Friday, April 30, 2010

Gulf Oil Spill -- An Epic Catastrophe

The picture looks like an old, overexposed film shot that missed capturing the subject. Unfortunately, the darkness in the picture IS the subject. This Associated Press' (AP) April 28th aeriel photo of the recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, shows what may very well be the biggest environmental threat that the U.S. has encountered! Sounds like a dramatic disaster-movie exaggeration, doesn't it? It's not. The massive spill, which as of Wednesday covered eight miles off the Southwest Pass of the Mississippi River at the Southern tip of Louisiana , is now oozing into the Louisiana wetlands; extreme windy weather conditions are hampering any attempts to contain the seepage, let alone remove the miles of oil. It's not going to get better any time soon -- a clean up, humongous in scope, may never be fully complete. About 42,000 gallons of oil a day are leaking into the Gulf from the blown-out well drilled by the Deepwater Horizon oil rig that killed eleven workers just a couple of days before the 40th anniversary celebration of Earth Day.

While the cause of the explosion has yet to be determined, scientists know that the devastation from the catastrophe will be felt for a very long time. An AP report by Cain Burdeau and Holbrook Mohr offered this distressing update --
  • The spill was bigger than imagined — five times more than first estimated — and closer. Faint fingers of oily sheen were reaching the Mississippi River delta, lapping the Louisiana shoreline in long, thin lines.
    "It is of grave concern," David Kennedy of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told The Associated Press. "I am frightened. This is a very, very big thing. And the efforts that are going to be required to do anything about it, especially if it continues on, are just mind-boggling."
    The oil slick could become the nation's worst environmental disaster in decades, threatening hundreds of species of fish, birds and other wildlife along the Gulf Coast, one of the world's richest seafood grounds, teeming with shrimp, oysters and other marine life. Thicker oil was in waters south and east of the Mississippi delta about five miles offshore.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Bring Your Own Bag

Look at the picture on the left side of the page titled, Plastic Pollution is Deadly. What words comes to mind? GROSS, Yucky, Ick, Nasty?? How about killer? Scientists estimate that cast-off plastic KILLS roughly 1 million sea birds AND 100,000 marine animals like dolphins and sea turtles each year. Mind boggling! And, get ready for another hard-to-swallow statistic, 80% -- so almost all -- of the TRASH in the ocean is PLASTIC. Plastic takes a long time to break down, so it is not unusual for that toothpaste cap you throw out with today's trash to end up floating in the ocean dumpster. AND, all of those bits and pieces of plastic, including lots and lots of bags, all pool together to create one mega Garbage Dump that is growing daily. According to Scholastic 's Science World April 19th issue, "most of the floating garbage comes from the roughly 200 BILLION pounds of plastic people use each year, or which some 10 percent ends up in the ocean. Much of the trash comes from the land, brought by sewage systems and rivers. Since a plastic bottle can take as long as 500 YEARS to break down, it can swirl in the garbage patch for a very long time."

Last week we celebrated the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. We need to do better, make every day earth day. Figure out what you can do to reduce waste. Bringing your own bag to the store is an easy start. What else can you do? Create a list, but don't use paper!

Friday, April 23, 2010

FAT CATS are Not Cute, They are Unhealthy!

This picture of Aretha, has not been photo-shopped, she is a grotesquely obese cat. And, like the article OBESITY IN CATS... and What To Do About An Overweight Cat (http://www.thepetcenter.com/Article.aspx?id=3401) says, obesity in cats is a common problem that can result in Feline Hepatic Lipidosis - (Fatty Liver Disease), diabetes, and
arthritis, all serious and debilitating illnesses, and all less likely to occur in "normal" weight cats. The article states than 40% of all domestic cats are obese -- Aretha falls into the category of grossly overweight. When she was brought to the League, a whopping 25 pounds was covering Aretha's small frame. In the few weeks she's been here, thanks to diet and exercise she's lost a little over 2 pounds. The next 8-10 will be harder to lose.
First Lady Michelle Obama has made healthy food choices and exercise one of her "pet" causes. She tells children all over the world that she expects them to eat a well-balanced diet and exercise regularly to stay healthy. Childhood obesity has reached epidemic numbers with one in every five children classified as overweight. Childhood obesity is the result of numerous factors including high calorie food choices, sedentary lifestyles, and irregular eating patterns. Obesity in cats can be attributed to the same, difference being people make the food choices for cats and people make food available to cats 24/7 and people lose interest in making sure that their cats get exercise. AND, people often think fat cats are cute. Think Garfield, think Morris.
Aretha is not cute. But, she's sweet. And, with help from the food police and personal trainers at the League, Aretha will get to a normal cat weight, which is rarely more than 12 pounds!

A Home for Kix

Good News!! Kix who went to a foster home two months ago after a very, very, very long stay at the shelter is now in her forever home. She didn't move -- her foster family adopted her!

Monday, April 19, 2010


April is National Poetry month. Did you know that if you google the familiar lines, "April showers bring May flowers" more than 10,100,000 references pop up? That's one popular poem! And, 2/3 of the way into National Poetry month is National Parks Week -- which means FREE admission to all 392 national parks, now through Saturday. Plus, EARTH DAY is celebrated, on Thursday, April 22nd, smack in the middle of National Parks Week. Why not spend Thursday in a park writing poetry!

To learn more about National Parks Week check out http://www.nps.gov/npweek/
Information on the 15th annual National Poetry Month Celebration is at www.poets.org/npm/
Earth Day information is at http://www.earthday.org/earthday2010

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Sea Lions in San Francisco

I saw them. They are big. No, huge -- really humongous! They are loud -- really, really loud. And, less than 6 months ago, more than 1,500 humongous, loud sea lions were hanging out in San Francisco at Pier 39. Last week there were fewer than a couple of dozen sea lions on the pier. No one knows exactly why the San Francisco sea lions came and went -- one of the most logical theories has to do with food. Scientists believe that scores of sea lions were following their stomachs. When the food source moved on, so did the sea lions.
The sea lions I saw were passively sunning themselves, barking now and then, and occasionally plopping into the chilly bay. I would have loved to have seen and heard 1,500 sea lions, but I can't complain, as magnificent as our wildlife is in the D.C. area, there are no sea lions here, and it is highly unlikely that any will find food any time soon in the Potomac or Anacostia rivers.

To read more about the disappearance of the sea lions of San Francisco, check out http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2009/12/disappearing-sea-lions/