WBEZ | carbon dioxide http://www.wbez.org/tags/carbon-dioxide Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en 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 More on methane: EPA reexamines potency of greenhouse gas http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-05/more-methane-epa-reexamines-potency-greenhouse-gas-107148 <p><p><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/naturewise/1519064598/in/photostream/" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/methane.jpg" style="height: 458px; width: 610px;" title="A pipe carries methane in the United Kingdom. (Flickr/London Permaculture)" /></a></p><p>In the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-04/epa-rolls-back-methane-emissions-natural-gas-106891" target="_blank">debate surrounding the United States&#39; natural gas resources</a>, it is often noted that methane, the primary component of natural gas, is 21 times more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. There are two main issues with that statement, although that <a href="http://epa.gov/climatechange/ghgemissions/gases/ch4.html" target="_blank">is the figure used</a> by the Environmental Protection Agency.</p><p>Carbon dioxide, whose concentration recently reached a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/11/science/earth/carbon-dioxide-level-passes-long-feared-milestone.html?pagewanted=all#commentsContainer" target="_blank">long-feared milestone</a>, remains the most important&nbsp;<a href="http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2012/01/much-ado-about-methane/" target="_blank">greenhouse gas trapping heat in the atmosphere</a>. But as we open&nbsp;<a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/04/23/the-oil-and-gas-boom-has-had-a-surprisingly-small-impact-on-the-u-s-economy/" target="_blank">more oil and gas wells</a>, even small amounts of methane leakage could tilt the balance of greenhouse gas emissions from new fossil fuel resources.</p><p>The ratio of a molecule&rsquo;s ability to trap heat, and thus cause global warming, relative to one molecule of carbon dioxide is called its <a href="http://unfccc.int/ghg_data/items/3825.php" target="_blank">global warming potential</a>. The EPA <a href="http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2013-04-02/pdf/2013-06093.pdf" target="_blank">recently proposed raising</a>&nbsp;raising methane&#39;s global warming potential to 25. Amending the number to 25 would be a 19 percent increase &mdash; significant, but only keeping pace with revisions codified more than six year ago in the fourth Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report. The 21 figure used by EPA was first put forth in the 1990s. IPCC upped it to 23 in 2001. Its fifth report is expected later this year.</p><p>The other issue is that methane is especially short-lived. Unlike carbon dioxide, which persists in the atmosphere for 500 years, methane only lasts about 12 years in the atmosphere before chemical reactions break it down. EPA typically estimates global warming potentials based on 100-year timescales, but estimated over a 20-year time scale methane could be more than 50 times more potent than carbon dioxide.</p><p>Why does that matter? In the short-term, methane and other short-lived gases could exacerbate near-term climate impacts, just as the world&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nclimate1869.html" target="_blank">struggles</a> to get the real driver (CO<sub>2</sub>) under control. One California congressman <a href="http://grist.org/climate-energy/a-modest-practical-plan-for-immediate-climate-action/">recently proposed</a>&nbsp;a bill targeting those short-lived pollutants to mitigate near-term climate change.</p><p>Researchers at <a href="http://www.nature.com/news/methane-leaks-erode-green-credentials-of-natural-gas-1.12123#/b1" target="_blank">NOAA and the University of Texas at Austin</a> are working on a review of greenhouse gas emissions from natural gas. An EPA revision <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-04/epa-rolls-back-methane-emissions-natural-gas-106891" target="_blank">recently rolled back</a>&nbsp;its estimate of emissions from one part of the fracking process but simultaneously upped its most recent figure for emissions from fracking itself.</p><p>Those revisions came on the heels of EPA&rsquo;s separate announcement that it could raise methane&rsquo;s global warming potential to 25. In the words of Anthony Ingraffea, a Cornell professor of civil and environmental engineering and <a href="http://www.acfan.org/2013/dr-anthony-ingraffea-methane-leakage-makes-fracking-the-dirtiest-fossil-fuel-worse-than-coal-for-climate-change/" target="_blank">noted critic of shale gas production on climate change grounds</a>, &nbsp;&ldquo;sometimes the EPA giveth, sometimes it taketh away.&rdquo;</p><p>EPA will <a href="http://www.regulations.gov" target="_blank">accept comments</a> on <a href="https://s3.amazonaws.com/public-inspection.federalregister.gov/2013-06093.pdf" target="_blank">the proposed rule</a> until May 17. Comments should reference docket No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2012-0934.</p></p> Mon, 13 May 2013 17:12:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-05/more-methane-epa-reexamines-potency-greenhouse-gas-107148 Activists rejoice as coal-fired plants shut down http://www.wbez.org/news/activists-rejoice-coal-fired-plants-shut-down-102129 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Fisk.jpg" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px; float: left; height: 219px; width: 300px; " title="Built in 1903, the Fisk station stands near Dvorak Park in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood. (AP file/M. Spencer Green)" /></p><div>Neighborhood and environmental activists are celebrating as Chicago&rsquo;s last two coal-fired electricity plants enter a three-month decommissioning phase. But the closings are leaving dozens of Midwest Generation workers without a job.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The company, a subsidiary of California-based Edison International, says its Crawford station in the city&rsquo;s Little Village neighborhood burned its last lump of coal more than a week ago after operating since 1924. The Fisk station, constructed in 1903 in nearby Pilsen, shut down Thursday night.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Activists campaigned for more than a decade to close the plants or curb their harmful emissions, which included asthma-triggering soot and carbon dioxide, a contributor to global warming.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Standing near Crawford on Friday afternoon, Rafael Hurtado of the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization almost had to pinch himself to make sure he wasn&rsquo;t dreaming.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;The smokestack and the chimney are not running,&rdquo; Hurtado observed. &ldquo;The parking lot is empty other than the security guards. This is a victory not only for our organization but Little Village and Pilsen and the city of Chicago.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Local 15 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, which represented about 135 workers at the plants, says some are accepting retirement packages or transferring to another Midwest Generation site, where they will bump employees with less seniority. The union represents about 700 workers at the company&rsquo;s six Illinois generators.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;There just aren&rsquo;t enough jobs,&rdquo; said Doug Bedinger, a Local 15 business representative for the workers. &ldquo;There will be hardship.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Midwest Generation President Douglas McFarlan said roughly 100 union members are leaving voluntarily while another 50 get laid off.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>McFarlan, meanwhile, said the company is trying to sell the Chicago sites. The timing of environmental remediation &ldquo;depends on the interests&rdquo; of the buyers, he said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s part of the sales process,&rdquo; McFarlan said, adding that a school might have different cleanup needs than a warehouse.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The closings resulted partly from federal clean-air rules requiring Midwest Generation to retrofit its plants. McFarlan said a bigger factor was the rise of natural gas production, which has put downward pressure on energy prices. &ldquo;We just can&rsquo;t run profitably,&rdquo; he said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div></p> Fri, 31 Aug 2012 18:54:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/activists-rejoice-coal-fired-plants-shut-down-102129 Power-plant emissions bill dead, but not for long http://www.wbez.org/story/power-plant-emissions-bill-dead-not-long-85522 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-April/2011-04-21/hardhats.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>A proposal for Chicago to regulate exhaust from coal-fired power plants may be dying. But the bill’s sponsor, Ald. Joe Moore, 49th Ward, says it will come back to life soon.</p><p>Moore’s legislation is stuck in a joint City Council committee chaired by Alds. Virginia Rugai, 19th, and James Balcer, 11th — close allies of Mayor Richard M. Daley, who opposes the bill. But Moore says he will introduce a similar version after Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel takes office next month and a new City Council convenes.</p><p>The proposal targets fine particulate matter, known as soot, that many health experts blame for respiratory diseases. It would also impose one of the nation’s first limits on emissions of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas.</p><p>California-based Edison International, which owns coal-fired generators in two mostly Latino neighborhoods of Chicago, dispatched a top Latino executive to a Chicago City Council hearing Thursday. Pedro Pizarro, president of a company arm called Edison Mission Group, warned that the regulations would force the plants offline.</p><p>“If we take on, unilaterally, costs that our competitors don’t, we can’t compete,” Pizarro told WBEZ after the hearing. “We don’t protect the jobs for employees. We don’t end up serving our customers.”</p><p>The company’s Fisk and Crawford plants, which stand in Chicago’s Pilsen and Little Village neighborhoods, together employ about 185 workers. The company sells the electricity in the wholesale market.</p><p>Moore accused Pizarro of crying wolf. “Business and industry always claim we’re going to drive them out of business,” the alderman said. “And you know what? If you push them hard enough, they’ll do what they need to do. We have a cleaner environment and a stronger economy as a result.”</p><p>Spectators packed the council chambers for the hearing. Edison’s local unit, Midwest Generation, bused in about 300 employees. Many wore hard hats and blue work shirts. Outside the hearing, they chanted, “Save our jobs!”</p><p>A similar number of environmentalists and neighborhood activists attended to urge the bill’s passage. They tried to hijack the workers’ chant, changing it to, “Save our lives!”</p></p> Fri, 22 Apr 2011 10:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/power-plant-emissions-bill-dead-not-long-85522 Putting carbon in the ocean a last-ditch effort to curb climate change http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/putting-carbon-ocean-last-ditch-effort-curb-climate-change <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/103804972.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Despite what science tells us about climate change, the world continues to pump carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Last year, increases in emissions from rapidly growing economies like China and India offset reductions that richer countries have made. In short, the picture looks grim.</p><p>Some scientists think it&rsquo;s best not to wait for an international climate treaty with teeth to come along. Instead, they&rsquo;ve come up with a novel way to stave off the effects of excess carbon: by putting it in the deep sea.</p><p>It&rsquo;s a process known as ocean carbon sequestration. Writer <a href="http://peterfriederici.com/">Peter Friederici</a> joins us to explain what that means and why, in a recent<a href="http://www.miller-mccune.com/science-environment/ocean-carbon-sequestration-the-worlds-best-bad-idea-23521/" target="_blank"> article </a>for the science magazine <a href="http://www.miller-mccune.com/science-environment/ocean-carbon-sequestration-the-worlds-best-bad-idea-23521/">Miller-McCune</a>, he calls it the world&rsquo;s &ldquo;best bad idea.&rdquo;</p></p> Tue, 16 Nov 2010 15:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/putting-carbon-ocean-last-ditch-effort-curb-climate-change