Ed Vasicek

All folks — with perhaps the exception of the most extreme — have some concern for our environment. Today’s column addresses a few bits of news about the environment — along with my comments (this is the Opinion page, you know!).

Marylu and I live off of Westdale Park and appreciate the beauty of its nice stand of trees. Unfortunately, most of them (perhaps three-fourths) were ash trees and thus victims of the emerald ash borer. The Department of Parks and Recreation had to cut them down — some dead trees were ready to fall on houses, structures or passers-by. The department did a great job of it (I have a lot of respect for those folks), and saved as many other trees as they could. But ash trees are not the only endangered ones.

According to a recent Kokomo Tribune article, “Sudden oak death fungus can travel on other plants without killing them. If host plants are then planted within 6 feet of an oak tree, the fungus can migrate to the healthy tree and kill it quickly.”

We can all learn from the plight of the chestnut tree. Timeline.com explains: “American chestnut trees once blanketed the east coast, with an estimated 4 billion trees spreading in dense canopies from Maine to Mississippi and Florida. These huge and ancient trees, up to 100 feet tall and 9 feet around, were awe-inspiring, the redwoods of the east coast, but with an extra perk  —  the nuts were edible.”

What took them out? A blight that still lingers. Additionally, most of us are familiar with the toll taken on elms via Dutch elm disease. There is a lesson to all this: If you are going to be planting a number of trees, consider planting a variety of trees rather than one or two kinds. Diversifying is not just good advice for the stock market.

Next, we have positive news on the energy front. An article from goodnewsnetwork.org tells us: “According to an analysis by the conservational group SUN DAY Campaign, newly added electrical generating capacity from renewable energy sources — such as biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar and wind — has now surpassed that of coal for the first time in history.

“The analysis, which was based on the latest … report from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ... notes 18 ‘units’ of new wind capacity (1,545 MW) and 102 units of new solar capacity (1,473 MW) were added during the first four months of this year.” Enough to push renewable energy production ahead of coal.

Many have discussed renewable energy for years — even decades. The dreamy talk has now become concrete reality! Here in Kokomo, we observe solar panels and — driving further out — windmills. The future is arriving, folks.

Not all environmental news is good. Our sympathies are with the farmers (and with all consumers) because of the horrendous rain situation in the Midwest. According to the BBC: “May was the second-wettest month in recorded U.S. history.

“In addition to rain, the thunderstorms brought a slew of tornadoes — over 500 in May alone, according to preliminary reports from the National Weather Service (NWS).

“And all the while, rivers and lakes continued to fill and crest, breaking years of records, pouring over levees and barriers, covering highways, bridges and towns. There have been over 35 flood-related deaths in the region so far, according to NWS.”

The Kokomo Tribune and other sources mention some farmers have opted not to plant this year, while others are hopeful late planting will mostly catch-up. A few probably wished they had planted rice!

Fewer crops mean higher prices for us all.

Why the goofy weather? The national weather agent (in the BBC interview cited above) suggests El Nino and global warming probably both contributed to the phenomenon.

It has been my observation heavy spring/early summer rains often give way to drought into summer. It seems like almost every summer in recent years, you can walk across the Wildcat Creek at UCT Park come August. Let’s hope this year’s weather becomes more moderate. Our prayers and goodwill are with the farmers.

Ed Vasicek is pastor of Kokomo’s Highland Park Church and a weekly contributor to the Kokomo Tribune. Contact him at edvasicek@gmail.com

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