WBEZ | Environment http://www.wbez.org/sections/environment Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Chicago's plastic bag ban is full of holes http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-07-31/chicagos-plastic-bag-ban-full-holes-112530 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/plastic bagsDay Donaldson.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>On August 1, Chicago joins the more than 130 cities and counties in the US with bans on plastic bags.</p><p>Chain stores more than 10,000 square feet in size will no longer be able to offer customers those flimsy plastic bags we&rsquo;re all used to.</p><p>There are three types of bags that are OK under the new law and two of them are technically plastic. So, what&rsquo;s going on here?</p><p>Joining us to sift through what&rsquo;s under the ban &mdash; and whether the new law is good to begin with &mdash; are two people on opposite ends. Jordan Parker is an environmentalist and executive director of Bring Your Bag Chicago and Jonathan Perman represents the American Progressive Bag Alliance, the trade association for manufacturers and recyclers of plastic bags and plastic film.</p></p> Fri, 31 Jul 2015 11:08:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-07-31/chicagos-plastic-bag-ban-full-holes-112530 Could Chicago be in for a long hot summer? http://www.wbez.org/news/could-chicago-be-long-hot-summer-112238 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/corn crops.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><a href="https://climateillinois.wordpress.com/2015/06/22/so-far-fifth-wettest-june-on-record-for-illinois/">Near record rainfalls</a> in parts of Illinois this June have set the stage for what could be many muggy nights ahead, in part because of the type of crops we grow in the state.</p><p>David Changnon, a professor of meteorology at Northern Illinois University, <a href="http://www.niu.edu/geog/directory/dave_changnon_research.shtml#2004a">studies how dense Illinois corn and soybean crops can raise dew point temperatures</a>. He worries what might happen if the moisture from these crops, coupled with evaporation from this year&rsquo;s wet soil, meets high summer temperatures this year. &nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;We could have incredible amounts of <a href="http://water.usgs.gov/edu/watercycleevapotranspiration.html">evapotranspiration</a>,&rdquo; Changnon said. &ldquo;Not just evaporation of water from the soil at the surface but our corn and soybean plants will begin to transpire a great deal of water into the lower atmosphere. In those situations it prevents the air temperature from dropping below that dew point, which limits how much cooling you can have at night.&rdquo;</p><p>In his 2004 paper on this subject, Changnon noted that the greatest increases in extreme daily dew point temperatures occurred in the Midwest in the second half of the last century. This period coincided with a doubling of corn and soybean crops in the area. In the years since, local cultivation of these crops has only increased.</p><p>And according to Changnon, these factors could combine with hot temperatures to reduce the number of Midwest summer days that fade into cool nights. &nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;So now you have not only hot muggy days, but you also have warm muggy evenings, which makes it very difficult if you don&rsquo;t have air conditioning to sleep and get around,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Chagnon notes that high temperatures and record high dew points also prevailed during Chicago&rsquo;s steamy summer of 1999 and deadly summer of 1995 when more than 700 died in the heat.</p><p>&ldquo;In both of those summers we had big heat waves in July &lsquo;95 and the end of July &lsquo;99 where temperatures in the Chicagoland area got close to 100 degrees if not exceeded them for a couple of days,&rdquo; Chagnon said. &ldquo;On those days we had dew points in the upper 70s, and we even set an all-time record at Midway of a dew point of 83 degrees.</p><p>&ldquo;It was those dew points that limited the ability for the atmosphere to cool down at night and that&rsquo;s what really caused the problem for most people who don&rsquo;t have air conditioning systems in their homes or apartments, especially for the elderly,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Still, Changnon notes that we also had heavy June rainfall in 2014.</p><p>&ldquo;Luckily it was accompanied by fairly cool temperatures, so it wasn&rsquo;t that much of a problem,&rdquo; he said.</p><p><em>Monica Eng is a WBEZ producer and co-host of the Chewing The Fat podcast. Follow her at&nbsp;</em><a href="https://twitter.com/monicaeng"><em>@monicaeng</em></a> <em>or write to her at meng@wbez.org</em></p></p> Wed, 24 Jun 2015 07:57:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/could-chicago-be-long-hot-summer-112238 Battle over new oil train standards pits safety against cost http://www.wbez.org/news/battle-over-new-oil-train-standards-pits-safety-against-cost-112224 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/oil-train-ap_custom-0650f8c189b33da022b256e602227302594e89d9-s800-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The federal government&#39;s new rules aimed at preventing explosive oil train derailments are sparking a backlash from all sides.</p><p>The railroads, oil producers and shippers say some of the new safety requirements are unproven and too costly, yet some safety advocates and environmental groups say the regulations aren&#39;t strict enough and still leave too many people at risk.</p><p>Since February, five trains carrying North Dakota Bakken crude oil have derailed and exploded into flames in the U.S. and Canada. No one was hurt in the incidents in Mount Carbon, W.Va., and Northern Ontario in February; in Galena, Ill., and Northern Ontario in March; and in Heimdal, N.D., in May.</p><p>But each of those fiery train wrecks occurred in lightly populated areas. Scores of oil trains also travel through dense cities, particularly Chicago, the nation&#39;s railroad hub.</p><p>According to state records and published reports, about 40 or more trains carrying Bakken crude roll through the city each week on just the BNSF Railway&#39;s tracks alone. Those trains pass right by apartment buildings, homes, businesses and schools.</p><p>&quot;Well just imagine the carnage,&quot; said Christina Martinez. She was standing alongside the BNSF tracks in Chicago&#39;s Pilsen neighborhood as a long train of black tank cars slowly rolled by, right across the street from St. Procopius, the Catholic elementary school her 6-year-old attends.</p><p>&quot;Just the other day they were playing soccer at my son&#39;s school on Saturday and I saw the train go by and it had the &#39;1267&#39;, the red marking,&quot; Martinez said, referring to the red, diamond-shaped placards on railroad tank cars that indicate their contents. The number 1267 signifies crude oil. &quot;And I was like, &#39;Oh my God.&#39; Can you imagine if it would derail and explode right here while these kids are playing soccer and all the people around there?&quot;</p><p>New federal rules require stronger tank cars, with thicker shells and higher front and back safety shields for shipping crude oil and other flammable liquids. Older, weaker models that more easily rupture will have to be retrofitted or replaced within three to five years. But Martinez and others wanted rules limiting the volatility of what&#39;s going into those tank cars, too.</p><p>Oil from North Dakota has a highly combustible mix of natural gases including butane, methane and propane. The state requires the conditioning of the gas and oil at the wellhead so the vapor pressure is below 13.7 pounds per square inch before it&#39;s shipped. But even at that level, oil from derailed tank cars has exploded into flames.</p><p>And many safety advocates had hoped federal regulators would require conditioning to lower the vapor pressure even more.</p><p>&quot;We don&#39;t want these bomb trains going through our neighborhood,&quot; said Lora Chamberlain of the group Chicagoland Oil by Rail. &quot;De-gasify the stuff. And so we&#39;re really, really upset at the feds, the Department of Transportation, for not addressing this in these new rules.&quot;</p><p>Others criticize the rules for giving shippers three to five years to either strengthen or replace the weakest tank cars.</p><p>&quot;The rules won&#39;t take effect for many years,&quot; said Paul Berland, who lives near busy railroad tracks in suburban Elgin. &quot;They&#39;re still playing Russian roulette with our communities.&quot;</p><p>A coalition of environmental groups &mdash; including Earthjustice, ForestEthics and the Sierra Club &mdash; sued, alleging that loopholes could allow some dangerous tank cars to remain on the tracks for up to a decade.</p><p>&quot;I don&#39;t think our federal regulators did the job that they needed to do here; I think they wimped out, as it were,&quot; said Tom Weisner, mayor of Aurora, Ill., a city of 200,000 about 40 miles west of Chicago that has seen a dramatic increase in oil trains rumbling through it.</p><p>Weisner is upset that the new rules provide exemptions to trains with fewer than 20 contiguous tank cars of a flammable liquid, such as oil, and for trains with fewer than 35 such tank cars in total.</p><p>&quot;They&#39;ve left a hole in the regulations that you could drive a freight train through,&quot; Weisner said.</p><p>At the same time, an oil industry group is challenging the new regulations in court, too, arguing that manufacturers won&#39;t be able to build and retrofit tank cars fast enough to meet the requirements.</p><p>The railroad industry is also taking action against the new crude-by-rail rules, filing an appeal of the new rules with the Department of Transportation.</p><p>In a statement, Association of American Railroads spokesman Ed Greenberg said: &quot;It is the AAR&#39;s position the rule, while a good start, does not sufficiently advance safety and fails to fully address ongoing concerns of the freight rail industry and the general public. The AAR is urging the DOT to close the gap in the rule that allows shippers to continue using tank cars not meeting new design specifications, to remove the ECP brake requirement, and to enhance thermal protection by requiring a thermal blanket as part of new tank car safety design standards.&quot;</p><p>AAR&#39;s President Ed Hamberger discussed the problems the railroads have with the new rules in an interview with NPR prior to filing the appeal. &quot;The one that we have real problems with is requiring something called ECP brakes &mdash; electronically controlled pneumatic brakes,&quot; he said, adding the new braking system that the federal government is mandating is unproven.</p><p>&quot;[DOT does] not claim that ECP brakes would prevent one accident,&quot; Hamberger said. &quot;Their entire safety case is based on the fact that ECP brakes are applied a little bit more quickly than the current system.&quot;</p><p>Acting Federal Railroad Administrator Sarah Feinberg disagreed. &quot;It&#39;s not unproven at all,&quot; she said, noting that the railroads say ECP brakes could cost nearly $10,000 per tank car.</p><p>&quot;I do understand that the railroad industry views it as costly,&quot; Feinberg adds. &quot;I don&#39;t think it&#39;s particularly costly, especially when you compare it to the cost of a really significant incident with a train carrying this product.&quot;</p><p>&quot;We&#39;re talking about unit trains, 70 or more cars, that are transporting an incredibly volatile and flammable substance through towns like Chicago, Philadelphia,&quot; Feinberg continues. &quot;I want those trains to have a really good braking system. I don&#39;t want to get into an argument with the rail industry that it&#39;s too expensive. I want people along rail lines to be protected.&quot;</p><p>Feinberg said her agency is still studying whether to regulate the volatility of crude, but some in Congress don&#39;t think this safety matter can wait.</p><p>&quot;The new DOT rule is just like saying let the oil trains roll,&quot; U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., said in a statement. &quot;It does nothing to address explosive volatility, very little to address the threat of rail car punctures, and is too slow on the removal of the most dangerous cars.&quot;</p><p>Cantwell is sponsoring legislation to force oil producers to reduce the crude&#39;s volatility to make it less explosive, before shipping it on the nation&#39;s rails.</p></p> Fri, 19 Jun 2015 14:59:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/battle-over-new-oil-train-standards-pits-safety-against-cost-112224 Pope's encyclical takes on climate change http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/popes-encyclical-takes-climate-change-112207 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/popefrancis.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><strong><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 20px; background-color: rgb(249, 249, 249);">▲&nbsp;</span>LISTEN&nbsp;</strong><em>The Vatican will release a rare encyclical on the environment Thursday. A leaked draft of Pope Francis&rsquo; letter came out earlier this week. In the draft, the Pope reportedly calls for urgent action to fight climate change and says global warming is &ldquo;mostly&rdquo; due to human action. </em>Morning Shift<em>&#39;s Tony Sarabia asked Sister Dawn Nothwehr, the Erica and Harry John Family Endowed Chair in Catholic Theological Ethics at the Catholic Theological Union, to discuss what this means.</em></p><p>VATICAN CITY &nbsp;&mdash; There&#39;s something of a whodunit going on in the Vatican to discover who leaked Pope Francis&#39; environment encyclical to an Italian newsweekly, deflating the release of the most anticipated and feared papal document in recent times.</p><p><em>L&#39;Espresso</em> magazine published the full 191 pages of &quot;Laudato Si&quot; (Be Praised) on its website Monday, three days before the official launch. The Vatican said it was just a draft, but most media ran with it, given that it covered many of the same points Francis and his advisers have been making in the run-up to the release.</p><p>On Tuesday, the Vatican indefinitely suspended the press credentials of <em>L&#39;Espresso</em>&#39;s veteran Vatican correspondent, Sandro Magister, saying the publication had been &quot;incorrect.&quot; A letter from the Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, to Magister advising him of the sanction was posted on the bulletin board of the Vatican press office.</p><p>Magister told <em>The Associated Press</em> that his editor, not he, obtained the document and decided to publish it.</p><p>&quot;I just wrote the introduction,&quot; Magister said in a text message, adding that he had promised the Vatican to keep quiet about the scoop.</p><p>In the draft of the encyclical, Francis says global warming is &quot;mostly&quot; due to human activity and the burning of fossil fuels. He calls for a radical change in behavior to save the planet for future generations and prevent the poor from suffering the worst effects of industry-induced environmental degradation.</p><p>Several Vatican commentators hypothesized that the leak was aimed at taking the punch out of Thursday&#39;s official launch of the encyclical, in which the Vatican has lined up a Catholic cardinal, an Orthodox theologian, an atheist scientist and an economist to discuss the contents.</p><p>They noted that conservatives &mdash; particularly in the U.S. &mdash; attacked the encyclical even before it was released, chiding the pope for talking science in a church document and insisting that global warming isn&#39;t a scientific reality. It would be in their interest, the argument goes, to fudge the pope&#39;s message via a scoop by<em> L&#39;Espresso</em>, since Magister has championed views of the conservative Catholic camp hostile to Francis.</p><p>Italian daily La Stampa suggested that the leak might have come from conservatives inside Vatican, noting that Francis&#39; reform plans for the Vatican bureaucracy have been resisted by the more conservative old guard who would have an interest in sabotaging Francis&#39; labor of love.</p><p>A leak, however, was to be expected, given that drafts of the document have been circulating for months and that the text had been translated into multiple languages before its official release.</p><p>Not to mention that the Vatican has had a long and storied history of leaked documents: The last big scandal in 2012 resulted in the pope&#39;s butler being put on trial for stealing his private papers and passing them off to an Italian journalist. He was convicted but was eventually pardoned by Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI.</p><p>In the aftermath of the &quot;Vatileaks&quot; scandal, the Vatican City State updated its criminal code to include severe penalties for anyone who leaks a Vatican document or publishes news from it: Up to two years in prison and a 5,000 euro ($5,600) fine.</p><p>Vatican commentator John Allen, writing for the Boston Globe&#39;s Crux site, said the leak highlighted the clash of cultures at play at the Vatican over different understandings of embargoes: The Vatican regularly provides accredited journalists with embargoed documents to give them time to read them and prepare articles, with the understanding that they will only publish at a fixed time.</p><p>While the Vatican cried foul that the encyclical embargo had been violated,<em> L&#39;Espresso </em>obtained the article independently of the Vatican press office, and thereby wasn&#39;t beholden to the noon Thursday embargo that had been set.</p><p>&quot;As a final observation, the frenzy probably will boost interest in Thursday&#39;s official presentation, if for no other reason than to see whether there are actually any substantial changes between the leak and the real deal,&quot; he said.</p></p> Wed, 17 Jun 2015 11:47:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/popes-encyclical-takes-climate-change-112207 EcoMyths: 'Can we save seeds for Doomsday?' http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths/ecomyths-can-we-save-seeds-doomsday-112179 <p><p>While some seeds appear immortal, most seeds don&#39;t last forever&mdash;unless they&#39;re carefully stored in seed banks or, in some cases, preserved in liquid nitrogen or as part of living collections. This is critical because many plants are under threat of disappearing forever&mdash;about 68 percent of evaluated plant species. We&rsquo;ll do &#39;Seed Banking 101&#39; with Kate Sackman of EcoMyths Alliance, Murphy Westwood, Tree Conservation Specialist at <a href="http://www.mortonarb.org/">The Morton Arboretum</a> and Global Tree Conservation officer for Botanic Gardens Conservation International <a href="https://www.bgci.org/">(BGCI)</a> and Kayri Havens, director of Plant Science and Conservation at the Chicago Botanic Garden. She is also a hands-on seed banker in the Garden&#39;s <a href="http://www.chicagobotanic.org/research/conservation_and_restoration/seed_banking">Dixon National Tallgrass Prairie Seed Bank</a>.<iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/207340836&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><strong>Seed banking 101</strong></p><p>Seeds don&#39;t last forever. If they&#39;re not stored in precise conditions, they generally cannot be germinated at a future date. Most seeds are <strong>orthodox</strong> seeds, meaning they can be stored for longs periods of time if handled correctly. Typically they are dehydrated and frozen in seed banks like the one at Chicago Botanic Garden, which has committed to collecting 30 million seeds from 1,500 native species across the Midwest, and the <a href="http://www.kew.org/science-conservation/millennium-seed-bank">Millennium Seed Bank</a> Partnership at the Kew Gardens in London, which has stored 13 percent of the world&rsquo;s plant diversity, with close to <a href="http://www.kew.org/science-conservation/millennium-seed-bank-partnership/about-millennium-seed-bank-partnership">2 billion</a> seeds.</p><p><em>Quick basic rundown, from the CBG: </em>To bank seeds, researchers first collect them from the entirety of the species&rsquo; range. Then they&#39;re x-rayed to prevent bugs from making their way into the collection and to be sure the seed houses an embryo. They&#39;re then stored in subzero temperatures. After they&#39;ve gone in the storage jar, they&#39;ll only come out every 10 years or so, to be retested for germination potential.</p><p>&ldquo;If they are taken care of and processed correctly, seeds can live centuries in suspended animation,&rdquo; Havens explains.</p><p><strong>Some seeds cannot be banked &ndash; these are called recalcitrant seeds</strong></p><p>Many trees, from the oak to the avocado, produce seeds that for a variety of reasons cannot be stored in the same way as orthodox seeds. To preserve these, institutions like the Morton Arboretum utilize two strategies: one is a living collection, where they plant as many species as possible to ensure seeds are safe in the long haul. The other is to preserve seeds in liquid nitrogen. Because plants have <a href="http://biology.kenyon.edu/HHMI/Biol113/meristems.htm">meristem</a> cells (kind of like human stem cells), it&#39;s also possible to regenerate a plant from a liquid-nitrogen-preserved oak bud, in a process called micro-propagation or tissue culture.</p><p><strong>Why bother? </strong></p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" height="195" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/EcoMyths-Saving%20Seeds%20BLOG.jpg" style="float: right;" title="A guard armed with a rifle stands guard in Longyearbyen, Norway, outside the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, which has been described as Noah's Seed Ark and a Doomsday Vault, was dug into a mountainside in Norway's arctic Svalbard islands. It will hold 4.5 million different agricultural seed samples from around the world. (AP Photo/John McConnico)" width="356" />Because we&#39;re starting the world&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/programs/biodiversity/elements_of_biodiversity/extinction_crisis/">sixth mass extinction</a>, many plants are under threat of disappearing forever&mdash;about 68 percent of evaluated plant species, to be exact. Diseases like the <a href="http://na.fs.fed.us/fhp/ded/">Dutch Elm Disease</a>, <a href="http://www.nature.com/news/fungus-threatens-top-banana-1.14336">banana-killing fungi</a>, and insect pests like the <a href="http://na.fs.fed.us/fhp/eab/">Emerald Ash Borer</a> are also threatening plants. Species loss in turn has a direct impact on day-to-day life: a genetically <a href="http://www.nps.gov/plants/restore/pubs/restgene/1.htm">diverse seed supply</a> helps us avoid potentially losing a bunch of food crops. (Examples: the <a href="http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/article/agriculture_02">Potato Famine</a><u> of the 1840s</u>, the corn blight <a href="http://www.ars-grin.gov/npgs/Seeds_for_Our_Future.pdf">in the 1970&rsquo;s in the U.S</a><u>.</u>, which wiped out almost 15 percent of the nation&#39;s corn, mostly because of the genetic similarity of the corn planted.</div><p>If we don&rsquo;t preserve healthy seeds in the near term, we could be saying goodbye to lots of plants we know and love in the long run.</p><p><strong>One Green Thing</strong></p><p>Plant a fresh native tree seedling in your backyard. You&#39;ll be supporting plant diversity with your mini living collection, while scoring the host of other ecosystem benefits there are to planting trees.</p><p><strong><em>More ways to help:</em></strong></p><ul><li><em>Visit a living collection or seed bank.</em> These beautiful institutions help to ensure that future generations have the safety net of genetically diverse plants we all know and love: <a href="http://www.mortonarb.org">Morton Arboretum</a>, <a href="http://www.chicagobotanic.org">Chicago Botanic Garden</a>, <a href="http://www.montgomerybotanical.org">Montgomery Botanic Gardens</a>, and the <a href="http://www.fairchildgarden.org">Fairchild Tropical Botanic Gardens</a>, <a href="http://www.nybg.org/">New York Botanical Garden</a>, and <a href="http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/">Missouri Botanical Garden</a>.</li><li><em>Bank your own!</em> The Chicago Botanic Garden has some cool tips <a href="http://www.chicagobotanic.org/conservation/saving_seeds">here</a>.</li><li><em>Plant seeds in optimal growing conditions: </em>Every seed counts, so give the ones in your garden the best shot at life. This includes opting for native plants, which are uniquely suited to your region&#39;s climate.</li></ul></p> Tue, 26 May 2015 09:19:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths/ecomyths-can-we-save-seeds-doomsday-112179 Little Bison on the Prairie http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/little-bison-prairie-112013 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/bison.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Prairie conservationists are celebrating the births of more than 10 baby bison at Nachusa Wildlands in Northern Illinois. They are counting on this thriving herd of bison to bring back the growing prairie.</p><p><iframe scrolling="no" src="//www.storehouse.co/stories/48x2d-little-bison-on-the-prairie/embed" style="width:100%;max-width:600px;height:300px;border:none;"></iframe></p></p> Mon, 11 May 2015 15:07:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/little-bison-prairie-112013 Special Series: Global Activism - 'Worldview' Visits India http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2015-05-09/special-series-global-activism-worldview-visits-india-111888 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/India-series%20620%20good.JPG" title="From bottom l to r - Sonal Chaturvedi, co-director of Pravah, Nila Vora of India Development Service, Steve Bynum and Jerome McDonnell of WBEZ with the NGO Community Youth Collective in Delhi on Feb., 1, 2015 (Photo by Nilesh Kothari)" /><em>Worldview</em> took <em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/sections/water/special-series-global-activism-worldview-visits-india-111888">Global Activism</a></em> to India! And we take you along for the ride. For years, India Development Service <a href="http://idsusa.org/">(IDS)</a>, a Chicago-based investment NGO, has brought from India Global Activists to <em>Worldview&nbsp;</em>who work there to make life better. So IDS brought us to India to talk with people doing service and development projects on-the-ground. IDS guided us through big cities like, Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Hyderabad, as well as to remote villages and towns. We met people working to overcome challenges like illiteracy, abuse of women and children, class issues and water security.</p></p> Thu, 16 Apr 2015 09:32:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2015-05-09/special-series-global-activism-worldview-visits-india-111888 EcoMyths: 'Am I too busy to care for Nature?' http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths/ecomyths-am-i-too-busy-care-nature-112178 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/EcoMyths-Too Busy to Care.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-469d6eaa-e435-a786-2000-ec52a15fc8cb">With our busy lives, caring for the environment can seem overwhelming, but <a href="http://www.ecomythsalliance.org/">EcoMyths Alliance</a> says that being more green takes less time and effort than you may think. For this months<a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths"><em> EcoMyths</em></a> segment, we ask two experts to help bust the myth that you&rsquo;re &ldquo;too busy to care for Nature&rdquo;. Kevin Ogorzalek of the <a href="http://www.humansandnature.org/">Center for Humans and Nature</a> and John Barrett with the <a href="http://http://www.brushwoodcenter.org/index.html">Brushwood Center</a> at Ryerson Woods, will tell us how doing just a little, every day, makes a huge difference.<iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/200816449&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-469d6eaa-e437-56ea-31f9-018b3cc87cfd">Most of us do actively care for nature &ndash; we just don&#39;t necessarily recognize or celebrate it. We already show we care in obvious ways, such as by volunteering at nature centers or donating to a cause, but also in smaller daily activities, like going outside to read a book in the park, or choosing a microbead-free face wash at the store.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>It&#39;s a significant sign of caring that, for example:</strong></p><p dir="ltr">&middot; Caring as a leisure activity:<a href="http://www.nps.gov/aboutus/faqs.htm"> 292 million people visited our national parks in 2014</a>, while<a href="http://www.waza.org/en/site/zoos-aquariums"> 700 million people showed curiosity about wildlife by visiting global zoos and aquariums</a></p><p dir="ltr">&middot; Caring as consumers: A 2014 survey by<a href="http://www.nielsen.com/us/en/press-room/2014/global-consumers-are-willing-to-put-their-money-where-their-heart-is.html"> Nielsen</a> found that 55 percent of global online consumers across 60 countries say they are willing to pay more for products and services provided by companies that are committed to positive social and environmental impact</p><p dir="ltr">&middot; Caring at home: Eg: the growing trend to<a href="https://www.dropbox.com/s/bqlywujwzz4sx05/NGASpecialReport-Garden-to-Table.pdf"> grow our own veggies</a> (35% of all households in America, or 42 million households, are growing food at home or in a community garden, up 17% in five years, according to National Gardening Association 2014 report); Meatless Mondays campaigns are now active in<a href="http://www.meatlessmonday.com/the-global-movement/"> 36 countries</a>; and Bicycle Friendly Communities, including Washington, DC, Philadelphia, Denver and Lexington, Ky., have more than doubled their bike commuter share since 2000, according to the<a href="http://bikeleague.org/content/bicycle-commuting-data"> League of American Bicyclists</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">The trick is overcoming busyness as usual: Being too busy for X is a sign of our times&mdash;but it only takes a second to think to yourself, &quot;if I do X or Y One Green Thing, that has an impact on the environment over time.&quot; That step-wise approach to green thinking can be tough to start, but once you get in the habit, it becomes routine.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>So What? </strong></p><p dir="ltr">Consciously caring about nature may seem insignificant, but the more we &nbsp;recognize our personal connection to nature, the more likely we are to make a positive difference.</p><p dir="ltr">&middot; Caring inspires action, conscious or not: Caring is a catalyst for behavior. For example, turning off the lights is an easy daily action that illustrates caring. It doesn&#39;t necessarily take time to integrate that with things you already do in daily life &ndash; it just takes making a conscious choice.</p><p dir="ltr">&middot; Conscious discussion can inspire movements. The transcendentalist poets in 19th century caused a ripple effect on the way our society relates to nature: Thoreau and Emerson talking about writings of nature, inspired John Muir, whose writing celebrated wilderness protection, the spaces themselves which inspired Ansel Adams, who in turn took photos that captured the country&#39;s imagination.</p><p dir="ltr">&middot; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;Going further. Turning caring into greater action can mean varying degrees of sacrifice. But caring enough to make a short-term sacrifice, like paying a little more now for renewable energy to get to the point where it actually costs less than fossil fuels has potential for greater payback than meets the eye. Turning &quot;simple actions&quot; that we used to do by rote into more meaningful actions can be a source of pride.</p><p dir="ltr">People care for nature in ways big and small in their daily lives, often without thinking about it at all&hellip;The more we can celebrate how we do care, the more we can work those conscious changes into our lives to affect even greater change.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>One Green Thing</strong></p><p dir="ltr">This Earth Day, take a moment to think about ways in which your daily actions demonstrate care for the environment.</p></p> Tue, 14 Apr 2015 09:14:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths/ecomyths-am-i-too-busy-care-nature-112178 Ice stalls Great Lakes shipping season http://www.wbez.org/news/ice-stalls-great-lakes-shipping-season-111806 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Great Lakes_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>For the second year in a row, the spring shipping season is off to a slow start. Ice still covers much of the lakes and most ports don&rsquo;t expect to see international cargo ships for another two weeks.</p><p>April is historically the busiest time of year for the more than 100 ports and commercial docks along the Great Lakes.</p><p>Rick Heimann is port director for Burns Harbor in Portage, Indiana.</p><p>Burns Harbor handles more international cargo than any other port along the Great Lakes, including 15 percent of U.S. steel shipments to Europe. But at the end of March, the docks are empty.</p><p>On any given year, an average of 500,000 trucks, 10,000 railcars and 100 ships will pass through the port.</p><p>It was so cold last year, he didn&rsquo;t see a cargo ship until mid-April.</p><p>Around this time last year, more than half of Lake Michigan was covered in ice. The U.S. and Canadian Coast Guard share the responsibility of clearing the Great Lakes waterways.</p><p>Every year, in early March, they deploy a fleet of icebreakers before the official opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway, a 22,000-mile-long waterway that connects the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean.</p><p>But U.S. Coast Guard Mark Gill says it was 13 days after opening up the waterway that the first ship was able to reach the locks.</p><p>&ldquo;And a lot of ships incurred damage because they came out and the ice was too hard for them,&rdquo; Gill said.</p><p>Gill says the Coast Guard logged more than 11,000 hours of breaking ice in 2014.</p><p>According to the Lake Carrier&rsquo;s Association, last year&rsquo;s icey waterways cost the economy more than $700 million and nearly 4,000 jobs.</p><p>Mark Baker is president of the Interlake Steamship Company and a member of the Lake Carrier&rsquo;s Association. His boats carry steel. Others along this route carry grains.</p><p>Baker says it took one his ships 23 days to complete a trip that normally takes six.</p><p>&ldquo;And so what happened there was, their inventory levels became critically low. And in some cases, some steel mills last year had to idle plants and cut down on on production,&rdquo; Baker said.</p><p>Baker adds that the the repercussions of a bad shipping season would be felt throughout the U.S. steel industry, which feeds the U.S. auto industry. Baker says his steel is used in small plants in Michigan and Wisconsin.&nbsp;</p><p>The Lake Carriers Association wants the Coast Guard to invest in another heavy icebreaker to keep shipping lanes open during harsh winters.</p><p>But the Coast Guard says last year&rsquo;s winter was unique.</p><p>At the port of Indiana, Heimann says that&#39;s what scary.</p><p>&ldquo;Ice is something that you don&rsquo;t have control over,&rdquo; Heimann said. &ldquo;You can&rsquo;t just say: &lsquo;Ice be-gone or bring the coast guard cutter in all the time.&rsquo;&quot;</p><p>He adds that the delayed start to the 2015 season doesn&#39;t phase him, but he is counting the days until the first ships roll in.</p><p>&ldquo;We are connecting the state of Indiana to the world,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re in the state of Indiana, the heartland of the USA, yet we are only six and a half days away from the Atlantic Ocean.&rdquo;</p><p>Last year, at a time of widespread delays, Burns Harbor recorded its highest cargo volume since the port opened in 1970.</p><p><em>Claudia Morell is a reporter in Chicago. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/claudiamorell" target="_blank">@claudiamorell</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> Wed, 01 Apr 2015 16:13:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/ice-stalls-great-lakes-shipping-season-111806 Climate change brings pests and disease to Great Lakes http://www.wbez.org/series/front-and-center-water/climate-change-brings-pests-and-disease-great-lakes-111805 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/4220922584_ac8db1a31f_z.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Scientists say the parks and woods throughout the Great Lakes are experiencing shorter winters and displaced wildlife.</p><p>Chicagoans are already seeing bigger storms and less predictable seasons.</p><p>But some scientists predict people will soon see more concrete examples of changing climate: disease.</p><p>Scientists are predicting a greater danger of diseases like West Nile and Lyme disease as temperatures rise. Some even believe dengue fever could become a problem in the U.S.</p><p>&ldquo;One of the things that we&rsquo;re already seeing is a shifting of growing zones,&rdquo; said Josh Mogerman, a spokesman for the Natural Resources Defense Council. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re seeing plants and animals that we would expect further south making their way into our region, and they&rsquo;ll have a real impact on our natural environment here.&rdquo;</p><p>Mogerman thinks for a lot of people, it will be a reality check.</p><p>&ldquo;You know, when I think of dengue fever, I don&rsquo;t think of the United States, I think of developing countries, like Heart of Darkness, and that sort of thing,&quot; Mogerman said. &quot;And I think this is one of those issues that really makes people sort of step back and say &lsquo;whoa, this really is a problem.&#39;&rdquo;</p><p>Diseases like Lyme, dengue, and West Nile are known as &ldquo;vector-bound diseases.&rdquo;</p><p>The vectors that carry these illnesses &mdash; ticks and mosquitoes &mdash;&nbsp;didn&rsquo;t used to be a big problem in Chicago.</p><p>But a warmer climate is changing that.</p><p>Dr. Justin Harbison teaches at Loyola University&rsquo;s School of Public Health.</p><p>&ldquo;We know that mosquitoes develop more quickly when it&rsquo;s warmer,&quot; Harbison said. &quot;And pathogens also go through their life cycle faster, and reproduce more quickly. So as the weather gets warmer, typically you&rsquo;re going to get a more rapid disease cycle.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p>He says the worst case for disease is a short, warm winter followed by a dry summer. That&rsquo;s what we saw in 2012, when the Illinois Department of Public Health reported almost 300 cases of West Nile virus.</p><p>Warmer weather also drives migrating deer north. They come with hitchhikers: black-legged ticks that carry Lyme disease.</p><p>The Illinois Department of Public Health has been reporting increasing cases of Lyme disease.</p><p>In 2002, there were only 32 cases. By 2012, there were over 200. The deer ticks that carry Lyme disease are now found in at least 35 counties in Illinois. In 2013 alone, they appeared in seven more counties.</p><p>The suburbs are of particular concern for Lyme disease. There, humans are more likely to come into contact with the animals that carry ticks, like woodland mice and deer.</p><p>Mosquitoes are the bigger problem in urban areas.</p><p>On a walk through Busse Woods in Chicago&rsquo;s Northwest suburbs, Harbison pulled open an iron sewer grate to explain.</p><p>&ldquo;This is going to hold water all year round,&quot; Harbison said. &quot;It&rsquo;s polluted. West Nile virus is transmitted by a specific species that does very well in these polluted habitats, essentially.&rdquo;</p><p>This isn&rsquo;t limited to the Midwest, of course. And it&rsquo;s about more than just ticks and mosquitoes.</p><p>&ldquo;Health is where climate change starts to get very personal for people,&rdquo; said Dr. Kim Knowlton, a top scientist for the NRDC. She says Americans are about to see all sorts of public health effects from climate change.</p><p>&ldquo;The hotter it is, the more ground level ozone, which is basically smog,&quot; Knowlton said. &quot;And that is terrible news for people who have asthma. It&rsquo;s making longer pollen seasons. There&rsquo;s more and more of these climate-change-related exposures, and we, as a nation are becoming more vulnerable.&rdquo;</p><p>That&rsquo;s not to say there&rsquo;s nothing we can do about it.</p><p>Public health officials in Illinois recommend getting rid of standing water to cut down on mosquito growth, wearing bug spray to prevent transmission, and knowing the dangers of these new illnesses.</p><p><em>Sean Kennedy is a reporter in Chicago. Follow him <a href="http://twitter.com/stkennedy" target="_blank">@stkennedy</a></em></p></p> Wed, 01 Apr 2015 16:03:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/front-and-center-water/climate-change-brings-pests-and-disease-great-lakes-111805