Plants on the Move, Absolved Septics, and Kidney Disease and Compassion in Sri Lanka

Some Wednesday Nooze for your reading pleasure: First, Rebecca Williams with Michigan Public Radio's Environment Report takes a look at climate change's effects on the local flora:

Plant Zones Shifting North as Winters Warm

If you’re thinking of planting trees or shrubs in your yard... the U.S. Department of Agriculture has guidelines for what to plant depending on where you live. It’s called the Plant Hardiness Zone Map.  It’s based on average minimum winter temperatures.  So you can use it to decide if the kind of tree you want to plant will make it through the winter without freezing to death.

This past January, the USDA updated this map for the first time since 1990. 

But one researcher argues it’s already out of date... Read more.


Next, Craig Welch with The Seattle Times reveals the results of a long-debated issue in the Puget Sound region:

Review of science lets people off the hook for Hood Canal fish kills

For years, scientists and researchers pointed to nutrients from septic systems as a leading cause of the massive fish kills that repeatedly wiped out sculpins, rockfish, perch, sea stars and dozens of other marine creatures in Hood Canal.

But the most comprehensive review ever of existing research on Hood Canal has come to a different conclusion.

A new joint report by the federal Environmental Protection Agency and the state Department of Ecology determined the link between human activity and the hooked fjord's low-oxygen problems wasn't solid enough to warrant setting new strict pollution limits... Read more.


And two fantastic pieces from Rhitu Chatterjee with PRI's The World, reflecting not only on ailment-causing chemicals, but the lessons the process of reporting on this story taught her about compassion and journalism's role:

Sri Lanka: Kidney AIlment Linked to Farm Chemicals

Tucked away in Sri Lanka’s North Central Province is the village of Halmillawetiya. A pebbled path connects small houses of brick and mud set among coconut palms and other tropical trees.

Sampath Kumarasinghe, 21, lives here with his widowed mother and extended family.

I find him relaxing on a wooden bench in the front yard. His mother, P. Dingirimenike, sits close by, talking and cutting areca nuts, which people chew like tobacco. The sounds of a radio waft from the house.

Kumarasinghe greets me with a “hello.”

I ask him how he is doing. “I’m fine,” he says.

But you can tell he isn’t fine. Despite the brutal heat, he’s wearing a wool hat. He speaks softly, and his movements are slow for someone his age... Read and hear more.

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Here Rhitu writes on Frontline News' Global Health blog, reflecting on the human side of journalism:

Just Trying to Get By

As a journalist living and working in a foreign country (I’m an Indian citizen, but live in the United States), I like to think of myself as being culturally sensitive and aware regardless of where I’m reporting from. But I hadn’t realized that the pressures of being a journalist can dampen some of that sensitivity. At least that’s what happened on my recent trip to Sri Lanka, where I faced a situation very different from what I expected... Read more.