Times

“Plastic pollution isn’t just fouling the world’s oceans. It is also in the air we breathe, traveling on the wind and drifting down from the skies, according to a new study. More than 1,000 tons of tiny fragments rain down each year on national parks and wilderness areas in the American West alone, equivalent to between 123 million and 300 million plastic bottles worth.

“There’s no nook or cranny on the surface of the earth that won’t have microplastics,” said Janice Brahney, a Utah State University scientist who is lead author on the new study. “It’s really unnerving to think about it.”

While the troublesome presence of plastics in landfillsin the oceans and in freshwater environments like the Great Lakes is well known, research into airborne particles is more recent. Previous papers have described finding airborne microplastics in, among other places, EuropeChina and in the Arctic.

The new paper, published Thursday in the journal Science, reports finding plastic in remote parts of the United States; the researchers collected samples from 11 national parks and wilderness areas.

They found tiny bits of plastic in 98 percent of the 339 samples they collected; plastics accounted for 4 percent of the dust particles that were tested.”

Opinion | America’s Killer Lawns – By Margaret Renkl – The New York Times

By 

Contributing Opinion Writer

Credit…William DeShazer for The New York Times

“NASHVILLE — One day last fall, deep in the middle of a devastating drought, I was walking the dog when a van bearing the logo of a mosquito-control company blew past me and parked in front of a neighbor’s house. The whole vehicle stank of chemicals, even going 40 miles an hour.

The man who emerged from the truck donned a massive backpack carrying a tank full of insecticide and proceeded to spray every bush and plant in the yard. Then he got in his truck, drove two doors down, and sprayed that yard, too, before continuing his route all around the block.

Here’s the most heartbreaking thing about the whole episode: He was spraying for mosquitoes that didn’t even exist: Last year’s extreme drought ended mosquito-breeding season long before the first freeze. Nevertheless, the mosquito vans arrived every three weeks, right on schedule, drenching the yards with poison for no reason but the schedule itself.

And spraying for mosquitoes isn’t the half of it, as any walk through the lawn-care department of a big-box store will attest. People want the outdoors to work like an extension of their homes — fashionable, tidy, predictable. Above all, comfortable. So weedy yards filled with tiny wildflowers get bulldozed end to end and replaced with sod cared for by homeowners spraying from a bottle marked “backyard bug control” or by lawn services that leave behind tiny signs warning, “Lawn care application; keep off the grass.” “

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