chasing birds

Like last year, my family decided it was best for our serotonin levels (and marriage) to head south for a week and try to escape the permacloud that settles over the Midwest in winter.

I lugged around my Canon as we walked the beach and nature trails. For the birds, as always! (Photo gallery at the end of the post).

I noticed that one American Oystercatcher had something high up on its legs. A bird band! Someone had attached an identifying tag to this individual. I made sure to get several photos, in focus, in order to read the markings on the band.

Y 42 patrols the surf for breakfast

You should report any banded bird you find to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. It provides crucial data that helps scientists understand the life history of our feathered friends.

Within just a couple days, I got a certificate describing when and where this particular individual was banded:

Turns out it was banded year a few dozen miles up the coast, 4 years ago.

As I’m not a regular duck hunter, this is only the second time I’ve been able to report a band, so I was pretty excited, despite the rather normal description.

If you, reader, find that a rather odd way to spend one’s vacation… well, I can’t argue with you 🙂 The heart wants what it wants.

We didn’t do any major expeditions like the Everglades trip last year, so I don’t have much to share. I only ID’s 37 birds in a week, which for Florida is nothing.

But! I did add one new species to my “life list” – the Red Knot. I couldn’t tell what they were when I photographed them, but the community of citizen-scientists at iNaturalist helped me out.

Red Knots are pretty impressive little creatures. They “travel some 19,000 miles every year, sometimes flying for six or eight days at a stretch without stopping to rest or feed.” A long-lived individual will fly the equivalent of a trip to the moon and (halfway) back.

In 2014 they were listed as “Threatened” under the Endangered Species Act. “Since 2000 the rufa Red Knot’s population has declined by roughly 75 percent at key stopovers.” Their fate now lies largely in the hands of humans.

Below is a gallery of some birds I saw. I’ll ID them in the captions. Enjoy!

the future of transportation

Amara’s Law states: We tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run.

I stumbled upon these two videos recently and I thought they were worth sharing immediately. There is a lot going on right now in the clean energy transition.

The first is by a gentleman named Tony Seba. He starts his talk with a picture of New York City in 1900, with its streets full of horses. By 1913, the same street is devoid of horses and full of cars.

The second video is fairly similar (perhaps listen to a few minutes of each and pick your favorite presenter). Investor Ramez Naam dissects trends in the energy transition, and what that may mean for many industries (some not so obvious).

It is noteworthy that NIPSCO and Indiana are mentioned at 23:00, specifically NIPSCO’s decision to close down all its coal plants and replace with wind, solar, and storage, based on economic analysis. I’ll cue the video below to the point where Ramez mentions us.

an electric road trip adventure!

Last weekend, Liz (of Moontree Studios) and I went up to Michigan State University for one of my favorite conferences of the year, The Stewardship Network. It’s a great blend of non-profits, consulting firms, local/state/fed governments, and indigenous communities, all focused on restoring native ecosystems across northern Indiana and Michigan.

I’ve been going since 2013. I have a soft spot in my heart for it… the ecological restoration community isn’t very big, so we all know each other & enjoy catching up on research, new projects and the like. In 2016 I found a job posting on a piece of paper for an opening that was just 7 miles from my home, and here I am (thank you, Sr. Mary). As we say, “The Universe is conspiring!”

This year, I gave a talk on our research with co-locating pollinator plantings in and around solar energy installations.

After confirming with Liz that she was ready for an adventure, I decided to take our all-electric Nissan LEAF for the journey up to East Lansing. It has a 40 kWh battery, which is good for up to 150 miles in ideal driving conditions.

Knowing we would be setting out at highway speeds, in windy & cold January, our range was going be substantially reduced, maybe 100 miles when full. I wasn’t going to skimp on the heater, so I adjusted for that as well. I wouldn’t have sent anyone unfamiliar with the vehicle out in the wild like this, but we made a plan and hit the road!

Planning… courtesy of the PlugShare.com (& app)

I thought it might be interesting to record some brief videos during our stops, so I’ll be posting them here as a way of telling the story.

I had an errand to do in the Mishawaka area, so I stopped to calculate our remaining range. Unfortunately, I’ve found Nissan’s range estimator to be overly optimistic, failing to take into account fast driving and cold weather. So as an easy rule of thumb, I just assumed each 1% of battery would yield me 1 mile, for a total range of 100 mi.

Mishawaka errand

We then needed to stop for dinner. We stopped at an Electrify America quick charging station at the Wal-Mart in Portage/Kalamazoo, MI. There is only a single plug that was compatible with the LEAF, but there are still so few LEAFs in the Midwest that I didn’t expect to find it occupied. (You can look on the app in real time to see the charger’s status). Fortunately, it wasn’t! We arrived with 13% battery remaining after covering 92 miles.

After sitting down for dinner, the car was back up to 97%, so we hit the interstate without delay.

I drove conservatively at first to build in some margin. It was fairly adverse conditions, chilly & windy but the road was dry. As we approached our destination, I hustled along so we could get to the hotel. (I had made sure to locate a charger some distance before our destination, just in case we needed to activate a Plan B).

The 82.4 mile trip took us down from 97% to 10% charge remaining. Dividing the miles by the % battery used, (82.4/0.87), this implies a range of just 95 miles on a full battery. Had I decided to plod along behind the semis on the interstate, we could’ve extended that, but high speeds & cold definitely take a toll.

I made sure to book a hotel with a car charger so we would wake up with a full charge and be off to Michigan State, which was several miles up the road.

The conference, as usual, was fantastic. It is always a weird mix of being energized and drained at the same time.

Observing plant response to thinning and burning in areas that historically had open oak woodlands and savannas.

We participated in a water ceremony led by indigenous leaders, who shared the water-songs they sung at the Standing Rock occupation. It was chilly!

Smudging with sage, before we received the water blessing.

Ok, time for the road trip back.

On our last morning, I arrived to the conference center with 90% charge. I had hoped to top off at a public charger there (Plan A), but the single spot was occupied. Not surprising when you have an ecological conference.

I snuck out to the garage at lunch and, after verifying that the other car was at full battery, I helped myself by unplugging them and trying to top off. But… then I ran into another problem. It had snowed several inches the night before when our car was charging at the hotel. Normally not a problem, but I neglected to take 5 seconds to brush the snow away from around the port before I unplugged it. As I unplugged, loose snow fell down into the open port. When I tried putting the plug back in, it only packed the snow in further, just enough to prevent the car from making a connection to charge. Yikes!

The universal, slower charging port is on top (J1772, speeds up to 7 kW). The LEAF-specific fast-charger is on bottom (CHAdeMO, speeds up to 50 kW).

Like I said, always have a Plan B! The fast-charging port was covered and fine to use, so we had to make an additional stop in Lansing to top off. We probably could have made it, but I didn’t want to cut it too close.

So that was an additional 1/2 hour. However, I powered through some e-mail clean-up (a never-ending task) so was able to put that time to use.

We arrived back at the same charger in Portage, where we were more than happy to grab dinner at the same Thai place, and pick up my daughter who was visiting grandparents nearby.

We initiate the charging session via a smartphone app, where we can see the current charging speed, payment, etc.

We ate dinner quickly and left as soon as we were done. It was cold (19 deg F) and we had a 25 mph headwind, so we added a stop at the University Park Mall. Fortunately, the roads were dry, so we hit the toll road and sped right along. This killed efficiency (see below) but we were eager to get home.

Our last stop was in Mishawaka. We arrived at 17% state of charge.

The charger didn’t hit the max speed of ~45 kW, and I’m not sure why, so it took about 25 minutes to get up to 53%, which I figured was enough get the last 34 miles home.

A picture of the dashboard halfway through the last charge session
Home sweet home.

So… let’s look at the numbers.

RANGE: We traveled 355 miles round-trip over the course of 3 days. We used 381% of the battery. Dividing miles/% used (355/3.81) implies a range of just 93 miles per full battery (100% charged) on a new 40 kWh battery.

Taking the most extreme segment, our last leg home from Portage was at high speeds and low temperatures, with wind, with an implied range of 86 miles. Ouch!

COST: Charging costs were $47.01 at the fast-charging stations. We picked up free charging at the hotel. So fuel costs ended up being about the equivalent of driving a minivan.

TIME: Because we were traveling around dinner time there and back, we were able to double up eating & charging, such that charging didn’t add any time to those stops.

We had a 1/2 hr stop in Lansing on our way out, which I used to check e-mail. And 25 minutes at the mall before the final stretch.

It’s not the incredible convenience of having gas stations every 5 miles like we’re used to. This infrastructure was built up incrementally over the last 100 years. We still need a lot more charging stations out there, of all types. But this trip would have been impossible just 9 months ago, before the Electrify America stations were up and running. Things are finally coming together.

The Indiana Department of Environmental Management is developing a grant process to deploy more charging infrastructure throughout the state. We just finished up the public comment period, and hopefully we will see applications for projects later this year.

FUTURE TRIPS: I hesitated writing this narrative simply because I expect the user experience will keep improving pretty quickly. Early adopters don’t mind waiting 25 minutes for the joy of driving emissions-free, but convincing the next swath of buyers will require additional improvements. Like it or not, we American consumers are demanding.

The good news is that of the 6 top-selling fully electric vehicles in the U.S., the 40 kWh LEAF is the only one with a range < 200 miles. There is already a 62 kWh LEAF available as an option (226 mi range). With this vehicle, we would have had zero waiting time during the entire trip, considering that we had to stop for dinner.

3 of the 6 top-selling models are Teslas, and they have their own proprietary charging network that is fast, ubiquitous, and reliable. This all greatly reduces logistical hurdles. But… for the rest of us, for now, some planning is still involved at this stage in the energy transition.

Sorry, I know this was a long post. Please let me know what I could’ve explained a little better. See you on the road!

foxes about

We’ve had a lot of red fox (Vulpes vulpes) sightings over the last couple months. There appears to be at least 2 or 3 that have dens on our property, and they are not shy about running around during the daytime.

It didn’t take long for people to take notice and even begin naming then. As an ecologist trained in the Western-scientific tradition, I try to keep some professional/emotional distance from the creatures around here, but… with a fox I have to admit that’s difficult! They are such interesting and curious creatures.

“Moonie” jogs behind the Ancilla College residence halls on a sunny December morning.

It appears that one has a serious case of sarcoptic mange, caused by a parasitic mites that causes a lot of itching in the host (which could also be a dog or other mammal). A lot of it’s fur is missing from its hind end.

Sarah from our communications department snagged some great photos when Moonie was down by the labyrinth, cleaning up a dead racoon. Thanks Moonie!

I was happy to see the “Grow Zone” signs (also designed by Sarah) in the background. We stopped mowing up to the edge of the lake and planted native grasses and wildflowers. Even this narrow strip of habitat provides space for grasshoppers and small mammals, which make up the bulk of the red fox’s prey.


I thought it fitting that St. Francis was watching nearby, the Patron Saint of Ecology.

I should note that the Gray Fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) is also known to be in this region, although it appears to be much less common. (You can find these observations logged on iNaturalist in neighboring counties, sometimes with trail cam photos). They are more common in the heavily forested southern areas of the state. Gray foxes can even climb trees (while Red Fox cannot).

ephemeral Red Fox tracks
been finding a lot of this too…

There appears to be some debate about the origin of the Red Fox in the Midwest and Eastern U.S. The Indiana DNR Red Fox page still states, “The red fox (Vulpes vulpes) is likely not native to Indiana.”

I came across this paper published in 2012 that ran genetic analysis on red fox populations from across the continent, and concluded that there is essentially no European genes in N. American populations:

Red foxes were historically absent from much of the East Coast at the time of European settlement and did not become common until the mid-1800s. Some early naturalists described an apparent southward expansion of native foxes that coincided with anthropogenic habitat changes in the region. Alternatively, red foxes introduced from Europe during Colonial times may have become established in the east and subsequently expanded their range westward

We found no Eurasian haplotypes in North America, but found native haplotypes in recently established populations in the southeastern United States and in parts of the western United States. Red foxes from the southeastern United States were closely related to native populations in eastern Canada and the northeastern United States, suggesting that they originated from natural range expansions, not from translocation of European lineages, as was widely believed prior to this study…

Although European red foxes translocated to the eastern United States during Colonial times may have contributed genetically to extant populations in that region, our findings suggest that most of the matrilineal ancestry of eastern red foxes originated in North America.

I talked with a local hunter who is a keen observer of ecological trends in the area. Anecdotally, he thinks red foxes have declined with the boom in coyote populations. They fill a somewhat similar niche, so it makes sense that they would compete for space. Even so, we’ve had no shortage of fox dens around campus. They prefer open country, farms, and fields.

According to Bruce Plowman, a wildlife research biologist with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources: “There has been a suppression of the red fox as coyotes have moved into these parts since the late 1970s and 1980s… Coyotes view the red fox as a competitor and will defend their territory and their food resources, killing and even eating them. We will see fluctuations of red fox numbers from year to year.”

I’ll end with a shot of boxing foxes our wildlife cam captured in 2017 (highlighted in this post).

new coal bailout bill before Indiana legislature

The Indiana legislature is back in session.

House Bill 1414 just passed out of committee and will soon be voted on in the house. You can see coverage here and here and here. It would essentially add an unnecessary stage of delay to closing uneconomic coal power plants in the state.

Coal is no longer economic compared to renewable alternatives and plants are closing fast. These closures are saving tens of thousands of lives and rapidly reducing carbon dioxide emissions associated with energy production. The closures have not appeared to have any negative effects on the reliability of the electric grid.

The old guard do not appear to be making many pretenses about the bill. In my opinion, it seems to be again the issue of flexing power for narrow economic interests against the interest of the common good and the integrity of our biosphere. Those in opposition to the bill include the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, electric utilities, environmental groups, solar energy business owners, rate-payer advocates, and the NAACP, to name a few. Jared Noblitt of Indiana Conservative Alliance for Energy says called it an “affront to conservative values.”

We have tried our best to walk-the-walk at our own property, investing in the largest solar installation at any Indiana college or university to date. The energy transition is one of the largest stories of our species, and there are more changes coming.

If you have thoughts on this proposal, you may find your legislator’s contact information here. Probably sooner rather than later.

The old coal plant in my hometown of Crawfordsville, IN, on the banks of the Sugar Creek. While it did provide electricity for my home where I grew up, it also dusted our property in coal dust, poisoned the river, the lowhead dam has caused at least one or more drownings, and the industrial clean-up is a massive burden on the people who still call the area home.

MLK Day

There are a lot of quotes that could be shared from Rev. Dr. King on his day of celebration, today. His life was an inspiration for our nation… as a movement leader, a Christian preacher, an American icon.

A good practice would be to simply read his “Letter From Birmingham City Jail.” It’s short enough to read and reflect on before work or after dinner, but long enough to be more than a few inspirational lines.

I was e-mailed a blog post this weekend from an Indianapolis author reflecting on the history behind MLK’s most famous speech.

His reflection is called “I Have a Demand” and I’d thought I’d share it here.

King wasn’t murdered because he was a moderate, extolling a “can’t we all just get along” philosophy.  King was killed for his demands and not his dreams.

King did not mount those steps in 1963 to celebrate a dream.  King came to collect a debt.  And, like him, a part of me wishes he had never added those words about his dream…

news round up (2020 kick-off)

Happy Belated New Years!

2020… I remember back in the ’00’s when I heard “we are going to [do this thing] by 2020” and thinking it was so futuristic and far off. What’s the urgency anyway?

Well… here we are! I guess this is a just a reminder that today was at one time someone’s distant future. And we are living with the consequences of the many decisions that echo down through the generations.

It’s hard, but I try to remember this when I hear about “by the end of the 20th century.” I’ll be gone, but by then my children (Lord willing) will be old folks, and presumably still in need of the basics we all crave: food, water, shelter, a safe society, warm & compassion & human belonging. What we do now really does open up or foreclose the opportunities for them.

Ok, that got deep! If you are bundled up inside today, here are a few headlines that I’ve been reading the last several weeks. They are in no particular order, so feel free to scan headlines to find what interested you. Enjoy:

Ecopsychology: How Immersion in Nature Benefits Your Health (Yale 360) A growing body of research points to the beneficial effects that exposure to the natural world has on health, reducing stress and promoting healing. Now, policymakers, employers, and healthcare providers are increasingly considering the human need for nature in how they plan and operate.

A growing body of research points to the beneficial effects that exposure to the natural world has on health, reducing stress and promoting healing. Now, policymakers, employers, and healthcare providers are increasingly considering the human need for nature in how they plan and operate.

Eliminating food deserts won’t help poorer Americans eat healthier (The Conversation) In the U.S., rich people tend to eat a lot healthier than poor people. Because poor diets cause obesity, Type II diabetes and other diseases, this nutritional inequality contributes to unequal health outcomes. The richest Americans can expect to live 10-15 years longer than the poorest. Many think that a key cause of nutritional inequality is food deserts – or neighborhoods without supermarkets, mostly in low-income areas. The narrative is that folks who live in food deserts are forced to shop at local convenience stores, where it’s hard to find healthy groceries. If we could just get a supermarket to open in those neighborhoods, the thinking goes, then people would be able to eat healthy. The data tell a strikingly different story…

And related…

Why community-owned grocery stores like co-ops are the best recipe for revitalizing food deserts (The Conversation)

Mowing urban lawns less intensely increases biodiversity, saves money and reduces pests (Phys.org)

Vatican calls Greta Thunberg ‘great witness’ of Church’s environmental teaching (Crux)

Research: Coyotes don’t reduce deer populations (Journal of Wildlife Management)

Bob Murray paid for science denial instead of his coal workers’ wages as company went bankrupt (Electrek)

Pinebrook, UT Net-Zero Electric Home including one electric vehicle (with two years of data)

New Indiana fish species discovered (well, in 2006, but this was a fun note from I-DNR on Facebook)

Tainted Dreams: Chernobyl survivor, organic farmer faces new contamination problem in Indiana (Indiana Environmental Reporter)

The coal industry is dying. Indiana should let go. (IndyStar) Indiana is about to lose a substantial chunk of its coal mining jobs in one fell swoop — a reminder that, despite the political forces propping it up, the coal industry is much less important to the state’s economy than you might think.

IPL to retire 2 coal-fired units in southern Indiana (WishTV)

NIPSCO fined $1 million for discriminating against 1,500-plus female, black job candidates, court records show (NWI Times)

Scientists have gotten predictions of global warming right since the 1970s (Vox) The first systematic review finds that climate models have been remarkably accurate.

Chicago among cities requiring spaces for apartment, condo dwellers to charge electric vehicles (GreenCarReports)

BloombergNEF: Average Battery Prices Fell To $156 Per kWh In 2019 (InsideEVs) According to BloombergNEF (BNEF) research, this year the average EV battery pack prices decreased to around $156/kWh, which is some 87% less than it was in 2010 (over $1,100/kWh).

The New Climate Math (Yale e360, by Bill McKibben) The Numbers Keep Getting More Frightening: Scientists keep raising ever-louder alarms about the urgency of tackling climate change, but the world’s governments aren’t listening. Yet the latest numbers don’t lie: Nations now plan to keep producing more coal, oil, and gas than the planet can endure.

Controversial Pesticides Are Suspected Of Starving Fish (NPR) There’s new evidence that a widely used family of pesticides called neonicotinoids, already controversial because they can be harmful to pollinators, could be risky for insects and fish that live in water, too.

Trump Pledged to Help Small Farms. Aid Is Going to Big Ones (Bloomberg) Half of the Trump administration’s latest trade-war bailout for farmers went to just a 10th of recipients in the program, according to an analysis of payments by an environmental organization. The study asserted that payouts have been skewed toward larger operations and wealthier producers.

This Solar Energy Company Fired Its Construction Crew After They Unionized (Vice News) Inspired by AOC’s Green New Deal, workers at Bright Power voted to form the first union at a solar power company in New York. On Monday, the company fired them.

What happens when the humble circuit breaker becomes a computer (Vox) The electricity system is evolving from analog to digital — and that’s great news for transitioning off of fossil fuels.

Update Given on Progress of the Yellow River, Kankakee River Basin Development Commission (WKVI)

the power of mission

I suppose it’s finally time I write about Tesla.

This fall we had all the 1st graders and Kindergarteners in Marshall County visit the campus as a part of Indiana Promise. I ran one of the education stations and focused on teaching them the basic idea of running our cars on sunlight. I had a mini solar panel and our Honda Clarity, a plug-in hybrid electric car.

I was quite surprised when on two occasions I had 5- and 6-year olds mention Tesla vehicles.

WHAT?! How does a Silicon Valley car company with $0 advertising budget have brand name recognition in the mouths of a 5 year olds from Marshall County, where only a dozen EVs can be found, let alone a Tesla?!!

Another strange story…

Why was Elon Musk, CEO of said company which was valued at billions of dollars, hanging out at one of their showrooms on New Year’s Eve, helping to deliver cars to customers desperate to meet a midnight tax deadline? Surely there were plenty of invites to fancy parties with other VIPs. Yes, even the CEO’s mother was there (which only reinforces the idea that deep down, everything we are striving for is really about gaining our parents’ approval!).

And one more…

Also at that showroom on New Year’s Eve day were volunteers from the local Tesla owners club. They were conducting orientations for new car purchasers. For free. On behalf of a for-profit multinational car company. On their day off.

Can you picture people on New Years Eve day crawling out from under their warm blanket and heading to their local Ford dealership to volunteer delivering cars to customer? No, you cannot picture it, because that would never happen.

Something about this entity is different, and it’s working.

Tesla remains 5+ years ahead of any other manufacturer in terms of EV technology and experience, taking over half of the U.S. EV sales (EV’s are about 1 in every 45 new car sales). They make 3 of the top 4 selling fully electric cars, and the quickest selling – the Model 3 sedan – outsells the nearest competing model (the Chevy Bolt) nearly 9-to-1. The cars’ software is updated over WiFi, constantly adding new features and abilities in the garage while the owners sleep. They’ve built an extensive charging network across several continents, extending even up into the Arctic Circle.

It has brand recognition with 5 year olds in Marshall County, gets its cars featured for free in trending hip hop videos, and has even police chiefs in small town Indiana buying the cars for their low operating cost and silent operation, and 8 exterior cameras that monitor the exterior of the car 24/7.

As a caveat, let me say no, of course no institution is perfect, nor any CEO.

But what is different about this institution? How can a start-up company come out of nowhere and change the game on legacy manufacturers with billions in capital that still haven’t been able to come close?

I think a lot has to do with it’s mission. It’s only 11 words long:

The founders laid out a “secret” master plan and published it on their website in 2006. They released “Master Plan, Part Deux” in 2016.

The logistics of what they have done have surely been painfully complicated. But simplicity was had in their master plan & the mission. In return, they’ve almost single-handedly helped disrupt one of the most polluting industries on the planet.

Whether a multinational corporation, a mom-and-pop pharmacy, a church, or an unincorporated enthusiasts club, it’s hard to discount the central importance of a simple & compelling mission.


PFAS: the “forever chemical” found in the bloodstream of 99% of Americans

I get e-mail updates whenever Steve Glass posts on his blog. Through participation in the Midwest-Great Lakes Chapter of the Society for Ecological Restoration, I’ve come to trust Steve’s leadership, wisdom, and discernment, to say nothing of his commitment to the stewardship of our common ecological home.

I was troubled to read his recent post, “Across the Nation, PFAS Are In America’s Drinking Water Supplies.” It is worth your time to read and summarizes the issue.

I had heard of PFAS because some of my in-laws live near a notorious PFAS source, a tannery near Grand Rapids, MI. I had no idea, however, how widespread these chemical were, or that they are essentially unregulated by the EPA.

From Steve, I learned that PFAS chemicals are commonly used in fire-fighting foam. I started adding foam to the water tank during our prescribed fires. Anyone who has tried to extinguish fire with water-only will soon see the night-and-day difference. This is especially true for mobile prescribed fire rigs, that can’t afford to use the massive volume that big truck tankers use to fight structure fire.

I went to check the label on my foam to see if it had PFAS. After learning how nasty PFAS has the potential to be, we would have no choice but to stop using it and find a way to dispose of it properly. As inconvenient as it would be, to continue to use it would be a violation of The Earth Charter, which states, “Prevent harm as the best method of environmental protection and, when knowledge is limited, apply a precautionary approach” (Principle II.6).

The manufacturer quickly responded to my inquiry and provided a data sheet with environmental information. It says that “Solberg Fire-Brake Class A foam concentrate does not contain any PFAS ingredients commonly found in Class B foam concentrates.”

So, that’s the good news.

The skeptic in me, however, considers human nature & the structure of incentives in statements like these. Therefore, I’m wary to take institutions and corporations at their word, especially if it would be inconvenient or expensive to admit the truth, and if the downside to this risk is significant ecological damage.

Why go to that trouble? As I was reminded by a friend, “the Earth deserves our diligence.”

As a rule, I prefer 3rd part verification for corporations, institutions, and the like. As they say, “In God we trust, all others bring data.” I’m going to bring this to the attention of several of my colleagues… if there are lingering concerns, we may need to seek out a 3rd party laboratory test to confirm this assertion.

In my research I also learned that fire-safety experts and fire-fighters’ unions are calling on governments for a PFAS ban in foams, for worker and ecological safety. Also, this scary headline from The Intercept: “The U.S. Military is spending millions to replace toxic firefighting foam with toxic firefighting foam” (I haven’t read this one yet).

Steve later followed up his first post with an update, linking to a study that found PFAS in 99% of America’s bloodstreams. He posted again more recently, noting that PFAS was also found in rainwater samples.

Steve notes some hopeful actions by the Madison, WI fire department, ceasing their use of PFAS-containing foam. “After all as one Madison fire fighter said, they live here too and drink the water and breath the same air as the rest of us.

Nationally, however, there is not yet cause for optimism.

Researchers at Northeastern University have been aggregating this PFAS news and connecting the dots. Through their work, I found the following:

*The Trump administration recently attempted to suppress a major environmental health study that showed exposure limits for PFAS should be 7 to 10 times lower than current EPA safety standards

*President Trump has also threatened to veto first ever congressional action on ‘forever chemicals’

In regards to ecological health & protection, the Federal situation is pretty dire at the moment (from PFAS to climate science to natural areas management).

One could hope that some action could be taken at local and state levels. Michigan is apparently stepping up. One could also bring these concerns to their local fire department, where fire-fighters and water-drinkers of all ages are likely at risk.

UPDATE: A reader informed me that Dr. Graham Peaslee at Notre Dame is conducting research on the presence of PFAS. See more here.