If you have read my last three articles you probably feel a lot like I do. Overwhelmed. Deeply saddened. Outraged. I mean….really really outraged. Don’t let that anger give way to despair in the face of such a complex and seemingly insurmountable problem. Channel that anger into action. Here are 10 things you can do to help fix our water quality woes.
At this point we know our water quality in Florida has been declining for some time, both inland and along our coasts. Just in my lifetime I have seen the bays and Gulf waters change slowly over time. I have watched our seagrass beds shrink and completely disappear in some places. I have watched our mangrove fringed shoreline be replaced with houses and condos and businesses. Where once there were thriving scallop populations, today they are all but gone. It’s the same story for clams and good oyster beds, leopard and spotted eagle rays just to name a few. The water in the bay used to only get murky in the deep summer months, when the shallower grasses naturally die off from the rising water temperatures and decay, adding their nutrients to the natural rhythm of the bay. And then there is red tide.
Let me start by saying that nothing…I mean nothing can prepare you for the way this stuff smells. The sheer putridness of it makes every cell in you scream for you to get away from it. In areas where the wind and currents break the surface tension it is a bright neon green, varying in thickness. When it collects in stagnant areas it grows into thick mats and takes on an ashy light blue and green tint, with small pillars reaching above the surface spewing light tufts of powdery toxins that keep growing, multiplying and amassing on the surface. It grows so quickly at times you can actually watch this process happen. The stench gets into your sinuses and throat, you can taste it for hours later.
This article is part one in a series designed to address the pollution issues facing our environment, our health and our economy. My desire is to inform, educate and inspire action of all Floridians to take action and demand solutions sooner rather than later. Thanks for reading…Rose Lipke.
Imagine for a moment this medical nightmare. You go in for a knee replacement, routine right? Not when you end up contracting a post-surgical MRSA infection while in the hospital. You spend the next three years hospitalized on a cocktail of antibiotics desperately trying to eliminate the infection and to try to save your leg. All the different high-powered antibiotics are wreaking havoc on all the systems of your body. The effort to save your leg fails and you end up having your leg amputated from the knee down. The years of medications to try and eliminate the deadly MRSA infection have literally killed your kidneys, and you are left overweight, diabetic and in a wheelchair.
“Follow your dreams” they say. We are inundated with these types of inspirational messages everywhere we go. How many of us truly delve into this ideal with both feet and a come-what-may attitude of faith? I dare say not many. I suppose it depends on your personal definition of “dream” now doesn’t it?
As we make the ascension into 2018, we look back at 2017 with wonder at the exciting events that took place. Nationally, we witnessed a new presidency and a myriad of opinions and conversations that have ensued. Floridians and those in the tropics braced for a Category 5 hurricane when Irma blew in but thankfully, for many, it was a quieter event. We pray for those in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands who are still suffering. Locally we witnessed the generous spirit and collective energy of a community that comes together repeatedly to support one another. When word gets out that a member of our Sarasota family is in need, the masses unite. Yes, we are blessed to live in not only a beautiful, tropical paradise but one that beats with a wide-open, generous heart.
The New Year is here and with it comes all the things we will resolve to do in the upcoming year. Quit smoking. Eat healthier. Exercise more. You know, the usual things we promise ourselves year after year with varying results and little sticking power. In the days leading up to our big family Christmas Eve get-together, my daughter and I were talking about the things we loved most about the holidays. At the top of this list were two things. The gathering together of family and the ease with which goodwill towards friends, neighbors and strangers seems to flow so naturally at Christmastime. Then she asked the simple question “Why can’t we carry that spirit with us throughout the whole year? Wouldn’t that be beautiful?” Good question. Why can’t we? Why not make THAT our New Year’s Resolution?
America is a consumer nation, there is no doubt about that. There is no other time of the year that this fact is more obvious than during the holidays. We all pretty much know that Americans will spend an average of $900 extra dollars this season, but did you know we will generate 25 million pounds of extra garbage between Thanksgiving and New Year’s? That’s in addition to normal monthly household garbage. No wonder we feel the need to leave a 12 pack of beer atop the pile of boxes and bags of wrapping paper heaped up on our curb on the first garbage day after Christmas. A few of the stats jumped out at me, and I’ve come up with some alternatives that can not only keep some cash in your pocket, but will go a long way to keeping our garbage men and the planet happy.