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Weekly Environmental Updates
Environmental programs take a significant hit in the new administration's proposed federal budget. The EPA alone would lose one-third of its annual budget with deep cuts to climate, clean air, and environmental restoration programs. The Departments of Energy, the Interior, and Agriculture are also facing cuts. The budget still has to pass muster with Congress, although experts say passage of the entire plan are slim.
Spring may not only be coming earlier but may also be lasting longer, according to scientists. Recent research shows that snow cover has declined significantly in the Northern Hemisphere over last 30 years and that warmer winters with less snow result in a longer lag time between spring events and a more protracted "vernal window". A longer spring has implications for many events, including bird migration, agriculture, and human activities.
Dogs can get vaccinated for Lyme disease, but humans can't, although an effective and safe vaccine was developed in the 1990's and distributed in 1998. Because some people who received it claimed to develop arthritis as a result and filed lawsuits, the vaccine was withdrawn four years later. While clinical data did not back up the claims and tick-borne diseases are on the rise, opponents of the vaccine continue to say they will fight any efforts to bring it back.
Cover crops, which hold soil in place and help it to retain nutrients after harvests, are not usually planted by farmers due to the extra work involved, despite the recommendations of environmental planners. However, Maryland has been successful in persuading farmers to plant them by paying them up to $90.00 per acre. Now over 50 percent of all corn fields along the Eastern Shore have cover crops.
Consumers who use sustainable seafood guides to select their dinner often end up more confused than before due to the number of variables involved and lack of knowledge among restaurants and fish sellers. The guides vary in their recommendations, with some lacking detail and others involving complex value judgements. Consumers can cut through the confusion by familiarizing themselves with a few types of seafood and limiting their choices to domestic sources whenever possible.
Therapeutic gardens in nursing homes and hospitals can be designed to be safe, say three landscape architects in response to concerns among hospital administrators that the gardens can spread disease among people with impaired immune systems. While toxic bacteria can be present in soil and Legionnaire's Disease was once passed via a water fountain, the benefits of such gardens are said to outweigh the risks. Utilizing safe and non-injurious plants, monitoring water quality, and removing standing water are among the methods
Roman Hills