Category Archives: Opinion

Image

The Myth About African-Americans and the Outdoors

Pictured: Carolyn Finney.

America and St. Louis are having conversations about race after the tragic incidents in Minneapolis, Louisville and Atlanta. These conversations may seem tangential to environmental concerns, but we at Environmental Echo have decided to dive back into our archives and re-post an interview with Carolyn Finney, Ph.D.

Originally published in February 2016, the podcast interview (below) is an in-depth conversation about African-Americans who connect with nature and the outdoors. There are damaging “myths” and a lack of appreciation for the contributions Black Americans have made in environmental history.

(From the 2016 Environmental Echo post)
Carolyn Finney, Ph.D., is the guest on this edition of “Behind the Editor’s Curtain” with Don Corrigan. Finney is the author of “Black Faces, White Spaces: Reimagining the Relationship of African Americans to the Great Outdoors.”

Speaking about the absence of African-Americans engaging in outdoor activities portrayed in popular culture, such as in movies and magazines, Dr. Finney notes:

“Just because we don’t see any (African-Americans) doesn’t mean there aren’t any. That’s myth number one,” Finney said. “Actually, Black people, like everybody else, have been around doing everything like everybody else since the beginning of the time. You have Black mariners, you have Black hikers, you have Black people camping — I mean, Black people have been doing it, too.”

The topic of discussion is the relationship between the Black community and outdoor spaces and related activities, like national parks, hiking, and mountain climbing.

Continue reading

Image

Is use of Bathroom Tissue an Environmental Issue?

by Don Corrigan

“I used to spin that toilet paper like I was on Wheel of Fortune. Now I turn it like I’m cracking a safe.” Several readers sent this piece of humor to me about a month ago. Unfortunately, it’s still relevant in the continuing age of the 2020 Pandemic.

I shopped at several grocery stores just in the last week. The squeeze on Charmin supplies is still ongoing. The cupboards were bare at several stores, except for a sign about rationing – only one package of Charmin, Angel, Coronet or Cottonelle per customer.

Toilet paper is still one of the most coveted items for care packages being assembled at local food banks and beyond. Rolls of paper are gladly accepted at Webster-Rock Hill Ministries. State Rep. Deb Lavender, D-Kirkwood, has put out a call for this essential commodity for those in need on so many levels.

Continue reading

Corona Victory Gardens?

By Holly Shanks

The United States is facing a challenging time. The simple task of going to the grocery store has become stressful for many as bare shelves, empty meat cases and rationing have greeted frustrated shoppers. 

But this is not the first challenge our society has faced when it comes to food and supply shortages. During World War II, our parents and grandparents faced even harder situations and within longer periods of time. 

Ordinary citizens were encouraged to grow gardens in backyards, vacant lots, rooftops and any available unused accessible areas. They were dubbed “Victory Gardens” and according to a story in the Farmers’ Almanac, there were tens of millions of “Victory Gardens” planted during WWII, which produced millions of tons of fresh veggies and fruits to help combat food shortages.  

Now, a slew of information is currently being published about a possible resurgence of interest in “Victory Gardens.”

Continue reading

Pope Links 2020 Pandemic to Climate Change Impacts

By Don Corrigan

Pope Francis delivered a controversial message during Holy Week that will have people in and outside the Catholic Church talking long after Easter passes. Conservative critics of Pope Francis have warned that he should stay in his lane – a strictly religious lane – but he has become more outspoken with the crisis of the 2020 Coronavirus Pandemic.

“There is an expression in Spanish: ‘God always forgives, we forgive sometimes, but nature never forgives,’” Francis said in the interview published April 8. “We did not respond to the partial catastrophes. Who now speaks of the fires in Australia, or remembers that a year and a half ago a boat could cross the North Pole because the glaciers had all melted? Who speaks now of the floods?

“I don’t know if it is nature’s revenge, but it is certainly nature’s response,” Pope Francis added. “Every crisis contains both danger and opportunity: the opportunity to move out from the danger,” he said. “Today I believe we have to slow down our rate of production and consumption and to learn to understand and contemplate the natural world.”

Francis became the first pope in Catholic Church history to devote an entire encyclical to the issue of care for the environment, in which he condemned human exploitation of nature.

Continue reading

Book Review: The Great Influenza: Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague in History

The Great Influenza: Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague in History – John M. Barry — Penguin Books, 2004/2005

Review By Glenn Koenen – St. Louis

Yes, the parallels startle.

  • The jump from animals (pigs in Kansas) to people escaped notice for longer than it should.
  • The first major infected population spread the disease far and wide at breakneck speed.
  • Governments – especially America’s – bungled the early response.
  • Many of those researching and fighting the disease perished or suffered.
  • Working folks took the biggest financial hit.

True, as the book explains, a pandemic almost by definition is never expected. The response always begins ad hoc as bits of the story pop-up – along with a lot of red herrings and confusion.

Yet, the overall situation mimics past events. Instead of remembering what had been learned, alas, a thousand wrong decisions recreate the same mistakes.

Image

Nature: A Refuge in a Pandemic Age

Don Levee BikeBy Don Corrigan

On a hike in the age of pandemic this past weekend, an acquaintance noted how the sky has not been this blue since the week after 9/11. There is minimal air traffic, so the skies get a breather from the burning jet fuel, contrails and all the airliners’ heat-trapping gases.

Don’t get me wrong. This column is not about the Green New Deal and its plans for the likes of Southwest or American Airlines. I’m a believer in keeping the skies friendly for air travel, at least until my daughter gets home from Dublin, where she says she is working in a “Shelter-in-Place  Paradise.”

This missive is actually about how we are now taking refuge in nature. We are discovering purple wildflowers, blooming dogwoods and pondering “nothing but blue skies,”  as Willie Nelson sings.

Continue reading

Image

Painful Shutdown of Environmental Meetings in St. Louis

By Don Corrigan

It’s painful for Environmental Echo to receive the notices of closings and cancellations of nature outings, green activities and environmental meetings due to the coronavirus pandemic that now affects the St. Louis area and more than 140 countries.

This spreading disease is deadly serious, environmentally destructive and totally global in consequence. Obviously, it was mistake for the administration to fire the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Pandemic Response Team two years ago.

It might be time to reconsider the firing of that unit, as well as the quashing of the annual reports out of the U.S. Defense Department on “Preparing the United States for Impacts of Climate Change,” which were started in 2013. Those reports include information on pandemics.

Continue reading

Image

To Arms! For U.S. Gray Squirrels!

by Don Corrigan

Funky Winkerbean’s cartoon creator,  Tom Batiuk, is  on a roll about squirrels. Hundreds of readers sent me his comic strips on squirrels.  Actually, more than hundreds – enough people to fill up the  National Mall on Inauguration Day! 

Funky Winkerbean may be tickling people’s fancy with this comic squirrel subterfuge, but the actual truth about the American Gray Squirrel is no laughing matter. So, let’s get on it. 

Headlines in Britain now are all about the Royals’ big crisis and strife involving the Queen, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. It’s a hoax, folks. The headlines are a smokescreen. The stories should be about Prince Charles and his war against American Gray Squirrels. It’s a dirty little war. It has taken an ugly turn.
Continue reading

Image

Society of Environmental Journalists Celebrates 30 Years

Front row, left to right: Kevin Carmody, Sarah Thurin Rollin, Bruce Ritchie, Beth Parke, Marla Cone, JoAnn Valenti Center row, left to right: Mike Mansur, Don Corrigan, David Ropeik, Peter Fairley, Kathy Sagan, ID missing, Tom Meersman, ID missing, ID missing, Julie Edelman, Angela Swafford Back row, left to right: ID missing, Jay Letto, Chris Bowman, George Homsey, Russ Clemings, Gary Lee, Emilia Askari, Chris Rigel (now Bruggers), Gary Polakovic, Jim Bruggers, Noel Grove (Photo: SEJ)

Environmental Echo applauds the Society of Environmental Journalists (SEJ) on the organization’s 30 years of advocating for nature, ecology and the environment.

EE’s Don Corrigan was in Boulder, Colorado, with SEJ when the organization debated its vision, mission and objectives. He has attended its annual conventions, which always are highlighted by field trips and a week-long intensive foray into nature to explore vital issues. He has been active with SEJ’s college teaching committees on environmental teaching and coursework. (Corrigan is pictured in the middle row – second from left.)

Continue reading

Image

A Billion Animals Crying Out Loud

by Don Corrigan (Webster-Kirkwood Times)

I like a good bumper sticker and, “Fur Crying Out Loud,” is very effective. It is a statement against cruelty to animals and the message stays with you.

It especially stayed with me in 1981 after I wrote a feature story for our paper about the “Kirkwood Trapper.” People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals came up to my office, while I was at lunch, and plastered my desk with “Fur Crying Out Loud” bumper stickers.

What kind of adhesive was on those stickers? It took me months to scrape the suckers off my desk. In the meantime, I read the articles the PETA folks left behind about steel-jawed traps and the suffering of raccoons, beavers and rabbits – and a few family pets –  that all had their legs stuck in jagged traps.

The PETA articles were reasonable enough, but the group’s guerrilla tactics seemed a little extreme. I continued to think along those lines, and was no more sympathetic, even when nude female models paraded the streets proclaiming: “We’d rather go naked than  wear fur.”

Is this really necessary?

Continue reading