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Water, Water, Everywhere; For Brutal Winter, No Silver Lining; Worth Quoting

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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Water, Water, Everywhere

March 22 was World Water Day, an international day of activism to promote water safety and sanitation. This week, the citizens’ sustainability group Greening Greenfield hosts a Water Weekend’s worth of films focused on threats to the water supply around the world and how we can protect it.

The film and discussion series is co-sponsored by the Traprock Center for Peace and Justice and St. James Episcopal Church, at Federal and Church streets in Greenfield, where all the screenings will take place.

The schedule:

• Friday, March 28 at 6:30 p.m.: The documentary Flow, which looks at the corporate privatization of the water supply as well as creative solutions to addressing the water crisis. The film will be followed by a discussion led by Glen Ayers, a Valley soil scientist and public health agent.

• Saturday, Mar. 29 at 3 p.m.: Tapped, a documentary about the bottled water industry and its effects on the environment and public health. Jill Appel, who led the campaign to ban the sale of bottled water in Concord, will lead a discussion.

The screening and discussion will be followed by a dinner break; then, at 6:30, the documentary Liquid Assets, which looks at aging public water infrastructures in the U.S., will be shown. Following that, a discussion will be led by Sara Campbell, engineering superintendent for the town of Greenfield, and Mark Holley, superintendent of the town’s Water Facilities Department.

The events are free, although donations will be accepted. For more information, call (413) 773-5165 or go to www.greeninggreenfield.org.

 

For Brutal Winter, No Silver Lining

When the Advocate called the state Department of Public Health to ask, hopefully, if prolonged low temperatures had benefited Massachusetts residents by killing deer ticks, the answer was a big letdown. The problem: there was too much snow.

“It is true that extreme cold can kill off the ticks,” said DPH veterinarian Dr. Catherine Brown. “It’s why there’s a limit to how far north they can live. However, they can survive by living under the snow. It has been a relatively snowy winter for us, so the answer is that the winter we’ve had has not likely caused a substantial reduction number in tick numbers. I think there are enough ticks to go around, unfortunately.”

Trying for a hopeful note, Brown added, “Hot dry times are best at reducing tick numbers. In 2010 we had kind of a slow tick year because the temperature was so high and we were not getting a lot of precipitation. Maybe we should all hope for a hot, dry summer.”

So what about mosquitoes? Didn’t the hell frozen over that was February do anything for us on the bug front?

“It depends on which mosquitoes and which parts of the state,” she said. “The types of mosquitoes that carry West Nile virus actually spend their winters inside, and will be somewhat protected from the cold. The types of mosquitoes that carry Eastern equine encephalitis spend their winters in the juvenile stage in underground pockets of water. Much like the ticks, if those water pockets are insulated by snow, it protects the young mosquitoes. Overall I would say that this winter has been cold enough long enough that there may have been some impact on the populations, more in Western Massachusetts than in southeastern Massachusetts.” (Western Massachusetts thanks you, Dr. B!)

“But,” she added, “the weather we get in the spring and summer is actually a more important factor for population levels, so we’ll have to wait and see.” Bummer.

 

Worth Quoting:

“When I did a search engine query for ‘seniors and casinos’ on the Internet, I found that almost every casino website offers special marketing incentives and identifiers for the over-fifty-five crowd. Some promote breakfast and lunch deals for the ‘golden grays,’ and dub the niche market of senior women ‘the blue hairs.’ The ‘third of the month club’ is a come-on for older adults who head straight to casinos after receiving their Social Security checks. Well-stocked with wheelchairs and scooters, casinos often provide more handicapped spots than are required by law. Casino bathrooms are supplied with disposal boxes for diabetic needles and attendants keep a stash of adult diapers on hand. One casino in Nevada even introduced an in-house pharmacy where 8,000 slot club points cover the $25 co-pay. Writing about casinos, Gary Rivlin coined the phrase ‘day care for the elderly,’ a description that quickly caught on with other journalists.”

Amy Ziettlow of the Institute for American Values in a new report, “Seniors in Casino Land: Tough Luck for Older Americans.” The full report can be found at www.americanvalues.org.

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