Climate change and our gardens
THUNDER BAY, ON ------ February 12, 2012 ---As passionate gardeners, we keep wondering how the changing climate is affecting our gardens. (We last wrote about climate change in this space during the heat of summer in 2010.) We therefore noticed when the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) updated its plant hardiness zone map on January 25, 2012. Throughout much of the U.S., the map is a half-zone (5 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than its 1990 predecessor.
Gardeners rely on plant hardiness zone maps ("PHM"), which set out the different climate zones where specific trees, shrubs and flowers are likely to survive. The new U.S. map includes 13 zones (up from 11).
At least in part, this change results from data being collected at many more weather stations than the predecessor map (1990), and over a longer, more current time period (i.e., 30 years, from 1976 to 2005 as opposed to the original 13 years). As in the past, the map was developed using the coldest annual temperature at various locations. As well, more sophisticated methods were used, including calculations that considered factors like elevation changes, proximity to large bodies of water and terrain position. Map users can locate more relevant data for their zones by entering their postal codes. The 1990 map included Canada and Mexico; the 2012 version, alas, does not. read more......>
What's toxic in consumer products? A law we should have
THUNDER BAY, ON - April 16, 2010 - Labels on consumer products like cosmetics contain a long list of ingredients, usually in teeny tiny print, in English and in French. Unfortunately, most of us have no idea how to pronounce the multi-syllable ingredients, or why they are in the product, or whether they are toxic. We choose our lipsticks based on colour, not ingredients…and certainly not on the toxicity of those ingredients. read more...>
I thought that I would never see…my neighbour hacking at my (our?) tree
THUNDER BAY, ON - November 15, 2009 - Considering how important trees are to our physical and mental health, it's a scandal and a shame that the law does so little to protect them.
We blogged (at http://envirolaw.com) that neighbours can cut tree branches that overhang onto their property, but cannot enter their neighbour's property to do so without permission. (This got lots of reaction from readers.) This may be a pretty straightforward application of property law, but it doesn't make a lot of sense in the real world. Trees are living beings, not artificial structures, and may not survive if one neighbour whacks branches and roots of the tree, from his/her side of the property boundary. Even if the tree survives, in the short run, it may become lopsided and dangerous, especially in the increasingly intense storms that climate change brings. Once the tree has been made dangerous, either property owner (or the municipality) may be able to demand that the tree be cut down. read more...>
Smog, smog alerts and human health
THUNDER BAY, ON - July 15, 2009 - How big a health issue is smog? Green Ontario claims that smog kills 1800 Ontarians each year.1 Health Canada analysed air pollution in relation to deaths in eight Canadian cities, and, (considering both short- and long-term effects), concluded that air pollution causes 5,900 deaths each year in these cities alone.2 On smoggy days, emergency room visits, hospital admissions and medication use all go up. As usual, the most vulnerable are children, the elderly, and those with underlying lung and heart problems. Pets, with their relatively fast respiration and small body size, suffer too. read more...>