WBEZ | EcoMyths http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en EcoMyths: Food Waste - Garbage Disposal (water) vs. Trash (landfill) http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths/ecomyths-food-waste-garbage-disposal-water-vs-trash-landfill-110710 <p><p>Is it better for Mama Earth to dispose of food waste by putting it down the sink disposal or into the trash? In the latest <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths"><em>EcoMyths </em></a>segment, Kate Sackman joins Jerome McDonnell to tackle the age-old question of whether it&#39;s greener to send food waste down the sink and into our water system, or just to throw it in the landfill-bound trash can. Providing them with the answers are Eric Masanet, PhD, life cycle analysis expert at <a href="http://www.mech.northwestern.edu/people/faculty/profiles/masanet-eric.html">Northwestern University</a>, and Debra Shore, commissioner of the <a href="http://www.debrashore.org/mwrd.html">Metropolitan Water Reclamation District</a> of Chicago.</p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-b6c8c32c-18a0-e8e9-7139-2698da4b7a2e"><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/164883768&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>We asked Eric and Debra to shed light on that age-old mystery: Is it eco-friendly to put food waste down the disposal? Though they speak from different perspectives, both experts agree that generally speaking, wastewater treatment is more efficient than landfills. Moreover, the potential benefits they offer such as <a href="http://www.epa.gov/methane/agstar/anaerobic/ad101/index.html">biogas</a> and <a href="http://www.mwrd.org/irj/portal/anonymous?NavigationTarget=navurl://30390d6b4e120b58349ce665e562820f">biosolids</a> recovery make them hands-down the greener choice when compared with landfills. In Chicago, you can see this play out in the wastewater treatment plants that use a process called anaerobic digestion to convert methane to clean energy (rather than it being released as greenhouse gases into our already overtaxed atmosphere). You can also see the value in Maggie Daley Park, where some of the nutrient-rich biosolids from waste-water facilities are now enjoying a second life as soil fertilizer.</p><p>Still&mdash;though using a disposal to get rid of old food is generally greener than tossing it in the trash, it is NOT the best way to address our food waste issues. The single greenest thing we can do is to reduce food waste in the first place&mdash;an important task, considering that we waste about a third of food our food globally, according to several sources like <a href="http://www.nrdc.org/food/files/wasted-food-ip.pdf">this eye-opening NRDC report</a> on food waste.</p><p>So what&#39;s green, greener, and greenest in the world of food waste? It goes a little something like this:</p><ul><li><em>Not-so-green</em>: Throwing it in the trash</li><li><em>Light green</em>: Putting it down the disposal</li><li><em>Green</em>: Using it as compost</li><li><em>Greenest</em>: Eating it! (Or, just buying what you know you will eat.)</li></ul><p><strong>One Green Thing You Can Do</strong></p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" courtesy="" environment.="" green="" of="" one="" photo="" protect="" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/EcoMyths-One%20Green%20Thing.jpeg" style="float: right; width: 402px; height: 240px;" the="" title="Ecomyths says you can do One Green Thing to protect the environment. (Photo courtesy of EcoMyths)" to="" /></div><p>Reduce food waste by making a grocery list. (Yes, <a href="http://mashable.com/2012/09/07/apps-organize-grocery-list/">there&#39;s an app for that</a>!)</p><p>Wanna go further? Plan your weekly meals before shopping, and don&rsquo;t buy more than you need for each menu item. Next step: compost what</p><p>leftovers you have no choice but to discard. Not sure how to do it? Check out these <a href="http://www.organicgardening.com/learn-and-grow/composting-101" target="_blank">Composting 101 tips</a>.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>For more where that came from, including all the relevant science studies for anyone who&#39;s up for a truly deep dive, <a href="http://www.ecomythsalliance.org/2014/08/sink-disposals-vs-trashcans/">read the myth</a>.</p></p> Tue, 26 Aug 2014 09:11:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths/ecomyths-food-waste-garbage-disposal-water-vs-trash-landfill-110710 EcoMyths: We can experience nature and art together http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths/ecomyths-we-can-experience-nature-and-art-together-110675 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/ecomyths.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><a href="http://www.ecomythsalliance.org/">EcoMyths Alliance</a> says: &ldquo;Too often, we think of nature and art as unrelated experiences. One is outside, the other is inside. But the way humans experience nature and art has been powerfully linked throughout history...And when that art speaks to us, it in turn deepens our connection with the world around us.&rdquo; For our regular <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths"><em>EcoMyths</em></a> segment, <a href="https://www.fieldmuseum.org/about/staff/profile/416">Alaka Wali</a>, anthropology curator at <a href="https://www.fieldmuseum.org/">The Field Museum</a>, joins Kate Sackman and Jerome McDonnell to share why she believes, &ldquo;engaging with art, whether viewing or making it yourself, gives you a visceral experience. This aesthetic, emotional experience [can be a] great way to engage with nature.&quot;<iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/160840481&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-92fe108d-f057-a90e-069f-fd6c5c486bf9"><strong>Key ways art and nature influence each other:</strong></p><p dir="ltr"><em>&middot; Scientifically grounded art brings natural science to life:</em> Many people find science simply over their heads. Art can bridge the gap by enabling us to visualize what otherwise may seem remote or irrelevant. Audubon did this with detailed renderings of birds, just as the Field Museum does with artistic dioramas, which evoke a sense of the habitat and behavior of any given species, as well as its<a href="http://restoringearth.fieldmuseum.org/"> Restoring Earth</a> exhibit, which brings conservation science to life with mini-collections created by visitors. Wali also cites the example of the international<a href="http://crochetcoralreef.org/"> Crochet Coral Reef</a>, which raises awareness about coral reef destruction using an intricate crochet technique (get the full scoop in<a href="http://www.ted.com/talks/margaret_wertheim_crochets_the_coral_reef"> this TED Talk</a>).</p><p dir="ltr"><em>&middot; Nature-themed art opens doors to other worlds &ndash; including the one outside:</em> Museums can inspire us to head outside, whether it&#39;s the urban kid who doesn&#39;t realize how much nature is all around us until he sees an exhibit on local wildlife, or the art afficionado, inspired to book a trip to the gardens at Giverny and see the famed water lilies for themselves.</p><p dir="ltr"><em>&middot; Nature-inspired art inspires us to make a difference: </em>Because environmental topics can be overwhelmingly complicated, sometimes a single image is most effective in inspiring action. For example: To<a href="http://www.rare.org/history"> save an endangered parrot</a> native to St. Lucia, international conservation group<a href="http://www.rare.org/"> Rare</a> worked with schools to develop artwork, which eventually became a postage stamp, generating major community support for active protection of the bird. Another example: National Geo photographer Joel Sartore&#39;s<a href="http://photoark.com/galleries/"> Photo Ark</a> documents vulnerable species like the Carolina Grasshopper sparrow, which now has a real<a href="http://photoark.com/measurable-success-for-photo-ark/"> chance for comeback from decline</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">Stories like these abound: An artful interpretation of nature can, and has, inspired some of our noblest actions.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>EcoMyths Outcome</strong></p><p dir="ltr">Is getting outdoors the only way to experience nature? Nope! Is going to the museum the only way to experience art? Not a chance. Art can provide a meaningful portal into understanding and connecting with nature&mdash;and vice versa.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>One Green Thing: Let the great outdoors inspire your own art</strong></p><p dir="ltr">Whether it&rsquo;s<a href="http://photography.nationalgeographic.com/photography/photo-tips/nature-landscape-photos/"> snapping an artful shot</a> with your phone,<a href="http://www.creative-writing-now.com/how-to-write-a-haiku.html"> writing a haiku</a> about the crazy shapes of the clouds, or<a href="http://www.amusingplanet.com/2013/01/incredible-balancing-stones-by-michael.html"> balancing river rocks</a>, getting creative in the great outdoors is a powerful way to commune with nature.</p></p> Tue, 29 Jul 2014 08:50:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths/ecomyths-we-can-experience-nature-and-art-together-110675 EcoMyths: Trees Cooling the Climate http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths/ecomyths-trees-cooling-climate-110420 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Tree hugger.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>The science is clear that trees help reduce the effects of Climate Change because they remove carbon dioxide from our atmosphere. For our EcoMyths segment, Kate Sackman joins us to talk with Robert Fahey from Morton Arboretum. They want us to know that &ldquo;treehugging is cool&rdquo; for us and the environment. Fahey studies forest ecosystems and urban forestry and admits to hugging trees, but clarifies that it&#39;s &quot;usually for research purposes.&quot;</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/155848109&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;visual=true" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><strong><u>Urban Trees Cool Chicago Saving $44 million annually</u></strong></p><p>What&rsquo;s cool depends on who you&rsquo;re asking. James Dean was definitely cool, <a href="http://www.metrolyrics.com/cooler-than-me-lyrics-mike-posner.html">Mike Posner</a>, not so much, and tree hugging &ndash; well, again, it depends who you are asking.</p><p>Today on <em>Worldview</em>, Jerome McDonnell and I explored the topic of how trees cool our homes, our cities, and our planet. We invited <a href="http://www.mortonarb.org/science-conservation/scientists-and-staff/robert-t-fahey">Robert Fahey PhD</a>, an expert in forest ecosystems at the Morton Arboretum, to tell us about the amazing things that trees do as well as the threats to trees caused by the warming planet. As many know, carbon dioxide (CO2) occurs in the atmosphere naturally as part of the cycle of life on earth. But excess CO2 emitted into the atmosphere causes planetary temperatures to rise. Fahey explains that forests and trees absorb much of that carbon from the atmosphere, store it in their wood, and emit oxygen in return, making forests extremely important for mitigating climate change.</p><p>He described how forests around the world, including in Borneo, the Amazon, and Siberia, suffer the impacts of global temperature rise, such as fire, severe storm damage, and drought. In the Midwest and Eastern U.S., many of our native trees, such as oaks, are hearty in a broad range of temperatures, but remain vulnerable to insects and pathogens that thrive in warmer climates. These living threats include emerald ash borer in the Midwest and the mountain pine beetle which is devastating forests in the Mountain West. Fahey says that the management policy in large forests is to let trees adapt naturally. But in urban settings, we can select trees that are more resilient to various urban stresses.</p><p>In cities such as Chicago, &ldquo;trees are extremely important for reducing energy costs and cooling the city&rdquo; Fahey says. He said a recent study &ldquo;estimated that the urban forests in the Chicago region reduce energy costs by about $44 million per year&rdquo; in addition to reducing the amount of carbon released into the atmosphere due to less fossil fuel burned that would have been used to create that energy.</p><p><u><strong>One Green Thing</strong></u></p><p>Plant a native tree! If you don&#39;t have space to do so, you can also donate to a tree-planting effort like the <a href="http://shop.arborday.org/content.aspx?page=Commemorative">Arbor Day Foundation</a>, or volunteer at a forest preserve on a planting day.</p><p><strong>Listen to the Worldview podcast (above) </strong>for the whole story and to learn more about the Global Feedback Cycle that includes trees and CO2. For a deeper dive, Read the Myth at <a href="http://www.ecomythsalliance.org/">ecomythsalliance.org</a>.&nbsp;</p><ul><li><a href="http://www.ecomythsalliance.org/2014/06/myth-treehugging-isnt-cool/">EcoMyth: Tree Hugging Isn&rsquo;t Cool</a></li><li><a href="http://www.ecomythsalliance.org/2014/06/global-warmings-not-so-hot-impact-on-trees/">Blog: Global Warming&rsquo;s Not-So-Hot Impact on Trees</a>: A closer look at the Science</li></ul></p> Tue, 24 Jun 2014 09:09:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths/ecomyths-trees-cooling-climate-110420 EcoMyths: Paper or plastic? The answer may be 'neither' http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths/ecomyths-paper-or-plastic-answer-may-be-neither-110251 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/ecomyths-plastic paper.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Chicago&#39;s new plastic bag restriction represents an effort to green up the city, but does it imply that paper is the eco-friendly choice? Northwestern University&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.mech.northwestern.edu/people/faculty/profiles/masanet-eric.html">Eric Masanet</a> joins Kate Sackman from <a href="http://www.ecomythsalliance.org/2014/05/myth-paper-bags-are-greener-than-plastic/">EcoMyths Alliance</a> to discuss the environmental effects of both paper and plastic single-use bags.</p><p><span id="docs-internal-guid-64ee338f-4856-4acf-e34a-1f88e793c45a"><iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/151549171&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;visual=true" width="100%"></iframe></span></p><p><strong>The Myth</strong></p><p>In his introduction to sustainable engineering classes at Northwestern University, professor Eric Masanet likes to set the tone for the semester by posing the once ubiquitous checkout question: &quot;Paper or plastic?&quot; For many of his eager young students, the answer seems obvious&mdash;paper breaks down fast in the environment, is easy to recycle, and comes from trees. Meanwhile, plastic is notorious for building up indefinitely in the environment, harming aquatic ecosystems and clogging drains, and is made from fossil fuel. With all that in mind, it&#39;s easy to conclude that paper bags are the eco-winner.</p><p><strong>The Facts</strong></p><p>But life cycle analysis (LCA)&mdash;i.e., measuring an item&#39;s cradle-to-grave impact&mdash;reveals a more complex picture. In terms of single use bags, &quot;the science shows that moving from plastic to paper is not necessarily &#39;greener,&#39;&quot; says Masanet. In a nutshell, here are the key categories he says are part of determining the environmental footprint of any bag:</p><ul><li><em>Production</em>: For both plastic and paper, processing raw materials and manufacturing the final product causes pollution and requires energy and water. The numbers are too complex to get into here, but the UK&#39;s Environment Agency&#39;s<a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/291023/scho0711buan-e-e.pdf"> life cycle analysis</a> determined that the impact of paper production on human health and eco-toxicity is &quot;significantly worse&quot; than plastic&#39;s.</li><li><em>Distribution</em>: Simply put, because a paper bag is five to seven times heavier than a plastic bag, transporting paper bags requires more resources to move it from point A to B. With more trucks, you burn more fuel, and you get more greenhouse gas emissions.</li><li><em>End of life</em>: Paper definitely scores points for being easily recycled, or, if trashed, breaking down quickly. But worth noting, too, is that UK LCA&#39;s estimate that 76 percent of plastic shopping bags are reused at least once, which can help reduce the purchase of new trash bags and pet waste bags.</li></ul><p>Does biodegradability trump reuse? Does harming aquatic life outweigh distribution-related air pollution? Masanet cautions us from calling a winner, because there are so many variables involved&hellip;which is why, when he learned of the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-aldermen-crack-down-plastic-bags-pedicabs-110113">City of Chicago&#39;s new bill</a> to restrict plastic bags, he worried it might have the unintended consequence of making paper the de facto eco-hero in this story.</p><p><strong>One Green Thing</strong></p><p>So, what&#39;s a planet-appreciating person to do? You probably know the answer: <a href="http://www.ecomythsalliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/OGT-BYOB.png">BYOB</a>. In terms of legislation, perhaps Chicago can take a cue from cities like <a href="http://bringitaustin.com/ordinance">Austin</a>, TX, which banned businesses from providing single-use bags of any kind, but instead recommends reusables.</p><p>Compared with both paper and plastic single-use bags, reusable bags are &quot;an environmental slam dunk&mdash;if you reuse them,&quot; says Masanet. If you need to buy a bag, opt for <a href="http://www.ecomythsalliance.org/2014/05/ready-to-buy-reusable-bags-for-the-win/">durable recycled plastic options</a> over cotton, unless you plan to reuse the cotton bags hundreds of times.</p><p>To learn more, check out the <a href="http://www.ecomythsalliance.org/2014/05/myth-paper-bags-are-greener-than-plastic/">cartoon and full myth</a> at EcoMyths.</p></p> Tue, 27 May 2014 09:13:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths/ecomyths-paper-or-plastic-answer-may-be-neither-110251 EcoMyths: It's a myth that 'Green Thumbs' are born, not made http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths/ecomyths-its-myth-green-thumbs-are-born-not-made-110093 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/EcoMyths-Soil.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">The long, harsh winter may have delayed things a bit, but it&rsquo;s now time to get moving on your garden. For our EcoMyths segment, <a href="http://www.plantbiology.northwestern.edu/people/students/LaurenUmek.html">Lauren Umek</a>, PhD candidate &amp; Presidential Fellow of &nbsp;Plant Biology and Conservation at Northwestern University/<a href="http://www.chicagobotanic.org/">Chicago Botanic Garden</a> and <a href="http://www.mortonarb.org/science-conservation/scientists-and-staff/bryant-c-scharenbroch">Bryant Scharenbroch</a> who runs the MASS soil science program at <a href="http://www.mortonarb.org/">Morton Arboretum</a>, join Kate Sackman from <a href="http://www.ecomythsalliance.org/">EcoMyths Alliance</a> to tell us why soil matters in cultivating your green thumb.</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/147099079&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;visual=true" width="100%"></iframe></p></p> Tue, 29 Apr 2014 10:11:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths/ecomyths-its-myth-green-thumbs-are-born-not-made-110093 EcoMyths: Myth-If Water Runs Low, We Can Get More Elsewhere http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths/ecomyths-myth-if-water-runs-low-we-can-get-more-elsewhere-110095 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/EcoMyths-Water Supply_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>For our regular EcoMyths segment, in honor of World Water Day, we thought we&#39;d take a hard look at two very different watersheds&mdash;and the very similar reasons that experts believe that using water where it falls is key to sustaining water supply.<iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/140238248&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;visual=true" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><strong>A Tale of Two Regions: The Thirsty Old West and the Great Lakes&nbsp;</strong></p><p>While parched California&#39;s dreamin&#39; all about rain, in the Great Lakes, the jaw-stopping chill that was the Polar Vortex is actually helping increase the region&#39;s long-term water supply. It&#39;s a striking difference, with the West languishing in drought, and the Great Lakes as seemingly water-rich as ever.</p><p>So what can we do to even the playing field between water-rich and thirsty states? At first glance, the possibilities might seem limitless, from piping in water from elsewhere to desalinating what&#39;s already nearby to simply conserving what we&#39;ve got. We set out to solve the problem of water shortage&hellip;but remembering we are mere mortals, contented ourselves with burrowing into the rabbit hole of water policy to give you a basic picture of different opportunities.</p><p>To help navigate the waters, we turned to Jared Teutsch, J.D., water policy advocate at <a href="http://www.greatlakes.org/Document.Doc?id=1017">Alliance for the Great Lakes</a>. He&#39;ll talk about about water conservation efforts, locally and internationally, from Chicago to China.</p></p> Tue, 18 Mar 2014 10:44:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths/ecomyths-myth-if-water-runs-low-we-can-get-more-elsewhere-110095 EcoMyths: Do wildlife need our help in winter? http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths/ecomyths-do-wildlife-need-our-help-winter-109743 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/EcoMyths Wildlife winter.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>With the extra-frigid winter we&#39;ve slogged through, it boggles my mind that <em>any</em> wildlife can survive so many sub-zero days outdoors. It has been hard enough for humans. So at EcoMyths we wondered: how do animals survive this challenge within our vast urban landscape? For our <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths">regular segment</a> on <em>Worldview</em>, Jerome McDonnell and I explored this topic with wildlife expert Bill Ziegler, Senior Vice President of Collections and Animal Programs at the <a href="http://www.czs.org/CZS/Brookfield/Zoo-Home.aspx">Brookfield Zoo</a>.</p><p><strong><iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/134285676&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;visual=true" width="100%"></iframe>Can Wild Animals Be Homeless?</strong></p><p>Bill explained that &quot;many of our native animals are, in fact, homeless because their habitats have been disappeared or dwindled, not just in Illinois, but also further afield.&nbsp; In a well-intentioned effort to beautify our cities and neighborhoods, we have gradually almost completely replaced native habitats that once provided both food and shelter for thousands of species of birds, animals, and insects.&quot;</p><p>Bill continues, &quot;Based on positive motivations, we have planted beautiful exotic flowers, bushes, and trees from other parts of the world. We have cleared oak forests and drained wetlands to build safe, dry homes. And we have replaced our messy native tall grass prairies with pristine lawns so that our kids can play soccer and baseball in the yard.&quot;</p><p><strong>Some Fixes Are As Simple as Falling Off A Log</strong></p><p>Whether inadvertent or not, in many places only small pockets of habitat remain for native creatures such as red fox, white tailed deer, opossum, frogs, salamanders, and songbirds. But even with forest preserves and parks, Bill encouraged us to take steps to help wildlife find food and shelter in residential areas. In our own yards and parks, it can be as simple as keeping a pile of leaves or old hollow logs in the yard over the winter to provide homes for small animals.</p><p>In the summer we can prepare friendly year-round habitat by planting groupings of bushes to provide &ldquo;micro-habitat&rdquo; sanctuaries with seeds and berries for food.</p><p>Bill also emphasized the importance of providing connections between wild spaces. In some parts of Illinois we are fortunate to have many natural greenways due to the efforts of the County Forest Preserves and other conservation organizations. Preserving corridors and providing new connections between separate open areas are essential to the health of the animals, so that they can move easily from place to place to find additional food, shelter, and breeding grounds.</p><p><strong>Where Palm Trees Sway</strong></p><p>Not only did Bill enlighten us on wildlife habitat in Illinois, we also discussed the recovery of panther populations in Florida and vast habitat losses and restoration efforts in Southeast Asia. Development in Florida has drastically reduced the cypress swamps and pinelands which the panther inhabits. Now living in only 5% of its former habitat, the panther is more likely to venture out into human territory. Efforts are underway to expand the Florida Panther habitat so they can live and breed in the large interconnected spaces they need. In much of Southeast Asia, such as Sumatra and Borneo, where rainforests are being clear-cut to make way for profitable palm oil plantations, thousands of plant and animal species have been displaced.Much of the land has become a monoculture &ndash; home to a single species of plant. Orangutans and tigers are being driven out, as are the indigenous people who depend on these forests. In spite of agreements to make these plantations more sustainable, habitats continues to be lost and damaged.</p><p><strong>Healthy Wildlife Habitat is Healthier for Humans Too</strong></p><p>Although the protection of any particular single species may seem unimportant, it turns out that the restoration of native habitats is actually important to the human species as well. Why? Because native plantings absorb rainwater to prevent flooding and refill our groundwater wells; forests absorb excess CO2 from the atmosphere moderating the rate of global warming; native plants attract and support the insects that depend on them; the native insects support the diets of the birds and mammals which in turn help the local plants to thrive by pollinating and spreading their seeds. There is no need to take extreme measures, like throwing out all our exotic plants and flowers from other areas of the world. These help make the landscape beautiful. But non-natives can also co-exist with healthy populations of native plants. Including native plants as part of your landscape can complement your colorful garden and also provide important habitat for local creatures. ;</p><p><strong>One Green Thing You Can Do: <u>Incorporate Native Plants</u></strong></p><p>Bill recommended consulting your local nurseries for advice on incorporating native plants into your yard. Not only will you be helping the wildlife, but your plants will be easier to care for!</p><p>Listen to today&rsquo;s EcoMyths Worldview podcast (link this) to hear the whole interview on the value of snow! To learn more about this myth, listen to the podcast of today&rsquo;s show or go to the <a href="http://www.ecomythsalliance.org/">EcoMyths Alliance website</a> to read further about the how we can help wildlife in winter and all year long.</p></p> Tue, 11 Feb 2014 09:48:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths/ecomyths-do-wildlife-need-our-help-winter-109743 EcoMyths: Snow and Water Supply http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths/ecomyths-snow-and-water-supply-109504 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/ecomyths snow.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><strong><u>The Snow Man Cometh</u></strong></p><p>In the past couple of weeks many of us have seen more snow than we&rsquo;ve seen in a lifetime.Since I grew up in Minnesota, however, the 5 foot snowbanks and freezing temps feel just like home to me. When the first snow falls, I immediately yearn to make snow angels and go skating. But for many, snow can be a real nuisance. So what&#39;s the bright side for those that view the first snow as time to head to Florida?<iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/127588022&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=true" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><strong><u>Snow and Water Supply</u></strong></p><p>On Worldview&#39;s <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths">EcoMyths segment</a>, Jerome McDonnell and I explore if there is anything redeeming about snow. Our guest was Tim Loftus, PhD, Water Resource Planner for Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP). He spearheaded CMAP&rsquo;s recent report on Northeastern Illinois water supply issues. Tim&rsquo;s view is that snow is important, at least somewhat, for replenishing the water supply. But in Illinois, snow only replenishes our drinking water when it falls on Lake Michigan and other open water bodies. As climate change proceeds, Tim says snow will become even less important as the proportion of annual precipitation from rain in the Chicago region increases as the amount of snow decreases.</p><p>Tim points out that in the mountain West, snowfall is significantly more important for restoring the water supply than in the Midwest. This is because in the mountains, melting snow occurs gradually over many weeks or months and flows down gradually refilling the reservoirs and rivers. While a decrease in snowfall in the Great Lakes region is not likely to have much impact, the same trend in the Mountain states would cause significant drought, straining water supplies needed for irrigation and for drinking.</p><p><strong><u>Would You Like Salt With That</u>?</strong></p><p>Here at home, the key issue regarding snow is actually sodium chloride, a.k.a. salt. The rock salt that we use to ice roads and sidewalks washes away when the snow thaws. It ends up in the storm sewers and eventually, our drinking water. Salt also dries out the soil and can damage plants. While there are some salt alternatives, it&#39;s the most common solution for dealing with ice. Tim points out that the short-term advantage of using salt, namely safety, is vital as we continue to use it as a de-icer. However, he says the long-term cost is the accumulation of salt in our water supply. As a result, our grandchildren may have to de-salinate their water in order to drink it, a very expensive and energy intensive process.</p><p><strong><u>One Green Thing</u></strong></p><p>Tim says the alternative to salt is sand. Although it does not melt ice as efficiently as salt, sand is a more benign solution. Sand does not hurt the garden and does not hurt the plants. But, as with salt, it is possible to overuse sand. If sand washes into the storm sewers, the silt can clog sewer pipes and add sediment to the water. But it is still not as damaging as salt.</p><p>The lesser of two evils for making icy winter surfaces safe for walking and driving is to use sand. <strong>The One Green Thing you can do: replace your sidewalk salt with sand to keep chloride out of the water supply -- and to save money for your grandchildren so they don&rsquo;t have to de-salinate their drinking water.</strong></p><p>Listen to today&rsquo;s EcoMyths Worldview podcast (SoundCloud file above) to hear the whole interview on the value of snow!</p><p>To learn more about this myth go to the <a href="http://www.ecomythsalliance.org/">EcoMyths Alliance website</a> to read more on the importance of snow for replenishing our aquifers.</p></p> Thu, 02 Jan 2014 08:44:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths/ecomyths-snow-and-water-supply-109504 EcoMyths: Effect of Global Warming on freshwater fish http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths/ecomyths-effect-global-warming-freshwater-fish-109240 <p><p><strong><u>Let&rsquo;s Get Reel: Warmer Lakes and Streams Devastate Freshwater Fish </u></strong></p><p>If you had wonderful, lazy days fishing at the lake with your grandpa, you would bait the hook, reel in a couple of good sized perch, and bring them back for Grandma to cook.&nbsp; Those days are under threat now, and not just because of our obsession with Twitter and <em>Angry Birds Star Wars</em>.</p><p>We&rsquo;ve all heard about many changes due to of global warming like melting glaciers and unstable, unpredictable weather. But did you know it also affects freshwater fish? Today, Jerome and I talked with <a href="http://www.nwf.org/">National Wildlife Federation</a> spokesperson Frank Szollosi, M.S. to find out why some of our favorite fish species are declining or under threat.<iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/121871672" width="100%"></iframe>Recreational fishing is a big industry with $26 billion spent by consumers every year, according to a newly released <a href="http://www.nwf.org/News-and-Magazines/Media-Center/Reports/Archive/2013/09-04-13-Freshwater-Fish-Climate-Change-Report.aspx">study on freshwater fish by the National Wildlife Federation</a>. Climate change is warming water to the point that cold-water fish species are not only driven north, but are dying. Frank told us that fish species are grouped into three different types of species: cold water, cool water, and warm water fish. Cold water fish become very vulnerable with increasing temperatures, making fish more susceptible to &ldquo;pollution, parasites, and disease&rdquo; according to the study. Species that are unable to migrate to colder, more hospitable waters often fail to reproduce in their native habitat and the populations die out.</p><p>Warmer air temperatures cause increased water temperatures, Frank says. In addition, warm air causes greater evaporation and can lower water levels, resulting in warmer water. Pollution also compounds the impact of warming waters. In the Great Lakes, the western basin of Lake Erie has a significant problem with enormous algae blooms that deplete oxygen from the water, making the water uninhabitable for fish.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" height="182" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/ecomyths fish.jpg" style="float: right;" title="Data from this test is posted and available to Global Lake Ecological Observatory Network, an international group that assesses the impact of climate change and other conditions on freshwater lakes. These scientists maintain that as summer wears on and the water heats up, nitrogen and phosphorous from waste emptying into the lake will increase the growth of algae, turning Lake Lillinonah in Bridgewater, CT into a thick, smelly and slimy green soup. (AP Photo/Lisa Poole)" width="275" /></div><p>Climate Change will accelerate unless we cut our carbon footprints. Frank reminded us that we can make small daily choices that add up. Easy energy efficient changes at home can make a difference, like lowering the thermostat a few degrees in the winter and switching out some of your light bulbs for fluorescents or LEDs. It may not seem like much, but when thousands of us cut our energy usage, we cut down global-warming producing carbon into the atmosphere. Frank gave us hope, but also made it clear that we have to play our part to ensure we don&rsquo;t lose precious fish species in the wild.</p><p>Learn more about this myth! Listen to the podcast of today&rsquo;s show or go to the <a href="http://www.ecomythsalliance.org/">EcoMyths Alliance website</a> to learn more about global warming impacts on freshwater fish.</p></p> Mon, 25 Nov 2013 10:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths/ecomyths-effect-global-warming-freshwater-fish-109240 EcoMyths: Rinsing before recycling? http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths/ecomyths-rinsing-recycling-109244 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/ecomyths recycling.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><strong><u>To Rinse or Not To Rinse: A Recycling Mystery Solved</u></strong></p><p>At EcoMyths, people ask us all the time about recycling. One of the most frequently asked questions is &ldquo;Do you need to rinse all containers before tossing them into the recycling bin?&rdquo; That&rsquo;s a great question and have often wondered that ourselves. To explore this issue on our <strong>EcoMyths</strong> segment on <em>Worldview</em>, Jerome McDonnell and I talked with engineering professor and researcher <a href="http://www.mccormick.northwestern.edu/directory/profiles/Eric-Masanet.html">Eric Masanet, PhD</a>, of Northwestern University.<iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/117664526" width="100%"></iframe>The good news is that more than half of Americans, 58%, say they recycle on a regular basis. Of the 4.5 lbs. of waste that we produce on average per person, each day, we recycle about one-third of it, according to the EPA. Not too shabby, considering how much of all that recycling reduces the amount of garbage going into landfills.</p><p>Most recycling programs in the U.S. co-mingle glass, plastic, aluminum and other recyclables into one bin. Then they are processed together in a single stream at the recycling plant. So Eric advises that most containers be emptied and rinsed out before you toss them into the bin. Yogurt still in the container? Rinse it first. Peanut butter still in the jar? Scoop out what is left, then rinse, before recycling. Why so serious? Because according to Waste Management, the company that collects half of all the curbside recycling in the U.S., a single dirty container can contaminate thousands of pounds of recyclables.</p><p><strong><u>Water you talkin&rsquo; about?</u></strong></p><p>We asked Eric if the extra water used to rinse out the containers would negate the environmental benefits of the recycling itself. He said that even with the water used both at home and at the recycling plant, there are significant water savings compared to what would be used to manufacture new containers from scratch.</p><p>Not only that, the environmental benefits of recycling go well beyond water savings, Eric says. Over the life of a product there are also significant energy savings. For instance, if your peanut butter container is recycled into plastic lumber, energy is saved because the upfront impact of extracting the oil or gas used to manufacture the plastic has been eliminated. In addition, no live trees need to be harvested to create the artificial lumber.</p><p>As a professor of materials and manufacturing that focuses on product life-cycle systems, Eric has much experience researching the economic and resource impacts that occur in manufactured products. A <em>life cycle analysis </em>starts from the time a raw material is mined, drilled, or harvested to the manufacturing and use of the product and until it is disposed of or recycled. Eric points out that when we recycle and re-purpose materials &ldquo;we cut the loop short&rdquo; of the lifecycle of a product, creating significant environmental benefits, not to mention the money that is saved.</p><p>That said, the rules regarding whether you need to rinse out your containers actually vary from city to city. It depends on who collects your recyclables and the capabilities of the facility where those items are recycled. Eric advised us to check on the regulations that apply to your city or town by going to <a href="http://www.Earth911.com">www.Earth911.com</a>.</p><p>I think that not only is Eric incredibly smart, but he makes it really easy to understand the environmental and economic impact of recycling.</p><p>To learn more about this myth, listen to the podcast of today&rsquo;s show or go to the <a href="http://www.ecomythsalliance.org/">EcoMyths Alliance website</a> to read more about <a href="http://www.ecomythsalliance.org/2013/10/myth-you-must-rinse-all-containers-before-recycling-them/">how to rinse your recyclables. </a></p></p> Tue, 29 Oct 2013 09:02:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths/ecomyths-rinsing-recycling-109244