Chicago's "garden on the water" got over-watered last week.
With more than six miles of shoreline, the Chicago Botanic Garden offers an idyllic green scenery along a waterfront. But when last week's inundation sent the garden’s lake levels soaring by more than five feet, the scene looked more like a swamp. And it was the actions of native plants – and the U.S. Army – that saved it.
The rising water swallowed stone lanterns on the shores of the Japanese Garden. In the past, such flooding would have sucked soil away from the garden’s shorelines.
When Chicagoans voted for electricity aggregation in 2012, becoming the largest city in the U.S. to do so, they gave the city power to negotiate a new price for electricity on their behalf.
Pooling customers saves money, but it also gives them a unified voice that they can use to demand renewable energy.
Somewhat ironically, however, state requirements meant to encourage renewable energy development in Illinois could dampen aggregation’s potential to do just that.
The state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard requires Illinois energy suppliers purchase 25 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2025. But they can meet half of that requirement by buying renewable energy credits (RECs) from out-of-state producers.
Though a sixth-grade sit-in betrayed her activist roots, Kimberly Wasserman Nieto never planned to be a community organizer like her parents. Wasserman, who is executive director of the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO), won the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize Monday. The 36-year-old Little Village resident led the charge to close Midwest Generation’s Crawford coal plant in her neighborhood and the Fisk power plant in Pilsen. LVEJO’s success has been recognized worldwide, but the attention has only sharpened Wasserman’s focus on environmental justice at home in Chicago.
Chris Bentley: You first became concerned about the health impacts of living near coal power plants when your young son suffered his first asthma attack, around the same time you started at LVEJO.
Inundated by nearly 5 inches of rain in less than 36 hours, Chicago water officials have had to "re-reverse" the flow of the Chicago River, opening the large gates that separate Lake Michigan from the river to relieve pressure on a sewer system swollen with runoff and waste.
As Chicago Magazine’s Whet Moser reported, the deluge has easily outpaced recent upgrades to the city's water and sewage infrastructure.
Since Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson proposed the first Earth Day more than 40 years ago, the day of environmental action has morphed into something quite different — not unlike the environmental movement itself.
Greenwashing is ubiquitous year-round, but it’s especially in bloom around April 22. Take the particularly brazen example of an Earth Day poster contest in Utah that asked schoolchildren to sing the praises of oil, gas and mining. It’s enough to turn some off to the idea entirely, as it has for writer Marc Gunther:
So why do I hate #EarthDay?
In response to years of what he views as dithering and ineffectual responses by government to the problem he helped identify, climate scientist James Hansen cited a moral obligation in leaving his post at NASA to campaign more actively for political and legal efforts to limit greenhouse gas emissions.
Hansen spent more than four decades forging the scientific basis for manmade climate change. In 1988 he was among the first to sound off on global warming’s hazards, and earlier this month he announced his next paper would be his last for NASA.