Week of March 16

Naturalizing can create a yard greener than grass

Sir: The lawn was appropriated as a status symbol from aristocratic landowners of the old world.

The grass was maintained by grazing animals and manicured for garden parties: a display of wealth and prestige for the houses of nobility that could afford such tedium.

Today, this display of man’s mastery over nature, the order we create out of chaos, is a carryover from that time.

Why do we do it?

We allocate so much time, energy and resources into battling weeds, nursing lawns through drought, consuming petrochemicals every step of the way, and finally, placing plastic bags of grass on the curb for our tax dollars to haul away.

Lawn maintenance generates exorbitant amounts of air and noise pollution and drowns out the peace of a summer evening.

Naturalizing an area, big or small, can lessen the demands on your time and contribute to the habitat for plants, birds, pollinators and other animals, helping mitigate the mounting pressures of human society and climate change.

As the old Greek proverb states: A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.

Mature deciduous trees provide shade, passively moderating temperature and keeping homes cooler in the summer and warmer in winter. They filter airborne particulate from passing cars and absorb storm water; mitigating damage from major weather events that promise to be more severe and regular in occurrence.

Mature trees equate to higher property values, result in the sought-after tree-lined streets of charming neighbourhoods, and produce better states of mental and physical health.

Small interventions can liberate you from the tyranny of cutting grass and raking leaves, and help return the landscape to the beauty and majesty of the lush Carolinian forest that once grew on these shores.

Brad Cullis

Sarnia

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Controlled immigration isn’t xenophobic, it’s pragmatic

Sir: The “experts” have lined up to express their theories, quoting facts and figures against U.S. President Donald Trump’s ban on six predominantly Muslim countries entering the USA.

Trump and his team have been crude in presenting their reasons for controlled borders without mention of the enemy within, the radicalized, disenfranchised, homegrown jihadist.

The experts are now saying that half the radicalization of Muslims and other disenfranchised citizens is now taking place via the Internet.

Having lived and worked in all these countries and others, in both a military and humanitarian role, it cannot be denied that many thousands have been killed by coalition military action brought about by dubious political decisions. Even targeted bombing and its collateral damage kill innocent civilians.

Additionally, it is well documented that ISIS/ISIL have raped and pillaged vast swathes of the Middle East and as they are pushed back, hundreds are found in mass graves.

Despite the causes and effects of the increased radicalization and a humanitarian tragedy evolving on a massive scale, it should not detract from having secure borders. In these torrid times, controlled immigration is not xenophobic; it is a pragmatic approach for the future.

The West has welcomed thousands of Muslims to their countries and bestowed citizenship; whereas non-Muslims, as non-believers, cannot achieve citizenship in Muslim countries.

Trump got it wrong with his facts on the problems in Sweden. This was exacerbated by European political correctness. But look up the town of Rinkeby just north of the capital Stockholm.

For the statisticians out there:

In 2016, Islamic terrorists have carried out 1,274 attacks in 50 countries resulting in 11,744 killed and 14,303 injured.

Since 2011, the Syrian war has accounted for 1 in 10 of the population dead or wounded.

Peter Clarke

Sarnia

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Kudos to The Journal for fact-based journalism

Sir: I commend you sincerely for your concise and well-substantiated column headlined: Facts belie Trumped up threat of ‘alien’ terrorists.

I hope I might add one more piece of data to your chart that showed a 10 year annual average of 11,737 Americans being shot by another American.

It is also clear that an additional 963 to 1,100 Americans are shot and killed annually by their own police forces. The range in the numbers is owing to the difficulty of gathering hard data; however, the sources are the very reputable BBC, The Guardian, and the Washington Post.

FBI Director James Comey said in October of 2015 that it was “embarrassing and ridiculous” that the U.S. federal government had no better data than news organizations on citizen deaths by law enforcement.

With your column, by informing rather than inflaming, you have demonstrated the key role of professional journalism in a healthy democracy: ensuring a well and accurately informed public.

You are helping to keep a balance in a world of 24/7 information in which “the sources of opinion are proliferating but the sources of facts on which those opinions are based are shrinking.” This last observation is from The Shattered Mirror, a major Canadian study that was recently released on the potential impact on democracy if quality journalism continues to shrink —and it is!

While terrorism is by no means to be taken lightly, it is imperative to keep it in context, and never to forget that too often the exaggerated fear of it is used by governments to exercise extreme controls over the civil liberties of the very people they purport to represent. They even call journalists the enemy.

So, I do encourage your continued good work, and I trust that many of us in this community can continue to distinguish between destructive hysteria and quality research, thanks to people like you.

Bob Sutton

Camlachie