Posts Tagged With: Science mag

“THERE IS ALWAYS A LITTLE BOY IN THE OLD MAN GONE FISHING.”

The title quote is from J. Calder Joseph.

I like Science Magazine and I recently read an article about children suffering from slower muscle development and coordination. It apparently has teachers and pediatricians worried enough that studies were conducted on 407,000 children from age five to ten. They blame over-cautious parenting, “Don’t get dirty.”  “Hold my hand when we take a walk.” “Get off the sidewalk, it will ruin your dress.”

Parents fearing predators, or accidents, or getting lost, is keeping kids inside, and not encouraging enough social play. The studies proved that play is educating and provides better development of the brain and muscles. When we came home from school, when we finished our chores, we had the whole neighborhood to ramble and get up a game.

I remember when my youngest daughter allowed her kids to bike around the block and a worried parent reported to her that she had seen her son on the other side of the block; what she considered risky behavior.

Stuart Brown, Psychiatrist says: “A lack of play should be treated like malnutrition: It’s a risk to your body and mind.”

This is a recent quote from 2017 and I don’t know where Stuart practices. But I do recall my boys playing on the side-walk or the grass,  snapping those little rolly bugs around like marbles. Or trying to catch lizards.  And my daughter coming home from the school playground (where she walked by herself,) with scraped knees and a torn dress.

Diane Furstenberg said: “My best creation is my children.”

I love that quote because it is my view of motherhood as well.

“Men want to improve only the world, but mothers want to improve their whole family;  a much harder task.” Harriet Freezer.

But the quotes I remember with humor, are those I grew up with. “Children Should Be Seen And Not Heard.”  That uttered when my folks were playing a rousing game of Smear. We could watch as long as we didn’t kitbitz.

“Little Pitchers Have Big Ears”  When the neighbor lady was visiting and the subject of pregnancy or other delicate matters would come up. Then it was, “Outside with you,” or “Go play”.  I don’t know the origin of those homilies  but it brings me in mind of the clever Americana  art work of Norman Rockwell with the tousled headed boy, sporting a black eye and a huge grin, waiting outside of the principle’s office.  Or the little girl hanging out the window of the car sticking out her tongue to the wind.

I think children had more fun growing up before computers and organized and automated everything.

 

 

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KUDZU COMING TO A THEATRE NEAR YOU, WEST COAST.

This invasive plant is swallowing the U.S. at the rate of 50,000 baseball fields per year

Kudzu growing on trees

Public Domain Wikimedia

Choking ecosystems, releasing carbon from the soil…

In the dictionary next to the definition of “invasive species”, they could show a photo of kudzu. Nothing seems to stop it: Above you can see it growing over trees in Atlanta, Georgia. Since it was first introduced to the U.S. at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia in 1876, it has been swallowing the country from an epicenter in the South-East at the rate of about 50,000 baseball fields per year, occupying an estimated 3,000,000 hectares today. Kudzu can grow up to 60 feet per season, or about one foot per day.Kudzu is extremely bad for the ecosystems that it invades because it smothers other plants and trees under a blanket of leaves, hogging all the sunlight and keeping other species in its shade. It can also survive in low nitrogen areas and during droughts, allowing it to out-compete native species that don’t have those superpowers. The only other plants that can compete with kudzu are other invasive species, so that doesn’t really help…

Wikimedia/Public Domain

The great kudzu invasion all started out with a mistake: The Soil Erosion Service and Civilian Conservation Corp intentionally planted it to control soil erosion in the state of Pennsylvania. It was then used in the South East to to provide shade to homes, and as an ornamental species.

But as you can see in the map above, the result is more like a fast-growing cancer than anything else. How can you get rid of a plant that covers around a quarter of the country?

Wikimedia/CC BY-SA 3.0

As if that wasn’t bad enough, kudzu also screws with the soil’s ability to sequester carbon, thus contributes to climate change.

In a paper published in the journal New Phytologist, plant ecologist Nishanth Tharayil and graduate student Mioko Tamura, of Clemson University, show that kudzu invasion results in an increase of carbon released from the soil organic matter into the atmosphere. Tharayil and Tamura investigated the impact of a kudzu invasion in native pine forests. (source)

The most Earth-friendly way to fight kudzu seems to be with goats, but it would take quite a lot of them to get through all the kudzu in the U.S. Using heavy metal poisons on kudzu renders the soil unuseable for a prolonged period. But, goats are the answer to many invasive species. Goats are not always practical, but rent-a-goat projects are available locally. I guess my message is we must think about preventing the sale of invasive species.  Nurseries should be asked to voluntarily not sell invasive species or be required not to sell invasive species. Invasive plants are everybody’s problem. What frightens me even more is that little green dot on the map showing a spot in the state of Oregon? A monster is coming to the West Coast.

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