Trump and Climate Research, Zero Emission Vehicles

For Friday, Nov. 11, 2016

 

1- Climate experts are weighing in on the election of Donald Trump as president.

The nonprofit news organization Climate Central reached out to climate, energy and policy researchers to see how they think a Trump presidency will impact climate research and efforts to limit future global warming.

Those quoted include Andrew Hoffman, a sustainable development expert at the University of Michigan.

Hoffman says Trump’s election throws the future of environmental policy, both in the U.S. and globally, into confusion.  

He says Trump’s stated and tweeted positions on climate change, the Environmental Protection Agency, Paris climate accord, Clean Power Plan and other related issues suggest that the future of programs and policies going back to President Nixon’s formation of the EPA are in question.

Hoffman noted that Trump has endorsed programs by the National Wildlife Federation to protect the Great Lakes. Hoffman says we’ll have to wait to see how the president-elect’s positions solidify in the coming days of his administration.

2 – Michigan is seeking a share of $1.2 billion for zero emission vehicle projects.

A state-issued Request-for-Information is the result of a Volkswagen settlement approved by a U.S. District Court in California. The settlement set aside $1.2 billion for zero emission vehicle projects over a 10-year period, distributed in $300 million allotments every 30 months.

Volkswagen was found to have falsified diesel emissions test results for 475,000 vehicles.

Michigan is seeking information on projects to offset the negative effects of Volkswagen’s actions in Michigan. The request allows interested individuals and organizations to recommend eligible projects and programs by public and private entities.

The deadline for submissions is Dec. 21.

The VW settlement also established a Trust Fund for projects that reduce nitrogen oxide emissions in areas of Michigan significantly affected by diesel emissions. Michigan is due to receive about $60 million for potential projects to address diesel emission reductions.

– Mr. Great Lakes is heard at 9 a.m. Fridays in Bay City, Michigan, on Delta College Q-90.1 FM NPR.

Follow @jeffkart on Twitter #MrGreatLakes

 

Michigan Tech Part of Cellulosic Ethanol Milestone, US at Bottom of Sustainable List

For Oct. 10, 2014

 

1 – You may have heard of cellulosic ethanol, or biofuel made from trees and woody plants, instead of corn.

It’s been talked about for years, but progress has been slow. A Michigan University can now take credit for what’s being called a milestone.

Michigan Technological University in Houghton reports that the first commercial quantities of cellulosic ethanol that meets federal standards have gone to market.

This is a big deal because U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Renewable Fuels Standard mandates that cellulosic ethanol be blended into gasoline for use in vehicles.

American Process Inc., an Atlanta-based company, is producing the cellulosic ethanol at a demonstration plant in Alpena.

The ethanol is being produced by converting the wastewater stream from a nearby hardboard panel plant into biofuel.

The process was developed with help from scientists and engineers at Michigan Tech, using funding from the U.S. Department of Energy and the state of Michigan.

The company says this production is only a start; about 2,000 to 3,000 gallons, or half of each ethanol shipment, is qualified as cellulosic ethanol under EPA standards.

At full capacity, the biorefinery is designed to produce about 894,000 gallons of cellulosic ethanol annually, using forest residue woodchips as a feedstock.

2 – People are more concerned about the environment these days, but the United States is at the bottom of the list when it comes to sustainable behavior.

greendex 2014 americans us

We’re 18th! Via the Greendex 2014 report.

A new global Greendex study released by the National Geographic Society and GlobeScan finds that concern about environmental problems has increased in most countries surveyed.

For instance, more people now expect global warming will negatively affect them during their lifetime than in 2012.

Still, the study says sustainable consumer behavior related to housing, transportation, food and consumer goods has only grown slowly.

Among the top findings this year:

  • Sixty-one percent of consumers globally say they are very concerned about environmental problems, 5 percent higher than in 2012.
  • Environmentally friendly behavior has increased in nine of the 17 countries that were surveyed in 2012. But sustainable behavior has decreased among consumers in five countries: the United States, Canada, China, Germany, and Japan.
  • U.S. consumer behavior also still ranks as the least sustainable of all countries surveyed since the inception of the study in 2008.
  • Top-scoring consumers in the 2014 study were in India and China, followed by consumers in South Korea, Brazil and Argentina.

— Mr. Great Lakes is heard at 9 a.m. Fridays in Bay City, Michigan, on Delta College Q-90.1 FM NPR.

Climate Change in the Great Lakes, Protecting Children’s Health, and Fighting Mussels with Algae

[audio https://dl.dropbox.com/s/s8ffqkq1nm5kj3e/5-16-14-mrgreatlakes.mp3]

For Friday, May 16, 2014

1 – Climate change will heighten ongoing risks to the Great Lakes, according to a new National Climate Assessment.

climate change great lakes midwest

Cover of the National Climate Assessment.

The assessment is a product of the U.S. Global Change Research Program, which was established by Presidential Initiative in 1989.

The latest report says that in the Midwest, longer growing seasons and rising carbon dioxide levels will increase yields of some crops. However, those benefits will be offset by extreme weather events. In the long term, we can expect decreased agricultural productivity.

Per capita emissions of greenhouse gases in the Midwest are more than 20 percent higher than the national average. Extreme rainfall events and flooding have increased in the last 100 years. These trends are expected to continue, causing erosion, declining water quality, and negative impacts on transportation, agriculture, human health, and infrastructure.

For the Great Lakes, the effects include changes in the range and distribution of certain fish species.

What’s to be done? The report says planning for adaptation – to address and prepare for impacts – and mitigation – to reduce future climate change – is becoming more widespread. But, “current efforts are insufficient to avoid increasingly negative social, environmental, and economic consequences.”

2 – Protecting children from environmental health hazards is the goal of new Children’s Environmental Health “wiki.”

The “wiki,” an online database, was recently launched by the Michigan Network for Children’s Environmental Health and the Ecology Center in Ann Arbor.

The Network and the Center developed the wiki as a platform for people interested in sharing research that addresses links between health problems and environmental exposures, along with related reports, policy activity and recommendations. It’s been a two-year project.

The site will be monitored by experts to assure that the information presented is based on well-referenced scientific evidence.

The wiki is organized around critical child health issues including respiratory health, asthma and cancer.

The Network and Center are inviting the research community, parents, advocates and others to join the community of people contributing to the database.

An introduction is here.

3 – Scientists at Wayne State University are researching how algae might help disrupt reproduction of zebra and quagga mussels in the Great Lakes.

Collecting quagga mussels. Credit: USFWS.

Collecting quagga mussels. Credit: USFWS.

Preliminary research indicates that algae produce chemicals that may inhibit spawning in the invasive mussels.

Researchers are trying to identify chemical cues released by algae, and determine how those could be used to develop a control strategy.

Such an ecological strategy would be a cleaner alternative to attacking the mussels with toxic chemicals.

Zebra and quagga mussels have caused widespread damage to the lakes since arriving in the 1980s in ballast tanks of oceangoing ships.

The mussels deprive fish of food, crowd out native mussels and clog water intake pipes.

Via AP

– Mr. Great Lakes, as heard at 9 a.m. Fridays in Bay City, Michigan, on Delta College Q-90.1 FM NPR.

 

Great Lakes Climate Change, Biting Mosquitoes, and Frog-Bit

As heard at 9 a.m. Fridays in Bay City, Michigan, on Delta College Q-90.1 FM. The Environment Report, with Mr. Great Lakes (Jeff Kart). The report for Aug. 16, 1977 2013.

1 – How will the impacts of climate change be felt in Michigan and other states in the Great Lakes region?

For Bay County, the economy is moderately dependent on climate-vulnerable sectors, including farming, timber and especially tourism.

The information comes from a new interactive map launched by the University of Michigan and the Headwaters Economics research group.

The map includes social, economic and demographic statistics on counties in the Great Lakes region. That information is overlaid with data on municipal spending, land-use change and climate-change characteristics.

The map is meant to provide easy access to data, and help decision-makers plan for, and adapt to, regional impacts of climate change.

In Bay County, the average summer temperature has fallen by 0.2 degrees, according to the data.

Winter temps have increased by 2 degrees, and spring precipitation has increased by 10.6 percent.

This is when comparing 30-year averages from 1951-1980 and 1981-2010.

The online map and more information is available from U of M’s Graham Sustainability Institute.

2 – Before you swat a mosquito, protect yourself.

The Bay County Mosquito Control department says West Nile virus has been detected in the county and surrounding areas.

The department offers several tips to protect yourself against the virus:

  • Apply insect repellents

  • Empty standing water from containers or plastic wading pools

  • Mosquito-proof your home by installing screens

  • Keep ditches, drains, and culverts clear of weeds and trash for proper drainage

  • Change bird bath water weekly

  • Keep grass cut short and shrubbery trimmed

  • Use fine mesh screen on the top of rain barrels. The mesh will prevent female adult mosquitoes from reaching the water surface to lay eggs.

The West Nile virus is transmitted by mosquitoes who bite infected birds, and can cause sickness in humans, and in rare cases, death.

So far this year, there has been just one reported human case of West Nile in Michigan, in St. Joseph County along the Indiana border, according to U.S. Geological Survey.

3 – Here’s a new invasive species to add to the list: European frog-bit.

It’s been observed just north of Bay City and in Alpena, according to a group that tracks invasives in the Midwest.

The Midwest Invasive Species Network describes European frog-bit as a perennial, free-floating aquatic herb that forms large colonies, creating dense mats with tangled roots.

The plant resembles a tiny water lily, and occurs in shallow, slow-moving water on the edge of lakes, rivers, streams, swamps, marshes and ditches, according to the network.

The species is new enough that no control measures have been reported. But monitoring is occurring.

European frog-bit is native to Europe, and parts of Asia and Africa. It crowds out native plants and prevents sunlight from reaching submerged plants. When a large colony dies, decomposition and removal of oxygen from the water can harm fish.

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Michigan Beach Closures, and Obama’s Climate Plan for the Great Lakes

Mr. Great Lakes (Jeff Kart). The Environment Report, for June 28, 2013. Part of Friday Edition, on Delta College Q-90.1 FM.

1 – Michigan beaches were closed for hundreds of days in 2012.

beach-bay-city-state-rec-area-muck

The beach at the Bay City State Recreation Area in Bay County.

That’s according to an annual (2012) beach monitoring report from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

In Michigan, beaches are monitored by local health departments, who test for E. coli bacteria in swimming areas during the summer months.

Monitoring was conducted last year at 423 public beaches in 56 Michigan counties.

There were a total of 166 postings for advisories or closures, which lasted a total of 755 days.

The number and percentage of public beaches with high bacteria levels was slightly lower than in 2011. The total number of days with advisories or closures also fell from 913 in 2011 to 755 in 2012.

In Bay County, a boat launch on the Kawkawlin River was under an advisory or closure for a total of 79 days in 2012.

Brissette Beach on Saginaw Bay was closed for four days.

Pinconning Park’s beach was closed for five days.

South Linwood Beach was closed for three days.

Wenona Beach was closed for two days.

A Portsmouth Township beach was closed for seven days.

2 – A new plan announced by President Obama to fight climate change is “welcome news for the Great Lakes.”

The Alliance for the Great Lakes, an environmental group, says climate change is already affecting the lakes, and the trend is expected to continue.

The group points to warmer Lake Michigan temperatures, warmer winter air temperatures, and reduced ice cover.

The Obama plan is aimed at reducing carbon emissions, which contribute to climate change.

Key points include directing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to work with states, industry and other stakeholders to establish carbon pollution standards for new and existing power plants, and directing the Department of the Interior to permit more wind and solar projects on public lands.

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Midland man to document Greenland warming, updates on energy forums and Bay City transport projects

Mr. Great Lakes (Jeff Kart). As heard in Bay City, Michigan, on Friday Edition – 9 a.m., May 17, 2013, on Delta College Q-90.1 FM

1 – Midland resident Peter Sinclair will join a scientific team on the Greenland ice sheet this summer.

greenland frozen meltpond

Via NASA

Along for the ride will be well-known climate activist and writer Bill McKibben, who will cover the journey for Rolling Stone magazine.

The effort is called the DarkSnowProject, and it’s being led by Jason Box, formerly of the Byrd Polar Center at Ohio State, now with the Denmark Geological Survey.

Box and the team will be sampling snow at key points on the ice sheet, to determine the causes of a decreased whiteness that has been observed in the past decade. A darkening of the ice causes more solar energy to be absorbed, and more melting.

Box recruited Sinclair to document the expedition in video and photos.

Sinclair produces a popular YouTube series called “Climate Denial Crock of the Week,” which pokes fun at those who doubt the science of global warming and climate change.

The expedition has been funded through private donations and via an Internet campaign.

The researchers will be on the Greenland ice during late June and early July.

2 – Earlier this year, state-sponsored forums on Michigan’s energy future were held throughout the state, including on March 4 at Delta College.

A recent analysis by the Michigan Land Use Institute says the seven forums drew big crowds and strong support for clean energy development.

All but two of the forums attracted full houses, and a total of almost 250 people spoke during the sessions.

A coalition that’s pushing for higher renewable and energy efficiency requirements in the state said a majority of commenters at each forum endorsed one or both of the goals.

State officials are now mulling more than 1,000 comments submitted as part of the sessions. They are to be presented to Gov. Rick Snyder this fall, and he plans to offer recommendations in December.

Michigan’s current standard requires utilities to generate 10 percent of their power from renewable sources like wind and solar by 2015.

3 – The Bay City Area Transportation Study is hosting an open house on May 30 in Bay City.

The Study helps channel federal money to road and transportation projects in the area. Bay County planners are seeking public comment on a proposed Transportation Improvement Program for 2014 through 2017.

The public open house will be held on Thursday, May 30, from 4-7 p.m. at the Wirt Library in Bay City.

All users of the transportation system in the Bay City Area, from pedestrians and bicyclists to bus riders, commuters, truckers and shippers are invited to attend.

There also are opportunities to review the plan and comment by phone, fax, mail and email until June 4.

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Michigan Waterfowl Legacy adds Saginaw Bay, Midland wants a bioreactor, and Climate Change is already here

Mr. Great Lakes (Jeff Kart). As heard in Bay City, Michigan, at 9 a.m. Fridays on Delta College Q-90.1 FM.

michigan midwest climate change temperatures rising

From Chapter 18 of the National Climate Assessment draft.

Text and info from the Feb. 1, 2013, broadcast:

1- The Michigan Waterfowl Legacy program now includes Saginaw Bay.

Michigan Waterfowl Legacy is a recently launched statewide initiative that seeks to bring hunters and non-hunters together to restore, conserve and celebrate Michigan’s waterfowl, wetlands and waterfowl hunting community.

The Legacy is a 10-year, cooperative partnership between various government agencies and non-government conservation organizations — including the Bay City-based Saginaw Bay Watershed Initiative Network.

The Saginaw Bay watershed is the largest in Michigan, draining about 15 percent of the state’s waterways.

Goals of the Legacy program here include increasing the number of citizens in the region who are using and enjoying wetlands, and building on successful partnerships that have resulted in increased wetland and waterfowl habitat.

Plans include the promotion of Saginaw Bay tourism opportunities related to waterfowl and wetlands, and the development of Saginaw Bay-specific Michigan Waterfowl Legacy events, such as waterfowl hunting, birding, and trapping workshops.

Many of the new Saginaw Bay events will occur on waterfowl areas managed by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, and tie into a new DNR campaign called “Explore Michigan’s Wetland Wonders.”

The project has been funded by a $27,500 grant from the Saginaw Bay Watershed Initiative Network, supported by area foundations.

2 – A bioreactor project is planned for a Midland landfill.

The city of Midland is requesting a construction permit from the state for a research, development, and demonstration project at an existing solid waste landfill.

According to a permit application, on file with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality in Bay City, the project is designed to study the effect of adding sludge from the wastewater treatment process to solid waste at the landfill.

Adding sludge to the landfill is expected to optimize conditions for the biological decomposition of solid waste.

The landfill is 340 acres, and located on East Ashman Street in Midland.

The project also could increase the life of the landfill, and the amount of electricity generated from existing landfill gas extraction equipment.

A decision from the DEQ is expected by late April.

3 – Climate change is already impacting wildlife in Michigan.

Case studies from across the country show that global warming is altering wildlife habitats, according to a new report from the National Wildlife Federation, covering eight regions of the U.S.

Highlights from the Great Lakes and Midwest include: More heavy rainfall events are increasing runoff of nutrients from agricultural lands, contributing to harmful algal blooms and causing oxygen-depleted dead zones in the lakes.

The report recommends action to reduce the amount of toxic pollution from coal-fired energy, and support for more wind, solar, and geothermal energy projects.

Meanwhile, a recently released draft National Climate Assessment from the federal government concludes that climate change will lead to more frequent and intense Midwest heat waves, while degrading air and water quality and threatening public health.

Intense rainstorms and floods also will become more common, and existing risks to the Great Lakes will be exacerbated.

The National Climate Assessment’s Midwest chapter (pdf) was authored by three University of Michigan researchers.

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