Michigan Bats, Energy Awareness & the Saginaw Basin Conservancy

Photo Credit: Redjar via Flickr.

My Oct. 22 Environment Report for Friday Edition is now online.

It’s about halfway through the audio posted at the Delta College Q90.1 website.

You have to wait a bit for the audio to load. This one includes bumpers!


Great Lakes Lessons & Michigan’s First Net Zero Home

Mr. Great Lakes writes more than this blog, by the way. Which explains why it isn’t updated as much as it should be. With that in mind, I offer a couple of items from the Mr. Great Lakes Grab Bag, written by me, about Michigan:

From OnEarth Magazine: Great Lakes Lessons for Students and Teachers

“School has never been so cool, now that teachers in Michigan (and anywhere else there’s a connection to the Internet) are tapping into the power of a living, breathing ecosystem: the Great Lakes. Using data from these freshwater seas, Michigan Sea Grant is assisting educators and engaging students in real-deal science.”

From TreeHugger.com: America’s Oldest & Michigan’s First Net Zero Energy Home (Photos)

If you want a super, energy-efficient home, you have to build new, right? Not necessarily. A 110-year-old Victorian home in Ann Arbor, Michigan, is being touted as America’s oldest net-zero energy house, and the first of its kind in the state.

Thanks for visiting.

Michigan Women of Wind … Without Blades?

Listen to this big idea: A wind turbine without blades.

Michigan Women of Wind Energy are holding a kickoff meeting on Oct. 27 from 5:30-7 p.m. at the Novi Library. Keynote speakers include Dawn White, co-founder and president of Accio Energy, which is developing a wind energy device without moving parts.

Women of Wind Energy is an international organization, in the U.S. and Canada.

In Novi, they’ll be talking about networking, mentoring and scholarships for women in the field of breeze power.

Dawn White spoke last year at a TEDx event in Detroit. Here’s what she had to say.

Mr. Great Lakes … On The Radio

If you listen to public radio in the Saginaw Bay area, you may have heard the new Friday Edition segment on Delta College’s Q-90.1 FM. Mr. Great Lakes has been contributing environmental news to the show.

Here’s a link to the Oct. 8 broadcast. It’s about 30 percent of the way through. And this is my first time on radio in a long time. It’s bound to get (even) better. Tune in on Friday mornings to hear it live (6:50, 7:50 and 9:50ish).

Wild and Scenic Enviro Film Fest in Marquette

Soak up some environmental entertainment. Yes, climate change, food security and water quality can be entertaining, if they’re presented with popcorn.

I’m talking about the Wild and Scenic Environmental Film Festival, which is on a national tour and hits Marquette, Michigan, on Nov. 4. I had never heard of it either — just one more reason to spotlight the event here.

This year’s Marquette stop is the second annual, and will be held at 6 p.m. in Jamrich Hall on the campus of Northern Michigan University. The hosts are the Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve, Downwind Sports and Students for Sustainable Living. There will be food, displays, speakers, and films.

Ducats are $8 for civilians, $2 for students and free for kids 18 and under.

The fest is headquarted in Nevada City, California. See the video below. It’s worth checking out.

Films to be shown in Marquette include:

Planting Hope

Every Day at School and

Watershed Revolution.


Mysterious My Ash: This Black Stuff Coats Homes and Lungs


Update: Oct. 13, 2010: DNRE responds to concerns from citizens (and Mr. Great Lakes). Gasps heard throughout Bangor Township. Likely “city mold.” Particulates still coming from plant. Sigh.

Oct. 12, 2010:

So there’s a story in today’s Bay City Times. It’s about this “mysterious” black stuff that people in Bangor Township (where Mr. Great Lakes lives) say has been coating homes for the past few months. Some residents are quick to point their finger at the Consumers Energy Karn-Weadock complex in Bay County’s Hampton Township. That’s the right direction, based on the wind. But let me tell you what really blows.

Karn-Weadock piles its coal ash along Saginaw Bay, and some dust is inevitably carried away by the wind. But what’s worse than that is the stuff that billows from the stacks there and is carried away by the wind. Out of sight, out of mind, right? Well, you’re inhaling that stuff if you live in the vicinity of this plant’s exhaust.

“Oh, Mr. Great Lakes,” you may say, “you have no proof of this.”

Really? From the story:

Consumers Energy does contract a boat cleaning service at the Bay City Yacht Club, 3315 Shady Shores Road in Bangor Township, to clean boats that are sometimes dirtied by particulates from Karn-Weadock Generating Complex. The Bay City Yacht Club is situated approximately 1,000 feet northwest of the plant’s coal piles.

The Bay Road neighborhood is within a mile northwest of the Bay City Yacht Club, which puts it on the same trajectory that strong northwest winds sometimes carry coal particulates from the Consumers Energy plant.

Another word for coal particulates is particulate matter. That’s soot so small that it’s inhaled deep into your lungs, where it shortens your life. That’s not my opinion. That’s a fact. Consumers has acknowledged those particulate deposits by paying a boat cleaning service to wipe away the soot.

So what is the company going to do about the mysterious black stuff?

Consumers Energy Spokesperson Mary Gust said the company is unaware of any problems in that area.

“We’re not aware of any complaints from that area,” she said. “If we do receive an inquiry, we do investigate. Typically what we’ll do, we’ll visit the site and collect samples. We find, oftentimes, that results indicate it’s biological in nature.”

Clearly, Consumers hasn’t been paying attention to environmental groups like Lone Tree Council who have for YEARS lodged complaints and concerns about particulate matter levels from the plant. Sure, the plant may meet the federal limits for particulate pollution. Give them a medal, please. Levels of particulates at current standards have been linked to diabetes.

But let’s give Consumers a chance here. The spokeswoman says her company typically visits sites to collect samples if they receive an inquiry. Let’s hope complaints from several residents and a story in the newspaper qualifies as an “inquiry.”

The most mysterious thing about this issue is the lack of a response from the state Department of Natural Resources and Environment, which has an office in Bay City.

Let’s see if the state agency that regulates the coal plant will react. Just don’t hold your breath.

— Photo of Consumers coal via Bing Maps


The Great Lakes Are Haunted By Polyester

Trash is still haunting us in the Great Lakes State. And Saturday is the first-annual Halloween Costume Swap Day.

No need to get a card for this one. The Oct. 9 “holiday” is being organized by Green Halloween, KIWI magazine, and Swap.com. There’s an online directory to look for swaps in your community. If you don’t find one, feel free to organize your own costume trade party.
Sierra Club, which is promoting Halloween Swap Day on its blog, says that 25 million kids celebrate Halloween in the U.S. If half of them exchanged costumes, they’d cut landfill waste by more than 6,000 tons.

You can do it on Saturday, or any day, it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that you re-use a costume rather than throwing one out and buying a new polyester outfit for the kids.

I guess costume swapping isn’t a new idea. I remember letting my brother use my Frankenstein mask the year after I did. And my Dracula cape also was passed on down.

There aren’t any Halloween swaps near me in Michigan, but the elementary school down the road is holding a Halloween costume fundraiser.

There’s another idea: Donate your old costumes to a nonprofit that can sell them to raise funds. And stop over and buy a new (to you) costume for the kids.

— Photo: peasap via Flickr.


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