Voting for the environment and evergreens

November 4, 2012

Who are the candidates who will fight for the environment?

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for about two years, you know that the 2012 election finishes this Tuesday, November 6…no matter what kind of disinformation you might have received from your local or state officials. I don’t usually focus on politics on my show but this, in the words of Vice President Joe Biden, is a “big effing deal.”

And considering what’s at stake in this election, it’s absolutely mind boggling to me that the words “climate change” have barely been uttered on the national stage. Heck, in the literal and figurative wake of Superstorm Sandy, even Bloomberg Businessweek published a story this week titled It’s Global Warming, Stupid.

Even if you think that the lack of a national conversation about this issue is an indicator that both parties are equally to blame for inaction, you might want to look at this interview with Bill Nye (the Science Guy) at the Huffington Post. Esquire weighs in, too, in an article called 2012’s Incredible Disappearing Issue: Climate Change…and that was BEFORE Sandy slammed into the east coast.

It’s enough to send you running into the arms of the Green Party Candidate Jill Stein. At least she articulates a clear policy for dealing with climate change. It doesn’t get any clearer than this:

Jill Stein supports an annual fund of several hundred billion dollars to invest in clean renewable energy (wind, solar, geothermal, tidal), public transportation and organic agriculture. It will be funded via taxes on the windfall profits of fossil fuel companies, major cuts in the military budget, a rising fee on carbon emissions, and an end to subsidies on fossil fuels and nuclear power plants.

Stein and the Green Party will shut all oil, coal and nuclear plants by 2025. Dr. Stein will ban mountaintop removal coal mining, the hydrofracking of natural gas and the development of the tar sands oil and Keystone XL. Jill Stein will stop oil drilling off shore, on public lands, under the Great Lakes and in the Arctic.

Of course, while many politicians are dodging the issue, there are those who are actively in the business of disinformation. Popsci reports that

Ken Mampel, an unemployed, 56-year-old Floridian, is in large part the creator of the massive Hurricane Sandy Wikipedia page. He’s also the reason that, for nearly a week, the page had no mention of climate change.

As of this writing, there is a very short section called “Connection with global warming,” which is tagged with the disclaimer: ” The neutrality of this section is disputed . Relevant discussion may be found on Talk:Hurricane Sandy . Please do not remove this message until the dispute is resolved.” Gosh, I wonder who put THAT there?

Of course, climate change (or “climate variability,” as meteorologist Rick DiMaio likes to call it) is not the only enviromental issue out there. And there are several organizations keeping track of where candidates stand on various issues. One organization is Sierra Club, which has a Voter Guide for many states, including featured races in Illinois.

The League of Conservation Voters is another organization that has endorsed candidates based on their environmental positions. They even have a “Dirty Dozen” list of particularly bad candidates. And guess who from Illinois is on that list? None other than the despicable Joe Walsh, candidate in the 8th District. Good riddance to that poor excuse for a human being, let alone U.S. Congressman.

I’m pleased to have Jeff Gohringer, National Press Secretary for the League of Conservation Voters on the program this morning to help us walk through the good, the bad, and the bought-and-paid-for by oil, gas and coal interests.

Send me photos of your volunteer junipers!

In the latest issue of Chicagoland Gardening Magazine (if you don’t have a subscription, you should get one!) the featured writer for My Favorite Plant is none other than moi. If you read the article, you’ll know that I write about a juniper that self-seeded in my yard a few years ago. I let it grow, and now it’s…well, you can see the photo on the left. As I state in the article, the reason it’s my favorite is because it chose me, not the other way around.

I’m about 99% certain that it’s the relative common Juniperus virginiana. How did it get in my yard? As Susan Eyre from Rich’s Foxwillow Pines wrote to me, “The birds eat the berries and then poop out the seeds in your backyard! Good for bird food or bathtub gin.”

The November/December issue just came out, but already I have heard from people who have had similar experiences. One is the one-of-a-kind Christy Webber of Christy Webber Landscapes and Christy Webber Landscapes Farm & Garden Center, a great sponsor on my radio show. She told me that she has TWO volunteer junipers growing on her rooftop garden.

Then, two days ago, I received the photo under mine, on the left, from one of my favorite lawyers (is that an oxymoron?), Stephen Marcus, who is also a gardening buddy. He wrote:

I laughed out loud on seeing your article and pictures in Chicagoland Gardening.

As you’ll see, I also have been found by one of those creepy junipers. I have, somewhat guiltily, been harboring this little critter in my front yard for a number of years, not knowing its name or origin. Its deceptive appearance of fuzziness won me over, so I decided to live and let live.

But that’s when I thought I was the only one, and that my neighbors wouldn’t notice a juniper growing out of a silver maple. As a result of your article, I’m beginning to see a pattern. Perhaps they’ve hacked into the Master Gardener data base and deposited their progeny among those with the softest hearts for anything green. In any event, I’m going to be sleeping with one eye open.

Thanks for alerting the community to the insidious possibilities.

So I’ve decided to see how many other people have had the same thing happen to them. If you unexpectedly had a juniper show up in your landscape, send me a photo, preferably with you in it, too. It doesn’t count if you planted the shrub–it needs to have arrived on its own. As I receive the photos, I’ll create a “rogues’ gallery” of junipers on my website.

Speaking of evergreens, do you want a live one for the holidays?

I received an email from the Land Conservancy of McHenry County the other day, asking the musical question:

Do you love the idea of a fresh tree, but hate the mess and the thought of cutting down a perfectly good tree only to throw it away in a few weeks?

Can I see a show of hand? Now, I have been under the impression for a few years that this is an impractical solution to the problem of growing Christmas trees for ten years just to cut them down and–if all goes well–turning them into mulch.

But The Land Conservancy says that Glacier Oaks Nursery in Harvard is featuring holiday evergreens that can be planted in your landscape in the spring. Propagator Mary T. McClelland, who joins me on the show today, says they have White Pines and White Cedars, which are natives, as well as Blue and Green Spruce. They’re small enough to load into a car and you decorate them like a cut tree, keeping them well watered. After the holidays, move them into an unheated garage or enclosed porch until spring. Or you can heel them in the ground with hefty mulch layer around them.

Instructions for Care, Storage and Planting will be included with each evergreen, and McClellan says it’s a lot easier than it seems. Even better, Glacier Oaks Nursery donates 25% of each EVERGREEN to support land conservation in McHenry County.

You can get more information on the offer here. But be aware that the evergreens will be wrapped and ready for pick up on November 16 & 17 from 10am – 2pm at The Land Conservancy office in Woodstock. Click here to get a map of the area.

And speaking of native plants…

I headed over to Northerly Island on Saturday to pick up some natives for my community garden, Green on McLean (and probably a few for my own lot…shhhh.) You might be aware that an ecological restoration of the island is beginning this fall. In anticipation of that, the Chicago Park District, with the help of Greencorps Chicago, invited folks to come to a “Plant Rescue.”

I ended up with a car full of Little Bluestem, New England Aster, Gray Headed Coneflower, and a few other goodies.

In the future, I plan to do a show segment about the ecological work happening on a piece of ground that has the potential to be an environmental showplace in the City of Chicago.