WBEZ | Environment http://www.wbez.org/sections/environment Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Chicago 'petcoke' handler says it'll enclose piles http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-petcoke-handler-says-itll-enclose-piles-111252 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Rahm Petcoke 1_0.jpeg" alt="" /><p><p>CHICAGO &mdash; A company storing petroleum coke on Chicago&#39;s southeast side says it plans to build a huge structure to contain the grainy black piles and keep them from blowing around.</p><p>KCBX Terminals said Tuesday that it&#39;ll build a $120 million structure about 1,000 feet long, 200 feet wide and 100 feet tall to comply with a city requirement to enclose &quot;petcoke.&quot;</p><blockquote><p><strong>Related:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/emanuel-pet-coke-handlers-not-wanted-chicago-109694" target="_blank">Emanuel says pet coke handlers &#39;not wanted&#39; in Chicago</a></strong></p></blockquote><p>Construction would begin next fall and take two years &mdash; even though the city requires that petcoke piles be enclosed by 2016. The company is asking the city to waive that timeline.</p><p>Petcoke is a byproduct of oil refining often used as industrial fuel.</p><p>Many residents want the piles removed, saying they worry about their health. A proposed city ordinance would limit the amount of petcoke stored in Chicago.</p></p> Wed, 17 Dec 2014 12:22:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-petcoke-handler-says-itll-enclose-piles-111252 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 EcoMyths: 4 Surprising Ways to Make Your Wood Fires Eco-Friendly http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths/ecomyths-4-surprising-ways-make-your-wood-fires-eco-friendly-111192 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/EcoMyths-Fireplace.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-41f5a840-16e6-64f1-98a5-c3c19addb0e0">As the winter chill starts to descend on Chicago, many are gathering their wood kindling. But how energy-efficient and sustainable is wood-burning? For our <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths">EcoMyths segment</a>, we&rsquo;ll get the answer from Kate Sackman of <a href="http://www.ecomythsalliance.org/">EcoMyths Alliance</a> and her guest, Craig Wright, director of the New Hampshire Air Resources Agency.<iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/178625545&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></span></p><div><u>4 Surprising Ways to Make Your Wood Fires Eco-Friendly</u></div><p>Quick &ndash; the first word that comes to mind when you hear the word fireplace.&nbsp; Cozy?&nbsp; Yeah. It just makes you want to pull up a chair and settle in wrapped in a nubby blanket with your honey.</p><p>That said, you may have also noticed you might need that nubby blanket, because in a standard fireplace, the fire creates a cool draft as most of the warmth is sucked out through the chimney. Not to mention the sooty smoke that fills the house while you-know-who gets the fire started. Idyllic? Not so much.&nbsp; So EcoMyths readers want to know: how do you make fireplaces and wood stoves burn warm and clean &ndash; and eco-friendly too?</p><p>This month on Worldview&rsquo;s EcoMyths segment, we decided to explore whether burning wood in the winter is a naturally green alternative. So we looked to New Hampshire, where both wood stoves and sustainable forests are an integral part of the culture.&nbsp; Jerome McDonnell and I talked with air quality expert, Craig Wright, Director of <a href="http://des.nh.gov/organization/divisions/air/" target="_blank">New Hampshire&rsquo;s Air Resources Agency</a>.&nbsp; Craig shared with us that there are both healthy and not-so-healthy ways to use fire-burning to stay warm.&nbsp; Not-so-healthy ways include: using green or wet wood in the fireplace because it produces a lot of airborne ash, which can cause respiratory problems for those who breathe it.&nbsp; Other risky, polluting options include burning wood in inefficient, non-EPA wood stoves.</p><p><strong>So how do we enjoy our cozy fireplaces and still keep the air around us clean?&nbsp; Here are Craig&rsquo;s top 4 recommendations on making your fires eco-friendly:</strong></p><p>1.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; <u>Burn Seasoned Hardwoods</u>. Fires made from, &ldquo;seasoned&rdquo; split wood burn hotter, creating less smoke and ash.&nbsp; Seasoning wood requires allowing split wood to dry for at least 6-12 months.&nbsp; To tell if wood is dry enough, look for cracks in the grain at the end of the logs.&nbsp;</p><p>2.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; <u>Use Wood from Sustainable Forests</u>. Forests that are actively managed through cutting and replanting are more bio diverse and healthier than woodlands that are left to fend for themselves.&nbsp; Craig notes that buying wood harvested from sustainable forests helps ensure that our forests will continue to be renewed, providing better ecological functioning (e.g. cleaning the air we breathe) and supporting the local economy.&nbsp; Wood is one of the few sources of energy that is renewable.&nbsp; It is also considered by the EPA to be a carbon neutral fuel because trees take in as much C02 while growing as they naturally release after they fall to the forest floor and decay (or are burned).</p><p>3.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; <u>For Heating Your Home with Wood, Use an EPA-Certified Stove</u>. EPA-certified stoves use only about 1/3 as much wood and also retain more heat in your home. In addition, they emit about half as much pollution compared to old, non-certified wood stoves. When purchasing a new stove, look for the EPA certified label on the back.&nbsp; Your fireplace can also be lined with an EPA-certified liner enabling more of the fire&rsquo;s heat to make your living room cozy.</p><p>4.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; <u>Use Wood Pellet Stoves</u>. Last, but certainly not least, wood pellet stoves use small, compressed nuggets of wood waste and two-stage combustion to burn hot and clean.&nbsp; According to the EPA and Craig, wood pellet stoves are the most efficient wood stoves available.</p><p>For a deeper dive, click here <a href="http://www.ecomythsalliance.org/2014/11/building-a-fire-is-by-nature-eco-friendly-heat/">EcoMyth: Building a Fire Is Eco-Friendly by Nature</a>.</p></p> Tue, 25 Nov 2014 09:57:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths/ecomyths-4-surprising-ways-make-your-wood-fires-eco-friendly-111192 As Infrastructure Crumbles, Trillions Of Gallons Of Water Lost http://www.wbez.org/news/infrastructure-crumbles-trillions-gallons-water-lost-111019 <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/water.jpg" style="height: 348px; width: 620px;" title="A water maintenance crew works on leaky infrastructure in Skokie, a Chicago suburb. The area loses almost 22 billion gallons of water a year because of ailing infrastructure. (David Schaper /NPR)" /></div><p>Imagine Manhattan under almost 300 feet of water. Not water from a hurricane or a tsunami, but purified drinking water &mdash; 2.1 trillion gallons of it.</p><p>That&#39;s the amount of water that researchers estimate is lost each year in this country because of aging and leaky pipes, broken water mains and faulty meters.</p><p>Fixing that infrastructure won&#39;t be cheap, which is something every water consumer is likely to discover.</p><p>In Chicago, fresh water is drawn into water intake cribs in Lake Michigan and piped to the enormous Jardine Water Filtration Plant on the lakefront, adjacent to Navy Pier.</p><p>Jardine is the largest water filtration plant in the world by volume, pumping about 1 billion gallons of purified drinking water out through hundreds of thousands of miles of pipes to 5 million people in Chicago and 125 surrounding communities.</p><p>But not all of that treated, potable water makes it through the system to homes and businesses. In fact, quite a bit of it is lost.</p><p>The Chicago-based Center for Neighborhood Technology, a nonprofit focused on sustainability, recently put out a report that estimates &quot;about&nbsp;<a href="http://www.cnt.org/2013/11/18/the-case-for-fixing-the-leaks-release/" target="_blank">6 billion gallons of water per day</a>&nbsp;may be wasted in the U.S.,&quot; says Danielle Gallet, the group&#39;s water supply program manager.</p><p>Where does it go? Much of it just leaks out of aging pipes and water mains that crack and break.</p><p>&quot;We do have a crumbling infrastructure issue,&quot; Gallet says. &quot;It is old.&quot;</p><p>Last winter&#39;s extremely bitter cold in the Midwest and Northeast was especially tough on the aging water infrastructure in those parts of the country.</p><p>But water main breaks are becoming increasingly common in warmer months too. &quot;We replaced 6 feet of main here [of a] 10-inch main,&quot; that burst open 5 feet beneath a busy thoroughfare in the Chicago suburb of Skokie, says Perry Gabuzzi, a maintenance worker for that city&#39;s water department, one recent warm morning.</p><p>&quot;See the golf-ball-sized holes in it?&quot; he asked, pointing to the section of pipe his crew removed.</p><p>The rusted pipe broke open just because of old age. Gabuzzi and his colleagues estimated the section to be at least 70 years old.</p><p>In Los Angeles in July, a water main estimated to be 93 years old broke wide open, causing severe flooding on the campus of UCLA.</p><p>And these kinds of incidents are happening all over the country, as much of the nation&#39;s water infrastructure is now a century old.</p><p>&quot;The infrastructure and the massive investment that our grandparents, great-grandparents, some of us our great-great-grandparents put in, is coming to the end of its useful life, and the bill has come due on our watch,&quot; Gallet says.</p><p>A recent study by Gallet&#39;s group and the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning found the Chicago area alone is losing&nbsp;<a href="http://www.cmap.illinois.gov/documents/10180/296743/FY14-0071+IDNR+WATER+LOSS+REPORT/bfda6186-8c79-42b5-80b8-9d97c7c2300d" target="_blank">22 billion gallons of treated water per year</a>&nbsp;through leaky pipes.</p><p>&quot;We figured that that could fill the residential needs of about 700,000 people in a year,&quot; says Tim Loftus, water resource planner for the agency.</p><p>&quot;That&#39;s a big city,&quot; he says. &quot;That&#39;s a year&#39;s worth of residential water use.&quot;</p><p>Nationwide, the amount of water that is lost each year is estimated to top 2 trillion gallons, according to the American Water Works Association. That&#39;s about 14 to 18 percent (or one-sixth) of the water the nation treats.</p><p>And it&#39;s not just water that&#39;s going down the drain, but billions of dollars in revenue too because utilities can&#39;t charge customers for water that is lost before it gets to them.</p><p>But fixing the nation&#39;s water systems isn&#39;t going to be cheap.</p><p>&quot;Our estimates are that this is&nbsp;<a href="http://www.awwa.org/Portals/0/files/legreg/documents/BuriedNoLonger.pdf" target="_blank">a trillion-dollar program</a>,&quot; says David LaFrance, CEO of the American Water Works Association. &quot;About half of that trillion dollars will be to replace existing infrastructure. The other half will be putting into the ground new infrastructure to serve population growth and areas that currently aren&#39;t receiving water.&quot;</p><p>Across the country, many communities are raising water rates &mdash; some in the double and triple digits &mdash; to begin addressing the problem. California and Maine, as well as several individual communities, are asking voters next week to approve massive bond initiatives to fund water infrastructure improvements.</p><p>But some government spending watchdogs are skeptical.</p><p>&quot;Anytime somebody tells me that we have to spend more money, I&#39;m going to look at who is telling me that and do they have an interest in it,&quot; says Steve Ellis of the Washington-based group Taxpayers for Common Sense.</p><p>He says water utilities stand to gain from massive water infrastructure spending, as does the American Society of Civil Engineers, which gives the nation&#39;s water infrastructure a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.infrastructurereportcard.org/drinking-water/" target="_blank">barely passing grade of &quot;D.&quot;</a></p><p>Ellis says that doesn&#39;t mean big spending on water infrastructure isn&#39;t needed. Voters just need to make sure there&#39;s proper oversight, as well as investments in better technologies and conservation.</p><p>The American Water Works Association is meeting in Atlanta this week in its first conference focused on water infrastructure.</p><p>LaFrance says the first priority is to get water utilities to audit their systems and install and upgrade meters where needed. Then they can get a better handle on just how much water is being lost because too many, he says, just don&#39;t know.</p><p>And in the meantime, the old and crumbling pipes keep leaking.</p><p>-<a href="http://www.npr.org/2014/10/29/359875321/as-infrastructure-crumbles-trillions-of-gallons-of-water-lost"><em>Via NPR News</em></a></p></p> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 08:26:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/infrastructure-crumbles-trillions-gallons-water-lost-111019 EcoMyths: Wild Predators Among Us http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths/ecomyths-wild-predators-among-us-110872 <p><p>Remember the black bear spotted throughout the summer wandering through cornfields and backyards in Northern Illinois? Several large mammals, that we are not used to seeing in the Chicago region, have been popping up in recent years. But not just bears, but also cougars and wolves. Get the camera! This is pretty cool - as long as you are indoors and the animal is outdoors.<iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/170059467&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>Will Illinois become home to these animals or are they just passing through? Will we see more of these wild predators in the coming years? For our <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths"><em>EcoMyths</em></a> segment on <em>Worldview</em>, Jerome McDonnell and I explored these questions with two wildlife management experts: Bill Ziegler, SVP of Animal Programs at the Chicago Zoological Society; and Mike Redmer, a biologist with the US Fish and Wildlife Service. It turns out that wolves, bears, and cougars have been returning to Illinois as their populations grow in neighboring states. Bill describes these animals as &ldquo;apex predators&rdquo; because they are at the top of the carnivore food chain. In Illinois, their optimal food sourcesninclude the overpopulation of raccoons and deer. Bill points out that the return of the large predators could help &ldquo;achieve the natural balance of all these other animals&rdquo;.</p><p><strong><u>Home Sweet Home for Apex Predators</u></strong></p><p>Redmer points out that historically, Illinois was actually native territory for these large carnivores. &nbsp;But the last time that cougars, wolves, and bears had significant numbers in the State was in the 1860s! It has been so long, that local residents are not used to co-habitating with them as our neighbors in Wisconsin, Missouri, and Minnesota have been doing so all this time.There have only been a total of 25 confirmed sightings of these apex predators since 2000: Black Bears: 2-3; Cougars: 13-14; Wolves: 8.</p><p>In states like Colorado and parts of California, where people encounter large predators regularly, the public is more informed about these animals and even excited to see them. Locally, this level of knowledge is something wildlife experts strive for.</p><p>Bears, wolves, and wolverines are also rapidly increasing their populations in Europe after years of decline. A commission called the &ldquo;<a href="http://ec.europa.eu/environment/nature/conservation/species/carnivores/">EU Platform on the Coexistence between People and Large Carnivores</a>&rdquo; (pithy title), had its first working session in June 2014, but they&rsquo;ve been organizing the committee for two years so that all the stakeholders (farmers, landowners, conservationists, hunters, and scientists) are represented.</p><p><strong><u>State Agencies are Preparing a Response Plan</u></strong></p><p>Should we fear them? We certainly need to keep a respectful distance. But not to worry. Ziegler and Redmer were among the expert hosts of a</p><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><p>conference last week at the Brookfield Zoo to start planning how to coordinate the official response when one of these animals comes to town. At the end of this process, state agencies, animal control, law enforcement, and even the public will have response mechanisms for how to keep both people safe and, as much as possible, the animals as well.</p><p><strong><u>ONE GREEN THING</u>: </strong></p><p>Share the EcoMyths article*, and the scientific resources that accompany it, with your neighbors to help your community better understand and ideally, appreciate that these animals may be coming to town.</p><p>*For a deeper dive, #Read the Myth at <a href="http://www.ecomythsalliance.org/2014/09/myth-wild-predators-belong-anywhere-but-here/">EcoMyths Alliance</a>. And <strong>follow us on <a href="https://twitter.com/EcoMyths">Twitter</a> and <a href="https://www.facebook.com/ecomyths">Facebook</a>.</strong><img alt="" class="image-original_image" height="381" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Apex-Predators-EcoMyths-cartoon-Full.jpeg" title="Courtesy of EcoMyths" width="602" /></p></p> Tue, 30 Sep 2014 09:59:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths/ecomyths-wild-predators-among-us-110872 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 Blue-green algae back with a vengeance http://www.wbez.org/news/science/blue-green-algae-back-vengeance-110822 <p><p>Residents of Toledo, Ohio are still worried about drinking their water after toxic algae got into the water system in August and caused a two-day shutdown. Legislators and scientists are scrambling to find solutions to the growing problem with algae blooms in midwestern water.</p><p>It&rsquo;s an issue that affects the entire Great Lakes region, but for now, all eyes are on Toledo and the shallow western basin of Lake Erie, where the problem is concentrated. <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/great-lakes-brace-more-toxic-algae-110112">That pollution actually starts far upstream</a> &mdash; and it&rsquo;s not just about the algae.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Annie, Fannie and Mike</span></p><p>First, a few names you&rsquo;ll need to know: Annie, Fannie and Mike.</p><p><em>&ldquo;</em>Annie stands for Anabaena, Fannie stands for Aphanizomenon, and Mike stands for Microcystis,&rdquo; explains Chris Winslow, associate director of the Stone Lab at Ohio State. We&rsquo;re out on a pontoon boat with a group of scientists taking water samples. &ldquo;They&rsquo;re the three major players that are in the lake. &ldquo;</p><p>These three types of greenish little cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae, bloom in warm, shallow parts of Lake Erie in the summer and early fall, and can release <a href="http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/wq/plants/algae/publichealth/generalcyanobacteria.html">toxins that are unsafe to drink in high concentration</a>.</p><p>&ldquo;Even if you look over the edge of the boat, you will see tiny green flecks in the water,&rdquo; Winslow explains. &ldquo;That is the cyanobacteria that you&rsquo;re seeing.&rdquo;</p><p>The water is choppy and blue, but Annie, Fannie and Mike are lurking down below, and what comes up in the sample is a thick green goo that someone jokes looks like a vegetable smoothie.</p><p>The last few years the blooms in Lake Erie have been out-of-control, with <a href="http://www.cleveland.com/science/index.ssf/2013/04/record-sized_lake_erie_algae_b.html">the worst bloom on record taking over the Maumee Bay area in 2011,</a> and bad blooms returning in 2012 and 2013. Their growth is stimulated by natural and commercial fertilizers that run off from farm fields, manure from livestock, and <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-04/heavy-rain-overwhelms-combined-sewer-system-106731">sewage overflows from aging city water systems</a>.</p><p>Nitrogen and phosphorous concentrate in the shallowest part of Lake Erie and feed blooms of the toxic cyanobacteria in the summer. Later, massive die-offs of the algae eat up oxygen at the bottom of the lake, creating <a href="http://www.wbez.org/content/because-climate-change-fears-great-lakes-%E2%80%98dead-zone%E2%80%99">dead zones</a> that can span up to half the lake&rsquo;s surface area.</p><p>One of this year&rsquo;s blooms, though not as expansive as some other years, ended up directly over the water intake for the city of Toledo in early August. When water officials tested the water and found cyanotoxins at above one part per billion, the limit recommended by the World Health Organization, they shut down water services to an estimated 450,000 people for two days.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Toledo pays the bill</span></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/DSCN2519_1.jpg" title="Water is mixed with chemicals that bond with and separate out cyanobacteria and other tiny pieces of matter at Toledo’s Collins Park Water Treatment Plant. (Lewis Wallace)" /></p><p>People in Toledo are living with the consequences of the dispersed pollution.</p><p>&ldquo;I won&rsquo;t drink the water because even though they said it was safe, I don&rsquo;t believe them,&rdquo; said Aasiyah Taalib-deen, an 18-year-old first year college student who grew up in Toledo.</p><p>She says water trouble is bad for the economy &mdash; her workplace closed during the water shutdown. &ldquo;If the water crisis keeps going on it can shut somebody&rsquo;s business down, and that can affect a lot of people&rsquo;s money.&rdquo;</p><p>It&rsquo;s already affecting a lot of people&rsquo;s money &mdash; mainly, the people who pay for Toledo water, and water users in surrounding areas that get their water from Lake Erie. In 2013 nearby Carroll Township&rsquo;s water system was shut down by the algae, a sneak preview of what happened in Toledo that some were <a href="http://www.toledoblade.com/local/2013/09/15/Carroll-Township-s-scare-with-toxin-a-wake-up-call.html">hoping would be a wakeup call</a>.</p><p>Over at the Toledo water treatment plant, lake water gets mixed up with a chemical that bonds with the cyanobacteria to separate them out in giant gray vats. Right now the city spends about $1 million a month to separate out Annie, Fannie and Mike, plus the costs of regular, voluntary test for the toxins.</p><p>Each test is over $400 to run and about a half a day&rsquo;s work for one person; during the algae-heavy summer months, the city generally tests once a day. In the coming year, the city plans to invest in temporary barriers that would keep more of the algae from even entering the system.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re treating symptoms of a bigger problem,&rdquo; says Tim Murphy, Toledo&rsquo;s head of water treatment. &ldquo;We need to get to the bigger problem or else we&rsquo;re gonna keep having this battle, and not just us but every drinking water facility located in the western basin is gonna have this problem, and probably others.&rdquo;</p><p>Smaller lakes across the midwest are getting clogged up every summer; they just happen not to be drinking water sources, but those algal blooms can lead to swim and fish advisories.</p><p>Still, Murphy says he believes the problem can be solved. &ldquo;I think it&rsquo;s a hundred percent fixable.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">The problem starts upstream</span></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/DSCN2481_1.jpg" title="Paul Herringshaw farms 1500 acres of corn, wheat and soybeans outside Bowling Green. (Lewis Wallace)" /></p><p>The fixes start a long long way from the coast of Lake Erie. The watershed that drains into the lake at Toledo, the Maumee River watershed, extends all the way to Indiana, and more than a hundred miles south into Ohio. Countless farms, golf courses and lawns wash out into it, and right now there&rsquo;s not much in place that limits fertilizer use.</p><p>Still, farmers say they have plenty of interest in solving the problem.</p><p>&ldquo;My largest expense is fertilizer,&rdquo; says Paul Herringshaw, who farms 1500 acres outside Bowling Green and sits on the board of the <a href="http://ohiocorn.org/about/">Ohio Corn Marketing Program</a>. &ldquo;If I&rsquo;m losing it down the stream, then I&rsquo;m literally throwing money down the stream.&rdquo;</p><p>Herringshaw drives his truck out over a wide strip of grass that separates a soybean field from a drainage ditch. Conservation strips like this are a relatively easy way farms can absorb some of the runoff before it hits the water, but the nutrients aren&rsquo;t just running off the field from the top; Herringshaw&rsquo;s farm, like many in the region, uses what&rsquo;s called a tiling system to keep the field well-drained from below.</p><p>Herringshaw says that&rsquo;s necessary to farm this land.</p><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s a saying that the old-timers had, and it is so very true, that &lsquo;in a dry year a farmer around here worries to death, in a wet year around here he starves to death.&rsquo; We suffer more from too much moisture than we do from not enough moisture,&rdquo; he explains. &ldquo;So this tile system here is designed to get rid of the water so that we&rsquo;re able to farm the ground.&rdquo;</p><p>A lot of farmers just let this water flow out through the underground tiling, but Herringshaw has installed controls on his &mdash; he&rsquo;s put in a dam system so he can close up the outlet at the edge of the field and keep it from draining out. He also uses an acre-by-acre grid to determine how much fertilizer to use in different areas, and avoid over-fertilizing.</p><p>Even these simple controls, though, are an expense. A new state law will eventually require farmers here to get permits to fertilize, and the training would teach them about responsible fertilizing practices, but right now nothing requires Ohio farmers to limit runoff from their fields.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Climate change worsens the threat</span></p><p>There&rsquo;s probably going to be more runoff as intense downpours become more common due to climate change. Although this summer was something of a break from the heat, predicted warmer water temperatures in the lakes also encourage bacteria to grow in the summer.</p><p>Climate change is just one of several factors that has scientists concerned that this problem will become even more widespread in the Great Lakes. Invasive zebra and quagga mussels have played a role in giving the toxic cyanobacteria a competitive advantage in Lake Erie&rsquo;s ecosystem; the aggressive invasives consume the &ldquo;good&rdquo; algae rapidly, leaving even more space for the toxic cyanobacteria to thrive.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s gonna take a combination of efforts throughout the entire ecosystem,&rdquo; says Stuart Ludsin, a biologist with Ohio State. &ldquo;We need to think about the climate, we need to think about invaders, we need to think about nutrients, you can&rsquo;t do them in isolation of one another.&rdquo;</p><p><a href="http://wyso.org/post/ohios-us-senators-introduce-legislation-address-toxic-algae">Ohio&rsquo;s senators have introduced a few bills</a> in recent weeks that would put some more responsibility on the feds to monitor the situation, but there&rsquo;s no real central leadership; the solutions remain a patchwork of local, state and federal efforts.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/DSCN2516_1.jpg" title="Stone Lab researcher Justin Chaffin with Ohio’s Democratic U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown, seeing “Annie, Fannie and Mike” cyanobacteria in person for the first time. (Lewis Wallace)" /></p><p><span style="font-size: 22px;">&lsquo;Why the land wins and the water loses&rsquo;</span></p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s multi-jurisdictional, and that&rsquo;s why I say the federal government needs to step up,&rdquo; says Sandy Bihn, an environmental advocate with Lake Erie Waterkeeper.</p><p>She wants to see the EPA get involved, starting with <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/storyline/wp/2014/08/11/watching-toledos-toxic-water-troubles-with-a-wary-eye-and-few-regulations/">regulating the toxins </a>from cyanobacteria. Chicago and other cities ran voluntary tests after Toledo&rsquo;s shutdown, but right now there&rsquo;s no federal protocol or drinking water standard; cities like Toledo who test regularly aren&rsquo;t required to do so under any law.</p><p>Bihn says there&rsquo;s another shift that needs to happen. She says right now, the land, and its uses for farming, industry and development, is taking precedence over water.</p><p>&ldquo;I would venture to say that most people, when their water runs off their land would not know where their streams are,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;How it connects to the lake...most people have no clue.&rdquo;</p><p>Watersheds cross state lines, but water policy often doesn&rsquo;t. Bihn thinks that needs to change in the Great Lakes.</p><p>&ldquo;I mean we have, what, 20 percent of the world&rsquo;s fresh water supply here in the Great Lakes, 95 percent of the U.S. surface freshwater? This is the greatest economic opportunity we&rsquo;ll ever know,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;Water is becoming a more scarce resource...and shame on us if we keep giving excuses for why the land wins and the water loses, which is pretty much what I see.&rdquo;</p><p>She says when she first moved out here, she used to go out to the beach and swim. That was a minor miracle: Lake Erie had just been cleaned up after decades of industrial pollution.</p><p>Now, when she wants to swim, she heads for her swimming pool.</p><p><a href="http://wyso.org/people/lewis-wallace"><em>Lewis Wallace is a reporter for WYSO</em></a><em>, the public radio station for Dayton, Springfield and Yellow Springs, Ohio. </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> Fri, 19 Sep 2014 08:34:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/science/blue-green-algae-back-vengeance-110822 Great Lakes racing to prepare for a new kind of oil spill http://www.wbez.org/news/science/great-lakes-racing-prepare-new-kind-oil-spill-110797 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/boom2.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The <a href="http://www.uscg.mil/d9/">U.S. Coast Guard&rsquo;s Ninth District</a> is in charge of protecting the maritime interests of the Great Lakes. Those interests include industries like shipping, fishing, and tourism that create billions of dollars in revenue for the Great Lakes basin each year. And so, the agency is always thinking about oil spills. It conducts dozens of tabletop and real world preparation exercises every year to prepare.</p><p>But the oil spill game is changing.The explosion in tar sands production in western Canada means increasing amounts of crude oil is making its way to the American Midwest. Imports of crude oil to the Midwest reached a record high earlier this month, according to the Energy Information Association. Tar sands bitumen is different than traditional crude oil. It&rsquo;s heavier and it sinks in freshwater. And that has caught the attention of the people in charge of cleaning up oil spills, including the U.S. Coast Guard.</p><p>&ldquo;The Midwest and the Great Lakes lie at a virtual crossroads of production and transportation and distribution. And because those things carry inherent risk. we&rsquo;re faced with some tough questions about how to deal with that,&rdquo; says Rear Admiral Fred Midgette, who commands the U.S. Coast Guard&rsquo;s Ninth District.</p><p>&ldquo;From my perspective, clearly one of the most important things that are going to happen in the next decade is how we handle this issue of heavy oil. We need to get it right,&rdquo; he told a crowd last week in Detroit at the <a href="http://www.spillcontrol.org/">International Spill Control Organization</a>&rsquo;s annual forum. ISCO has been around for decades, but this was the first time its annual forum focused exclusively on responding to heavy, Group V oils that can sink in water.</p><p>The reason why has a lot to do with what happened four years ago in the small town of Marshall, Michigan. On July 26, 2010, a 30-inch pipeline belonging to Enbridge Energy Partners LLP burst and spilled over a million gallons of tar sands oil into Talmadge Creek. From there, it made its way to the Kalamazoo River where it traveled over 35 miles downstream, coating birds, turtles, and other wildlife with oil.</p><p>Cleaning up the river took longer than anyone expected. That&rsquo;s because tar sands oil is too thick to move through a pipeline on its own--imagine a kind of shiny, black peanut butter. It&rsquo;s thinned out with other chemicals to get it flowing. But when the mixture is exposed to air, those chemicals gradually evaporate over a period of several days or weeks. At the Kalamazoo River, that left behind over a million gallons of heavy, sticky goo at the river bottom. Crews are finally wrapping up the dredging process four years and nearly $1 billion later.</p><p>&ldquo;I can&rsquo;t speak for a lot of the other players, but I know for us the EPA response and the Enbridge response to the Kalamazoo, I think opened a lot of people&rsquo;s eyes in that the threat is real from heavy oils and what they can do to the environment,&rdquo; says Jerry Popiel, incident management advisor for the Coast Guard&rsquo;s 9th District.</p><p>Popiel says there aren&rsquo;t any vessels carrying tar sands crude oil on the Great Lakes right now, but at least one company--<a href="http://www.calumetspecialty.com/">Calumet Specialty Products Partners</a> in Indianapolis--has expressed interest in the idea. And that has Popiel thinking about the challenges of responding to a such a spill in the Great Lakes.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s one thing when you have 10 feet of water, 5 feet of water, or maybe 30 feet of water. Well, okay there are tethers and things and divers you might potentially use for there. That&rsquo;s one set of problems. If it happens in Lake Superior in 800 feet of water, that&rsquo;s a different set of problems,&rdquo; he says.</p><p>Right now, those are problems without good solutions. The Coast Guard&rsquo;s trying to change that, and so is a whole industry that&rsquo;s grown up to respond to oil spills. In 2011, the Coast Guard awarded $2.5 million to three companies. They were asked to develop technologies that could better detect and recover sinking oils.</p><p>Some of those technologies were on display at last week&rsquo;s forum, including one from <a href="http://www.alionscience.com/">Alion Science and Technology</a> called the Seagoing Adaptable Heavy Oil Recovery System or the SEAHORSE. The SEAHORSE looks more like a giant carburetor than a dainty ocean creature. But Al Arsenault, an engineer with the company, says it&rsquo;s safer and more effective than traditional methods.</p><p>&ldquo;The scenarios in the past have used divers. It&rsquo;s a dirty job, it&rsquo;s a very dangerous job to send divers down when this product is on the water column, on the surface, and on the bottom. It sticks to you like peanut butter,&rdquo; Arsenault explains.</p><p>The SEAHORSE doesn&rsquo;t use any divers. Instead, its trio of remotely operated vehicles scans the seafloor for oil and pumps it back up to the surface. SEAHORSE and other new technologies let responders reach spills hundreds of feet under water and can detect and recover oil at the same time. The Coast Guard says these new technologies are promising, but they aren&rsquo;t widely available and can be costly to build.</p><p>Emergency responders in our region may still have some time to sort out those problems. It isn&rsquo;t clear yet that Great Lakes shipping is going to be a good option for moving tar sands oil. For one thing, the lakes are frozen over for several months every year.</p><p>&ldquo;The other big issue is competition. Shipping oil on the Great Lakes will make sense if it&rsquo;s less expensive than shipping it by rail,&rdquo; says Steve Fisher, Executive Director of the <a href="http://www.greatlakesports.org/">American Great Lakes Ports Association</a>. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>Fisher says a lot would have to change before tankers full of tar sands crude oil set sail on the Great Lakes. It would require the oil industry to make long-term commitments with shipping companies to entice them to make investments in new ships and shoreside loading facilities.</p><p>Still, environmentalists say economic pressures are building.</p><p>Several refineries in the region, including one just south of Chicago in Whiting, Indiana, have been upgraded to process tar sands oil. Lyman Welch, Water Quality Program Director at the <a href="http://www.greatlakes.org/">Alliance for the Great Lakes</a>, says shipping by vessel on the lakes also opens up a route for transport to refineries on the East Coast.</p><p>Welch says right now, a lot of the decisions that could set the scene for shipping this kind of oil on the Great Lakes are happening at a state or local level. And he says that patchwork approach could have consequences for the entire region.</p><p>&ldquo;A spill could happen anywhere, not just in the state where the initial dock is built to allow for this shipment,&rdquo; says Welch.</p><p>The dock he&rsquo;s referring to is owned by Elkhorn Industries in Superior, Wisconsin. The company reapplied for a permit to upgrade the dock in August after its first application was rejected by the state earlier this year. It&rsquo;s considered a first step in the project proposed by Calumet Specialty Products, though Elkhorn says they don&rsquo;t have concrete plans to partner with the company yet.</p><p>But the possibility that it could worries Welch, who says existing spill response preparation measures are inadequate when it comes to responding to a spill of tar sands oil.</p><p>There are increasing efforts to beef up those measures. Emergency responders like the Coast Guard and EPA are starting to include heavy oil spills in their preparation exercises. And the spill response industry continues to develop new and better technology for dealing with heavy oil spills.</p><p>But Welch says we shouldn&rsquo;t accept the shipment of tar sands oil on the Great Lakes as inevitable, even as we work out the regulatory kinks.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s vital that our Great Lakes region and community has a discussion as to whether the Great Lakes should become this thoroughfare for tar sands crude oil shipping. Are we prepared to accept that risk?&rdquo;</p><p>That&rsquo;s not a question, Welch says, for industry or government, but for each of the 34 million people who call the Great Lakes basin home.</p><p><em>April Van Buren is an assistant producer at WKAR in East Lansing. You can follow her on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/aprilveebee">@aprilveebee</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.&nbsp;</em></p></p> Mon, 15 Sep 2014 14:31:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/science/great-lakes-racing-prepare-new-kind-oil-spill-110797 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 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