Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Violating the Rules

Occasionally I ponder why many people don't have the same passion about the environment I do, and I have come up with 2 possible explanations:

- They are too disconnected from nature
- They don't understand the rules the environment operates under

I think the first is obvious. We don't see how small we are in the scheme of things because we have managed to create a barrier between ourselves and nature. With so many lights in the cities, you don't see any but the brightest stars. When you get out in the wide open spaces and look up, you can't  help but feel smaller--and I think it's a good think for people to feel less omnipotent.

We don't see the miracle that is life because we're disconnected from it. We've shut ourselves away from birth and death. We've lost contact with the interconnectedness of living things because we see ourselves as the only important life form on earth, and don't realize we depend upon the other life forms and chemical cycles to live. Bugs are to be killed; everything we invent is worth having; and "go forth and multiply" is a right of people and their pets--but not weeds or wildlife.

I love Walt Disney movies, but the fact is, these types of shows distort our view of nature. We think nature works like Bambi. Don't even believe it.

As a consequence of the disconnect between ourselves and nature, we have forgotten the rules the environment operates under.

- The Rule of the Commons. What is good for each individually is not necessarily good for the whole. for everyone to prosper, it may be necessary for the individual to submaximize his/her overall good. Garrett Hardin described the Tragedy of the Commons this way: a rational decision by a person that maximizes their short-term good leads to long term consequences disastrous for the person, others and the environment.
- The Rule of Unintended Consequences. We invent things or change things without understanding the consequences. For example, antibiotics are a good thing generally, but a consequence of overuse has been the development of super bugs--resistance to antibiotics of all types. DDT was heralded as a great invention and for the purpose it was invented, it was for a time. However, there were unforeseen consequences that led us to ban the use of this chemical in the US, although it is still used in other countries.
- The Rule of Environmental Economics. There's no such thing as a free lunch. Resources are finite--a choice to use that resource in one way has to be paid for, even if the payment is made later.
- The Rule of Nature. Nature wins. We think we have control over the environment--we don't. If we need a reminder, look at our drought situation, or the major floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, etc., that have been common occurrences in the recent past.

Somehow our disconnectedness with the environment has led us to believe (unconsciously perhaps) that the rules don't apply to us. Unfortunately, it may take some time before the consequences for our actions come due, but come due they will.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Compost Giveaway October 1

The next City Compost giveaway is scheduled for Saturday, October 1, 9:00 AM - 3:00 PM at the city landfill on Wiley Road. Take Seymour highway toward Seymour and turn onto 258 at the Kamay Y. Proceed west on 258 approximately 1 mile to Wiley Rd. Turn right. The entrance to the landfill is approximately 2 miles.

In order to receive the free compost, you have to participate in the city curbside recycling program (a misnomer in some respects, but that is what the city calls it.) Take a copy of your water bill showing the $3 recycling charge. You can receive one pickup load or one 4 x 8 trailer load. You must have a cover for the load.

It's too bad it is the same day as the Water Symposium; a lot of the same people who will be interested picking up compost will be at the Symposium--like me. But for those who can participate, this is a good deal and a suitable reward for participating in the composting program.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Successful Sikes Lake Cleanup

On Saturday September 10, the Rolling Plains Texas Master Naturalists and Midwestern State University hosted a cleanup of Sikes Lake on the MSU campus.

The Master Naturalists have done an annual cleanup of the lake for several years. MSU provides a canopy, trash bags and hot dogs/drinks. The Master Naturalists provide the labor. We always have small groups of children from local schools help in the project. This year the turn out was overwhelming--200 community volunteers (mostly children and MSU students) turned out to help. This is significantly more than previous years. Lots of people combined with a low lake level due to the drought added up to a record amount of trash being collected. In less than 2 hours, the volunteers bagged 4000 pounds of trash.

Way to go!

The Rolling Plains Texas Master Naturalists also conduct a cleanup of Plum Lake every quarter. The next cleanup will be on September 24, followed by a cleanup at Lake Arrowhead State Park.

The Red River Group of the Sierra Club decided last night to Adopt a Highway through the Texas Department of Transportation.

More group and more individual participation could make our community a nicer place to live. Could you help Keep Wichita Falls Beautiful?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Events for Saturday, September 10

Saturday, September 10 is going to be a busy day. At 9:00 AM, volunteers will be conducting the annual Sikes Lake cleanup. This is an annual cooperative project between MSU and the Rolling Plains Chapter of the Texas Master Naturalists. Volunteers are welcome to participate. Usually the cleanup is complete by noon. 
Also on Saturday is the Museum Stroll ' Roll. Several museums in Wichita Falls will be open free of charge and the city will provide free transportation by bus or trolley to many of them. There are several  displays of particular interest to readers of this blog which have been mentioned in previous posts. This would be a wonderful opportunity to check them out if  you haven't already (or to revisit if you have.)
Of course, River Bend Nature Center is a treat any time you get to go. They have added many exhibits this past year, so if you haven't been for a while, this would be a great weekend to stop in. The Museum of North Texas History continues A Walk on the Wild Side and the Kemp Center for the Arts is still showing the insect art of Laura Gillis.

Upcoming Program of Interest

Knowing the interests of many of the readers of this blog, I wanted to pass on information about an upcoming program at the Wichita Falls Museum of Art on Thursday, September 22, 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM.

As part of the Speakers and Issues series, the museum will host Walt and Isabel Davis, "Exploring the Edges of Texas." There is no additional information on the museums website, but my understanding is the program will discuss details of an archeological site in east Texas, with natural history information. This program is approved for advanced training credit for the Rolling Plains Texas Master Naturalists.

The program is free and open to the public.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Garden Taking Shape

I don't intend to do a lot with the garden this fall, although I am planting a little. Hubby unloaded 2 pick up loads of compost into my 8' x 20' space Saturday. I got to spread the compost about 3 - 4 inches deep.

Today I actually put in some plants and seeds--you can see there is still a lot of room. I put perennials (herbs mostly--apple mint, rosemary, lavendar) at the end near the trash bins and annuals at the opposite end. Then I put some rotted leaves down around the plants for mulch.

Thanks to the cooler temperatures, the plants are still looking pretty good tonight. They should have at least this week of 80-degree weather to get acclimated. I also planted some seeds (radishes, carrots, etc.) We'll see what comes up. It would be nice to get some rain.
Although not in this picture, I did also add some more butterfly and bird friendly plants to the area around my bird bath. It will probably be overplanted next year, but if so, I'll move some things around. I haven't prepared the other beds in the yard yet.

Hubby is starting a grape arbor in my potting area for shade and also a garden arbor at the entrance to that area. Yes, grapes for the arbor and probably coral honeysuckle (not the invasive Japanese honeysuckle) for the entryway. If I don't change my mind.