May 6 , 2012
The fight against dumping waste in Chicago continues…
About two months ago, I learned about an ordinance, proposed by 9th Ward Alderman Anthony Beale, that would lift a moratorium on landfill dumping within the city limits of Chicago. That moratorium has been in effect since 2005 and was supposed to last until 2025.
In a bit of tortured logic, Beale says that he’s doing it to protect the people of his ward. He points to waste hauler Land and Lakes’ effort to legally grab Chicago property that was once an active landfill. The property is on the Chicago-Dolton border along 138th Street. Land and Lakes wants to annex it to the Dolton site, which is still an active landfill. Beale, fearing that the courts will allow the annexation, was quoted by WBBM Radio as saying, “If they’re going to be able to continue to dump, let’s see what agreement we can get where the community can benefit from it at the end of the day.”
The latest twist in this saga occurred in Springfield last week, when State Sen. Don Harmon introduced Senate Bill 3728, which would prohibit new or expanded Cook County landfills. But just as quickly, the bill was pulled from the Senate Environmental Committee hearing, which was cancelled and the vote delayed. Word is that the waste industry is putting full court pressure on this one, especially because the bill is receiving support by environmental and community groups. Other key legislators behind the proposed ban are State Rep. Constance Howard and State Rep. Thaddeus Jones.
The next step is a press conference to show support for preserving the moratorium on landfill dumping in Cook County and Chicago on Monday morning at 10:00 a.m. at the James R. Thompson Center at 100 W. Randolph. Among the attendees will be
State Rep. Constance A. Howard (34 th district)
Ald. John Pope (10 th Ward)
Southeast Environmental Task Force
South Chicago Neighborhood House
People for Community Recovery
Illinois Environmental Council
Environmental Law & Policy Center
Chicago Recycling Coalition.
I will be there representing the Chicago Recycling Coalition and, of course, myself. Today, I welcome to the show Tom Shepherd from the Southeast Environmental Task Force and Mel Nickerson from the Environmental Law and Policy Center.
You can get involved, too, by mailing this post card to the Chicago City Council, telling them not to undo thirty years of environmental progress with one misguided law. You can also go to No Chicago Landfills on Facebook and Like them.
One man’s fight against rampant pollen pollution
Did you know that it is illegal to plant or sell a male juniper in Albuquerque, New Mexico? I’ll give you a hint. The ban is under their city Pollen Control Ordinance. I think I’ll let Tom Ogren explain it himself, from his website Allergy-Free Gardening:
All junipers (commonly called “cedars”) are separate-sexed (dioecious) and each one will be either a male plant, or a female. The female junipers produce juniper berries but NO pollen. The males always produce pollen. For some very dumb reason, modern horticulture has propagated and sold hundreds of millions of male juniper trees and shrubs. In city after city almost all the juniper bushes planted are now male clones. All of them, like the male tree in this video, all of them will release huge amounts of allergenic pollen each year. Often they will bloom twice, in spring and fall, and will shed pollen each time.
I don’t know about you, but I’m still coughing and sneezing, just from WATCHING that video.
I’ve know about Tom Ogren for a number of years, since I interviewed him at Gargantua Radio Down the Dial. At that time, I was struck by how much sense his ideas made. I haven’t changed my mind at all about that, even though some of my horticultural friends have looked at me askance. Of course, they do that anyway.
But back to Tom. He earned his MS degree studying the plant-allergy connection and how plant flowering systems differ. Along the way, he would come across advice from lung associations or allergy groups that suggested no one plant certain trees or shrubs–plants such as yew, yew pines, willows, ash, mulberry, Pistache, pepper trees, junipers, maples, box elders, poplars, aspens, and more. Why? They triggered severe allergic responses.
More from Allergy-Free Gardening:
Eventually it occurred to him that since so many of these “very worst” plants were dioecious, separate-sexed, where one tree would be all male, and another all female, that in truth only the males produced pollen. He also concluded that since female plants never produced any pollen, that they were the ones that would be most truly allergy-free. He was the first to notice and then write and publish about how the sex of plants influenced pollen allergies.
After some years of research Tom started to photograph flowers of suspect trees and shrubs. Rather suddenly he discovered that although it was easy to find plenty of males to photograph, female landscape plants were surprisingly rare. He found this same situation in city after city. This important discovery, now termed “botanical sexism” in scholarly journals, exists worldwide in most modern landscapes.
Of course, it’s not like the Republican “War on Women,” which is about taking away hard-earned rights. This war is more of a “War on Fruit.” You see, in America, we’re neatness freaks. We can’t stand the thought of messy fruits, seeds, flowers or seedpods that come from the female plants. My God! We might have to rake or sweep them up! We’d rather create an epidemic of asthma!
So Tom now finds himself north of the border. He has been hired by Johnson & Johnson to do an allergy audit of the five biggest Canadian cities this spring, based on how allergenic their current landscapes are. There’s also a follow up–Tom is grading them, based on a projection into the future on what (if any) changes they’re making in tree and shrub selection per allergies/asthma.
Here’s what the Canadian press is saying about his work:
And this morning, I welcome him back to my show to talk about plants and allergies.