Category Archives: Opinion

Image

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.”

Continue reading

Image

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!

Continue reading

Image

Seeking Ozark Mountain High Leads To ‘Missouri Gravity Low’

Lots of sun and clear skies are essential for a comfortable canoe trip on a cold fall day, as well as a few restful stops as Don Corrigan takes here on the Current River.

by Don Corrigan

Forget a raging viral pandemic. Forget the raging political chaos. Forget the raised voices – the blame game and finger-pointing. This nature boy retreated to the wilderness of the Roger Pryor Pioneer Backcountry in the Ozarks to forget the whole, tired, human mess for a little while.

And did I find peace of mind on the waters of the Current River in a land bereft of cell phone reception?

No. Not at all. I discovered a giant crack in the Earth. I discovered an ancient rift known as the “Missouri Gravity Low.” It runs from northwest Missouri to southeast Missouri and is estimated to be a billion years old. It is part of a larger 1,700 mile “Crack Across America.”

If the “Missouri Gravity Low” ever gives way, we are all sunk. We will all be put out of our Missouri … I mean Misery. We will fall into a crack in the Earth that last saw a bit of activity in New Madrid in 1811-12. We could fall into what’s called the “Midcontinental Basement,” a fracture so deep, it might as well be halfway to China.

Continue reading

Image

Missouri Women Cited for Environmental Work

Women have always been in the forefront of the fight to protect the outdoors and the environment in St. Louis and nationally. That was part of the message that Environmental Echo Editor Don Corrigan emphasized in a prepared statement for his induction into the St. Louis Media Hall of Fame on Oct. 3.

“It  seems fitting that in this ‘Century Year of the Suffragettes’ and strong women, that there should be mention the many good women who helped the Webster-Kirkwood Times as advocates and, indeed, as mentors and sources,” declared Corrigan, who also has served as editor-in-chief for Times Newspapers. “These women put hours of energy into protecting the outdoors and for environmental safety.”

 

Dwight Bitikofer and Don Corrigan of Webster-Kirkwood Times, Inc., will be inducted into the St. Louis Media Hall of Fame on Oct. 3 to honor more than 40 years of community journalism. In his prepared remarks, Corrigan will cite the many women who have supported local journalism on the environment and the outdoors.

Click continue reading below to see the rest of the article.

Continue reading

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