May 24, 2020

Earth Day At 50 — A Planetary Warning

In 1905, a year before he died, Nathaniel Southgate Shaler published a highly regarded book that advocated “a change in the point of view from which we commonly regard the resources of the earth.” In Man and Earth the famed Harvard scientist described the sun, clouds, soil, and water as a kind of life-giving membrane, a placenta, from which Mother Earth sustains all living creatures. Mindful of the coal dug out of the Appalachians, timber …

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One Cause of Covid-19 Pandemic: Trump Collapsed the Stable World Order

A savage civic war is coming when the virus danger fades and political hand-to-hand combat begins. Make no mistake about its danger to lives, communities, and the nation. Trump will be hailed as a hero for saving lives. The right will insist the response was overblown and unnecessary “fake news.” Democrats will be attacked as using the pandemic to foster a bigger, more intrusive government in American life. Progressives will be blamed for being weak …

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Trump’s Reckless Bid For History and Re-Election

At this point the Covid-19 peril is well understood. The metrics are plain. On March 15, two days after President Trump declared a national emergency,  the United States counted 3,100 cases and over 50 deaths. Today: 49,594 cases and 662 deaths. The economic menace also is crystal clear. Tens of millions of Americans shelter inside, shops and restaurants are closed, city streets and airports lie vacant. A ‘closed until further notice’ sign appears on the …

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Bill Milliken Was A Great Leader And A Good Friend

William G. Milliken, the longest serving governor in Michigan’s storied history, died in October at the age of 97. One of the rare gifts of my life was knowing Bill and his wife Helen as friends and mentors. Both were terrifically helpful in getting our new northern Michigan land use policy group going in the 1990s. Helen was a board member. Bill was an active supporter. In 2000, when I stepped down as director of …

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Alli Gerkman, Lawyer Who Worked To Reform Legal System, Buried In Michigan

OLD MISSION PENINSULA, MI — On a sun-bright day, with a breeze that stirred leaves and a hawk that wheeled overhead, family and friends paid their respects and laid Alli Gerkman to rest yesterday. In a graceful ceremony of poetry, letters, love, and song, about 50 people gathered in a small cemetery here to honor a life cut short by cancer, but filled with Alli’s courage, and distinctive spirit, her humor and splendid judgment. Alli’s …

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AppHarvest’s Big Idea: Bringing Food Production Indoor At A Mammoth Kentucky Greenhouse

MOREHEAD, Ky. – Almost 70 percent of American consumers, including those who love fresh tomatoes, are a day’s drive from eastern Kentucky. That proximity to big markets is the primary reason AppHarvest is building the largest greenhouse in the United States in a big field in Rowan County just outside this university town. Sometime next summer, when production commences, the $97 million, 60-acre building will begin shipping 45 million pounds of fresh produce annually, primarily …

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Lessons From The Garden

BENZONIA — The tiger lilies are fading. But the pink blossoms of the rose of Sharon began to bloom this week. So did the blue blossoms of the butterfly bush. It’s mid-August. Just as in every month since early May when I raked the leaves out of the gardens, taking care not to injure the yellow daffodils, flowers are coming into view while others slip away. Odes to gardens and gardening almost always are exuberant …

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Steve Sawyer, A Titan of Environmental Activism

Steve Sawyer, one of the great environmental activists and strategists of our era, died July 31 from cancer. It came as a shock. Steve was a classmate at Haverford College, a friend for 45 years, and a heroic figure to me in our shared allegiance to safeguard Mother Earth. Though his years were too short, what he accomplished in 63 has few peers. He was an important figure in stirring attention to the Earth’s deteriorating …

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Marian Gyr, Benzonia’s Grand Lady, Lived 97 Storied Years

BENZONIA, MI — For a long while, many years in fact, Marian Gyr disdained the mobility afforded by motorized vehicles. She walked. Everywhere. Even in the blowing snow and drifts of winter. Everybody I know here in our little village, on a rise close to Lake Michigan, has a Marian Gyr walking story. She was well into her 80s, with two reconstructed hips, and still walking far from where she slept. How many times — …

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Rome Has 2,750-Year History; It Had Lousy Leaders Too

ROME — Spending time in Rome, Italy during these last days of 2018 provides a useful reminder of human resiliency, and a note of reasoned assessment after this terrible week of political and financial churning at home. Remember from your history books that during the nearly 1,200 years of their empire, from the 8th century B.C. to mid-fifth century A.D., Romans suffered their share of incompetent, evil, wicked, inane, and miscreant emperors. Nero (54-68 A.D.) …

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