Category Archives: Environment

University of Missouri Scientists Receive $4 Million Grant To Study COVID and Virus Variants Found In Community Waste Water.

The University of Missouri (MU) recently published information announcing a two year study of the COVID virus and the virus variants found in community wastewater made possible by a $4 Million grant. Please read below for more from the MU press release and link to the article.

University of Missouri scientists receive $4 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to examine clues about the rate of infection in communities and virus variants.

Using the 2-year, $4 million grant from the National Institutes of Health, scientists at the University of Missouri are collaborating with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, or DHSS, to figure out how differing levels of SARS-CoV-2 can appear in a community’s wastewater.

READ THE STORY FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI HERE.

Imagination, Creativity and the Arts In Service Of The Environment

by Don Corrigan

We are in a time of rebirth, resurrection and the revival of the creation. It’s spring. It’s also a time for renewal and the new energy of MICA, which happens at the First Congregational Church UCC in Webster Groves, a suburb of St. Louis.

What is MICA?

MICA is the Ministry of Imagination, Creativity and the Arts, a concept developed by the Rev. Cliff Aerie. That concept has inspired “Journey through the Creation,” a year-long program with an environmental emphasis funded through a Lilly Grant from Calvin Institute of Worship.

“Our first program on earth, art and faith, featured environmentalist Jean Ponzi and storyteller Valerie Tutson, and was held last September,” said Aerie. “We’ve had to push things back due to the pandemic, but our final program will be on June 13 and will feature the Oikos Ensemble in an afternoon concert, Earth Walk 3.0.”

A program put together on March 20 featured community artist Tia Richardson and Michael Smyer, an expert on gerontology and CEO of Growing Greener: Climate Action for an Aging World.

“These webinars and worship services all coincide with the changing of the seasons,” noted Aerie. “The June program will be the capstone. If the pandemic continues to wane, we expect a concert to be held live.

“The concert may be outside,” added Aerie. “If not, we will bring outside inside, which we’ve done before through the generosity of Rolling Ridge Gardens. They have let us borrow trees to transform our sanctuary into a forest. Either way we will be blending jazz, stories, poetry, dance with video vignettes from our two previous webinars.”

Members of First Congregational Church UCC have been critical to the efforts of “Journey through the Creation.” Members of the planning team include Jan Barnes, Chris von Weise, Halley Kim, Debbie Tolstoi, John Paci, Phil Shoulberg, Ian Didriksen, Elston McCowen, Leon Burke III and Dave Denoon. Aerie serves as project director.

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Missourians Asked To Save Ticks and Mail To A.T. Still University For Scientific Research

MDC Tick

Photo by MDC Staff, courtesy Missouri Department of Conservation.

MDC and A.T. Still University are asking Missourians to save ticks they find and send them to the University for scientific research to learn more about ticks and pathogens they may carry.

Most people who have ventured through Missouri woods, fields, yards, and other outdoor environments have encountered ticks. These small, creepy crawlers climb on and cling to clothes and skin in search of a blood meal. Some tick species and the bacterial pathogens they carry can also cause illnesses in people.

The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) and A.T. Still University in Kirksville are asking people to save ticks they encounter and mail them to the University. The ticks will be used for a new scientific research study to help better understand the statewide distribution of tick species and the human pathogens they carry.

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From Classroom to Bookshelf: Publishing a DIY Guide to Local Environmental Issues

By DON CORRIGAN

A popular ad slogan for city tourism is “St. Louis has it all from A to Z.” That’s certainly true when it comes to hazardous waste issues or land, air and water pollution. It’s not hard to find environmental tales from the St. Louis region that grab my students’ attention and elicit incredulity.

A journalism professor in St. Louis can talk about dioxin at Times Beach, lead smelters in Herculaneum, a creek on fire across the Mississippi River near the Sauget chemical works, or the dangerous radioactive waste pile near a smoldering landfill west of Lambert International Airport.

Soon students will be asking these kinds of questions:

– How can a waste oil hauler get away with spraying roads of an entire town with a dioxin concoction?
-What prompts a state legislature to pass laws to immunize a lead company from contamination lawsuits?
-When does a landfill operator get sanctioned for allowing a landfill fire to smolder for months near a site containing radiation?

These are questions that can inspire students to research and write their own investigative stories. The local aspect of the stories propels a personal interest in the environmental issues. Knowing that these stories can be located in the students’ own backyards – sometimes literally – gives them a special urgency.

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Top Ten Environmental Issues In Missouri

Pictured: Rich Thoma of the Webster Groves Nature Study Society

by Don Corrigan

What are the Top Ten Environmental Issues that Missourians have coped with last century, from 1900 to 2000? Rich Thoma of the Webster Groves Nature Study Society (WGNSS) recently had a conversation about this. WGNSS members have been involved in a number of environmental battles. What quickly became apparent to me is that naming these Top Ten will depend in large part on what environmental groups you may have affiliation. St. Louis and Missouri have a number of such organizations that have been on the frontlines.

Here is one take on the Top Ten Environmental Issues in Missouri, but it is not definitive. Revisions and commentary on these are welcome. Additions and subtractions may be necessary to put an accurate list together.

1.)  Atomic City – radioactive waste issues in Weldon Spring, West Lake Landfill, Coldwater Creek.

2.) Lead Contamination – Lead smelter products poisoned people in urban center and the Leadbelt.

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Invasive Asian Carp Global Malnutrition Solution?

The University of Missouri published a news release entitled, “Asian carp could pulverize world hunger, MU researcher finds: Powdering Asian carp could address an environmental problem and a global malnutrition crisis.”

The article and video give valuable information about the ongoing fight against the invasive Asian carp and the destructive impact the species have on our rivers and lakes. Please take a few moments to read the article and watch the video to learn more about the efforts to reduce damage caused by the Asian carp and to also help the “global malnutrition crisis.”

Read the article HERE. See the video below.

“These fish are a delicacy in China, where they are native, but Americans tend to dislike them,” said Mark Morgan, an associate professor in the School of Natural Resources. “Why eat bony, ugly carp when we can have trout and salmon, instead? But taken as a nutritional supplement, these fish, which have high amounts of macro and micronutrients, could have an incredibly positive impact on society while we loosen their hold on our waterways at the same time.”

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February Polar Vortex Knocked Out Electricity in Texas; Utility Experts Say “Green New Deal” Is Not To Blame

Photo: Michal Dziekonski

By Don Corrigan

The worst polar vortex event of the winter has faded quickly for St. Louis residents. The memory of the bitter cold and snow storm have melted away. Not so in Texas, where electrical outages, burst pipes and critical equipment failures continue to plague the Lone Star State.

Texas towns suffered weather-related fatalities and millions of dollars in damage from one of the costliest weather disasters in U.S. history. Could the St. Louis area and Midwest suffer a similar fate in a brutal winter storm and extended cold snap?

Mark Petty, Kirkwood Electric Director, who said his job “is to keep the lights on,” does not foresee any such utility catastrophe for his suburban city. Kirkwood is the only municipality in the St. Louis region with its own electric department.

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Missouri Prairie Foundation Earns National Recognition

Missourians strongly support protecting the open spaces they love. Since 1966, the Missouri Prairie Foundation has been doing just that for the people of Missouri. With its 25 properties across the state, which are open to the public to enjoy, the Missouri Prairie Foundation is protecting extremely biologically diverse and rare original, unplowed prairie, which is one of the most imperiled ecosystems on the planet, as well as expanding prairie habitat with native grassland plantings.

Today, the Land Trust Alliance announced that the Missouri Prairie Foundation has achieved national accreditation—joining a network of accredited land trusts across the nation that have demonstrated their commitment to professional excellence and to maintaining the public’s trust in their work. There are currently 1,363 land trusts across the United States according to the Land Trust Alliance’s most recent National Land Trust Census, and more than 400 of them are accredited.

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Cockroaches Are Getting A Makeover, But They Aren’t Incredible or Edible Yet!

by Don Corrigan

In any insect popularity contest, cockroaches always are near the bottom of the barrel. Cockroaches may rate more favorably than black widow spiders or tsetse flies, but they are generally loathed by most Americans.

All is not lost for the lowly cockroaches, however. Recently they have gained some cachet as lead characters in promotions, benefits and charitable causes. Celebrity cockroaches have arrived, like it or not.

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Saint Louis Zoo Makes Decisive Move to Save American Red Wolves

Pictured: American red wolf. Photo by Rebecca Bose, Wolf Conservation Center, South Salem New York.

The American red wolf is staring down extinction, with only about 20 left in the wild – but the species has an important new ally in the Saint Louis Zoo.

Responding to an urgent call to keep this species from going extinct, the Zoo is transforming part of its land in Franklin County, Mo., into a conservation habitat where 24 American red wolves will live and breed in a private, protected natural setting.

The Zoo is developing approximately 20 acres of its 355-acre property in Franklin County, known as the Saint Louis Zoo Sears Lehmann, Jr. Wildlife Reserve, with separately secured habitats for 12 mating pairs of wolves in 2021. The wolves will come from other conservation organizations in 2022. The campus will not be open to visitors, as the Zoo wants the wolves to learn natural survival skills without much human interaction in the secured facility.

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