Georgia experiences several droughts including one from 2005 to 2007 that made headlines as lake levels in Lake Lanier, which serves as a major water reservoir for Atlanta reached record lows. It was shown that this drought cost $2 billion dollars in loses, which included $87.6 million in recreation spending lost from visitors to lake Lanier as the lake levels were down 20.21 feet from full capacity. It was shown that this drought was caused by an increase in consumption rather than anthropogenic climate change. There have been other major droughts in 1954-1956, 1981, 1985- 1988, and 1998 – 2002, 2012 to 2013 and 2017. To lessen the effects of droughts in the future of Georgia, education, voting with our dollars as consumers, and a change in diet are key.
The county that I live in, Cobb County, has an excellent water stewardship program. They have a team of scientist that travel the county and regularly test the quality of streams and rivers. They also provide lots of programming with the public. They are home to the largest adopt-a-stream program in the country which is a great way to engage citizens in water quality issues. They often host workshops where you will make and take home a rain barrel. They also send out quarterly newsletters on water issues in the county and host stream clean ups in partnership with the Department of Natural Resources Rivers Alive program.
Recently my household (my partner, a dog, and our four rabbits) have really tried to start reducing our personal impacts on the environment. Even though I am an environmental scientist is an area in which I have been slacking in. I have found that there are a lot of things you can do that are not only eco-friendly but also save money. Here is a rundown of the changes we’ve made in no particular order.
I have started to make a lot of the products we use including personal care and cleaning. The only thing I don’t make is dishwasher detergent (a request from my partner), soap (I don’t want to mess with lye), laundry soap (I use soap berries), toothpaste (not messing with fluoride) and deodorant (very hard to make correctly). A lot of what you end up paying for in these products is the water in them. You also have to pay for the water-filled products to be shipped around when you can just add tap water to basic ingredients to make basically everything. I keep a list of how I like to make everything on a list on the fridge. One of the best things I started making was a DIY version of the Lysol wipes. My kitchen gets a lot of use and therefore gets really dirty. I loved that they killed bacteria but hated throwing the wipes out after. Thyme oil actually kills a similar amount of bacteria. I found this recipe and love it! If there is interest I can do a more lengthy post on how to make everything.
I have committed to not buying anything new unless I have to. This applies to household goods and clothing. Goodwill is a go-to store for me. While there are critics of Goodwill they do use their profits to help put people back to work. I also will buy clothes for work from Thredup. If you think about how many materials there are in the world already it’s crazy to buy everything new. Nextdoor also offers a lot of household things for sale.
I’ve greatly reduced the amount of junk mail/ past residence mail I have gotten. Whenever I get junk mail I make sure to unsubscribe from the companies mailings by filling out an online form if they have one, or calling/ emailing them. I also write return to sender on all mail not addressed to myself, my partner, or “current resident”. It may seem small but it has reduced the amount of resources being used to send me coupons I don’t want.
Forest Owlet (Athene blewitti) is an endangered bird that is endemic to Central India. They are small and stocky, just 9 inches tall. For comparison, the barred owl (Strix varia) is 19 inches tall. Forest Owlets eat mostly lizards (60 percent of their diet) but will also eat rodents, birds, invertebrates, and frogs. They mate in between October and May in which they are most easily found as they respond to playback calls. Unlike most other owls they hunt during the day. This is likely because their main prey are lizards which come out during the day to bask in the sun which is when they would be most vulnerable to predation. The owlet is however only a morning person as they are not that active after 10 am. They have a few different calls including a hissing call. Their songs are short and mellow which is unlike other owls.
The bird was first described in 1873 and then not see after 1884 but then rediscovered in 1997. Before rediscovery knowledge of the bird came from 4 collected specimens from very different areas of India. After its recovery, several populations were discovered and appeared to have significant populations, which causes the bird to go from critically endangered to just endangered. Populations are very fragmented and face pressure from shrinking forest sizes. It requires old growth forest, (according to one source and young forest according to another source) which are some of the forests that are most at risk for logging since they have the largest trees. It needs these forests because they contain tree cavities which it uses to nest in. In 2000 5,000 hectares of Forest Owlet habitat was cleared I order to house people who had been displaced by the creation of a dam. Illegal logging is also a problem as people use the area for agriculture. Overgrazing by cattle removes the ground vegetation which in term reduces the populations of the owl’s prey.
Scientists think there might be 250 or fewer birds left but there is only solid evidence for there being 25 birds. In 2000 a survey using callback recordings found 25 birds including 3 pairs at Taloda Forest Range and 7 pairs at Toranmal Forest Range. In 2004 another survey found 12 adults and 7 fledglings in Toranmal but no birds in Taloda. In 2009 it was determined that one 2 of the original 7 territories. In 2003 it was discovered that the Satpura Range (Maharashtra) is also home to 9 birds, which is about 300 km away from the other known areas. Thankfully Melghat Tiger Reserve contains over 100 individuals. The owl has always occurred in low density, thus putting it at risk for extinction. In addition males will eat their own chicks. It is protected under Schedule I of the Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972 meaning hunting and trapping of the owl are illegal. It is also Included Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), which means that international trade of the bird is illegal.