- Indiana's least-welcome immigrants: Asian carp
This was the year of the Climate Skeptic, as dozens of Republicans were voted into office, due to their public skepticism toward the reality of global warming, or the hand of man in causing it, or both. Consequently, our pre-doomed planet, just got doomed-er. So check out our top environmental stories of 2010, with an emphasis on some of the good news as well. Hey, ya gotta dream!
Broad Ripple's recycling roadblock
Over the past couple of years, we've covered Broad Ripple Village's greening efforts, including a glass-bottle recycling project spearheaded by Union Jack Pub owner, Brenda Rising-Moore. Despite her efforts to double the amount of glass recycled from the Village to 20 tons, the project has hit a roadblock ... that is, no space to put in a second car-sized bin. Considering that each parking space is money in the bank, few property owners are eager to step it up to reduce Broad Ripple's car population. To aid the effort, Verallia North America, a glass-packaging company, donated 100 small bins to Broad Ripple businesses in September.
While some outside the Broad Ripple Square area regularly carry their glass to the large bin behind the Union Jack, others simply won't, for any number of perfectly rational reasons (rain, cold, snow, traffic, too far to walk, too busy, or __________________ (add your own reason). With 30,000 people passing through Broad Ripple establishments weekly, generating tons of recyclable glass waste, maybe a few could leave their cars home to free up space for that second bin. Then again, there's the public transportation issue. Perhaps once the second bin arrives, Rising-Moore can renew her efforts with IndyGo for a cross-town circulator. — Angela Herrmann
CAFO manure trucked in from Ohio
Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations continued to be one of the most explosive environmental stories in Indiana. Our story in April by Steve Higgs, "Barbara Sha Cox leads the statewide fight against CAFOs," told the story of a group of activists determined to battle the state administration and IDEM to stop these erosive corporate farms from ruining the environment.
CAFOs produce lots of meat for people to eat, but the costs to the environment are manifold, from the manure lagoons that they produce, to the horrific conditions in which the animals live, to the use of antibiotics and growth hormones. It's a Dante's Hell-uva environs, and it's getting worse. Ohio's largest inland lake, Grand Lake St. Marys, has been fouled by run-off from CAFOs, and Buckeyes, wanting to save their precious lake, started trucking their manure waste to (drum roll, please!) Indiana!
How come? Because we like to get shat upon. Indeed, Indiana has no authority to regulate, let alone stop, manure imports. So here it comes, Hoosiers, the shit-storm of shit.
How bad can it get? Hoosier Environmental Council invited Rick Dove to their annual meeting, and Dove told a harrowing story of what CAFO manure did to his state of North Carolina, all but destroying precious waterways that are downstream of these manure pits.
Activism on a grand scale has improved the situation in North Carolina, and that's what it's going to take here, a populous active in battling CAFOs in Indiana and CAFO crap trucked in from elsewhere. — Jim Poyser
Asian carp on the march
Back in the spring, we published a story on Asian carp, and the invasive species' inexorable march toward the Great Lakes. Even in landlocked Indianapolis, this is a huge deal — as huge, proportionally, as these voracious fish. The Great Lakes are an essential resource to the entire Midwest, and Asian carp could become the Mother of All Invasive Species in an already limping ecosystem. Plus, Asian carp are spectacular creatures that fly through the air and pelt fishermen and boaters. Truly, they are as magnificent as they are menacing, and so they scratch that apocalyptic itch we have.
A legal battle is very much a part of this story, as some states wanted to close the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal to keep the carp from entering Lake Michigan, while other states (including Indiana and its the-economy-is-always-first-even-if-it-kills-us rule of thumb) were loathe to deal a blow to an already disabled economy.
As of this writing, the main corridor/waterway is still open, which we call the Mother of All Welcome Mats for Asian carp. And still the fish approacheth: in June, a 3-foot, 20-pound Asian carp was plucked six miles from Lake Michigan. We did, however, at the end of the year learn from the DNR that Little River, Eagle Marsh and the rivers in Fort Wayne were devoid of any evidence of Asian carp. Small favors in a big world filled with invasive species.