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Examiner
  • Lynn Youngblood: Drought has taken its toll

  •  This is a good time of year to reflect on how we have done as a nation and personally with energy consumption, and how the wildlife and other natural resources have fared in the region.

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  •  This is a good time of year to reflect on how we have done as a nation and personally with energy consumption, and how the wildlife and other natural resources have fared in the region.
    According to Kevin Begos of the Huffington Post, “the amount of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere in the U.S. has fallen dramatically to its lowest level in 20 years, and government officials say the biggest reason is that cheap and plentiful natural gas has led many power plant operators to switch from dirtier-burning coal.” What is really remarkable about this is that it happened as a result of market forces rather than direct government action against carbon dioxide.
    The U.S. Energy Information Agency said energy-related carbon dioxide emissions for the first four months of this year fell to about 1992 levels.
    “The trend is good. We like it,” said Janice Nolen, an American Lung Association spokeswoman. “We are pleased that we’re shifting away from one of the dirtiest sources to one that’s much cleaner. It’s been a real surprise to see this kind of shift. We certainly didn’t predict it.”
    So how did you do with your personal carbon footprint in 2012? Were you able to reduce your gasoline consumption? To determine your carbon footprint check out www.terrapass.com.
    The drought has been hard on Midwestern farmers, but it turns out conditions proved favorable for many ground-nesting birds. Marshall Griffin of KCUR-FM cited the Missouri Department of Conservation in reporting that the last two hot, dry summers have sparked a sharp rise in the state’s turkey population. The fall turkey firearm harvest this year was up 20 percent from 2011.
    Bobwhite quail, whose numbers declined for several years in the heavy spring rains, also have a good hatch in dryer conditions.
    Max Alleger, Missouri Department of Conservation’s grassland bird coordinator, puts the drought into perspective.
    “The dry conditions probably led to fewer insects being produced, and probably led to production of fewer seeds and grains which are needed by quail as a food source this time of year, so it was a mixed bag,” he said.
    Griffin also reported that 2012 was a good year for Missouri’s honeybees.
    According to John Timmons, head of the Missouri State Beekeepers Association, the early spring played a role in increased honey production.
    “And then (there was) a good pattern, and a good balance, of dry periods and wet periods ... the floral sources had a lot of opportunity to produce lots of nectar, and as a result the bees make lots of honey,” says Timmons. He goes on to say that by the time the drought really hit and shut down the floral sources, it didn’t really matter because the bees had already made most of their honey.
    Page 2 of 2 - All things considered, it appears that in terms of energy and environment, the nation and the region did pretty well in 2012. I hope you did, too, and that you will find ways to live a little more Green in 2013.
    Reach Lynn Youngblood at TheGreenSpace@sbcglobal.net.
     
     
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