WBEZ | Environment http://www.wbez.org/sections/environment Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Local Tomatoes Flourish in the Chicago Area Through Hydroponics http://www.wbez.org/news/local-tomatoes-flourish-chicago-area-through-hydroponics-113898 <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/HydroTomato.jpg" style="height: 349px; width: 620px;" title="MightVine tomatoes are already in Chicago stores including Whole Foods. (WBEZ/Monica Eng) " /></div><div class="image-insert-image "><p>In recent weeks, Chicago shoppers have found something unusual in Whole Foods and Jewel stores--local tomatoes, in November. They come from an experiment in Midwest farming underway 80 miles to the west in Rochelle, IL.</p><p>That&rsquo;s where the new MightyVine hydroponic farm houses 100,000 tomato plants inside a 7-acre greenhouse. The vines wind around wires and rise high into the air like magical beanstalks sprouting chubby red fruit.</p><p>The tomatoes are being used and sold in specialty store Local Foods in Chicago&rsquo;s West Town neighborhood and in school food catered by Handcut Foods. Both are co-owned by Jim Murphy, who serves as chairman at MightyVine.</p><p>&ldquo;What we&rsquo;re trying to do is provide the best tomato possible into the city of Chicago,&rdquo; Murphy said at the farm&rsquo;s opening last month.</p><p>Hydroponic and greenhouse tomatoes from places like Maine and Canada have been available to Chicagoans for years now. But Murphy, MightyVine CEO Gary Lazarski and their investors have put a $11 million bet that Chicagoans will prefer a product grown closer to home.</p><p>&ldquo;First, you have to have the product,&rdquo; Murphy said. &ldquo;Then you have to educate people about it. And we think we can get Chicago residents to think about tomatoes the way they should. And I think the perfect way is the way Mario Batali says: &lsquo;The best tomato is the one that grows closest to home&rsquo;-- and MightyVine will be the one that grows closest to home 11 months of the year.&rdquo;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/HydroTomato2.jpg" style="height: 349px; width: 620px;" title="100,000 tomato plants rise into the air in the 7-acre MightyVine farm in Rochelle, Illinois. (WBEZ/Monica Eng) " /></p><p>The Dutch have developed a lot of hydroponic farming, so it&rsquo;s little surprise that MightyVine has chosen Nic Helderman as its master grower. We recently toured the farm with the Netherlands native and he explained that the plants only need about 10 percent of the water used for field tomatoes. Most of that water, he says, will be derived from captured rainwater and snow melt.</p><p>On the other hand, the farm will need some extra inputs when it comes to heat and light the vast greenhouse While the diffused glass ceiling lets in sunlight, the plants will also depend on high-power sodium lights that give the room an unearthly glow.</p><p>&ldquo;Most greenhouses [in the Netherlands] don&rsquo;t have lights, so they plant the tomatoes around Christmas and they harvest in the summer,&rdquo; Helderman said as bumble bees buzzed around the plants he was showing off. &ldquo;But because of the lights, we can grow these tomatoes year round, vine ripe and close to the market.&rdquo;</p><p>Helderman is optimistic about the conditions for a strong, consistent crop, despite a disastrous whitefly infestation that struck in late 2013 at one of the major hydroponic tomato facilities in Maine, Backyard Farms.</p><p>According to CEO Lazarski, the farm has created about 35 permanent jobs and 15 seasonal jobs in Rochelle.</p><p>MightyVine officials say they hope to grow about 4.5 million pounds of tomatoes a year at the facility (about 70,000 to 100,000 pounds a week), including some specialty varieties custom grown for Chicago restaurants including Frontera, RPM Steak, Bang Bang Pie Shop and Revolution Brewing.</p><p>In stores, the tomatoes will go for $2.50 to $3.50 a pound.</p></div><p><em>Monica Eng is a WBEZ producer and co-host of the Chewing The Fat podcast. Follow her at&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/monicaeng">@monicaeng</a>&nbsp;or write to her at meng@wbez.org</em></p></p> Mon, 23 Nov 2015 13:59:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/local-tomatoes-flourish-chicago-area-through-hydroponics-113898 Is Chicago Breaking a State Yard Waste Law? http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-breaking-state-yard-waste-law-113849 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Yard Waste_sh.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>It&rsquo;s against the <a href="http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/documents/041500050K22.22.htm">law in Illinois </a>to put yard waste, like leaves and sticks, into a landfill. But because of choices made by the city of Chicago, that is exactly where a lot of our yard waste is ending up.</p><p><a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/streets/supp_info/recycling1/chicago_recyclesvideoyardwasteandcompostingsegment.html">A video from the City of Chicago&rsquo;s website</a> explains that residents should place yard waste in a paper bag and put it in the alley. The video clearly says special trucks drive through the alleys on a regular schedule looking for yard bags.</p><p>But Chicago residents have been telling us they don&rsquo;t actually think that&rsquo;s happening anymore.</p><p>Here is the first clue: Chicago measures how much yard waste it collects. Last year the city collected only about 10 percent of what it collected in 2010. Why the big drop?</p><p>Clue number two: We staked out an alleyway and looked to see what happened.</p><p>Alex Riepl agreed to help us out. He is a gardener and cares about the environment. He thought throwing the remnants of his tomato plants in the trash would be wasteful. So he put it all in one of those special yard waste bags, like the video instructs.</p><p>We waited to see if the special truck mentioned in the video ever came. It didn&rsquo;t. Riepl&rsquo;s yard waste was thrown in a garbage truck, with the rest of the trash, headed to a landfill.</p><p>&ldquo;I guess I&rsquo;m disappointed. Since there are so many people who do put a lot of effort into it. You&rsquo;d think the people who run the city would hold up their end of the bargain,&rdquo; said Riepl.</p><p>We called the Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation and asked about their pick-up practice. A spokesperson said doing separate pick-up had gotten too expensive for Chicago, so residents must call 3-1-1 and specifically ask for yard waste pick-up. Then a truck would be sent out.</p><p>Riepl can be forgiven for the confusion. Many of the city&rsquo;s web materials on recycling, make no mention of the need to call 3-1-1 for yard waste.</p><p>But it&rsquo;s not only a problem of communication. Having to call 3-1-1 for pick-up is inconvenient.</p><p>&ldquo;If you want a program to fail, make it an opt in,&rdquo; said Mike Nowak of the Chicago Recycling Coalition.</p><p>The recycling coalition also says the city has been breaking the state law against putting yard waste in landfills.</p><p>&ldquo;The yard waste pick-up is basically non-existent in the city of Chicago. And so the Chicago Recycling Coalition finally said that&rsquo;s enough. Especially because we are in violation of state law. So we sent a demand letter to the city and said you need to come up with a program right away,&rdquo; said Nowak.</p><p>The city said it would work with the coalition and that it would launch a website with clearer instructions next month, but gave us no indication that it will actually change its practices.</p><p><em>Ryan Katz contributed to this report.</em></p><p><em>Shannon Heffernan is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her </em><a href="https://twitter.com/search?q=%40shannon_h&amp;src=typd"><em>@shannon_h</em></a></p></p> Thu, 19 Nov 2015 09:21:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-breaking-state-yard-waste-law-113849 What's killing the endangered Saiga antelope of Central Asia? http://www.wbez.org/news/whats-killing-endangered-saiga-antelope-central-asia-113824 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/SAIGA--mass_grave.png" alt="" /><p><p>The Saiga &mdash; tawny, bulbous-nosed antelopes that have roamed the desert steppe of Central Asia by the millions since the days of the woolly mammoth &mdash; are suddenly falling to a mysterious disease that has killed nearly 80 percent of the population, and scientists are scrambling to understand why.</p><p><img alt="" src="http://cdn1.pri.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_main/public/story/images/SAIGA--mass_grave.png?itok=TI0SVkgk" style="height: 349px; width: 620px;" title="A mass grave of Saiga antelope. A mysterious disease has killed off nearly 80% of the Saiga population in Central Asia (Royal Veterinary College, Richard Kock)" typeof="foaf:Image" /></p><p>Dr. Richard Kock, of the Royal Veterinary College in London, who has studied the saiga population, was actually on the scene when this tragic event began to unfold. He says it was unlike anything he has ever witnessed.</p><p>&ldquo;It started with just a few and then gradually gathered pace over two or three days,&rdquo; Kock explains. &ldquo;The best description is that they were dying like flies. Eventually the landscape was completely littered with these animals&hellip;From moving and eating normally to death was just a matter of hours. So it was hopeless. We wouldn&#39;t have had a chance of doing much to help individuals.&rdquo;</p><p>The saiga is a very unusual, ancient animal that predates the wooly mammoth. It is highly adapted to the extreme environment of the Central Asian steppe, where temperatures can range from 49 degrees below zero to 113 degrees.&nbsp;They migrate over huge distances. They are also one of the fastest hoofed animals on earth, capable of reaching speeds of up to 70 miles per hour.</p><p>As recently as 2014, the entire saiga population was about 300,000. The central group of about 250,000 is the key population, Kock says. When the die-off began, Kock and his colleagues monitored two additional population sites, one of about 60,000, another of 8,000. Gradually it became clear, however, that there were about 15&nbsp;different die-off sites.</p><p>After the event, the Kazak government agreed to do a census to try to establish the mortality rate. They found that, at most, only 30,000 out of the 250,000 central population survived, Kock says.</p><p>But the most surprising thing was that in all of those aggregations, the death rate was 100 percent among animals that got sick. &ldquo;I&#39;ve worked in this field of infectious diseases for 35 years and I have never seen anything like that,&rdquo; Kock says.</p><p>&ldquo;From an epidemiological perspective, it was too quick to be an infectious disease,&rdquo; Kock explains. &ldquo;Transmission of an organism, like a cold virus or a gut pathogen or something, would take weeks, if not months, to move through a population of that size. This whole event was more or less over in a matter of days.&rdquo;</p><div><img alt="One living saga" src="http://cdn1.pri.org/sites/default/files/styles/original_image/public/SAIGA--one_living_0.png?itok=l6Z8nHDm" style="height: 349px; width: 620px;" title="A solitary saiga stands in a landscape littered with carcasses. (Royal Veterinary College, Alexa Wolfs)" typeof="foaf:Image" /><div><p>After 32 in-depth postmortem examinations, Kock and his colleagues narrowed the cause to a bacteria called&nbsp;Pasteurella multocida, which is associated with a disease called&nbsp;<a href="http://www.merckvetmanual.com/mvm/generalized_conditions/hemorrhagic_septicemia/overview_of_hemorrhagic_septicemia.html" target="_blank">hemorrhagic septocemia</a>.</p></div></div><p>Pasteurella multocida&nbsp;is a &lsquo;commensal parasite,&rsquo; which means that it can be latent. That is, while not a helpful bacteria, it is typically a neutral bacteria&nbsp;on the skin or in the body of an animal, that lives off of available nutrients. But under certain conditions, the bacteria can become virulent, Kock says, invading the body and causing a disease that leads to bleeding in the internal organs. The question is, what set the bacteria off among the saiga?</p><p>Some evidence suggests these opportunistic bacteria can be temperature sensitive. If the temperature suddenly rises in the environment where the bacteria live, they can suddenly switch to virulence. Stress can also cause this to happen, Kock says.</p><p>In domestic animals, the disease has often been associated with things like transportation &mdash; if you put cattle in a truck and drive them across United States, quite often they get what is called transport fever and that is related to the&nbsp;Pasteurella&nbsp;organism, Kock says.</p><p>&ldquo;So we know stress is involved and the immune system is involved. [Now] the question is. what led to the immune system collapsing across a whole population,&rdquo; Kock says. &ldquo;Were talking about an area of 250,000 square kilometers. We&#39;re talking about 15&nbsp;populations, varying from a few thousand to 60,000 in each of those aggregations. We&#39;re talking about synchronicity in terms of the individuals, as to their suddenly getting this disease. It&#39;s the most extraordinary phenomenon. It&#39;s like somebody waved a wand,&rdquo; Kock says.</p><p>&ldquo;Clearly we need to look at some overarching factors,&rdquo; Kock continues. &ldquo;Something in the environment that was affecting all the animals at the same time, as they developed this disease.&rdquo;</p><p>Kock believes extreme weather was the most likely trigger. Just before the die-off, temperatures had risen quickly to 98 degrees&nbsp;and then dropped overnight to 23 degrees.&nbsp;But Kock suspects there is something more going on.</p><p>&ldquo;If we look retrospectively, we see that 10 to&nbsp;15 years ago the pattern of temperatures was in a lower range,&quot; he explains. &quot;With climate change, we&#39;re seeing greater fluctuations,&nbsp;and this is an example of it, I think. Temperatures are rising very high at a time of year when that would not normally happen and then&nbsp;dropping very precipitously. So the range of drop is much greater than would&#39;ve happened maybe 200 years ago, 300 years ago.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;So, in a sense what we have here is a perfect storm and the thresholds for something like this to happen are reducing, and we can probably blame climate change for that,&rdquo; Kock concludes.</p><p><em>This article is based on an&nbsp;interview&nbsp;that aired on PRI&#39;s&nbsp;<a href="http://admin.pri.org/stories/2015-11-17/whats-killing-endangered-saiga-antelope-central-asia" target="_blank">Living on Earth</a>&nbsp;with Steve Curwood.</em></p></p> Tue, 17 Nov 2015 12:33:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/whats-killing-endangered-saiga-antelope-central-asia-113824 Activists arrested for blocking petcoke site http://www.wbez.org/news/activists-arrested-blocking-petcoke-site-113814 <p><p dir="ltr">Activists opposed to the storage and handling of petcoke on Chicago&rsquo;s Southeast side want it completely eliminated from their neighborhood, and on Monday some were willing to get arrested to prove it.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;We&rsquo;re not willing to negotiate,&rdquo; Kate Koval, a member of the grassroots Southeast Side Coalition to Ban Petcoke, said Monday morning.</p><p dir="ltr">Koval joined<a href="https://www.instagram.com/p/-J1H_cnb6-dva9JTI3B-jrFKQnlcZ1T4jiLIs0/" target="_blank"> about a dozen other activists in blocking two entrances</a> into KCBX Terminals, the Koch Brothers-owned facility at 107th and Green Bay.</p><p dir="ltr">Koval says after a couple of years of fighting to get rid of petcoke, residents have had enough.</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Petcoke.JPG" style="height: 465px; width: 620px;" title="Activists block the entrance to KCBX Terminals on Monday morning to protest the handling and storage of petcoke on the facility. Activists say petcoke is harmful to the community. (WBEZ/Mike Puente)" /></div><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;We&rsquo;re looking for clean, green industry. We need to change how we do business along the Calumet River and that change needs to start happening,&rdquo; Koval said.</p><p dir="ltr">10th Ward Ald. Susan Sadlowski Garza joined activists in blocking the entrance to KCBX.</p><p dir="ltr">The struggle between Southeast side residents and KCBX has endured for more than two years, and in that time, activists have had some successes. For instance, KCBX&rsquo;s main source of petcoke, BP&rsquo;s Whiting, Indiana Refinery no longer sends thousands of pounds of petcoke to the Southeast side.</p><p dir="ltr">The City of Chicago and State of Illinois have also clamped down hard on KCBX to reduce the amount of petcoke dust that can become airborne.</p><p dir="ltr">The company has responded by shuttering its north facility and spending millions on a new enclosed structure.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;We have invested more than $30 million in improvements, including a new dust suppression system at our Burley Avenue terminal. We recently closed our other terminal and we are committed to continuing to operate our remaining site on Burley Avenue in full compliance with Chicago&rsquo;s new rules, which call for the enclosure or removal of all product piles by June of (2016),&rdquo; KCBX spokesman Jake Reint said.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Petroleum coke is an important product that has many uses, including energy generation and the production of cement, steel, aluminum and other specialty products. It is not considered toxic, but even so, KCBX has adopted practices to manage the potential for dust.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Still, many Southeast side residents say they won&rsquo;t be satisfied until KCBX leaves the area completely, even if that means taking some 50 jobs with it.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel says he was going to get this stuff out of here. Either he can&rsquo;t do it or he won&#39;t do it,&rdquo; Peggy Salazar, executive director of the Southeast Side Environmental Task Force, said. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re going to find a way to do it.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">It&rsquo;s unclear how the protest affected KCBX&rsquo;s operations. After about a half hour, trucks that had been lined up to enter the facility, turned around and headed toward another entrance that protesters had not blocked off.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p dir="ltr" lang="en">Trucks line up at KCBX on Chicago&#39;s SE side, unable to enter due to protestors blocking front gate.(photo provided) <a href="https://t.co/o8quXSwzRP">pic.twitter.com/o8quXSwzRP</a></p>&mdash; Michael Puente (@MikePuenteNews) <a href="https://twitter.com/MikePuenteNews/status/666264781813338112">November 16, 2015</a></blockquote><p>&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">After about three hours, Chicago police moved in to<a href="https://www.instagram.com/p/-J3yEUHb_sBRVQjic9QLFpLyUymVHutPWB62o0/" target="_blank"> arrest the dozen&nbsp;for trespassing.</a></p><p dir="ltr">KCBX says the request did not come from the company but from Calumet Transload Railroad, which relies on the rail line to transport its salt loads into the Southeast side.</p><div>Michael Puente is a reporter for WBEZ. Follow him on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/mikepuentenews" target="_blank">@MikePuenteNews</a>.</div></p> Mon, 16 Nov 2015 17:35:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/activists-arrested-blocking-petcoke-site-113814 European cancer experts don't agree on how risky Roundup is http://www.wbez.org/news/european-cancer-experts-dont-agree-how-risky-roundup-113789 <p><div id="res455914782" previewtitle="A bottle of Monsanto's Roundup herbicide in a gardening store in Lille, France. A group convened by the European Food Safety Agency reviewed the available scientific data on the chemical, also known as glyphosate, and concluded that it probably does not cause cancer."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="A bottle of Monsanto's Roundup herbicide in a gardening store in Lille, France. A group convened by the European Food Safety Agency reviewed the available scientific data on the chemical, also known as glyphosate, and concluded that it probably does not cause cancer." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/11/13/roundup_sized-cfae06f9931a618e1cbc0e338792a2d962bad393-s1600-c85.jpg" style="height: 465px; width: 620px;" title="A bottle of Monsanto's Roundup herbicide in a gardening store in Lille, France. A group convened by the European Food Safety Agency reviewed the available scientific data on the chemical, also known as glyphosate, and concluded that it probably does not cause cancer. (Philippe Huguen/AFP/Getty Images)" /></div><div><p>Glyphosate, widely known by its trade name, Roundup, probably gets more attention than any other herbicide. It&#39;s one of world&#39;s most-used weedkillers, and it is also closely linked to the growth of genetically modified crops.</p></div></div><p>Monsanto invented Roundup, and also invented crops that grow well when it&#39;s used on them. Farmers find that combination almost irresistible.</p><p>So in March, when the World Health Organization&#39;s International Agency for Research on Cancer classified glyphosate as a probably carcinogen, it set off a furor. Monsanto was outraged, and vociferously&nbsp;<a href="http://www.monsanto.com/iarc-roundup/pages/default.aspx">questioned</a>&nbsp;the IARC&#39;s judgement. Opponents of GMOs&nbsp;<a href="http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/files/glyphosate-faq_64013.pdf">welcomed</a>&nbsp;the agency&#39;s conclusion as a scientific validation of their cause.</p><div id="res455925606"><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP_403093289867.jpg" style="height: 430px; width: 620px;" title="A banner is photographed, during a World March Against Monsanto, in Paris, France, in Paris, Saturday, May 23 2015. Marches and rallies against Monsanto, a sustainable agriculture company and genetically modified organisms food and seeds were held in dozens of countries in a global campaign highlighting the dangers of GMO Food. Banner reads 'Monsanto genocide alive'. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)" /></div></div><div id="res455925642"><div><div>&nbsp;</div></div></div><p>The IARC&#39;s announcement was especially noteworthy because glyphosate has long been considered among the least toxic pesticides used by farmers.</p><p>Now, another group of cancer experts has weighed in, further complicating the scientific debate.</p><p>The group, which was convened by the European Food Safety Agency, has reviewed the available scientific data on glyphosate and&nbsp;<a href="http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/press/news/151112">concluded</a>&nbsp;that it probably does not cause cancer.</p><p>The European group took pains to&nbsp;<a href="http://www.efsa.europa.eu/sites/default/files/4302_glyphosate_complementary.pdf">explain</a>&nbsp;why its assessment differs from that of the IARC. The European group considered a slightly different group of studies, for one thing. It only looked at studies of glyphosate by itself, for instance, rather than studies of glyphosate as it is sold to customers. These commercial formulations generally include a mixture of chemicals, and some of these other ingredients may be more more dangerous than glyphosate itself.</p><p>Any regulatory decisions in Europe about glyphosate-based herbicides will involve a close look at those commercial mixtures.</p><p>The next act in this scientific drama, though, is set for this side of the Atlantic. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has been carrying out its own review of glyphosate&#39;s risks. The agency&nbsp;<a href="http://www.stltoday.com/business/local/epa-completes-glyphosate-review-findings-expected-no-later-than-july/article_d5a05f3d-e6a7-5c75-9b73-5defebadc192.html">reportedly</a>&nbsp;has finished a &quot;preliminary risk assessment&quot; of the chemical, and could release results by the end of the year.</p><p>&mdash;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/11/13/455810235/european-cancer-experts-dont-agree-on-how-risky-roundup-is" target="_blank"><em> via NPR</em></a></p></p> Fri, 13 Nov 2015 15:26:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/european-cancer-experts-dont-agree-how-risky-roundup-113789 How do public transportation maps help fight climate change? http://www.wbez.org/news/how-do-public-transportation-maps-help-fight-climate-change-113776 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/4535321030_3374544a0f_o.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>One guy certainly thinks so. His name is Mark Ovenden. He&rsquo;s an expert in transit maps and the author of &ldquo;<a href="http://www.amazon.com/Transit-Maps-World-Mark-Ovenden/dp/0143112651" target="_blank">Transit Maps of The World</a>.&rdquo; So he&rsquo;s a *little* biased. But after looking at his book, you can&rsquo;t help but agree.</p><p>It&rsquo;s a design history book that&rsquo;s brain candy. You keep flipping from page to page, looking at transit systems all across the globe.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><div><img alt="The Beijing transit map." src="http://cdn1.pri.org/sites/default/files/styles/original_image/public/beijing.gif?itok=ZCDK3qoB" style="height: 488px; width: 620px;" title="The Beijing transit map. (City of Beijing)" typeof="foaf:Image" /><div><p>&nbsp;</p></div><div><p>The colors are amazing.</p></div></div><p>There&rsquo;s a uniform look. You can picture yourself traveling through the cities,&nbsp;or getting lost in Tokyo.</p><div><img alt="Transit map of Tokyo." src="http://cdn1.pri.org/sites/default/files/styles/original_image/public/ToktoMetroMap_en.gif?itok=PtwC2kUu" style="height: 438px; width: 620px;" title="Transit map of Tokyo. (City of Tokyo)" typeof="foaf:Image" /><div><p>These iconic displays of information have evolved in the last decade, and they&nbsp;show&nbsp;an important change.</p></div></div><p>&ldquo;Since we put the original book together more than a decade ago, there are so many more metro, light rail, streetcar, subway systems around the world,&rdquo; says Ovenden.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><div><img alt="Transit map of Moscow. " src="http://cdn1.pri.org/sites/default/files/styles/original_image/public/moscow.gif?itok=jDdcc9ZU" style="height: 709px; width: 620px;" title="Transit map of Moscow. (City of Moscow)" typeof="foaf:Image" /><div><p>And all of this gets to the bold statement: transit maps fight climate change. Ovenden argues it this way. &ldquo;Obviously, anyone using public transport and not using their car is contributing to less pollution and helping save the planet,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;Good transit map design gets people to use a system, to recognize that it&rsquo;s a great system and it&rsquo;s easy to use.&rdquo;</p></div></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 13 Nov 2015 11:30:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/how-do-public-transportation-maps-help-fight-climate-change-113776 For Obama's top science guy, the climate outlook is partly sunny http://www.wbez.org/programs/world/2015-11-12/obamas-top-science-guy-climate-outlook-partly-sunny-113765 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Holdren.jpg" alt="" /><p><header><figure><div id="file-93503"><img alt="" src="http://cdn1.pri.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_main/public/story/images/Holdren.jpg?itok=fz-QLkhL" style="height: 349px; width: 620px;" title="John Holdren, President Obama's chief science advisor, says he's optimistic about the world's nations striking a strong climate deal next month in Paris, in part because both the motivation and the means to fight the climate crisis are &quot;growing all the time.&quot; (Reuters/Joshua Roberts)" typeof="foaf:Image" /><div><p>&nbsp;</p></div></div></figure></header><div><div><article about="/stories/2015-11-12/obamas-top-science-guy-climate-outlook-partly-sunny" typeof="sioc:Item foaf:Document"><div><p>The global climate crisis has only gotten worse in the six years since the last big international climate summit in Copenhagen ended in near-failure. The pollution-cutting pledges made by the world&rsquo;s nations heading into the next big UN climate summit in Paris in a few weeks aren&rsquo;t enough to avoid likely catastrophic warming&nbsp;of the earth&rsquo;s atmosphere. The US Congress&nbsp;remains dead-set against any action to address climate change.</p></div><p>And yet&nbsp;<a href="https://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/ostp/about/leadershipstaff/director" target="_blank">John Holdren</a>, president Obama&rsquo;s chief adviser on climate change and other scientific issues, is optimistic about our ability to meet the challenge and avert a climate catastrophe.</p><p>&ldquo;I think (the world&rsquo;s countries) will meet&rdquo; the challenge, Holdren told PRI. &ldquo;And the reason I think they will&hellip; is not only is the motivation for meeting it growing all the time, but the capability for meeting it is growing all the time.&rdquo;</p><p>Holdren, who&rsquo;s an MIT and Stanford-trained physicist and now heads the&nbsp;<a href="https://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/ostp" target="_blank">White House Office of Science and Technology Policy</a>, says the technology for reducing our dependence on carbon-intensive fossil fuels is advancing rapidly.</p><p>&ldquo;The cost of solar energy is plummeting,&rdquo; Holdren says. &ldquo;The cost of wind energy is falling. The ability to increase energy efficiency in ways that reduce emissions continues to impress. So as time goes on, and as our technologies get even better, countries are going to be able to be more ambitious (in their de-carbonizing efforts) because they&#39;re going to understand they can actually do it, and they can do it in a cost-effective way.&rdquo;</p><p>One of the keys to making this happen, Holdren says, is to come out of the Paris summit in early December with a flexible global agreement that encourages countries to do more to cut greenhouse gas pollution as time goes on.</p><p>Holdren acknowledges that the commitments countries have made so far heading into to the Paris summit &ldquo;are not sufficient&rdquo; by themselves to avoid overshooting the 2-degree&nbsp;Celsius rise in global temperatures from pre-industrial levels agreed in Copenhagen as the upper limit of tolerable. In fact, he says, &ldquo;no one ever imagined that these commitments&hellip; would suffice.&rdquo; But, he says, they are a big step in the right direction.</p><p>&ldquo;So the aim of the Paris conference is to come up with the framework that embeds the possibility&mdash;indeed the likelihood&mdash;of additional ambition&rdquo; over time, Holdren says. &ldquo;We think that will happen. Countries are going to continue to ratchet up their ambition as a matter of self-interest.&rdquo;</p><p>Of course the &ldquo;self-interest&rdquo; of countries stems from the fact that since the Copenhagen summit the danger from climate change has only become more clear and present.</p><p>&ldquo;We&#39;ve learned a lot more and it&rsquo;s increased our sense of urgency&rdquo; since 2009, Holdren says. &ldquo;All around the world we are experiencing torrential downpours in increased frequency and magnitude. We&#39;re seeing climate impact on the severity of drought in many parts of the world. Wildfires, which people had hardly thought about in 2009, are proving to be a big deal. And the understanding of sea level rise has improved greatly since then. We now know that there is the possibility of as much as two meters (6.5 feet) of sea-level rise in this century.</p><p>That&nbsp;sea level rise would put much of the&nbsp;<a href="https://coast.noaa.gov/slr/" target="_blank">New York, Miami, San Francisco Bay and Boston areas under water</a>.</p><p>And Holdren believes it&rsquo;s already too late to avoid truly dangerous effects of climate change.</p><p>&ldquo;I believe, and I think most climate scientists believe, we are already experiencing dangerous&rdquo; effects, Holdren says. &ldquo;The question is, can we avoid truly unmanageable, truly catastrophic degrees of climate change?&rdquo;</p><p>In answer to his own question, Holdren says, &ldquo;we very much hope that we can.&rdquo;</p><p>Holdren says that despite a constant stream of international crises and domestic challenges, president Obama &ldquo;puts a very high priority&rdquo; on addressing the climate crisis. And in the last few months the administration believes it has set the stage for considerable progress in Paris with its new&nbsp;<a href="http://www2.epa.gov/cleanpowerplan/clean-power-plan-existing-power-plants" target="_blank">plan to cut emissions from power plants</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="http://thediplomat.com/2015/09/why-the-us-china-climate-deal-matters/" target="_blank">agreements with China</a>, now the world&rsquo;s largest CO2 polluter, to work together &ldquo;<a href="http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/09/china-cap-emissions-climate-change-deal-150925170203500.html" target="_blank">toward a low-carbon transformation of the global economy this century</a>.&rdquo;</p><p>Still, given the scale and consequences of the crisis, Holdren&rsquo;s optimism is not unbounded, especially given the political divide on the issue in Washington.</p><p>&ldquo;I worry, and I know the president&nbsp;worries, that we haven&#39;t done enough,&rdquo; Holdren says. &ldquo;We are doing everything we can right now using executive authorities, things we can get done without requiring an act of Congress. But we could get more done if we had the congress with us. And I very much look forward to the day when Congress comes on board and works with the executive branch to do more to address this challenge.&rdquo;</p></article></div></div><p>&mdash;<a href="http://www.pri.org/stories/2015-11-12/obamas-top-science-guy-climate-outlook-partly-sunny" target="_blank"><em> via PRI&#39;s The World</em></a></p></p> Thu, 12 Nov 2015 16:33:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/world/2015-11-12/obamas-top-science-guy-climate-outlook-partly-sunny-113765 Montreal dumping 2.1 billion gallons of sewage into St. Lawrence River http://www.wbez.org/programs/here-and-now/2015-11-11/montreal-dumping-21-billion-gallons-sewage-st-lawrence-river-113741 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/1111_st-lawrence-river-624x416.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="attachment_95932"><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="A freighter is sailing in the St. Lawrence River on July, 18th along L'ïle d'orléans Island (Québec, Canada). Just after midnight this morning, the city of Montreal began dumping raw, untreated sewage into this main waterway. Over the next six days, the city will dump more than 2 billion gallons of untreated sewage into the river, which runs from the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean. (Clement Sabourin/AFP/Getty Images)" src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/media.wbur.org/wordpress/11/files/2015/11/1111_st-lawrence-river-624x416.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="A freighter is sailing in the St. Lawrence River on July, 18th along L’ïle d’orléans Island of Québec, Canada. Just after midnight this morning, the city of Montreal began dumping raw, untreated sewage into this main waterway. Over the next six days, the city will dump more than 2 billion gallons of untreated sewage into the river, which runs from the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean. (Clement Sabourin/AFP/Getty Images)" /></p><p>&nbsp;</p></div><p>Just after midnight this morning, the city of Montreal began dumping raw, untreated sewage into its main waterway, the St. Lawrence River. Over the next six days, the city will dump around 2.1 billion gallons of untreated sewage into the river, which runs from the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean, along part of the U.S.-Canada border.</p><p>Here &amp; Now&lsquo;s Jeremy Hobson talks with&nbsp;Tracey Lindeman&nbsp;of the CBC in Montreal, about why the city is dumping so much sewage into the river, and what the environmental implications could be.</p><p><strong><em><a href="http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/st-lawrence-montreal-sewage-dump-underway-1.3313623" target="_blank">Read more via&nbsp;the CBC</a></em></strong></p></p> Wed, 11 Nov 2015 13:19:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/here-and-now/2015-11-11/montreal-dumping-21-billion-gallons-sewage-st-lawrence-river-113741 Did the language you speak evolve because of the heat? http://www.wbez.org/news/did-language-you-speak-evolve-because-heat-113687 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/worldlanguagehaet.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>English bursts with consonants. We have words that string one after another, like angst, diphthong and catchphrase. But other languages keep more vowels and open sounds. And that variability might be because they evolved in different habitats.</p><div id="res455002843"><div id="responsive-embed-map-language-20151105">&nbsp;</div><p data-pym-src="http://apps.npr.org/dailygraphics/graphics/map-language-20151105/child.html">&nbsp;</p><script src="http://apps.npr.org/dailygraphics/graphics/map-language-20151105/js/lib/pym.js" type="text/javascript"></script></div><p>Consonant-heavy syllables don&#39;t carry very well in places like windy mountain ranges or dense rainforests, researchers say. &quot;If you have a lot of tree cover, for example, [sound] will reflect off the surface of leaves and trunks. That will break up the coherence of the transmitted sound,&quot; says&nbsp;<a href="http://www.unm.edu/~ianm/index.html">Ian Maddieson</a>, a linguist at the University of New Mexico.</p><p>That can be a real problem for complicated consonant-rich sounds like &quot;spl&quot; in &quot;splice&quot; because of the series of high-frequency noises. In this case, there&#39;s a hiss, a sudden stop and then a pop. Where a simple, steady vowel sound like &quot;e&quot; or &quot;a&quot; can cut through thick foliage or the cacophony of wildlife, these consonant-heavy sounds tend to get scrambled.</p><p>Hot climates might wreck a word&#39;s coherence as well, since sunny days create pockets of warm air that can punch into a sound wave. &quot;You disrupt the way it was originally produced, and it becomes much harder to recognize what sound it was,&quot; Maddieson says. &quot;In a more open, temperate landscape, prairies in the Midwest of the United States [or in Georgia] for example, you wouldn&#39;t have that. So the sound would be transmitted with fewer modifications.&quot;</p><div id="res454932115"><div><div data-flash-url="anon.npr-mp3/npr/specials/2015/11/20151105_specials_georgian.mp3" data-html5-url="http://pd.npr.org/anon.npr-mp3/npr/specials/2015/11/20151105_specials_georgian.mp3" data-id="454932115" data-pause-metric-action="Pause Audio" data-pause-metric-category="Secondary Audio" data-play-metric-action="Play Audio" data-play-metric-category="Secondary Audio"><div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><h3><iframe frameborder="0" height="290" scrolling="no" src="http://www.npr.org/player/embed/454853229/454932115" title="NPR embedded audio player" width="100%"></iframe></h3></div></div></div></div></div><div id="res454998084" previewtitle="The open, temperate terrain of eastern Georgia would make fast-changing sounds like 'str' in 'strength' easier to hear."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="The open, temperate terrain of eastern Georgia would make fast-changing sounds like 'str' in 'strength' easier to hear." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/11/06/georgia_wide-b3c9b5a78ab72913eafca3939990c5f46459984a-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 349px; width: 620px;" title="The open, temperate terrain of eastern Georgia would make fast-changing sounds like 'str' in 'strength' easier to hear. (Sebastian Preuber/Flickr)" /></div><div><div><p>Other scientists have noticed that habitats can affect the way different bird species sing. &quot;Say you&#39;re a bird in a forest, and some guy&#39;s going &#39;Stree! Stree! Stree!&#39; But because of the environment, what you hear is &#39;Ree! Ree! Ree!&#39; &quot; says&nbsp;<a href="http://homepage.univie.ac.at/tecumseh.fitch/">Tecumseh Fitch</a>, a linguist at the University of Vienna in Austria who was not involved in the study. &quot;Well, because you&#39;re learning the song, you&#39;ll sing &#39;Ree! Ree! Ree!&#39; &quot;</p></div></div></div><p>Since bird species living in rain forests tend to sing songs with fewer consonant-like sounds, Maddieson thought maybe the same would apply to human languages. Over time, people living in different climates would adapt their speech to communicate more efficiently.</p><p>In a&nbsp;<a href="https://asa2015fall.abstractcentral.com/s/u/Se1Hr1xy6XQ">presentation</a>&nbsp;on Wednesday at the Acoustical Society of America fall meeting, Maddieson showed that consonant-thick languages like Georgian are more likely to develop in open, temperate environments. Meanwhile, consonant-light languages like Hawaiian are more likely to be found in lush, hot ecologies.</p><div id="res454997029"><div><div data-flash-url="anon.npr-mp3/npr/specials/2015/11/20151106_specials_hawaiiangreeting.mp3" data-html5-url="http://pd.npr.org/anon.npr-mp3/npr/specials/2015/11/20151106_specials_hawaiiangreeting.mp3" data-id="454997029" data-pause-metric-action="Pause Audio" data-pause-metric-category="Secondary Audio" data-play-metric-action="Play Audio" data-play-metric-category="Secondary Audio"><div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><h3><iframe frameborder="0" height="290" scrolling="no" src="http://www.npr.org/player/embed/454853229/454997029" title="NPR embedded audio player" width="100%"></iframe></h3></div></div></div></div></div><div id="res454997955" previewtitle="A vowel sound like &quot;e&quot; can still sound clear through the dense vegetation in Hawaii."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="A vowel sound like &quot;e&quot; can still sound clear through the dense vegetation in Hawaii." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/11/06/hawaii_wide-a13dfd35d319530c2792c3276cddf3a5adfa6ee1-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 349px; width: 620px;" title="A vowel sound like &quot;e&quot; can still sound clear through the dense vegetation in Hawaii. (Daniel Ramirez/Flickr)" /></div><div><div><p>Fitch says it&#39;s a tantalizing hypothesis, but still unproven. People who live nearby are usually related, so their languages could be too. Hawaiian and Maori are light on consonants and developed in hot, tropical climates, but they also both came from an ancestor Eastern Polynesian language. That could confound the results of Maddieson&#39;s study. Until that&#39;s sorted out, Fitch says, it&#39;s hard to know how strong the data are.</p></div></div></div><p>And the environmental effect only accounts for some of the variation in birdsongs. That&#39;s probably true for our tongues too. &quot;There are many reasons why some languages have more vowels or more consonants, and this is just one of them,&quot; Fitch says.</p><p>Other researchers say this is just the beginning of a line of research into how nature rules our speech. &quot;This is the first of its kind, and there are several others coming now. It&#39;s becoming increasingly clear that the way we speak is shaped by external forces,&quot; says&nbsp;<a href="http://www.mpi.nl/people/roberts-sean">Sean Roberts</a>, a researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in the Netherlands who was not involved in the study.</p><p>In his own work, Roberts found that arid, desertlike places are&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pnas.org/content/112/5/1322.abstract">less likely to have tonal languages</a>&nbsp;like Mandarin or Vietnamese. And he once analyzed a decades&#39; worth of Larry King transcripts. &quot;I carried the proportion of consonants to vowels that he was using and matched that to the actual humidity on the day he recorded those things,&quot; Roberts says. The longtime TV pundit used a few more consonants on dry days.</p><p>And the language you&#39;re reading now evolved in a cold, gloomy climate prone to light mist and drizzle. Fitch says: &quot;English is quite a consonant-heavy language, and of course it didn&#39;t develop in a rain forest.&quot;</p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/11/06/454853229/did-the-language-you-speak-evolve-because-of-the-heat" target="_blank"><em>via NPR</em></a></p></p> Fri, 06 Nov 2015 15:55:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/did-language-you-speak-evolve-because-heat-113687 A farm grows in a Northwest Side high school http://www.wbez.org/news/farm-grows-northwest-side-high-school-113682 <p><div class="image-insert-image ">Chef Jaime Guerrero has a dream of opening a fully sustainable restaurant in the Old Irving Park neighborhood of Chicago. To refine that model, he&rsquo;s turning to an unlikely partner: Schurz High School, located almost literally in his Old Irving backyard. &nbsp;</div><p>&ldquo;Imagine that you have a restaurant where everything you eat is grown, farmed, harvested, crafted or brewed in that facility,&rdquo; he says of the restaurant that he hopes to open by the end of next year. &nbsp;</p><p>But first he needs to perfect the indoor vertical farming model, which is the task he has put before Schurz students working in the new Food Science Lab. The lab is housed in a 105-year-old classroom that used to host industrial arts classes. But today the white-tiled room, capped with a large glass skylight, is filled with white trays and towers that are expected to be filled with lettuce, herbs and microgreens by the end of the year.</p><p>On a recent morning, lab organizer Cyd Smillie was setting up the space for a fundraiser for the last key element in the lab: LED grow lights. The fundraising <a href="https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/launch-a-food-revolution#/">continues her</a>e.</p><p>Smillie lives in the area and works for Ald John Arena&rsquo;s (45th) office.</p><p>&ldquo;I loved his idea and it seemed to me ...Schurz was the perfect place to develop some of the technology and train the staff,&rdquo; said Smillie, who is also an artist. &ldquo;We talked to [the late] chef Homaro Cantu who was an area resident, about the sustainable agriculture he was working on in his own restaurant and how training food handlers for it was already an issue in the city.&rdquo;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Schurz Farm2_0.jpg" style="height: 304px; width: 620px;" title="The Schurz Food Science Lab served as an English literature industrial arts classroom over the last 100 years. But it should be filled with trays of hydroponic lettuce, herbs and greens by the end of the year. (WBEZ/Monica Eng)" /></p><p>The Schurz program hopes to certify all of its students as trained food handlers. And Smillie says the lab will serve as a classroom for several AP and International Baccalaureate science classes.</p><p>But she also notes less obvious uses for the program and lab. These include use as a therapeutic space for students with low-level autism and as a business project for classes in entrepreneurship and marketing. The school&rsquo;s JROTC program has also gotten involved.</p><p>&ldquo;Those students go on to Peace Corps and National Guard and work post-disaster or war situations where they have to set up food systems,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;So they have been instrumental in helping set up the lab so far, and we&rsquo;re teaching them how to set up these very portable systems to help grow food in those kinds of post-crisis situations.&rdquo;</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Schurz%20farm1.jpg" style="height: 348px; width: 620px;" title="Schurz High School is more than 100 years old, but it’s launching a lab to refine the future of urban agriculture. (WBEZ/Monica Eng)" /></p><p>The group is working with a volunteer organization called Build Up, which will help distribute the produce to area food pantries. But Smillie says she hopes that one day the students will get to incorporate it into school food.</p><p>&ldquo;CPS has a protocol for certification so we need to be certified as a growing facility and as food handlers,&rdquo; she explained. &ldquo;But after we achieve that we have a roster of area chefs who will teach the kids how to use them and then we would like them to go into the lunchrooms here, once CPS says we are allowed to do that.&rdquo;</p><p>Principal Dan Kramer has embraced the program as a way to help restore the place of schools in communities.</p><p>&ldquo;I want to bring schools back to a role they had when they were really the heart of the neighborhood,&rdquo; he said, &ldquo;not just families sending their kids there for school but places for performances, exhibits and social celebrations, really making [them] open to the public.&rdquo;</p><p>Smillie says that, if they can refine the model, it won&rsquo;t just help launch Guerrero&rsquo;s restaurant but many more food labs across the city.</p><p>&ldquo;Ideally it&rsquo;s a pilot project we can take to other schools in food deserts,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;There, it won&rsquo;t be just an academic exercise but a job training program and a food supply chain, to not just the students and school but to the communities they serve.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Monica Eng is a WBEZ food and health reporter. Follow her at</em><a href="https://twitter.com/monicaeng"> <em>@monicaeng</em></a> <em>or write to her at meng@wbez.org</em></p></p> Fri, 06 Nov 2015 12:52:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/farm-grows-northwest-side-high-school-113682