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How Can Going Green Benefit Michigan?

Jan 16, 2008
You may scoff at the notion of going green or being more eco-friendly in your life. This is Michigan, we don't have smog or population problems - why do I need to go green? You may ask.

The answer is easy. We all need to live a little greener if we want our children and future generations to have any decent kind of life. Sure, Michigan doesn't have smog like LA or crowding like NY, but we produce trash and waste in smaller ratios. Ratios that are affecting the environment right now.

For instance, in mid-November of 2007, I was looking outside and noticed a blue blur fly by the window. It landed on the deck and I did a double take. It was an Eastern bluebird! I got right on the phone with my mom, and said guess what's in my yard. When I told her, she said, "what color was its chest?" I knew it sounded impossible, but I knew it was a bluebird.

A few weeks later, while talking to a bird professional at a local bird supply store, he said he heard other people in central Michigan were seeing strange birds later in the year too. Why? Climate changes. In southern Michigan, some robins and normal migrating birds aren't leaving. The air is milder and they can manage to live in southern Michigan year-round.

This might not sound like a big deal until you look at the larger picture. Remember when Canadian geese used to fly south for the winter? They don't really anymore, since there are so many man made water areas and parks where they can stay. They have stayed and multiplied in such large numbers, they are becoming a nuisance. The goose poop alone is a problem for some park managers.

Other problems happen where the birds are supposed to migrate. The bug populations that are controlled by large flocks of winter birds aren't reduced like normal, and grow even larger for the following year. Soon, bugs and small critter populations that were normally eaten by migrating birds will flourish.

For the birds who choose not to migrate like normal, it could be detrimental. While overall the weather may be milder, there still is a great chance in central and northern Michigan that a great cold snap can occur. A cold snap can easily wipe out a group of birds such as bluebirds, robins, wrens or water birds normally suited to milder weather.

I watched a pair of Carolina wrens at my feeders one fall until the beginning of a mild December. We had little snow, and then the day temperatures were moderate. The winter kept on being mild and I would see the little wrens at my feeders with cardinals, juncos and blue jays. Then a cold snap hit, with temps below zero for four days. I didn't see the wrens after that. I held out hope that they had just traveled south quickly, but I knew most likely they had frozen somewhere.

So, for Michigan residents, the decision to be more eco-friendly might not seem like a big deal, but it is. To the birds, the flowers and the wildlife that lives right outside your door. They are depending on you to reuse, reduce and recycle when possible. For both their sake and the sake of future Michiganders growing up. You don't need to live in a big city to care about your surroundings. Being proactive where the environment is concerned will save us big in the long run.
About the Author
Tina Musial is the Editor of Green and Natural: Great Lakes Region newsletter which is full of helpful ideas for busy people to learn how to live a little greener and cook a little more organically. Visit the website at http://www.greenandnatural.org for articles, tips, products, recipes and news related to a greener lifestyle for busy families.
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