WBEZ | climate change http://www.wbez.org/tags/climate-change Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Last day of Lima climate talks http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2014-12-12/last-day-lima-climate-talks-111227 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/AP288975775932.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The second round of climate talks are wrapping up in Lima, Peru. We talk to Jack Cushman of Inside Climate News about what still needs to be accomplished before the final round of talks in Paris next year.</p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/worldview-lima-climate-talks/embed?header=false&amp;border=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/worldview-lima-climate-talks.js?header=false&border=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/worldview-lima-climate-talks" target="_blank">View the story "Worldview: Last day of Lima climate talks" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Fri, 12 Dec 2014 11:17:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2014-12-12/last-day-lima-climate-talks-111227 Morning Shift: Some religious groups divided on climate change http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2014-12-04/morning-shift-some-religious-groups-divided-climate-change-111188 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Soonlee20091.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>We get a recap of the Illinois General Assembly&#39;s veto session, and discuss different faiths&#39; points of view on climate change. Plus, the music of Porgy and Bess.</p><div class="storify"><iframe src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-110/embed?header=false&border=false" width="100%" height="750" frameborder="no" allowtransparency="true"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-110.js?header=false&border=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-110" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: Some religious groups divided on climate change" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Thu, 04 Dec 2014 07:59:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2014-12-04/morning-shift-some-religious-groups-divided-climate-change-111188 As Keystone XL stalls, another pipeline network moves quietly forward http://www.wbez.org/series/front-and-center-work/keystone-xl-stalls-another-pipeline-network-moves-quietly-forward <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Flanagan 1.jpeg" alt="" /><p><p>The Keystone XL has been in the news a lot lately. The controversial pipeline would carry tar sands oil, a form of crude that is booming in North America. The southern section of the pipeline is already built, but protests have raged over the northern section and the State Department has been hesitant to approve it.</p><p>The Keystone XL&rsquo;s fans say tar sands oil can make us a more energy independent country. But environmentalists oppose it, saying tar sands oil is especially dirty and will <a href="http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/tar-sands-and-keystone-xl-pipeline-impact-on-global-warming/" target="_blank">accelerate climate change</a>.</p><p>But while Keystone XL has stalled, another tar sands project are happening under the radar.</p><p>&ldquo;While all the focus has been on Keystone XL, Enbridge has used existing pipelines and new pipelines next to existing pipelines to create the same system,&rdquo; says Carl Weimer, Executive Director of the <a href="http://pstrust.org/" target="_blank">Pipeline Safety Trust</a>.</p><p>One piece in that pipeline network expects to begin full operations soon. It is called Flanagan South and it starts about two hours south of Chicago at the Flanagan South pump station.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Flanagan South</span><br />The pump station is by a road in the middle of a big field. A few pipes come up above ground and there is a building about the size of a small warehouse. It is all pretty simple-looking for how much will happen here.</p><p>In early December, the oil transport company Enbridge plans to start full operations on the Flanagan South pipeline, pumping 600,000 barrels of oil a day through a pipe about as wide as a hula hoop. The pipeline goes from Illinois to Oklahoma, but is part of a network that stretches up to the Canadian tar sands and down to the Gulf Coast (just like the Keystone.)</p><p>The number of pipelines is the United States is growing because of a booming oil industry in the tar sands of Canada and North Dakota.&nbsp; Enbridge spokesperson Jennifer Smith says that is not only good news for Enbridge&rsquo;s business, it is also good news for states like Illinois. &ldquo;Once Flanagan South [and a number of other Illinois pipelines] are in service for a full year, it will be over an additional 4 million in taxes that Enbridge will contribute to the Illinois economy,&rdquo; said Smith.</p><p>Enbridge hired around 1,000 people during construction of the Illinois section of the pipeline (it estimates about half of those jobs went to Illinois residents). And crude oil imports to the midwest recently hit an all-time high.</p><p>&ldquo;Outside of just the gasoline, jet fuel and diesel, by-products of crude oil are made for plastics, and are made in manufacturing. Our true quality of life depends on crude oil,&rdquo; said Smith.</p><p>In total, Enbridge expects to hire only five permanent position because of the Flanagan pipeline. And Doug Hayes with the Sierra Club say those jobs are just not worth it.</p><p>&ldquo;The 600,000 barrels a day is equal to about 130 million tons of carbon emissions, which is the same as putting 27 million more cars on the road each year,&rdquo; said Hayes.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Escaping public attention</span></p><p>Enbridge used existing pipes to build its new network, reversing some lines and expanding others. One of those existing lines already crossed a Canadian border, so unlike Keystone XL, it did not need state department approval (<a href="http://www.newsweek.com/2014/12/05/all-eyes-keystone-another-tar-sands-pipeline-just-crossed-border-286685.html" target="_blank">though this process has also been controversial</a>).</p><p>The Sierra club&rsquo;s Doug Hayes says the company also used something called a Nationwide 12 permit to build the new Flanagan section. It basically fast-tracks the permitting process. The southern section of the Keystone XL (which is already complete) also used one.</p><p>The permit allowed Enbridge to skip long public comment periods and avoid an environmental review of the Flanagan pipeline in its entirety.</p><p>&ldquo;So the problem is, there was no opportunity for the communities along the pipeline to learn about the dangers of oil spills, the climate impacts, and so forth,&rdquo; said Hayes.</p><p>Hayes represented the Sierra Club in a lawsuit over this permit. The Sierra Club lost, but is appealing.</p><p>Hayes says the case is a big deal because he expects more companies to follow a similar strategy. &ldquo;The tar sands industry is looking at what is happening with Keystone XL and they understand that the more the public learns about these projects, the more opposition grows. So, there has been a concerted effort to permit these pipelines behind closed doors,&rdquo; said Hayes.</p><p>Smith, the Enbridge spokesperson says the company never tried to keep the pipeline quiet and that she helped host open houses and presentations. &ldquo;Everyone is welcome to come and learn about the projects and get their questions answered,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>But when pressed on if Enbridge escaped the more comprehensive environmental review, she is more elusive. She responded to multiple rephrased variations of the question by repeating that the company followed the permitting route that the government laid out for them.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">The risk of oil spills</span></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="20" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/179517057&amp;color=ff5500&amp;inverse=false&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_user=true" width="100%"></iframe>The new Flanagan South pipeline passes through roughly 2,000 waterways or wetlands. The Environmental Protection Agency says tar sands oil presents a different spill risk than conventional oil, because it can sink to the bottom of waterways and does not appreciably biodegrade.</p><p>About four years ago, an Enbridge pipeline carrying tar sands oil ruptured in Michigan.<br />The accident cost just over a billion dollars and still is not cleaned up. A report from National Wildlife Federation says the spill contaminated 30 miles of the Kalamazoo River and provoked evacuations.</p><p>Smith concedes there will always be a risk of spills. But she says if oil is going to move, the safest way to do it is through pipelines. &ldquo;Even according to the U.S. Department of Transportation, pipelines are the safest way to transport oil,&rdquo; said Smith.</p><p>Enbridge says the Michigan spill was quote, &ldquo;The company&rsquo;s darkest time.&rdquo; It says it&rsquo;s updated safety procedures and equipment since then. But pipeline activists say it is difficult to evaluate if that is true. Because of lax government oversight, they say they are left to take the company at its word.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Government Oversight</span></p><p>The National Wildlife Federation&rsquo;s report on the Michigan spill holds Enbridge accountable. But it also blames government agencies.</p><p>&ldquo;The first responders were very ill-prepared to deal with the spill. And a lot of that was the fact that they simply didn&rsquo;t have the information and tools that they needed. That is largely the fault of a federal regulatory agency that did not prepare them properly,&rdquo; said Jim Murphy, lawyer for The National Wildlife Federation.</p><p>Carl Weimer, Executive Director of the Pipeline Safety Trust, says the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) does not have the resources to deal with all the new pipelines.</p><p>&ldquo;So, if there are problems, the regulators may be missing it. So, to a grand degree we are trusting that the pipeline industry is going to do things correctly,&rdquo; said Weimer.</p><p>In a testimony before congress, PHMSA officials said the agency must grow to meet added demands and evolving changes. They also requested additional funding and said the &ldquo;potential to do more remains.&rdquo;</p><p>But Weimer says we can not lay all the blame on the federal government. States can apply to do their own additional monitoring. &ldquo;They can really provide better and more inspections of the pipeline,&rdquo; said Weimer.</p><p>Only a few states have done that, and Illinois is not one of them. But with the growing number of new pipelines in the state, Weimer says maybe it is time to consider it.</p><p><em>Shannon Heffernan is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her @<a href="http://twitter.com/shannon_h" target="_blank">shannon_h</a></em></p><p><em>Front and Center is funded by The Joyce Foundation: Improving the quality of life in the Great Lakes region and across the country.</em></p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 01 Dec 2014 12:32:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/front-and-center-work/keystone-xl-stalls-another-pipeline-network-moves-quietly-forward Capitalism and Climate Change http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2014-10-29/capitalism-and-climate-change-111008 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/AP10042118660_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Journalist, activist and author, Naomi Klein, says climate change could be an opportunity to demand a better world. We talk to her about her new book, &#39;This Changes Everything: Capitalism Vs. the Climate.&#39;</p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/worldview-capitalism-and-climate-change/embed?header=false&amp;border=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/worldview-capitalism-and-climate-change.js?header=false&border=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/worldview-capitalism-and-climate-change" target="_blank">View the story "Worldview: Capitalism and Climate Change" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Wed, 29 Oct 2014 11:12:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2014-10-29/capitalism-and-climate-change-111008 After the march, what's next for climate change? http://www.wbez.org/news/after-march-whats-next-climate-change-110837 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/global warming.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">In the days leading up the 2014 <a href="http://www.un.org/climatechange/summit/" target="_blank">UN Climate Summit</a>, thousands of people marched through New York to bring attention to climate change. Millions around the world joined in the effort, but will the movement last?</p><p>One expert says most of that hinges on whether people think climate change is real. A <a href="http://environment.yale.edu/climate-communication/files/Climate-Beliefs-April-2013.pdf" target="_blank">2013 study</a> by Yale and George Mason universities found nearly two out of three people in the U.S. believe global warming is occurring, but a small percentage of Americans say climate change is all hype.</p><p>Tim Calkins, a marketing professor in the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, says the campaign faces a unique challenge because it has to prove there&rsquo;s a problem. Calkins&nbsp;says the movement is getting it right by providing solid evidence that temperatures are rising.</p><p>In August, scientists at the National Climatic Data Center reported the highest global average of land and ocean temperatures since the center began keeping records in 1880.</p><p>&ldquo;By doing that, all of a sudden it takes that raw data and makes it more personal for people,&rdquo; Calkins&nbsp;said. &ldquo;And when you can really see a picture of it, you say &lsquo;my goodness, look at that it is a problem,&rsquo; and it keeps the belief going.&rdquo;</p><p>Calkins&nbsp;says the effort should be prepared to lose momentum post-march.</p><p>&ldquo;The real issue is how do you keep it going, year after year, because this isn&rsquo;t a problem that you solve one time and then you&rsquo;re done,&rdquo; Calkins&nbsp;said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s sort of an ongoing challenge for all of us.&rdquo;</p><p>Calkins&nbsp;says interest in climate change peaked in the mid-2000s, but lost steam in the last few years. Pointing to the success of public health campaigns for <a href="http://komen.org/" target="_blank">breast cancer</a> and the <a href="http://www.alsa.org/" target="_blank">ALS ice bucket challenge</a>, he says climate change falters because advocates struggle to explain why it matters on a deeper level.</p><p>&ldquo;When you have a disease, and there&rsquo;s some diseases that sort of lend themselves perfectly to engagement, there people see it,&rdquo;&nbsp;Calkins&nbsp;said. &ldquo;They say &lsquo;I know somebody who has this and so it matters a ton. Unless they consistently make it relevant for people, it&rsquo;s going to be tough to keep people fired up over time.&rdquo;</p><p>Confusion over what people can actually do to combat climate change is another issue. Most people agree with the primary point that climate change is a problem and and needs to be addressed, but Calkins says it&rsquo;s the secondary point of what action individuals can take that remains unclear.</p><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s this goal to get a lot of action going, and the challenge is that progress is likely to come in little steps,&rdquo; Calkins said. &ldquo;The risk in that is you don&rsquo;t want people to get discouraged.&rdquo;</p><p>Beyond the <a href="http://peoplesclimate.org/" target="_blank">Climate March</a>, Calkins predicts the movement will be around for years. But for those involved, he says the biggest challenge will be keeping the issues at the front of peoples&rsquo; minds.</p><p>&ldquo;The problem today that people get all excited about something, but then they very quickly move on,&rdquo; Calkins said. &ldquo;The digital world we are in encourages that, because there&rsquo;s so many things that pop up that distract everybody.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Updated Sept. 24, 2014: This story was changed to correct the spelling of the name of professor Tim Calkins.</em></p><p><em>Mallory Black covers water, energy and the environment as WBEZ&rsquo;s Front and Center reporting intern. Follow her<a href="http://twitter.com/triciabobeda"> </a><a href="https://twitter.com/mblack47" target="_blank">@mblack47</a>.</em></p></p> Tue, 23 Sep 2014 15:58:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/after-march-whats-next-climate-change-110837 The problems with Obama's ISIS strategy http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2014-09-22/problems-obamas-isis-strategy-110830 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/AP763262163049.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Last week, congress approved President Obama&#39;s strategy for combating ISIS in Syria and Iraq. We&#39;ll take a critical look at the policy.</p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/worldview-the-problems-with-obama-s-isis-strategy/embed?header=false&amp;border=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/worldview-the-problems-with-obama-s-isis-strategy.js?header=false&border=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/worldview-the-problems-with-obama-s-isis-strategy" target="_blank">View the story "Worldview: The problems with Obama's ISIS strategy" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Mon, 22 Sep 2014 10:58:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2014-09-22/problems-obamas-isis-strategy-110830 Morning Shift: Who's responsible for our global warming crisis? http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-09-17/morning-shift-whos-responsible-our-global-warming <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/NASA Goddard Photo and Video.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>We talk to the author of a new book that unpacks climate change and why there&#39;s still some denying the concept. And, we look at Chicago&#39;s boundary lines. Plus, the Soul Diva stops by for another installment of Reclaimed Soul.</p><div class="storify"><iframe src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-who-s-responsible-for-our-global-war/embed?header=false&border=false" width="100%" height=750 frameborder=no allowtransparency=true></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-who-s-responsible-for-our-global-war.js?header=false&border=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-who-s-responsible-for-our-global-war" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: Who's responsible for our global warming crisis? " on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Wed, 17 Sep 2014 08:45:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-09-17/morning-shift-whos-responsible-our-global-warming Global Activism: Climate Ride organizes rides and hikes for Earth's sustainability http://www.wbez.org/series/global-activism/global-activism-climate-ride-organizes-rides-and-hikes-earths-sustainability <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/ga climate ride.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>It&rsquo;s Thursday and time for our <em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/global-activism">Global Activism</a></em> series. Each Thursday, we hear about people who work to make the world a better place. Today, we&rsquo;ll talk with Caeli Quinn, co-founder of &lsquo;<a href="http://www.climateride.org/">Climate Ride</a>&rsquo;. They organize rides and hikes to benefit sustainability-oriented non-profits. Climate Ride is about to start their first <a href="http://www.climateride.org/events/midwest">Midwest event</a>. It&rsquo;s a 300 Mile ride that starts in Grand Rapids, Michigan and ends at Chicago&rsquo;s Northerly Island on September 9<sup>th</sup> around 4:30pm.</p><p>The work of Climate Ride was suggested by Paul Culhane from <a href="http://www.greatlakes.org/">Alliance for the Great Lakes</a>.</p></p> Thu, 04 Sep 2014 12:20:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/global-activism/global-activism-climate-ride-organizes-rides-and-hikes-earths-sustainability Gone Fishing: Harsh winter brings lake temps down, but not for long http://www.wbez.org/news/gone-fishing-harsh-winter-brings-lake-temps-down-not-long-110690 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Phil%20Willink%201.jpg" style="float: right; height: 400px; width: 300px;" title="Philip Willink of Shedd Aquarium (WBEZ/Lauren Chooljian)" /><a href="http://www.sheddaquarium.org/Conservation--Research/Conservation-Research-Experts/Dr-Phillip-Willink/" target="_blank">Dr. Philip Willink</a> stands at the shore of Chicago&rsquo;s 63rd Street Beach, looking out on to Lake Michigan.</p><p>&ldquo;So what do you see when you look at the lake?&rdquo;</p><p>He asks this question of anyone who joins him on his frequent trips to the shore. Willink is a senior research biologist at the Shedd Aquarium, and so he often visits the shoreline to check on the health of the lake.</p><p>&ldquo;Something I like to do is whenever I go out, I try to do as many things at once: monitoring invasive species, looking for endangered species and just sort of assessing the community on the Chicago Lakefront,&rdquo; Willink said.</p><p>And from the surface, it&rsquo;s impossible to see it all. According to Willink, at any given spot, there could be tens of thousands of fish swimming around: A little-known fact for many local swimmers. Another example: Willink said there are likely quadrillions of invasive zebra mussels and quagga mussels in Lake Michigan.</p><p>You can hear their dead shells crunch as you walk along the shore.</p><p>This year, Willink said, he&rsquo;s stumbled on a few species that he isn&rsquo;t as used to seeing, like Coho salmon, perch and bloaters&mdash;all fish that favor cooler, deeper waters.</p><p>&ldquo;When the bloater showed up it was like &lsquo;oh, okay, something&#39;s really going on,&rsquo; because I think in the past 10 years, I&rsquo;ve only caught one other bloater in a net,&rdquo; Willink said. &ldquo;So catching a half-dozen of them really meant that something different was going on.&rdquo;</p><p>On average, temperatures in Lake Michigan this summer have been much cooler than normal. According to data from the <a href="http://coastwatch.glerl.noaa.gov/webdata/cwops/html/statistic/statistic.html%20" target="_blank">National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration</a>, surface temperatures have been about 2.75 degrees Celsius below average. The managers of this data believe that&rsquo;s likely because of all the ice cover that came along last winter. The Great Lakes were at least 90 percent ice covered last winter, and that hasn&rsquo;t happened since 1994.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/avgtemps-m_1992-2013.gif" title="" /></div><p>Willink said all that cooler water encouraged fish that usually stay deep, deep down in the lake to swim up to the surface.</p><p>&ldquo;Everybody thought it was a harsh winter, and we&rsquo;d have fewer fish. I&rsquo;ve actually found more this year,&rdquo; Willink said. &ldquo;It may very well be that Great Lakes fish like harsh winters, because after all, that was a much more typical winter.</p><p>But some other fishermen aren&rsquo;t so sure of that connection.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/cpt%20rick%204.jpg" style="height: 400px; width: 300px; float: left;" title="Captain Rick Bentley, owner of Windy City Salmon Fishing Charters. (WBEZ/Lauren Chooljian)" />Captain Rick Bentley is the owner of <a href="http://www.windycitysalmon.com/" target="_blank">Windy City Salmon Fishing Charters</a>. He takes groups fishing off Waukegan Harbor in Lake Michigan, so thriving fish make for better business. And he said this spring, the Coho salmon fishing was the best he&rsquo;s ever seen.</p><p>&ldquo;It was excellent. A lot of times in April, we&rsquo;re waiting for Coho to get here. They typically mass up in schools on the way extreme south end of the lake,&rdquo; Bentley said. &ldquo;But we had them right at the beginning of April when we started fishing.&rdquo;</p><p>Bentley said he remembers all the ice cover. It covered the harbor until April 10th, which he said is unusual. But he&rsquo;s not convinced the two things are related.</p><p>&ldquo;You need to have several of those winters in a row, and we really haven&rsquo;t had a winter like that in a while,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;So whether it was due to the winter, we&rsquo;ll have to see about that.&rdquo;</p><p>According to&nbsp;<a href="http://www.lsa.umich.edu/pite/people/facultyassociates/ci.gadenmarc_ci.detail" target="_blank">Marc Gaden</a> of the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, Captain Rick Bentley may not get the chance to make that assessment. Gaden worked on this year&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.globalchange.gov/what-we-do/assessment" target="_blank">national climate change report</a> and he said all the research points in the opposite direction of the thermometer.</p><p>&ldquo;The downward trend is quite unmistakable since the 1970s. And so we&rsquo;ll see fewer and fewer winters where we&rsquo;ll have that significant amount of ice cover in the Great Lakes basin, that&rsquo;s clear from the trends. And the models of climate change scenarios suggest that&rsquo;s not going to change,&rdquo; Gaden said.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/m2013_2014_ice.gif" title="" /></div><p>And in the decades to come, Gaden said that could, among many other things, make the lakes &ldquo;quite an inviting place to some of the invasive species that we&rsquo;re very concerned about like Asian Carp.&rdquo; According to Gaden, that warmer water could also lead to an expansion of species like sea lamprey, quagga and zebra mussels that are already in the lake.</p><p>Back at 63rd Street Beach, Willink said on the one hand, sometimes people tend to forget that the Great Lakes are always changing and they always have been: Fish, animals and plants have survived both warm and cold years before. And, he adds, it is hard to really know how one pattern will affect the ecosystem long term.</p><p>But since this has been an unprecedented rate of change, how the fish will respond is an open question.</p><p><em>Lauren Chooljian is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her at <a href="https://twitter.com/laurenchooljian">@laurenchooljian</a></em></p></p> Fri, 22 Aug 2014 14:02:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/gone-fishing-harsh-winter-brings-lake-temps-down-not-long-110690 Great Lakes' low water levels captivate, worry artists http://www.wbez.org/news/science/great-lakes-low-water-levels-captivate-worry-artists-110672 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/SCHROEDER_WBEZ_2.jpg" title="Tim Schroeder’s pictures of the lakeshore capture the eerie effect of Lake Michigan’s receding water levels. (Tim Schroeder/TWS Photography)" /></div><p>The Great Lakes have been facing some serious challenges, from algae blooms in Lake Erie, to the loss of ice cover in Lake Superior. Water levels in lakes Michigan and Huron have been mostly below their long-term average for fifteen years. <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/what-happens-if-water-lake-michigan-keeps-disappearing-104748">At the start of 2013, they hit record lows</a>, but a long winter with a lot of snow and ice has brought the lakes back up.</p><p>Michigan and Huron, which rise and fall together and have been the hardest-hit by the low water, peaked <a href="http://www.glerl.noaa.gov/data/dashboard/GLWLD.html">just around their long-term average in July</a> (although they&rsquo;re still several inches below their average for this time of year, when the water is typically highest). If the levels in Michigan-Huron stay above the overall average, it will be the first sustained rise since 1998.</p><p>WBEZ has reached out to scientists, fishermen, shippers &mdash; anyone who could shed light on what&rsquo;s happening. It turns out, some of the sharpest observers of the lake&rsquo;s wild swings the last few years are artists. We talked to a photographer and a landscape painter, both of whom look at the same lake, but don&rsquo;t necessarily see the same things.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Lewis-Pier-Photo.jpg" title="Tim Schroeder is a photographer and long-time resident of St. Joseph, Michigan. (Lewis Wallace)" /></div><p>St. Joseph, Michigan is a small town on Lake Michigan about 100 miles from Chicago, a weekend getaway spot.</p><p>At the beach on a bright day, sailboats cruise out of the St. Joseph river and onto the open water. Tim Schroeder says he comes down here all the time to take pictures, or just to observe.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;ve done a lot of photographs of fishermen and stuff on the pier, just the mood of the lake, the atmosphere,&rdquo; he says. Schroeder, 62, has been a <a href="http://www.twsphotography.com/">professional photographer</a> in St. Joseph for 40 years.</p><p>The lakefront is always changing, and Schroeder&rsquo;s photographs show that. They&rsquo;re kind of eerie, mystical photos featuring rocks jutting out into misty skies, the remnants of rotting piers.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/SCHROEDER_WBEZ_1.jpg" title="A photo of Lake Michigan from Tim Schroeder’s collection (Tim Schroeder/TWS Photography)" /></div><p>&ldquo;I can see things now that may not have even been visible before, old pilings, breakwaters, stuff like that,&rdquo; says Schroeder. He says the low water has revealed a lot of visually interesting things that use to be submerged.</p><p>Further north in Michigan, <a href="http://maryeandersen.com/art/">painter Mary Andersen</a> keeps a studio in Grand Rapids. Her house is full of her impressionistic, abstract paintings of the lakeshore, all pale colors and light.</p><p>She often goes back to the same spot over and over as it changes, and just like Tim Schroeder, Andersen has been watching the lake her whole life.</p><p>&ldquo;I grew up looking at it, swimming in it, traveling to the beaches,&rdquo; Andersen says.</p><p>She loves how the shoreline shifts and moves, she says. &ldquo;I find it interesting and exciting. If it was always the same, how boring.&rdquo;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Mary-Andersen-Pic-1.jpg" title="Painter Mary Andersen isn’t particularly worried about the water levels fluctuating. (Lindsey Smith/Michigan Radio)" /></div><p>Schroeder agrees: The constant transformation is inspiring. But back out at the lakefront, he gestures towards a stepladder that goes off the edge of the pier. It&rsquo;s the kind you climb down to get in for a swim, but we&rsquo;re still yards from the actual water and the ladder goes straight into the sand.</p><p>This change &mdash; the water receding &mdash; makes Schroeder uncomfortable.</p><p>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t like seeing the lake levels lower, because I think it&rsquo;s a little unnerving,&rdquo; he says. Like a lot of folks, Schroeder&rsquo;s not exactly sure why the water tends to be lower these days.</p><p>Part of it may be man made; a shipping channel on the other side of Lake Huron has been deepened over and over to keep it passable. Most researchers agree that&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.jsonline.com/news/wisconsin/once-steady-great-lakes-flow-altered-by-dredging-dams-and-now-warming-temperatures-217150821.html">lowered Lake Michigan and Huron by 10-18 inches</a>. In general though, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/what%E2%80%99s-causing-record-low-levels-lake-michigan-105262">lake levels fluctuate based on climate: precipitation and evaporation</a>. The record lows in 2013 were caused by a hot summer and drought, and this past winter&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/just-how-bad-chicago-winter-109637">Polar Vortex</a>, complete with loads of snow and ice, helped bring them back up.</p><p>But now some scientists are saying droughts and lack of ice cover could cause Lakes Michigan and Huron to stay low over the long run. The Council of the Great Lakes Region (CGLR) <a href="http://councilgreatlakesregion.org/projects/low-water-blues/">commissioned a study</a> of a worst-case scenario.</p><p>&ldquo;If we were to see a future, as a result of climate change where water levels in the Great Lakes region would be at their lows for an extended period of time, what would the economic impact be?&rdquo; asks Mark Fisher, CEO of the CGLR.</p><p>The report finds cargo ships would have to reduce their loads for every inch the lakes go down. There are also costs for the exposed and rotting infrastructure Schroeder likes to photograph; tourism and the region&rsquo;s indigenous communities would take a hit, and lakefront property values could also suffer.</p><p>Between now and 2030, the report estimates a potential economic loss of $9.6 billion in the U.S. and Canadian areas surrounding the Great Lakes. By 2050, it would add up to almost $19 billion across the region.</p><p>This is just one scenario, and water levels are difficult to predict beyond about 6 months out. But Fisher says many of the estimates are conservative, and regardless, we need to look at the short-term changes as part of a bigger picture.</p><p>&ldquo;The challenge with climate change is that it&rsquo;s subtle, it&rsquo;s incremental. It&rsquo;s sometimes hard to see depending on where you are in the basin,&rdquo; he says.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Mary-Andersen-Pic-2.jpg" title="Mary Andersen does most of her painting in her home in Grand Rapids, but she also spends hours at the lakeshore observing. (Lindsey Smith/Michigan Radio)" /></div><p>But not everyone is worried about all this &mdash; artist Mary Andersen knows the lake better than most, and she says last year&rsquo;s record low water didn&rsquo;t faze her. &nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;Because I grew up along the lake, I have witnessed the fluctuation in the lake levels three times over my lifetime, from severe lows to record highs,&rdquo; she says.</p><p>In fact, she remembers extremely high water in the 1980s being destructive in its own way, causing erosion on the lakefront, and sometimes flooding low-lying areas.</p><p>Andersen says she is worried about <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/front-and-center-water/drought-drives-drilling-frenzy-groundwater-california-110483">water scarcity and drought in other places</a>, but she&rsquo;s not sure about climate change. She thinks the lake&rsquo;s changes are a natural cycle.</p><p>&ldquo;The fluctuation of the lake levels is not our fault,&rdquo; Andersen says.</p><p>When it comes to fluctuation, most scientists would agree that it is a natural cycle: <a href="http://www.glerl.noaa.gov/data/dashboard/GLWLD.html">The levels have gone from low to high every 10-25 years</a> since humans started recording it about 100 years ago. &nbsp;The concern is that climate change could mean the lows keep getting lower, and the highs never get quite as high.</p><p>But the extremes associated with climate change means it&rsquo;s difficult for scientists to predict; after all, in the middle of winter 2012-2013, no one had any idea the lake levels would <a href="http://w3.lre.usace.army.mil/hh/ForecastData/MBOGLWL-mich_hrn.pdf">rise by several feet in just over a year.</a></p><p>And, lower water levels is only a piece of what could be coming to the Great Lakes.</p><p>&ldquo;It almost feels like death by a thousand cuts to the Great Lakes region,&rdquo; says Beth Gibbons, the project manager with the Great Lakes Climate Change Assessment for Cities (GLAA-C) in Ann Arbor. &nbsp;</p><p>Gibbons is focused on adaptation and preparedness for climate change. &ldquo;We can&rsquo;t wait for a single event &mdash; sea level rise to pass &lsquo;X&rsquo; threshold, a Hurricane Sandy to come up the coast, a wildfire that&rsquo;s burning 800 acres to suddenly threaten one of our major cities. We need to be able to look at this day by day, storm by storm.&rdquo;</p><p>She says we need <a href="http://graham.umich.edu/glaac/great-lakes-atlas">to take stock of what&rsquo;s coming</a> in order to plan for more climate extremes. Most cities in the region haven&rsquo;t even estimated the costs.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/SCHROEDER_WBEZ_7.jpg" title="Photographer Tim Schroeder looks forward to a time when human activity doesn’t threaten the Great Lakes’ health. (Tim Schroeder/TWS Photography)" /></div><p>&ldquo;We can live beautiful lives, we don&rsquo;t have to mess everything up while we&rsquo;re doing it,&rdquo; says Tim Schroeder.</p><p>The photographer insists he&rsquo;s not an activist, but he wants to see all the lake&rsquo;s problems turn around. &ldquo;I mean, there has to be a way to figure out how to do this without poisoning our waterways and without ruining landscapes...I mean, there&rsquo;s just gotta be a balance.&rdquo;</p><p>Schroeder takes in the scene at the lakefront &mdash; it&rsquo;s quiet except for a few kids, and an occasional charter boat coming into the channel.</p><p>&ldquo;I look at these kids playing around on the beach, and one of those kids might be eight years old, well I&rsquo;m 62, so what&rsquo;s it gonna be like when he&rsquo;s 62?&rdquo; Schroeder ask. &ldquo;Is it gonna get to the point where we&rsquo;re using so much water for everything that these piers will basically just become a monument on sand?&rdquo;</p><p>He says he&rsquo;d love to come back to Lake Michigan with his camera in a hundred years, just to see what it looks like then.</p><p><em>Lewis Wallace is a reporter and host at WYSO, the public radio station for Ohio&rsquo;s Miami Valley region. Follow him </em><a href="http://twitter.com/lewispants"><em>@lewispants</em></a><em>.</em></p><p><em>Reporter Lindsey Smith of Michigan Radio contributed to this story.</em></p></p> Tue, 19 Aug 2014 08:09:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/science/great-lakes-low-water-levels-captivate-worry-artists-110672