Seeing USA’s Terrain from the Plane

As I was flying across the USA to visit family in Colorado I noticed so many changes to the terrain. As we took off from New Jersey I saw suburban areas with lots of green grass, trees and of course swimming pools.  Then after about 45 minutes some farmland as well as small towns and a few large cities. But, I want to discuss the differences I noticed out my window since the last time I flew across the country.

Rivers and Streams

We were in the air about 1 hour and I noticed a lot of changes. Some of the rivers below had dried up. All you could see was sand-colored curvy dirt and grass where the water should be. 

The west is in a drought but seeing the rivers closer to the east coast empty of precious water was sad. Also, we weren’t yet in the west, so the drought is definitely spreading across the country.

From the USGS website:

“Water in the western United States is disappearing, and several states are facing severe water shortages as drought conditions worsen. Many streams are drying up, and there is growing concern that this trend will only continue as climate change produces warmer and drier conditions. The loss of stream ecosystems has far reaching ecological, social, and economic implications. Species that depend on these ecosystems for habitat will be at greater risk of extinction and humans will lose vital sources of water relied upon for agriculture, drinking water, and recreation.”

Once on the ground in Denver and driving into the Rocky Mountains I’m happy to report the area was very green and lush. Much more so than the last time I had visited. Back in 2018 the area was being devastated by the mountain pine beetle and there were so many brown trees and the landscape was so dry.

Rocky Mountain National Park view. Photo by Susan Newman Lerer.

Wind Turbines

I’ve flown across the country many times but this was the first time I’d seen so many wind turbines on farms and ranches. Yes, the idea that rural America is harvesting wind energy got me excited. The ground below is always so cool from a plane because of all the crop circles. This time though I was seeing circles and squares and in the corners were wind turbines. Hundreds of them. It seems like so many but actually they look very small in comparison to the land.

Photo by Abby Anaday on Unsplash

From: Focus on Agriculture

“Each turbine uses less than half an acre, so farmers can plant crops and graze livestock right to the turbine’s base…

…Wind energy also has no emissions and preserves water compared with other power generation methods, saving some 87 billion gallons in 2016 alone.”

So, wind turbines can help us conserve water. Are there plans to build them in the east? YES!

As of July 5, 2023:

The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management on Wednesday approved the construction of up to 98 wind turbine generators off the coast of Atlantic City, N.J., as part of a Biden administration plan to install offshore wind sites along the country’s coasts.

This all sounds great except with one advancement comes another step back. If they are building wind turbines along the coast from Cape Cod to North Carolina, what can we do about migrating birds? 

They will need to navigate away from the turbines and certain flocks may have a hard time given how many are being built. But, the power of the wind and the advantages to impacting global warming some will say outweigh the harm to birds.


Colorful Catch Basins around Jersey City Star a Red-eyed Tree Frog

Jersey City, have you seen all the colorful images painted on catch basins all around town?

Our city wants residents and business owners to “adopt a catch basin.” When Frogs Are Green heard about this program, in which artists decorate these basins with whatever images you suggest, we claimed a drain, and now the corner of Central Avenue and Bleecker Street boasts a gorgeous, colorful red-eyed tree frog. We also just claimed the opposite corner which we call Biodiversity Matters. Environmental themes make the most sense.

Red-eyed Tree Frog artwork for catch basin in Jersey City Heights.

Red-eyed tree frog artwork for catch basin in Jersey City Heights.

As you walk around Jersey City, you’ll see a lighthouse, fish, turtles, sea turtles, an octopus, and many other original artworks by different artists. When you join the program and adopt a drain, you get to name it and request a certain image.

This is a great way to give artists work, clean up the streets, and show citizens where rain water goes. Once you claim a drain, you become responsible for keeping it clear from trash and, in the colder months, ice and snow. It’s a useful reminder not to throw garbage down there. Year after year I’ve walked around my neighborhood and seen trash and leaves piling up at these catch basins and trees, like a new sign post for trash. Since the city has a limited amount of street cleaners–actual people who only work main streets and only certain days– getting the public involved will help.


About the “Adopt a Catch Basin” program from the Jersey City Office of Innovation’s website:

“Catch basins or sewer drains collect storm and rain water from streets and sidewalks, which then travels into the sewer system. Any debris in the street and on the sidewalk can clog and block a catch basin, causing local flooding and potentially polluting our waterways. Our ‘Adopt a Catch Basin’ program empowers local residents and other volunteers to help keep catch basins clean and expand awareness of our sewer system.”


Once I made this commitment, I started researching what does go down the drain besides rain water and have discovered some unbelievable facts.

NJ’s sewage systems are old and in serious need of repair. Just read this article about what happened to the Middlesex County Utilities Authority in New Jersey. They were just starting to repair the main pump when Hurricane Sandy hit.

…Hurricane Sandy triggered flooding that knocked out the Passaic Valley Utility Authority in Newark—the fifth-largest wastewater treatment facility in the country—for weeks, sending some 840 million gallons of untreated sewage into Newark Bay, according to a 2013 report by the independent research organization Climate Central.

The federal EPA in 2008 estimated the cost of upgrading New Jersey’s CSOs statewide at $9.3 billion.

…Environmentalists warn that the high cost of fixing New Jersey’s ailing sewer systems pales beside the cost of doing nothing. While our ocean waters were deemed swimmable in a July 2013 DEP assessment, 73 percent of the state’s non-ocean waters tested failed due to bacteria indicating the presence of fecal matter. And only 3 percent of 952 watersheds were judged safe to eat, with 38 percent containing dangerous levels of mercury or toxic PCBs…

Please read the entire article here:

Just imagine what this means to wildlife. Let’s all do our part in helping the environment be safe for all.



How To Teach Your Kids About Climate Change

Teaching your kids about climate change is no easy task. A lot of parents avoid talking about it with their kids because they have no idea how to bring it up. Climate change is also scary, even for adults, so great care needs to be taken when explaining things to your little ones.

By U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons


It’s important that they still get a realistic overview and that you are honest with your children. However, you want to spark their interest in climate change, rather than scare them. They need to know about the problems climate change causes, but you must also find a way of explaining the solutions. They need to feel like they can make a difference.

Our kids and future generations need to be taught about how they can make a difference, and just how crucial their actions will be. Obviously, the depth and complexity of your conversation will depend on the age of your child. As they get older you can discuss the more complex scientific aspects of climate change, but when they are young, you just want to gently make them aware.

There are plenty of interesting ways you can ignite your children’s interest in climate change. Learning about the challenges the world faces doesn’t have to be too serious or boring. Here are some fantastic ways of teaching your kids about climate change.
Make climate change fun with educational games, apps and websites

There are many different tools and resources that have been created specifically for kids who are interested in the environment. Climate change is easily incorporated into lots of great games for kids.

There are entire websites specifically dedicated to teaching kids about climate change, and even some apps that touch on the subject. For example, NASA’s Climate Kids, Tiki The Penguin and The Young People’s Trust for the environment. There are even Apple and Android apps that help teach kids about climate change, such as Painting with Time and Offset.

Show them climate change videos made for kids
A quick search on YouTube will provide you with plenty of videos about the environment for kids. For example, this ‘global warming for kids’ video. Videos like this explain climate change in a way that kids can easily digest and process, and they are also fun to watch. Watch the videos with your kids and then let them ask questions afterwards.

Open their minds on family days out
You can subtly bring up the topic of climate change by going on educational days out. Take your kids to wildlife parks, on nature walks and to museums (such as The Natural History Museum). All these things will get them thinking about the environment and continue their education.

Let them explore climate by through being creative
Set your kids some fun tasks that are loosely related to climate change and the environment. Once they have had an introduction to climate change, get them to try and get their thoughts down on paper. They could write a poem about climate change, or try and paint their own interpretation of climate change. You could also come up with some fun climate change related games that you can play at home as a family.

Help them understand green living
Teaching your children how to live in an eco-friendly way will help enhance their knowledge of climate change. Make sure they know how to recycle and teach them to be aware of how much energy they are using. For example, switching lights off when they are not in use and not using more water than they need.

Let them develop a passion for nature
Your children may naturally become interested in climate change if they develop a passion for nature. If they fall in love with nature and enjoy spending time in the great outdoors then they are more likely to want to help protect our planet. Take your kids out walking, camping and get them involved in gardening.

Buy them books with underlying messages
If your child likes to read then buy them some climate change-related books. For young kids, the topic of climate change can be introduced gently through reading book with underlying messages. Older kids with an interest in the topic can go into much more depth. You can buy them books that teach them about how to protect the environment and that explain the science behind climate change.

The following is a guest post from Edward Woodward. A writer and a blogger at Kedel blog.


America’s Cleanest and Dirtiest Energy States

This post originally appeared on Modernize.com where you can find comprehensive solar information from industry experts. Frogs Are Green has permission to share this.

America's Cleanest and Dirtiest Energy States

America’s energy policy has been the subject of much recent debate: From the Pope’s public advocacy of environmental stewardship to the EPA’s toughened regulations on pollution from petroleum refineries, the sources that power our society have rarely been so widely scrutinized. Once regarded as a subject best left to the energy sector, the way we fuel our economy has proven its relevance for all citizens, both in America and across the globe.

For our team at Modernize, this subject seems particularly important. We’re dedicated to providing consumers information and opportunities related to one of clean energy’s most promising technologies: solar panels. Our primary interest is in helping individual readers to find environmentally friendly solar options that generate wallet-friendly savings in the long run.

But we’re also paying attention to how whole swaths of the American energy landscape operate. That’s where our project “America’s Cleanest and Dirtiest Energy States” comes in. If you want to know your state’s energy track record or find out which states are leading (and trailing) the push for renewables, you’re going to want to read what comes next.

Our Methodology

For this project, we went straight to the most authoritative source available on America’s energy realities. We gathered data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the federal agency responsible for tracking stats related to America’s energy production and consumption. Lucky for us, they’ve got data dating back to 1960 and as recent as 2013, so we took the long view on each state’s energy legacy. Our work engaged a range of subjects, from total energy production from renewable sources to carbon dioxide emissions over time. Take a look at what we found out:

Not Everything is Bigger in Texas…

Total Renewable Energy Production by State 1960-2013Let’s get something straight: “Renewable” energy sources run the gamut from hydropower to wind, solar, and more. The EIA includes biofuels, such as ethanol, in this category as well. That means that virtually any state can tap into renewables, though some types are more readily utilized in certain natural environments (for instance, the Midwest makes good use of its wind). But that also means oil- and coal-rich states like Texas and West Virginia have historically focused their efforts on sourcing energy from “fossil” fuels, so their output from renewables is relatively paltry.

To see each state’s exact numbers, check out the interactive map below:

And here are the top 10 producers of total energy from renewables:

Top 10 by Total Renewable Energy Production

Maybe Washington, California, and Oregon come as no surprise – we associate them with environmental concern and the geographical variety to embrace multiple renewable technologies simultaneously. But the rest of the states that top the renewables ranking embody a striking mix of size, population, political preference, and socioeconomic standing. If this ranking indicates anything, it’s that success with renewables is possible in any combination of circumstances.

Power Percentages

Now we know the score when it comes to the total volume of energy produced from renewables by state. But some states produce plenty of both, while others have pristine clean-energy records but fall short of the top 10 because their total production is too small to compete. So we also looked at how much of each state’s total energy production renewables account for – call these our Percentage Power Rankings:

Top 10 by Renewable Energy Percentage

Yes, you read that right: Rhode Island, Idaho, Hawaii, Delaware, and D.C. produce virtually all of their energy from renewable sources. Sure, that might be different if these states had been dealt a different hand in the distribution of natural resources (no one’s begging to drill outside Newport), but we can appreciate their commitment to renewable energy all the same. After all, necessity is the mother of invention – and as time goes on, more and more states may find themselves in need.

America's Dirtiest Energy States

Then there’s the cohort above, all of whom derived less than 2.5% of all the energy they produce from renewable sources from 1960–2013. The difference in reliance on renewables couldn’t be starker: Wyoming’s renewable portfolio accounts for roughly one in every 250 BTUs (British Thermal Units – oddly, no longer commonly used in the U.K.) that the state produces. Many of the constituents of this dirtiest energy ranking are too rich in coal and oil to need much in the way of renewable alternatives – but that doesn’t mean they won’t adopt more sustainable technologies in the coming years.

Pollution and Solutions

Perhaps the most concerning byproduct of fossil fuel energy production is pollution. That term covers many kinds of potentially harmful emissions, but the best-known variety is carbon dioxide. The EIA offers carbon dioxide data from 1990–2012, so we’ve tracked the worst emissions offenders over that time:

Top 10 CO2 Emitters by State

Predictably, Texas is at the top – but what about California or New York? Why do states that ranked high in renewable energy production make the list? The answer is simple: Carbon dioxide emissions aren’t just a function of energy production. It’s no accident that the top-ranked states are almost all quite populous; the more people, the more energy they consume. That translates to emissions resulting from cars, heat, and other comforts modern Americans depend upon in daily life. But don’t think emissions are an intransigent evil: Some states are making great strides.

10 Most Improved CO2 Emitters since 1990

Let’s take a moment to commend these states for what they’ve accomplished in just 22 years. New York, Michigan, and Ohio are particularly exciting cases, demonstrating that even states closely associated with major industry can reduce emissions substantially. Additionally, some of the states that ranked high in the percentage of energy generated from renewables appear on this list, making it clear that improvement can always be a priority, whatever you accomplish for the environment.

Speaking of improvement, let’s remember that your own home can contribute to the pursuit of new, clean technologies, no matter which state you live in. Whether it’s turning off the light when you walk out of a room or researching solar options that will also create savings, you can do a lot to promote a cleaner energy world. Who knows? If you and enough of your neighbors make the right choices, your state might just jump up on our cleanest states ranking!



Frogs and Toads at Sage Hill Herb Farm

I recently discovered Sage Hill Herb Farm in Petersburg, Tennessee and the owner, Bea Kunz.

About the Farm
Sage Hill Herb Farm consist of three acres under cultivation. A mix of wild flowers and grasses, much of those are native to Tennessee. Many raised beds which are always planted and growing vegetables and herbs along with fruit trees and berries for family and friends.

Their teas, herbs and seasoning blends are all carefully hand tended and organically grown without chemical pesticides or fertilizers.

They recommend that deep red or bright pink fruits and vegetables should be eaten every day. Nutrition research shows that foods in the red groups contain phytochemicals, such as lycopene and anthocyanins. Phytochemicals, substances found only in plants, help your body fight disease and promote good health.

Bogs and Frogs
And then there is the Bog! A beautiful and intriguing spot on the lower section of the back area where natural rock jutes through the ground. A wet weather stream keeps the area wet most of the time… providing a safe and natural habitat for frogs, toads and other little creatures who might come and go.

Below is a gallery shared by Bea of an American Toad, Green Tree Frog and Eastern Spadefoot and their natural habitat.

American Toad at Sage Hill Farm in Tennessee

American Toad at Sage Hill Farm in Tennessee

Bog at Sage Hill Farm in Tennessee

Bog at Sage Hill Farm in Tennessee

Eastern Spadefoot frog at Sage Hill Farm in Tennessee

Eastern Spadefoot frog at Sage Hill Farm in Tennessee

Frog parking only, all others will be toad
Frog Habitat at Sage Hill Farm in Tennessee

Frog Habitat at Sage Hill Farm in Tennessee

Green Tree Frog at Sage Hill Farm in Tennessee

Green Tree Frog at Sage Hill Farm in Tennessee

Green Tree Frog at Sage Hill Farm in Tennessee

Green Tree Frog at Sage Hill Farm in Tennessee

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Green Ways to Keep Your Kitchen Germ-Free

Guest blog by Bryn Huntpalmer

Going green and eliminating germs is easier said than done, and you’re not alone if you feel like the majority of kitchen cleaners on store shelves contain harsh chemicals that are anything but environmentally-friendly. A few years ago, I decided to ditch the bleach and keep my kitchen clean with all-natural cleaners, and I couldn’t be happier. Here’s how to do it:


Clean with Natural or Non-toxic Cleaning Materials

Dishes, countertops, appliances, and any place that has seen a piece of raw meat needs cleaning and disinfecting. You can use natural materials to create cleaning products for any situation.

The basic ingredients for almost any type of non-toxic disinfectant are:

  • Vinegar
  • Lemon
  • Baking Soda
  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Tea Tree, Orange, and Neem Oils
  • Grapefruit Seed Extract

Clean the refrigerator and countertops with baking soda. About a quart of warm water and a couple tablespoons of baking soda will give you a solution you can use to effectively clean quite a few things. Baking soda is actually a versatile substance. You can also use it to make a paste that can lift stains off cups and pans. Even better, when you’re done with the baking soda, you can pour it down the kitchen drain. It can help to get rid of and keep away bad drain odors.

Let your disposal unit grind down a lemon. Really, you can use any kind of citrus rind or peel to freshen the unit. You can also throw in some vinegar or baking soda (or both). Tossing in a few ice cubes can also help knock some debris off the disposal’s blade.

Add vinegar to the dish soap. You don’t need that fancy, overpriced dish soap. Get the cheapest brand you can find and simply add in a little vinegar (the ratio should be 10:1, with that smallest amount being vinegar). Vinegar cuts grease. And that’s just one of the things it does. Vinegar is really a miracle cleaner for your kitchen. For instance, you can clean your kitchen windows with vinegar. Just mix equal parts vinegar and water in a spray bottle.

Clean and freshen food prep areas. In a spray bottle, combine half a cup of white vinegar, 3 cups of water, and 10 drops of tea tree oil. Use this mixture to clean cutting boards, sinks, countertops, and other hard surfaces.

With these basic ingredients, there are almost an unlimited number of cleaning and disinfecting solutions you can make. You can use them in every part of your kitchen and all over the house. Just search for cleaning recipes involving any one of the listed things.

Even the solutions listed here aren’t the only way to accomplish any particular task. By cutting out the use of hazardous, chemical-based cleaners, you will make your kitchen clean, safe, and definitely green.

For more home tips and tricks, head to Modernize.com.