Category Archives: Opinion

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As Soft Sheet Use Grows, Environmentalists Note Toilet Paper Woes

Photo by Ron Lach from Pexels.

By Don Corrigan

There’s another issue with tissue. This time it’s not because of grocery shelves being raided of toilet paper in a pandemic panic. At issue this time is the loss of old-growth forests as humans appear to be on a roll consuming bathroom supplies.

Environmental Missouri reports that TP is disappearing before our eyes, in part because major companies are using valued trees to make toilet paper for retailers. The decline in forests across our planet is sharp with a loss of a third of our world’s forests in just a few decades.

According to Environmental Missouri, the culprit behind the deforestation in Canada is soft – retailers like Costco are lining their shelves with extra fluffy toilet paper made from the boreal — one of our last, great North American forests.

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St. Louis Environmentalists Offer Hope For The 2022 New Year

Carol Davit of the Missouri Prairie Foundation

By Allison Hagene

Carol Davit of the Missouri Prairie Foundation said she hopes for more cooperation in 2022, because  “all of us –from individuals to communities and corporations – must make the health of the natural world, and the natural resources upon which all life depends, an automatic consideration of actions we take. We can no longer abuse nature and natural resources and defer the damage to the years ahead. Doing so destroys natural abundance and beauty that not only makes life possible, but also makes it worth living”

The Missouri Prairie Foundation had a good year, receiving news that “the Land Trust Accreditation Commission awarded national accreditation to the Missouri Prairie Foundation, a designation earned by about 30% of the nation’s 1,360+ land trusts. Over the summer, MPF acquired four more original, unplowed prairies, including a rare sand prairie near the Bootheel; dedicated four other prairies we acquired prior to 2021; and have nearly reached our goal of raising $2.2 million for our Lordi Marker Prairie Missouri Bicentennial project.”

Read more below from The Missouri Prairie Foundation, Magnificent Missouri, Just Moms STL, Missouri Coalition for the Environment, the Sierra Club, the Open Space Council, Allison Hagene and Don Corrigan.

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In Memorium: Thanks, Karen, For A Helping Of Ozark Hospitality

Karen Hood Simpson

 

By Don Corrigan

Sometimes a new friend crosses your path – the kind of friend who helps you out. You look forward to a lasting friendship. Then something tragic happens, and you realize you did not say “thank you” enough before they exited this life.

Such is the case for me with Karen Hood Simpson. She helped me explore Missouri caves, trails and waterways on a Missouri Outdoor Communicators’ (MOC) trip in June to the Pulaski County area and the Gasconade River watershed.

Karen, who worked with the Pulaski County Tourism Bureau for more than a dozen years, helped this city boy enjoy some Ozark nooks in the forest and on the river – and to breathe in a little fresh mountain air.

The MOC get-together was at Gasconade Hills Resort, located on a magnificent stretch of river showcasing amazing scenery, caverns and local wildlife including eagles, otters and deer.

She helped with arrangements for a canoe float not far from the cold spring waters that flow into the Gasconade and Big Piney rivers. It was a scenic on-the-water trip in the vicinity of Devil’s Elbow, a bluff area full of lore from a time when lumber men floated timber down the river.

In the evenings, there was time to relax at the Piney River Taproom. One eating and imbibing excursion involved time at the newly-opened Heritage Cultural Art Center on Route 66 in Waynesville.

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Reporting from Ireland: A St. Louis Journalist Explores “The Troubles.”

Northern Ireland is in the news again as the implementation of Brexit by the United Kingdom brings worries that the strife of the past could be re-ignited by borders, economic upheaval and sectarian distrust.
 
Don Corrigan recently spoke on Ireland’s troubles, past and present, at the International Week sponsored by the University of Missouri-St. Louis. His Irish talk coincides with the much-praised movie, Belfast, recently opening in St. Louis.
 
Corrigan’s presentation focuses on his reporting of the Irish Troubles in Belfast and Derry at the time prior to the Easter Agreement to bring peace to Northern Ireland. He provides background on the surprises for an Irish American in covering the conflict and its emotional overtones.
 
He also touches on the film portrayals of the Irish Conflict and how those depictions have influenced perceptions in America. And, of course, he had a few things to say about Belfast.
 

Corrigan is professor emeritus of journalism and communications at Webster University in St. Louis and an editor of the Webster-Kirkwood Times newspaper group in suburban St. Louis.

 
He has reported from Ireland, Russia, Bosnia and Vietnam. He has taught global journalism at Webster campuses in Geneva and London and has presented papers on the Irish Troubles as portrayed in film at Trinity College in Dublin and in the United States.
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Kay Drey: Whistleblower for an Atomic Age in St. Louis

Environmentalist Kay Drey will be honored at the First Amendment Celebration of the St. Louis Gateway Journalism Review. The event will be on Wednesday, October 27, 2021, from 7-8 p.m. Sign up for this virtual celebration at tinyurl.com/3rakxfet.

The celebration will benefit the nation’s only regional journalism review. Keynote Speaker is former U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill of Kirkwood, Missouri.  

By Don Corrigan

Kay Drey is an activist, environmentalist, a whistleblower, an Earth Mother. Who could argue that there is anyone more passionate than Kay Drey about protecting humanity from the dangers of the atomic age?

Humanity means mothers, fathers, children – it’s not just a word. She is the premier whistleblower because she has educated so many journalists to blow the whistle, to make some noise, to sound the alarm in defense of man, woman and child.

She is the Paul Revere of the Nuclear Age:

• “Mobile Chernobyls are coming!” she warned us.

•  “Plutonium is coming!” she warned us.

• “Polonium is coming! Have you heard of it?” she asked us.

Who else but Kay Drey would have tritium3 as her email address? It is impossible to message her without wondering if this radioactive element might be contaminating the neighborhood.

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Fall Color Flop? Maybe.

By Holly Shanks

Well, I was looking forward to Fall this year. It happens to be my favorite time of year and the drive from St. Louis to Hannibal or Branson usually shows off the colors of nature.

CNN recently posted an online article, “Why autumn weather won’t be the same this year,” by Hannah Gard and Allison Chinchar, CNN Meteorologists.

The article offers several interesting updates, but I was certainly bummed about the colorful foliage I was looking forward to. Just another thing to add to the list of disappointment this year.

However, I will remain hopeful and look forward to the possibility of a few reds, golds, yellows and oranges this year. And, next year, as I remain hopeful for, will see me and my husband on the Fall color search road trip again!

Check out the CNN online article HERE.

June Hutson: St. Louis Has Lost A Horticulture Legend

This writer interviewed June Hutson for the following EE article in 2017. It was the first time I met with her. June was welcoming to this stranger asking many questions about gardening and her life in general. She answered each one with a delightful enthusiasm and with a humble openness found only in rare spirits. She was genuine. She was real. She was kind.

Hutson touched many lives in St. Louis and the truth of that can be found in the observations today from her colleagues and friends. In her retirement, she said she intended to travel and explore historic U.S. gardens and maybe the grand gardens of Europe.

However, the true passion in her voice could not be mistaken and was not related to foreign travel – she was looking forward to making future memories with her two grandsons in her own garden.

Hutson’s love of people and passion for gardening left a lasting legacy. This St. Louis horticulture legend will be missed because she was the kind of person that made the world a better place.

—Holly Shanks 7/25/21

The St. Louis Post Dispatch obituary for Hutson can be found HERE.

A memorial celebration of life will be held at the Spink Pavilion at Missouri Botanical Garden on Wednesday, Aug. 11 at 5 p.m.

June Hutson: St. Louis Horticulture Legend

By Holly Shanks

(This article originally posted on Environmental Echo July 17, 2017.)

After spending more than 40 years working at the Missouri Botanical Garden (MOBOT), one might think, June Hutson, a master gardener and horticulturist, retired this past January for some much-deserved leisure time. Nope. She says she retired to do the exact opposite. She wants to spend as much time as possible feeding her passion – getting her hands dirty in the garden.

Hutson started as a gardener at MOBOT in the late 1970s. She spent the last 20 years as supervisor of the outdoor gardens at the Kemper Center for Home Gardening. The ordering of plants and managing staff and volunteers limited some of her time to physically work with planting and maintaining the gardens. The love for the hands-on work played a role in her retirement decision.

Hutson wanted to retire on a good note and her long-term staff was knowledgeable enough to function independently. It was the right time for her to make the change.

“I really missed the physical work and I had a wonderful crew when I retired. If I was going to continue gardening I needed to retire while my physical health was still good,” Hutson said. “I was 74 when I retired, so, you know, time-is-a-tickin’.”

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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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Local Environmental Leaders’ New Year’s Wishes 2021

by Don Corrigan

What will 2021 bring for environmentalists, nature advocates and outdoor enthusiasts? Will the pandemic of 2020 offer some hard lessons about nature’s fragility? Will America rejoin the world forum on Climate Change? Will St. Louis cultivate more open spaces and find ways to reduce the region’s carbon footprint?

Environmental Echo contacted more than a dozen local environmental leaders and asked for their 2021 prognostications and their New Year’s wishes for the planet, the country and for their own piece of planetary turf in the heartland of the Mississippi and Missouri river valleys. Their answers were as varied as the organizations for which they advocate and represent.

Rejoin Paris Climate Accord

Pictured: Richard Thoma

Richard Thoma of the Webster Groves Nature Study Society said he is looking forward to the United States reentering the Paris Climate Accord, an agreement for countries around the world to limit greenhouse gas emissions. “In 2021, let’s put our money where our mouth is and actually do something about this global threat,” Thoma said.

“Cities too, like St. Louis, could get involved in creating more green space as part of this effort,” Thoma added. “Wouldn’t it be neat in 2021 if St. Louis and other cities around the world took those blighted neighborhoods filled with abandoned buildings, raised them to the ground, and then replaced them with parks?”

Pictured: Sister Cheryl Kemner

Sister Cheryl Kemner, with the environmental advocates of the Franciscan Sisters, said her wish for 2021 is a renewal of hope for the future and a return to and fulfillment of the Paris Climate Agreement.

She said she prays for restoration of our relationship with nature, so we see its beauty, its intrinsic value, and that this leads to an appreciation and protection of nature’s diversity.

“I pray for a renewal that establishes ‘harmony within ourselves, with others, with nature and other living creatures, and with God’ as cited in Laudato Si,” said Kemner. “I wish for sustainable lifestyles attained by living simply … I pray for a healthy planet that is sustainable, a planet that has the time to rest and renew itself.”

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Top 10 Nutty Christmas Squirrels!

By Don Corrigan

That holiday favorite about “acorns roasting on an open fire” brings to mind Top 10 Christmas Squirrels & why we love them!

It’s impossible to enjoy the outdoors anywhere in North America without a squirrel scolding you from a tree limb, or a squirrel scampering across your path, or a squirrel playing “chicken” with you on the roadway when you’re driving. Squirrels are not just confined to the outdoors. They are in all the mass media that we consume and enjoy in the indoors. With that in mind, Environmental Echo offers a Top Ten of mass-mediated squirrels that we encounter in print and on our electronic devices. We humans must love them. We have made them the top virtual critters in our popular culture.

1.)  Christmas Vacation Squirrel

Remember Chevy Chase’s movie when Aunt Bethany asks: “What’s that sound? You hear it? It’s a funny squeaky sound.” Uncle Lewis then responds: “You couldn’t hear a dump truck driving through a nitroglycerin plant.” The squeak was worse than a noisy dump truck. It was from the Christmas Vacation Squirrel. The production originally had a trained squirrel ready to wreak havoc on the Griswold holiday home, but it died the day before the scene was to be shot. An untrained squirrel was brought in to be chased by Uncle Eddy’s dog, Snot, which caused unanticipated mayhem. Today several online sites sell a “Christmas Vacation Attacking Squirrel” with motion sensor and sound!

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