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Archive for April, 2018|Monthly archive page

Rounding up a decade of Deer In Headlines

In Dayton Ohio News, Entertainment, Local News, News Media, Opinion, Politics, Religion, Technology, Uncategorized on April 16, 2018 at 8:12 am

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

I wasn’t quite sure how to start this week’s edition except to just come out with it. The week of April 30, 2018, will be the final print edition of Deer In Headlines. After 10 years, it’s time for me to focus on something new. I greatly appreciate the loyalty of my readers and the opposing views and letters of praise I’ve received over the years. If just one person each week looked at the world just a little differently and appreciated anything new, I’ve accomplished my goal.

I started this column to offer my readers a look at subjects from all sides, rarely giving a hint of my personal opinion, although it was evident when I chose for it to be.  But today clear, logical viewpoints no longer have value. People seem to listen only to blowhards, the ignorant, and people who would rather spew hate than kindness. That’s why I have decided to focus on more positive projects, out of the public eye.

This is not a decision I’ve come to lightly, in fact, I have waivered numerous times in my deliberations about it. Over the last decade, I’ve offered a look at politics, religion, education, science, family, and even given you a glimpse into my personal life as I cared for my parents.

We live in volatile times and some have argued that now is when we need a clearer, more rational voice in the media. They may be right, but mine is simply not loud enough to be heard above all the noise of anger, fear, and ignorance out there.

There is a lot of negativity out there and I have worked hard to bring you thoughtful content. I’ve always hoped you’d take away something from the effort, even if, especially if, you didn’t agree with me.

I’ve always said I like to surround myself with smart people who disagree with me because it means I am forced to examine my own convictions, and I hope I’ve done that for you from time to time. If you’ve enjoyed my work, thank you. I appreciate your time and loyalty. If you haven’t, then I’m not sure why you’re even reading this, but, thank you anyway.

For more than 500 editions and in some 360,000 words, I have shared my observations of the world around us. I’ve found that most people are good and decent and try to do their best to improve the world around them. I’ve also seen some ugly things in researching these pieces, information I kind of wish I had never learned. As they say, ignorance is bliss, but I’m afraid I don’t operate that way.

I will continue my work quietly, however, in the background, making a difference by other means. I serve on charitable boards of directors, care for my family, and work to affect change in more concrete ways.

The world is a mess and our country is too, but I can’t do anything about it in the rail column of a newspaper because the people who could make a difference simply don’t want to listen. Still, as ugly as it can seem at times, the world is also a beautiful place, one of a kind – a spinning ball of life making its way around the sun, year after year, as our galaxy moves through the vast emptiness of space.

It was here millions of years before us, and it’ll be here millions of years after we’ve gone. We are but renters and if I were the landlord, I wouldn’t give back the deposit. But that’s a discussion for another time.

As you can see, I’m not done with my opinions quite yet and there are two editions to go. Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be summing up the last decade in a look back at a few of my predictions for politics, newsmakers, and various other areas I’ve touched on over the years. I hope you’ll join me in these last editions, and thank you again.

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Plastic and the Great Pacific Garbage Patch

In Economy, Environment, Health, history, Media, National News, Opinion, Politics, Science on April 4, 2018 at 10:43 am

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

Did you know that somewhere in the Pacific Ocean there is a gigantic patch of garbage that’s been growing for decades? According to a three-year study reported in Scientific Reports this month, it has grown to approximately 1.6 million square kilometers, 16 times larger than previous estimates. To put that in more familiar terms, it’s more than twice the size of the State of Texas.

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch – Photo courtesy http://www.critfc.org/

Scientists used a variety of methods to measure the patch including aircraft outfitted with special sensors, crisscrossing more than 300 square kilometers of the ocean’s surface. Surveys estimate that half of the so-called, “Trash Isle” is made up of discarded, or “ghost,” fishing nets. About 20% of it is debris from the Japan tsunami of 2011, and the bulk of the trash is made up of large, plastic objects.

That’s a lot of garbage. For most people, it’s an incomprehensible scale and it’s just floating around out there. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch has been on the radar of scientists and environmentalists since the 1970s.

Plastic is one of the lightest and most versatile manufacturing materials ever created. To say that it’s durable could be an understatement. But, while that can be an advantage when considering consumer products, it’s a detriment once the product is discarded.

For example, in the ocean, it can take more than two decades for a plastic shopping bag to decompose. Those disposable plastic water bottles everyone carries around are estimated to take 450 years to degrade, and the fishing line could be out there for more than six centuries. It could actually take a lot longer. The fact is, there is no way to know for certain. Click to watch the NBC News story.

What is certain, however, is that the world’s tenants need to do something to reduce the amount of plastic dumped into Earth’s oceans and slow the growth of these trash isles. Otherwise, they’re just going to keep getting bigger.

Managing the trash not only helps to protect the environment and marine life but the economy of regions affected by its presence. Fishing is more hazardous in these areas and tourism can be dramatically affected – who wants to go to a beach where this junk is regularly washing ashore? For some areas in the Pacific, tourism accounts for the bulk of their income.

While politicians, diplomats, and environmentalists debate toward no useful resolution, there are things that individuals can do to help reduce the problem. Plastic straws, grocery bags, and one-use water bottles are reportedly some of the items most frequently tossed in the garbage can.

Recycle plastic products whenever possible. Instead of dropping a water bottle in the trash, use recycling receptacles marked for plastic and other consumer packaging.

First, water bottles. Nothing’s worse than a flat of those thin, flimsy discount store water bottles. So, why use them? If every person in every gym in America chose a reusable water bottle instead of a throw-away, just one time, there would be thousands less plastic bottles in the landfills and tossed into the ocean.

Reusable water bottles are inexpensive, as little as $2.00, and can last for years. Hint – go with a metal bottle instead of plastic but avoid ceramic-lined thermal bottles for daily hydration. They’re heavy and break easily if dropped.

Next, when a store offers the option between paper and plastic shopping bags, choose paper. If plastic is preferred, keep them and reuse them as many times as possible. Try to avoid using them as trash bags, however, because they can slow the decomposition of their contents.

A better option is reusable cloth or nylon shopping bags. It might take some planning to get into the habit of reusing them, but they are much stronger than their plastic counterparts and they’re washable.

Lastly, drinking straws. Strange as it may sound, some cities in America are banning the use of plastic straws; Malibu, Seattle, Fort Myers, and Miami Beach, to name a few. Paper straws are inexpensive and decompose easily. One downside, most don’t bend, so if that’s a required feature, reusable silicone straws might be a better option.

None of these will totally solve the plastic waste problem. But it can certainly make a difference if everyone does his or her part.

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. More at deerinheadlines.com.