Regulars and Shorts

Green Bits: May 2014

By Pax Rasmussen

New ideas for a healthier, more sustainable future.

Fix your lawn, without the nasty

Having lawn problems, but don’t want to resort to the dangerous chemicals most Americans spray about? published this handy guide, and their solutions are great.

For example, got clover? Just leave it alone (clover is good, for lots of reasons!).

How about dandelions? Same fix (or use a little vinegar or corn gluten if you really don’t like them)—just please do pick them before they go to seed, okay?

Crabgrass? Gotta dig it out by the roots—and set your mower blade higher to keep it from coming back. Bare patches you fix with nematodes (or a walkway, if too much traffic is the issue).

Brown grass is usually caused by too little water (in which case, maybe you should consider xeriscaping, or replacing your lawn with a drought-tolerant variety) or lack of nitrogen (again, clover is the fix!).

Mildew is caused by overwatering (although we usually don’t have this problem in Utah).

They recommend talking to your neighbors (or digging a ditch between your lawns) if they’re using excessive pesticides or herbicides—which is good advice, but my recommendation is just to send pizzas and strippers over until they knock it off.

From the annals of No Shit Sherlock: Geohacking is a bad idea

Last month, researchers at the Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research in Kiel, Germany, wrote in Nature Communications that geoengineering efforts—projects designed to change the world on a large level—would not only be ineffective, but addictive and potentially catastrophic.

For example, ocean upwelling (bringing deep cold water up to cool the surface of the ocean) would work short-term, but would “unbalance the global heat budget,” causing the oceans to warm overall, just delaying the inevitable warming.

Creating huge mirrors to reflect the sun’s rays back into space would alter rainfall patterns, and irrigating and reforesting deserts could change wind patterns, altering tree growth in other places.

Even worse: If any of these efforts are then stopped, “rapid warming occurs.”

Models show that once we begin tinkering with global effects on a large scale, we won’t be able to stop without dire consequences.

Looks like the only solution is to try to stop global warming by reducing carbon emissions. But that’s no fun, since we’d have to radically curb consumption!

Ogden is down with the bees

Ogden has recently reversed its previously bee-hostile policies, adopting changes to the municipal code and creating an ordinance to permit residential beekeeping.

As an on-and-off-again beekeeper myself, I can attest that having a hive or two in the backyard is safe, fun, and makes a noticeable impact on garden productivity—not to mention helping avert the bee die-off that threatens our food security nationwide.

Ogden mayor Richard Hyer says he expects to see benefits including an increase in bee-related products and

farmers markets and local shops because of the new law, not to mention the fact that rogue beekeepers can come out of the closet.

Bike or drive: Which is safer?

Umbra Fisk over at Grist took on this question—and like most places I’ve seen this discussed, it’s a hard question to answer. Very few cyclists are killed each year in this country (in 2011, just 677, compared 32,885 motorist fatalities), but cycling also accounts for just 1% of all ‘trips’ made.

So it’s hard to say, based on just these numbers, whether or not biking is safer.

But Umbra aptly points out that when you factor in the positive effects of cycling on your health, finances, and the environment, “the slight risk involved is far outweighed by the benefits.” I couldn’t agree more.

This article was originally published on May 4, 2014.