Happy Friday! Since it is Friday, and heading towards spring, I’ll stick with the positive. Like, I won’t dwell on the administration’s recent pick of Peter C. Wright, the Dow Chemical lawyer, a guy who, according to the NYT has advised Dow on Superfund cleanups, for a key Superfund position (there’s got to be some clever joke that combines the spelling of his last name and the oxymoronic situation, wrong right?)  But, hey, maybe he built a career around pushing Dow to become a good chemical citizen.

And, I won’t harp on the potential rise in hazardous air pollutants thanks to the EPA’s recent rule change to give air polluters a break. (If you are wondering about you might care about this – it’s not just your heart and lungs at risk, but yup, your brain too.) No, I’ll save this sort of gloom and doom for class, just the thing to jolt them back into reality after spring break!

carrot familyInstead lets think spring! Flowers! While we humans have a propensity to share our toxic chemicals with the whole world and everything in it, upon it, even surrounding it – the birds, newts and flowering plants tend to keep theirs neatly packaged – for emergency use only. Take the North American native wild tobacco plant. This pretty little chemical plant (umm…so to speak) turns up the nicotine content when predators attack.

If this seems less like a deterrent and more like a good way to attract nicotine addicted caterpillars consider this bit, from Science: “When attacked, a single wild tobacco leaf can pack in half a cigarette carton’s worth of nicotine.” Enough to send a predator into a trembling fit. But, as with most toxic tales of plants and animals there are measures and countermeasures in this story of evolutionary warfare. If you are into this sort of thing, check out this IFL bit that includes the infamous bombardier beetle that shoots hot toxic gas from its butt (and you thought a gassy pooch was bad.)

Have a nice weekend

If you are curious about the cool cover image, it’s a cigarette card. Buy a pack get a card. Many had images of flowers. A little beauty to go with your tar and nicotine. cigarette cards