Dear EarthTalk: When will those gasoline driven leaf blowers that gardeners use be outlawed? The noise and toxic fumes they emit can't be good for us. -- Judy, via email
Dear EarthTalk: I'm getting ready to join the electric car revolution now that my old clunker is getting on in age. What's the latest and greatest? And is now a good time to buy an EV? -- Doug Ellis, Sacramento, CA
Hybrid-electric cars have become more and more common on American roads since the Prius launched here in 2001. Now fully electric vehicles (EVs) are finally coming of age thanks to innovations by Tesla, Nissan, BMW, General Motors and others.
Dear EarthTalk: What are we doing about getting rid of all the plastic floating in the ocean and forming giant gyres far from land? -- Jake Johnson, Merrimack, NH
Wind energy farms have taken Colorado by storm. Where wide-open farmlands once stretched as far as the eye can see, wind turbines now pepper the landscape. Some consider the new view a wonder, as few have seen these massive modern-day windmills. Others aren't so thrilled. What can't be argued so easily, however, are the benefits that wind energy farms bring to rural Colorado.
Dear EarthTalk: A friend recently told me that when her family stopped using hand sanitizer and antibacterial wipes all the time, they stopped getting sick so much. Is there any research backing up this theory, or is it just a "new" wives' tale? -- Betsy Edger, via e-mail
In August, I was invited to participate in a small bus tour focused on soil heath. The group consisting of myself, area producers, and staff and board members of the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District traveled to central South Dakota to see and hear from several members of the South Dakota Soil Health Coalition.
Dear EarthTalk: Are any environmental groups working specifically to increase access to nature and the outdoors? -- Mary Pelletier, Macon, GA
No one doubts that time spent outdoors in nature is time well-spent, especially in this age of smartphones, tablets and laptops vying for our attention. Research consistently shows links between higher levels of health and well-being when people have access to parks, gardens, greenways and other natural areas.
Dear EarthTalk: Is it true that the Monarch Butterfly is on the brink of extinction? How did we let that happen? -- Alex Degeneres, Cincinnati, OH
Dear EarthTalk: You never hear anything about ozone depletion anymore. Have we solved this problem and if so why can't we get a handle on global warming as well? -- Lia Smith, Reno, NV
Global warming is certainly a hot subject in the news right now, what with all the oppressive weather we've been having, but it doesn't mean we've solved the myriad other environmental problems facing us.