WBEZ | energy http://www.wbez.org/tags/energy Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Censorship looms amid rise of Hindu nationalism in India http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2015-10-22/censorship-looms-amid-rise-hindu-nationalism-india-113473 <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/3291759617_b85d5263f9_z.jpg" title="(Photo: Flickr/Pratham Books) " /></div><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/229615702&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><span style="font-size: 22px; background-color: rgb(255, 244, 244);">India&#39;s writers face censorship</span></p><div style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-stretch: inherit; font-size: 14px; line-height: 22px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><p dir="ltr">In the last few weeks, at least 40 Indian writers have returned top literary prizes in protest of what they call a &ldquo;climate of intolerance&rdquo;. Novelists, poets and playwrights say that since the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) party came to power with the election of Prime Minister Modi, the country has seen a rise in Hindu nationalism that has led to less freedom of speech and respect for secular rights. Writer Sonia Faleiro, and Wendy Doniger, whose book on Hindus was withdrawn from publication in India, join us to discuss the current climate in India.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Guests:</strong></p><ul dir="ltr"><li><em><span id="docs-internal-guid-0ae63cb2-9106-e9e3-0b3e-a38dd7d7ad56">Wendy Doniger</span> is professor of the history of religions at the <a href="http://twitter.com/uchicago">University of Chicago</a>. </em></li><li><em><a href="http://twitter.com/@soniafaleiro">Sonia Faleiro</a> is a writer and author, most recently of<a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/0802170927/ref=tsm_1_fb_lk">&nbsp;&#39;Beautiful Thing: Inside the Secret World of Bombay&#39;s Dance Bars</a>&#39;.&nbsp;</em></li></ul></div><p>&nbsp;</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/229616164&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><span style="font-size: 22px; background-color: rgb(255, 244, 244);">Is an &#39;energy war&#39; still possible?</span></p><div style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-stretch: inherit; font-size: 14px; line-height: 22px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><p dir="ltr">Low energy prices can have enormous geopolitical ramifications. Low oil prices played a large role in Canadian voter dissatisfaction and the eventual election defeat of former Prime Minister, Stephen Harper. Russia&rsquo;s economy has been in tailspin from lower gas prices. Many experts feel it&rsquo;s why President Vladimir Putin became aggressive towards his neighbors, especially Ukraine. Low oil prices may have also been a big factor in bringing Iran to the table for the recently agreed on P5 +1 nuclear deal. We&rsquo;ll talk about some of the security issues surrounding energy with Michael Klare, professor of peace and world security studies at Hampshire College and defense correspondent for The Nation. He&rsquo;s written numerous books on international energy and security affairs, most recently, &#39;The Race for What&#39;s Left: The Global Scramble for the World&#39;s Last Resources&#39;.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Guest:</strong>&nbsp;<span id="docs-internal-guid-0ae63cb2-9109-a272-53d8-eed9270e4e0e"><a href="http://twitter.com/mklare">Michael Klare</a> is professor of peace and world security studies at Hampshire College and defense correspondent at </span><a href="http://twitter.com/thenation">The Nation</a>. His most recent book is, &#39;The Race for What&#39;s Left: The Global Scramble for the World&#39;s Last Resources&#39; .&nbsp;</p></div><p>&nbsp;</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/229616854&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><span style="font-size: 22px; background-color: rgb(255, 244, 244);">Global Activism: &#39;Right To Be Free&#39;</span></p><div style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-stretch: inherit; font-size: 14px; line-height: 22px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><p dir="ltr">After hearing Ghanaian Eric Peasah&rsquo;s story about his efforts to buyback child slaves who have been trafficked into Ghana&rsquo;s fishing industry, Chicagoan and Global Activist Lori Dillon, created a local branch of Peasah&rsquo;s NGO, Right To Be Free. For Global Activism, Dillon is back with Peasah, who now regularly visits Chicago to spread awareness and educate schoolchildren about enslaved children in Ghana.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Guests:</strong></p><ul dir="ltr"><li><em><span id="docs-internal-guid-0ae63cb2-910b-d93a-bb3a-52dbe5af9ca8">Eric Peasah is the founder of <a href="http://twitter.com/rightobefree">Right To Be Free</a> (Ghana).</span></em></li><li><em>Lori Dillon is the founder of <a href="http://twitter.com/rightobefree">Right To Be Free</a> (U.S.).&nbsp;</em></li></ul><div>&nbsp;</div></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 22 Oct 2015 14:22:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2015-10-22/censorship-looms-amid-rise-hindu-nationalism-india-113473 How do you find plutonium? Go to nuclear inspector school http://www.wbez.org/news/how-do-you-find-plutonium-go-nuclear-inspector-school-113395 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/There&#039;s no playground at nuclear inspector school. Inside a nondescript building at Los Alamos National Laboratory known as TA-66, nuclear weapons inspectors are carefully trained in the detection of plutonium..jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="primaryaudio"><div id="res449862134"><div style="text-align: center;"><img alt="There's no playground at nuclear inspector school. Inside a nondescript building at Los Alamos National Laboratory known as TA-66, nuclear weapons inspectors are carefully trained in the detection of plutonium." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/16/lanl-ta66-17_custom-302d74745f23b874eab60f2cdd5a308f0ee773b2-s900-c85.jpg" style="height: 378px; width: 620px;" title="There's no playground at nuclear inspector school. Inside a nondescript building at Los Alamos National Laboratory known as TA-66, nuclear weapons inspectors are carefully trained in the detection of plutonium." /></div></div></div><div id="storytext"><div id="res449222294" previewtitle="There's no playground at nuclear inspector school. Inside a nondescript building at Los Alamos National Laboratory known as TA-66, nuclear weapons inspectors are carefully trained in the detection of plutonium."><div><div><p>No names. No pictures. No direct conversation.</p></div></div></div><p>And don&#39;t touch the plutonium.</p><p>Those were the ground rules before NPR was allowed a rare opportunity to see nuclear inspectors learning their craft. The inspectors came from the&nbsp;<a href="https://www.iaea.org/">International Atomic Energy Agency</a>, the world&#39;s nuclear watchdog.</p><p>This week, the agency will be looking on as Iran begins to scale back its nuclear program. Under the terms of a multinational agreement, Iran is to dramatically cut its uranium stockpile, mothball much of its nuclear equipment and restrict the rest to peaceful use. In exchange, the U.S. and other nations are to lift economic sanctions.</p><p>The IAEA&#39;s role in the deal is somewhere between that of a football referee and a tax accountant. Its inspectors will crisscross the country, visiting labs, reactors and even uranium mines. They will meticulously catalog equipment and material, to make sure it&#39;s all accounted for. If something seems off, they are the ones who will cry foul.</p><p><strong>School Of Nukes</strong></p><p>The inspectors NPR met were visiting&nbsp;<a href="https://www.lanl.gov/">Los Alamos National Laboratory</a>, which is (ironically enough) a nuclear weapons lab in Los Alamos, New Mexico.</p><p>&quot;We used to wear buttons that said, &#39;It&#39;s The Plutonium, Stupid,&#39; &quot; says Nancy Jo Nicholas, who oversees global security at Los Alamos. &quot;That&#39;s why people come here.&quot;</p><p>Plutonium and uranium are used in ordinary nuclear power reactors all around the world. But when they are properly purified and enriched, they can also be used to make nuclear weapons.</p><p>Inspectors must learn everything about plutonium &mdash; the civilian kind, which is used in some power reactors, and also the kind used in nukes. And Los Alamos has plenty of both.</p><p>Behind barbed wire and security checkpoints, the eight inspectors are working in an anonymous-looking building known as &quot;Technical Area 66.&quot; They&#39;re an unassuming bunch, dressed in ordinary street cloths. Their accents suggest they come from all over the world.</p><p><a href="http://www.researchgate.net/profile/Peter_Santi2">Peter Santi</a>, who is heading the training for Los Alamos, takes me across the classroom to pick up some pure plutonium oxide. It&#39;s sealed in a metal container about the size of a paint can, with makeshift handle made of tape to make it easier to carry. (Dropping the plutonium &quot;makes a loud noise and it scares everybody,&quot; Santi jokes.)</p><p>We put the can of plutonium into another container about the size of an oil drum. It&#39;s designed to catch radioactive particles flying out as the plutonium decays.</p><div id="res449221433" previewtitle="Each kind of nuclear material has a unique radioactive fingerprint. Inspectors use that signature to identify and quantify the material."><div data-crop-type="" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Each kind of nuclear material has a unique radioactive fingerprint. Inspectors use that signature to identify and quantify the material." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/16/lanl-ta66-5_custom-1a985a24018a89dcea55581b28760551b57b57ac-s900-c85.jpg" style="height: 415px; width: 620px;" title="Each kind of nuclear material has a unique radioactive fingerprint. Inspectors use that signature to identify and quantify the material. (Courtesy of Los Alamos National Laboratory)" /></div><div><div><p>&quot;Nuclear material, when it decays, produces very unique signatures,&quot; Santi explains. The radiation acts as a fingerprint for the substance, and it&#39;s virtually impossible to mimic.</p></div></div></div><p>Inspectors use the radioactive fingerprint in two ways. First, they check it to verify the kind of material they are dealing with. And then they measure it to figure out how much material is there. Santi can nail down the amount of plutonium in this can to within a gram &mdash; a fraction of a percent of the total 606-gram mass.</p><p>In Iran, inspectors will work primarily with uranium, but they will bring the same dogged precision to their measurements. In addition to measuring nuclear materials, they will take environmental samples, install cameras and conduct visual inspections, among other things.</p><p><strong>Guarding The Globe</strong></p><p>The IAEA actually does this work elsewhere, too. &quot;We are inspecting all different types of facilities all over the world,&quot; says David Lacey, a training officer with the IAEA and a former inspector. The agency visits civilian reactors, fuel plants and plutonium handling facilities everywhere, from Brazil, to Japan to the US. Inspectors go in, make measurements, and then compare them to the official inventory, to make sure everything is accounted for. It&#39;s a challenging job even in the best of times.</p><p>&quot;An inspector has to be a little bit of everything,&quot; Lacy says. &quot;They need to be an accountant, a little bit of scientist, a little bit of diplomat.&quot;</p><p>The Iran deal carries its own complications. For one, Iran has not always been forthright with the IAEA, says&nbsp;<a href="http://belfercenter.ksg.harvard.edu/experts/2107/olli_heinonen.html">Olli Heinonen</a>, a former nuclear inspector now at Harvard University. Since the early 2000s, Iran has failed to disclose multiple facilities associated with its program.</p><p>And then there are the thorny global politics around the agreement. In the U.S. &quot;there are people in who don&#39;t trust the IAEA,&quot; says&nbsp;<a href="http://www.miis.edu/academics/faculty/JLewis/node/23027">Jeffrey Lewis</a>, an expert in non-proliferation at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. In Iran, &quot;They think the IAEA is biased against them,&quot; Lewis says.</p><p>Both sides may try to pressure the agency, or even individual inspectors.</p><p>Despite the challenges, both Lewis and Heinonen agree the IAEA is a capable overseer of the deal.</p><div id="res449221644" previewtitle="Los Alamos National Laboratory is home to weapons-grade uranium and plutonium, making it an ideal place to train the inspectors."><div data-crop-type="" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Los Alamos National Laboratory is home to weapons-grade uranium and plutonium, making it an ideal place to train the inspectors." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/16/lanl-ta66-13_custom-0ee22df076af723342683815aa0bd8f3d1cdf175-s900-c85.jpg" style="height: 389px; width: 620px;" title="Los Alamos National Laboratory is home to weapons-grade uranium and plutonium, making it an ideal place to train the inspectors. (Courtesy of Los Alamos National Laboratory)" /></div><div><div><p>&quot;They have a good track record,&quot; says Lewis, who notes that the agency has caught deception in Iran in the past, as well illicit activity in places like North Korea and South Africa.</p></div></div></div><p>The IAEA has also missed some things in Iran in the past, Heinonen says. But the agency inspectors have shown a light on many hidden aspects of that nation&#39;s nuclear program, including&nbsp;<a href="https://www.iaea.org/sites/default/files/gov2011-65.pdf">possible work on nuclear weapons</a>.</p><p>Heinonen says the greatest risk is that Iran has hidden entire facilities. But in the modern era, he believes, it would be hard to get the equipment, expertise and nuclear material together without anyone noticing.</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s very difficult to build a nuclear program in isolation,&quot; he says.</p><p><strong>Final Exam</strong></p><p>There&#39;s no way to know whether the inspectors being trained on the day I visit will be sent to Iran. But what is clear is that the IAEA wants to be sure all of its inspectors are ready for anything.</p><p>For their final exam, the inspectors have been given a nuclear inventory from a fictional facility. Their task is to verify 12 unmarked items, and to see how much plutonium is inside each one. But in this exercise, just as can happen in the real world, not all is what it seems.</p><p>&quot;Several of the items, we&#39;ve lost the declaration for,&quot; says Santi, &quot;so they&#39;re completely unknown to the inspectors.&quot;</p><p>And have the instructors done anything else in the exercise to try to trip up the members of the class?</p><p>&quot;Yes,&quot; Santi says.</p><p>He won&#39;t say what tricks he&#39;s using to try and fool inspectors. But whatever it is, they will have to figure it out. And the IAEA&#39;s trainer David Lacey is confident they will.</p><p>&quot;They&#39;ll be fine,&quot; Lacey says. &quot;They&#39;ve had good teaching over the last two weeks. I can see now, looking around, that they&#39;re perfectly capable.&quot;</p></div><p>&mdash;<a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/10/19/449031762/how-do-you-find-plutonium-go-to-nuclear-inspector-school?ft=nprml&amp;f=449031762" target="_blank"><em> via NPR</em></a></p></p> Mon, 19 Oct 2015 10:42:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/how-do-you-find-plutonium-go-nuclear-inspector-school-113395 Iran starts to dismantle its nuclear infrastructure as part of agreement with West http://www.wbez.org/programs/world/2015-10-20/iran-starts-dismantle-its-nuclear-infrastructure-part-agreement-west <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/A%20worker%20works%20at%20the%20fuel%20manufacturing%20plant%20at%20the%20Isfahan%20Uranium%20Conversion%20Facility%20273%20miles%20south%20of%20Tehran%20April%209%2C%202009..jpg" style="height: 349px; width: 620px;" title="A worker works at the fuel manufacturing plant at the Isfahan Uranium Conversion Facility 273 miles south of Tehran April 9, 2009. (Caren Firouz/Reuters)" /></div><p>Sunday marked 90 days since the United Nations Security Council endorsed the historic agreement between Iran and the US, Britain, France, Germany,&nbsp;Russia and China.</p><p>It was &ldquo;Adoption Day&rdquo; &mdash; the day when Iran was scheduled to dramatically scale back its nuclear program. Iran now has to dismantle around 15,000 centrifuges, surrender or dilute much of its enriched nuclear fuel stocks and turn one of its nuclear plants into a research center.</p><p>President Barack&nbsp;Obama acknowledged the day in a memo to the secretaries of state, treasury, commerce and energy.</p><p>&ldquo;Today marks an important milestone toward preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon and ensuring its nuclear program is exclusively peaceful going forward,&rdquo; he said.&nbsp;&ldquo;I hereby direct you to take all necessary steps to give effect to the US commitments with respect to the sanctions described in [the Iran deal].&rdquo;</p><p><a href="http://belfercenter.ksg.harvard.edu/experts/563/gary_samore.html" target="_blank">Gary Samore</a>,&nbsp;executive director for research at Harvard University&rsquo;s Belfer Center, says the length of the process&nbsp;depends on what Iran wants to do in the future.&nbsp;Samore says the deal allows Iran to retain all of its existing centrifuges but they have to be removed, dismantled and stored under inspections of the International Atomic Energy Agency&rsquo;s supervision.</p><p>&ldquo;If Iran wants to preserve the ability to reinstall the centrifuges if the agreement breaks down at some point in the future, they&rsquo;ll need to be very careful about how they remove them and disassemble them,&rdquo; he says. If it wants to race towards easing of sanctions, &ldquo;they can do a quick and dirty job and that will save them a lot of time.&rdquo;</p><p>The US and other Western powers have promised Iran sanctions relief once the dismantling has been completed.</p><p>But just like Iran has the ability to reinstall the centrifuges if the deal fails, the US and other Western powers have the capability to re-impose the sanctions.</p><p>Besides the centrifuges, Iran has to deal with its enriched uranium.</p><p>&ldquo;One option is to dilute it so that it&rsquo;s returned to natural uranium, or they can ship the bulk of it out, most likely to Russia,&rdquo; says Samore.</p><p>It&rsquo;s not yet clear which path Iran will take, but Samore thinks it will be a fairly straightforward&nbsp;process and it should not take long.</p><p>Because most of Iran&rsquo;s centrifuges have never been used, they aren&#39;t contaminated with low-enriched uranium. That means no significant safety or environmental concerns.</p><p>Samore sees this as a moment of success for setting back Iran&rsquo;s nuclear program, although he cautions that the West needs to continue monitoring the situation very closely.</p><p>&ldquo;The big question will be whether the agreement can survive in the long term,&rdquo; he says.</p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://www.pri.org/stories/2015-10-19/iran-starts-dismantle-its-nuclear-infrastructure-part-agreement-west" target="_blank"><em>via PRI&#39;s The World</em></a></p></p> Mon, 19 Oct 2015 09:34:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/world/2015-10-20/iran-starts-dismantle-its-nuclear-infrastructure-part-agreement-west The art and science behind the glow of Chicago's skyline http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/art-and-science-behind-glow-chicagos-skyline-111928 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/202093663&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>On a clear night in the summer of 2014, Mike Mesterharm hopped in his car and hit a southbound expressway toward downtown Chicago. He was happy to be back home; he&rsquo;d left the city at 18, for college and some other shenanigans. During that drive, eight years later, he was gazing at the Chicago skyline &mdash; his skyline. And he was thinking it looked different somehow. Brighter.</p><p>After careful consideration of whether something in him had changed, Mike decided, No, it&rsquo;s not just that he had been looking on the bright side lately &mdash; it must be something with the lights. So he sent Curious City this question:</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em>How has energy efficient lighting affected the view of the Chicago skyline?</em></p><p>We found an answer for Mike, but the &ldquo;green energy angle&rdquo; is just a part of it. Expert after expert suggested that that story would not do justice to the big picture: Chicago&rsquo;s skyline&rsquo;s evolved over the years, and that Mike&rsquo;s question is born from a short snippet of that fascinating history, one that has affected how we see &mdash; and feel &mdash; one evening to the next. We&rsquo;ll run through the highlights of how that&rsquo;s been captured in art, of all places, and deal with Mike&rsquo;s question in the most recent timeframe.</p><p>And at the end of it all, we arrive at a crossroads that illuminates a big decision we&rsquo;ll soon have to make: What does Chicago <em>want </em>its skyline to look like?</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">A brief history of Chicago&rsquo;s skyline palette</span></p><p>The impact of city lights on city dwellers has affected Chicago&rsquo;s culture, too; to get the broad picture of change in the skyline, you can survey the city&rsquo;s literature and visual art.</p><p>Note the skyline&rsquo;s yellow tinge in this excerpt from &lsquo;<a href="http://www.google.com/url?q=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.poetryfoundation.org%2Fpoem%2F239566&amp;sa=D&amp;sntz=1&amp;usg=AFQjCNHiSA3B9-DNGydvoEkEKVs8tK-62g" target="_blank">The Windy City</a>&rsquo; [sections 1 and 6], penned by Chicago poet Carl Sandburg in 1916.</p><blockquote><p style="text-align: right;"><span style="font-size:12px;">So between the Great Lakes, &nbsp;&nbsp;</span></p><p style="text-align: right;"><span style="font-size:12px;">The Grand De Tour, and the Grand Prairie, &nbsp;&nbsp;</span></p><p style="text-align: right;"><span style="font-size:12px;">The living lighted skyscrapers stand,</span></p><p style="text-align: right;"><span style="font-size:12px;">Spotting the blue dusk with checkers of yellow,</span></p><p style="text-align: right;"><span style="font-size:12px;">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;streamers of smoke and silver, &nbsp;&nbsp;</span></p><p style="text-align: right;"><span style="font-size:12px;">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;parallelograms of night-gray watchmen, &nbsp;&nbsp;</span></p><p style="text-align: right;"><span style="font-size:12px;">Singing a soft moaning song: I am a child, a belonging. &nbsp;</span></p></blockquote><div><span style="line-height: 1.38;">Compare that to the light-polluted sky found in this excerpt from &lsquo;<a href="http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/239566" target="_blank">The Waste Land&rsquo;</a> (2010) by John Beer.</span></div><blockquote><p><span style="font-size:12px;">Orpheus walked down Milwaukee Avenue toward the Flatiron Building. He passed bodegas, taquerias, vintage stores. He met a hustler with a gas can. He walked past the anarchist kids. And he walked, and he walked, and he walked past the cabdrivers trading insults in Urdu, and he walked past convenience stores, and he walked past Latin Kings, and he walked past waitresses getting off night shifts, and he walked past jazz stars that nobody recognized, he walked past the students, the teachers, the cops. And the sky was the color of eggplant and tire fires, the sky was the field that resisted exhaustion.</span></p></blockquote><p>Lynne Warren, a curator at Chicago&rsquo;s Museum of Contemporary Art, says you can track Chicago&rsquo;s changing city lights in paintings, too.</p><p>In<em> Bronzeville At Night</em> (1949), Chicago artist Archibald Motley depicted the yellow incandescent street lights used across the city at the time. The lamps were sparse and dim enough that on clear nights, you could make out stars across the skyline.</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/bronzeville%20at%20night%20archibald%20motley.png" style="height: 494px; width: 620px;" title="A painting by Archibald J. Motley Jr. of Chicago's Bronzeville neighborhood lit by moonlight and incandescent street lights." /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">Warren notes, too, that the warmth of incandescent light enhanced the &ldquo;natural&rdquo; colors of Chicago&rsquo;s nightscapes. For example, the red of the classic, Chicago brick on the building in the background is actually drawn out by the light. The tops of the cars on the left also reflect the &ldquo;truer blue&rdquo; of the Chicago night sky.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/richard-florsheim-jet-landings.jpg" style="float: right; height: 262px; width: 350px;" title="Richard Florsheim's 'Jet Landings' pictures the blue-green glow of Chicago street lights in the 1960s (Courtesy artnet.com)" />A decade or so after Motley&rsquo;s Bronzeville painting was complete, though, the city swapped out incandescents for brighter bulbs that gave off a green cast. The 1960s were the era of mercury vapor lights, and, <a href="https://chicagohistorytoday.wordpress.com/2013/12/30/old-street-lights/" target="_blank">by some accounts</a>, they cast a sci-fi feel across the city.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">By the end of the 1970s, just about all of Chicago&rsquo;s streetlights were replaced yet again, but this time with sodium vapor lights, which glow with a deep orange. Or, like orbs the color of tire fires, if you will.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Chicago&rsquo;s still got a lot of these lamps, and they dominated the city during the &#39;90s, when our question-asker, Mike Mesterharm, was a kid.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Warren says that gold glow repeats over and over in depictions of Chicago&rsquo;s skyline by Roger Brown, an influential painter during the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicago_Imagists" target="_blank">Chicago Imagists movement</a>. His piece <em>Entry of Christ into Chicago in 1976</em> (1976) depicts the Hancock Tower, the Aon Center and the Sears Tower (today&rsquo;s Willis Tower) being set against a light-polluted, sodium vapor sky.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Brown-jesus.jpg" style="height: 347px; width: 620px;" title="Chicago Imagists painter Roger Brown's depiction of the Chicago skyline, titled 'The Entry of Christ into Chicago in 1976.' (Courtesy Whitney Museum of American Art)" /></div></div><div class="image-insert-image "><p>All that&rsquo;s to say, Mike Mesterharm&rsquo;s question comes at a bit of a well-lit crossroads; recent changes to Chicago&rsquo;s lit environment are again affecting its color palette. Warren says she&rsquo;s beginning to consider Brown&rsquo;s work as historical &mdash; like she would <a href="http://www.artic.edu/aic/collections/artwork/111628" target="_blank">Edward Hopper&rsquo;s <em>Nighthawks</em></a> or Motley&rsquo;s <em>Bronzeville At Night</em> &mdash; because, like Mike, she&rsquo;s noticed the gradual visual exodus of the sodium vapor light.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Out with the gold, in with the blue</span></p><p>George Malek, director of ComEd&rsquo;s energy efficiency program, confirms sodium vapor lighting &mdash; and its tell-tale gold glow &mdash; is on its way out. And, he says, the transformation is driven by a city-wide movement toward efficient lighting, something that Mike had suspected when he pitched us his question.</p><p>Malek says during the &lsquo;90s, manufacturers and engineers developed ways to wring the same amount of light (if not more of it) from the same amount of power. The improvements, he says, came with indoor fluorescent lights used in office buildings and commercial businesses. Previously, fluorescents ran on magnetic ballasts (the things that make a lamp turn on), but newer, electronic ballasts could run on 60 percent of the energy previously needed. Over time, Malek says, the standard width of fluorescent tubes got thinner and thinner, but they emitted more and more light.</p><p>With these successes in hand, Malek says, companies like ComEd saw potential for energy efficiency on a larger scale.</p><p>In 2008 ComEd launched <a href="https://www.comed.com/business-savings/programs-incentives/Pages/lighting.aspx" target="_blank">a series of initiatives</a> to help businesses and residents cut their energy consumption &mdash; and costs &mdash; across the board. Malek says the vast majority of requests from commercial businesses were for replacing lighting systems. He says that&rsquo;s still the case.</p><p>Malek thinks our question-asker, Mike Mesterharm, is on to something when it comes to the Chicago skyline getting brighter.</p><p>&ldquo;I bet you there&rsquo;s more lumens at this point in the skyline,&rdquo; Malek says. &ldquo;I would think it&rsquo;s brighter.&rdquo;</p><p>Malek points out, though, that while the skyline&rsquo;s getting brighter in terms of lumens (a measurement of visible light), it&rsquo;s also getting brighter where you actually <em>need</em> it to be bright. That&rsquo;s because of the increasing accessibility of Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs), a lighting technology that&rsquo;s more directional and brighter than their sodium vapor predecessors.</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/19ejvmq0elq8gjpg%20led%20lights%20hoover%20street%20courtesy.jpg" style="height: 352px; width: 620px;" title="An example of the color differences in sodium vapor lighting, left, versus LED lighting, right, on a residential street in Los Angeles. (Courtesy Los Angeles Bureau of Street Lighting) " /></div><p>LEDs are also &ldquo;cooler&rdquo; on the color spectrum &nbsp;than sodium vapor lights, so they give off a bluer hue, unless they&rsquo;re somehow manipulated. <a href="http://www.popsci.com/article/technology/why-blue-led-worth-nobel-prize" target="_blank">Advancements in LED color rendering</a> are happening quickly, though, Malek points out. So while the skyline may be brighter overall because of them, it&rsquo;s hard to predict long-term changes in the skyline&rsquo;s color.</p><p>Malek says ComEd&rsquo;s already experimenting with 800 LED streetlights in the Chicago suburbs of Lombard and Bensenville. The lights are not only more energy efficient, he says, but they&rsquo;re also equipped with &ldquo;smart technology.&rdquo; Applications could include dimming lights in sync with sunrise and sunset, or turning them off completely when people want to better appreciate Fourth of July fireworks displays. In emergency situations, they could be isolated to flash in areas that need attention by police or medics. (For better or for worse, it&rsquo;s possible that in the near future, your alderman or other local rep could control your neighborhood&rsquo;s street lights from an iPad.)</p><p>Malek can&rsquo;t say for sure whether Chicago will adopt the same fixture technology, but he predicts it will arrive someday, regardless of energy savings.</p><p>And if you think that&rsquo;s going to change the view of a skyline, we&rsquo;ve only scratched the surface.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">New creative powers</span></p><p>Light as a utility is one thing, but light as an aesthetic or artistic choice is another. And as LED technology swarms the light market, Chicago, like other cities, will have more choices about what kind of lights to buy and how to use them. That&rsquo;s true for your home, your neighborhood, and the entire Chicago skyline.</p><p>Changes in the skyline could be hard to ignore.</p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="349" mozallowfullscreen="" src="https://player.vimeo.com/video/62936054?title=0&amp;byline=0&amp;portrait=0" webkitallowfullscreen="" width="620"></iframe><p>Take what&rsquo;s happened at the Intercontinental Miami. In 2013 the hotel installed a 19-story LED installation of a silhouetted woman dancing on the side of its building (and then offered <a href="http://miami.curbed.com/archives/2013/01/11/intercontinental-hotel.php" target="_blank">this explanation</a>). The 47-floor iconic Miami Tower in the heart of downtown is now also a <a href="http://www.ledsource.com/project/miami-tower/" target="_blank">slate for light displays that look like neon fish</a> &mdash; with the capability of 16 million color combinations.</p><p>In 2014 Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel<a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/content/dam/city/depts/dps/ContractAdministration/Specs/2014/Spec124831Exhibit1_Part1.pdf" target="_blank"> launched an international call for proposals</a> to have designers rethink the city&rsquo;s &ldquo;Lighting Framework Plan.&rdquo; According to the invitation, the city wants &ldquo;unique and revolutionary&rdquo; lighting concepts to decorate some of the most &ldquo;important and visible public places in Chicago.&rdquo; An invitation for proposals provides designers with suggestions, including photo displays cast onto the Merchandise Mart:</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/content/dam/city/depts/dps/ContractAdministration/Specs/2014/Spec124831Exhibit1_Part1.pdf" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/proposal screenshot.PNG" style="height: 401px; width: 620px;" title="(Source: City of Chicago.)" /></a></div></div><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://www.schulershook.com/" target="_blank">Schuler Shook</a> lighting designer Jim Baney points out that LEDs can be used in subtle ways, but he&rsquo;s seen projects get carried away, too. From his vantage, lighting in Chicago should accompany presentation of architecture.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&ldquo;Just because we have the ability with LEDs to select from any number of different colors and to mix those colors to make other colors, doesn&rsquo;t necessarily mean that we should all the time do that,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;I think with control comes responsibility and comes the need for somebody to really have knowledge.&rdquo;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><span style="font-size:22px;">Another choice: The case to be made for stars</span></div><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/audrey.jpg" style="height: 465px; width: 620px;" title="Audrey Fischer, President of Chicago's Astronomical Society. (WBEZ/Logan Jaffe)" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">With this much power in our hands to light &nbsp;the world as much as we want (and however we want), there is a case to made for a different strategy for Chicago&rsquo;s future skyline: restraint.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Audrey Fischer, President of Chicago&rsquo;s Astronomical Society and an advocate for dark skies, wants the city to invest in light fixtures that only shine downward, and bulbs that don&rsquo;t burn quite so bright, or so blue.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&ldquo;In my mind a &lsquo;green&rsquo; city like Chicago ... ought to have a midnight blue sky, star-studded with the milky way,&rdquo; she says.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">If the case for starlight&rsquo;s natural beauty doesn&rsquo;t move you, Fischer points to a litany of problems associated with irresponsible lighting (aka, light pollution). For starters, it <a href="http://www.birdmonitors.net/LightsOut.php" target="_blank">screws up bird migratory paths</a> and <a href="http://www.bats.org.uk/pages/bats_and_lighting.html" target="_blank">disrupts roosting by local bat populations</a>. Even the eco-friendliest of lights can <a href="http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/blue-light-has-a-dark-side" target="_blank">screw up our own internal clocks</a> as well. And that&rsquo;s apart from evidence that the wrong lighting can <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3002207/" target="_blank">increase the risk of breast cancer</a>, <a href="http://aje.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2014/05/29/aje.kwu117.short" target="_blank">obesity</a>, and <a href="http://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-topics/melatonin-and-sleep" target="_blank">sleep disorders</a>. (For an extensive look on issues regarding blue-rich, white outdoor lighting, see <a href="http://www.darksky.org/assets/documents/Reports/IDA-Blue-Rich-Light-White-Paper.pdf" target="_blank">this report by the International Dark-Sky Association</a>).</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Fischer says Chicago is the most light-polluted city in the world, referencing <a href="https://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/curiouscity/ngeo_1300_NOV11_auproof2.pdf" target="_blank">a study by researcher Harald Stark at the University of Colorado</a>. This is kind of ironic, given that in the early 20th century Edwin Hubble (of Hubble telescope fame) made some of <a href="https://cosmology.carnegiescience.edu/timeline/1929" target="_blank">his most important scientific discoveries</a> (like the fact that the universe is expanding) with a degree in mathematics and astronomy from the University of Chicago. Now, you can hardly even see starlight if you&#39;re gazing within the city limits.</div><div><p><a href="http://www.nps.gov/grba/learn/nature/lightscape.htm" target="_blank">A study by the National Park Service estimates</a> that by 2025, dark skies will be an &ldquo;extinct phenomena&rdquo; in the continental United States due to light pollution.</p><p>To people like Fischer, that&rsquo;s a pretty high cost.</p><p>&ldquo;Starlight is the one thing that connects all nationalities across this planet,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;Theres a chance that we&rsquo;re going to lose that forever.&rdquo;</p><p>Here&rsquo;s a taste of what we&rsquo;re missing.</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/Chi1h5.jpg" style="height: 207px; width: 620px;" title="The Chicago sky as it could be without light pollution showing the Milky Way and numerous stars. (Composite image by Adler photographer, Craig Stillwell, and Adler astronomer, Larry Ciupik, based on images by Craig Stillwell and Wei-Hao Wang)" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/mike_0.jpg" style="float: right; height: 213px; width: 300px;" title="(WBEZ/Logan Jaffe)" /><span style="font-size:22px;">About our question-asker</span></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Mike Mesterharm is from Chicago, but he left the city at 18 to attend college. He says he didn&rsquo;t pay much attention to things like street lights or skyline changes. But come to think of it, he says, he didn&rsquo;t pay much attention to <em>anything</em> at 18.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Now, at 28, Mike says he&rsquo;s a bit more observant about his environment. In fact, he says his whole concept of the environment has expanded.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&ldquo;Our environment isn&rsquo;t simply the hard matter,&rdquo; Mike says. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s the things that exist around that. It&rsquo;s the light, it&rsquo;s the sound.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&ldquo;You know, I wouldn&rsquo;t have asked this question at 18. If anything, I find it reassuring that maybe if the skyline&rsquo;s changed and I&rsquo;m noticing it, that&rsquo;s a good thing. And if it hasn&rsquo;t changed &hellip; now I&rsquo;m paying attention.&rdquo;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><em>Logan Jaffe is Curious City&rsquo;s multimedia producer. Follow her on twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/loganjaffe" target="_blank">@loganjaffe</a>.</em></div></div></div></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 22 Apr 2015 17:56:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/art-and-science-behind-glow-chicagos-skyline-111928 With quakes spiking, oil industry is under the microscope in Oklahoma http://www.wbez.org/news/science/quakes-spiking-oil-industry-under-microscope-oklahoma-111572 <p><p>Out on Oklahoma&#39;s flat prairie, Medford, population about 900, is the kind of place where people give directions from the four-way stop in the middle of town.</p><p>It seems pretty sedate, but it&#39;s not. &quot;We are shaking all the time,&quot; says Dea Mandevill, the city manager. &quot;All the time.&quot;</p><p>The afternoon I stopped by, Mandevill says two quakes had already rumbled through Medford.</p><p>&quot;Light day,&quot; she laughs. But, she adds, &quot;the day&#39;s not over yet; we still have several more hours.&quot;</p><p>Mandevill may be laughing it off, but Austin Holland, the state seismologist, isn&#39;t.</p><p>&quot;I certainly regret starting smoking again, but there are some days when nicotine and coffee are about what get me through the day,&quot; he says. &quot;As far as we know, this has never happened before.&quot;</p><p>Holland says that Oklahoma used to have, on average, one or two perceptible earthquakes a year. Now the state is averaging two or three a day. There were more magnitude 3 or greater tremors here last year than anywhere else in the continental United States, and the unprecedented spike in earthquakes has intensified.</p><p>Holland suspects that modern oil production techniques are triggering the jump in quakes. A few years back, companies figured out how to drill sideways through layers of shale, then break, or frack, the rock, releasing a torrent of oil.</p><p>The combination of fracking and horizontal drilling sparked a massive oil boom here, but the technique produces much more water than oil &mdash; tens of billions of gallons of very salty, toxic water. The only economical way to dispose of it, Holland says, is to force it deep into the earth.</p><p>&quot;That pressure acts as a lubricant,&quot; he says. &quot;It&#39;s not actually the water itself lubricating, but the pressure, and the best way to think about that is an air hockey table,&quot; with huge slabs of rock as the pucks.</p><p>Holland says injecting water near faults can deliver just enough lubricating pressure to set them in motion. It&#39;s called &quot;induced seismicity.&quot;</p><p>The Prague earthquake hit the state four years ago. At magnitude 5.6, it was the strongest ever recorded in Oklahoma.</p><p>&quot;It was coming from everywhere &mdash; I mean the walls, the roof,&quot; says Ryan Ladra, standing in his parents&#39; battered house. &quot;When it hit, it hit so violent and hard that we thought the house was coming down on top of us.&quot;</p><p>The Ladras&#39; stone chimney collapsed, striking his mom, Sandra, who is suing companies that ran nearby wastewater injection wells.</p><p>But Kim Hatfield of the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association says he&#39;s not convinced there&#39;s a connection. He says oil companies have been pumping brine down wastewater injection wells for decades. More than 3,200 of the wells dot the state.</p><p>&quot;You&#39;re going to find out that all tornadoes are close to injection wells as well,&quot; he says. &quot;If a meteor strikes the state of Oklahoma, I&#39;m going to guarantee it&#39;s going to be close to an injection well.&quot;</p><p>Still, evidence linking injection wells to earthquakes is building. And though oil industry wields enormous clout in Oklahoma, the agency regulating it is ramping up.</p><p>Matt Skinner, public information manager for the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, says that the agency has never denied a permit for a disposal well, but it has recently closed a few bad ones and is scrutinizing applications for new wells like never before.</p><p>&quot;When we say we&#39;re doing everything we can, what we&#39;re really saying is, we&#39;re doing everything we know, today,&quot; Skinner says. &quot;Tomorrow, we may know something more.&quot;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/dea_medford-61167ff8f4cededddab27c9a2a9e68834208ce8b-s400-c85.jpg" style="float: left; height: 209px; width: 280px;" title="Dea Mandevill, city manager of Medford, Okla., says the earthquakes are worth all the benefits the oil boom has brought: a new park, police cars, construction equipment and ambulances. (Frank Morris/KCUR)" />Mandevill says she worries about an earthquake rupturing the big natural gas pipeline here &mdash; but then beams while looking out over the new park the city recently built with oil boom tax money.</p><p>&quot;We have a new swimming pool, splash pad, new sidewalks and a new basketball/tennis court,&quot; she says.</p><p>It illustrates the complex relationship between oil and earthquakes in Oklahoma.</p><p>&quot;You put up with a few things falling off your walls, a few nights being woken up in the middle of the night with the shakes,&quot; she says. &quot;Overall it&#39;s been good. I&#39;ll take the earthquakes for all the benefits that Medford&#39;s had so far.&quot;</p><p>But those benefits are starting to sag a little. With oil prices low, companies are laying off workers. On the bright side, less oil coming out of the ground means less wastewater going back down deep into it, and just possibly, fewer earthquakes.</p></p> Tue, 17 Feb 2015 08:36:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/science/quakes-spiking-oil-industry-under-microscope-oklahoma-111572 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 Mexico opens energy sector to investment http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2014-08-28/mexico-opens-energy-sector-investment-110722 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/AP91881053942.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>After 75 years of government control of its gas and oil resources, Mexico is opening its energy sector to foreign investment. We&#39;ll find out how this will impact the Mexican economy.</p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/worldview-mexico-opens-energy-sector-to-investment/embed?header=false&amp;border=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/worldview-mexico-opens-energy-sector-to-investment.js?header=false&border=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/worldview-mexico-opens-energy-sector-to-investment" target="_blank">View the story "Worldview: Mexico opens energy sector to investment" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Thu, 28 Aug 2014 11:36:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2014-08-28/mexico-opens-energy-sector-investment-110722 U.N. addresses Vatican handling of child sex abuse cases http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2014-02-10/un-addresses-vatican-handling-child-sex-abuse-cases-109676 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/(AP PhotoAlessandra Tarantino)2.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The United Nations has issued a report which says the Vatican, as a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, is responsible for implementing its mandate. The report says the Vatican has not done enough to protect children from abuse. We&#39;ll discuss the findings.</p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/worldview-the-u-n-addresses-vatican-handling-of-se/embed?header=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/worldview-the-u-n-addresses-vatican-handling-of-se.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/worldview-the-u-n-addresses-vatican-handling-of-se" target="_blank">View the story "Worldview: U.N. addresses Vatican handling of child sex abuse cases " on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Mon, 10 Feb 2014 10:55:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2014-02-10/un-addresses-vatican-handling-child-sex-abuse-cases-109676 Political crisis in Egypt, Canada as a petrostate, U.S. policy in Yemen and plants for a cause http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2013-08-15/political-crisis-egypt-canada-petrostate-us-policy-yemen-and-plants <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/AP115224910253.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>President Obama issues a statement on Egypt. The U.S. embassy in Yemen remains shut after a global terror alert, and a family in Woodstock raises money for a cause by selling plants and crafts.</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F105596737&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/worldview-canada-as-a-petrostate-u-s-policy-in-yem.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/worldview-canada-as-a-petrostate-u-s-policy-in-yem" target="_blank">View the story "Worldview: Political crisis in Egypt, Canada as a petrostate, U.S. policy in Yemen and plants for a cause" on Storify</a>]</noscript></p></p> Thu, 15 Aug 2013 11:55:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2013-08-15/political-crisis-egypt-canada-petrostate-us-policy-yemen-and-plants Ten years after historic blackout, are we better off? http://www.wbez.org/series/front-center/ten-years-after-historic-blackout-are-we-better-108387 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Grid MAIN THUMBNAIL_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">August 14, 2003 Mike Kormos was coming home from a conference when he got a call.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;They said something had happened and I needed to report to the office as soon as possible,&rdquo; he said.</p><p dir="ltr">Kormos rushed to his offices at <a href="http://www.pjm.com/about-pjm.aspx">PJM </a>where he is Executive Vice President of Operations, overseeing part of the electrical grid. Shortly after he got to the office, one of the largest blackouts in history cascaded across the Northeast &nbsp;and Midwest. Over 50 million people lost power in both the U.S. and Canada, including Detroit, Cleveland, Toronto and New York. Some would be without power for two days. The event contributed to 11 deaths and cost between<a href="http://www.elcon.org/Documents/EconomicImpactsOfAugust2003Blackout.pdf">&nbsp;$4 and 8 billion.</a></p><p dir="ltr">Some people&rsquo;s power wouldn&#39;t return until two days later. The cause of the outage was complicated but largely due to infrastructure invented in the era of Thomas Edison.</p><p dir="ltr">The age of the system is why this week, the Obama administration called for increased spending to upgrade the nation&rsquo;s electric power system. There was a time shortly after 9/11, that some thought terrorist activity would make us most vulnerable to major blackouts.</p><p dir="ltr">Because the brownout of 2003 was a few years after 9/11, and blackouts on the big transmission grid are rare, Kormos and his team thought this outage might be a case of terrorism. But later they found out the &nbsp;blackout was partially the fault of another big T.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Trees had interfered with some of the lines and the lines ended up basically tripping,&rdquo; explained Kormos.</p><p dir="ltr">It may seem strange that such a simple thing could contribute to one of the biggest blackouts in history, but this was a case of a domino effect. &nbsp;An Ohio electric company hadn&#39;t trimmed its trees, and so when heavy wires began to droop, they touched the top of branches and tripped. That put extra energy on to other lines, which in turn also drooped under heavier loads and hit trees.</p><p dir="ltr">And Kormos says, there was another big trouble-causing T: tools.</p><p dir="ltr">To understand their importance, you first have to learn how the grid works.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>UNDERSTANDING THE GRID</strong></p><p dir="ltr"><a href="http://boingboing.net/author/maggie_koerth-baker">Maggie Koerth-Baker</a> is a science columnist and author of <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0470876255/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;tag=boingbonet-20&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=0470876255">Before The Lights go Out.</a> She says we use more energy and produce more emissions through electricity than we do with anything else, including transportation. &nbsp;But because the electrical grid is complicated, we don&rsquo;t think about it as much.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Electricity is like these little elves that live in the walls and you forget that there is all this infrastructure in the background,&rdquo; said Koerth-Baker.</p><p dir="ltr">That&rsquo;s why she wants to make sure folks understand the grid.</p><p>&ldquo;I like to say it&rsquo;s like a lazy river at a water park. It has to move along at a constant speed which is analogous to frequency and it has to move along at a constant depth, which is analogous to what engineers call voltage.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">All along this river are drains which are like people using energy. There are also faucets, filling up the river, that&rsquo;s like companies making energy.</p><p>&ldquo;And if that [balance] gets out of whack by even fractions of a percent, you get blackouts,&rdquo; said Koerth-Baker.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">The 2003 blackout was caused by that imbalance between energy supply and demand. That happened for a bunch of reasons, like those trees. But one of the biggest problems is that energy providers couldn&rsquo;t see the problem-- they didn&rsquo;t have the tools to get a picture of where that lazy river had blockages, or overflows, and where they could reroute it.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>CHANGES IN THE GRID</strong></p><p dir="ltr">A lot has changed in the 10 years since the blackout. New technology, like p<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phasor_measurement_unit">hasor measurement units (PMUs)</a>, give more accurate pictures of what happens on the grid. Kormos compares what they had in 2003 to an x-ray, and what they have today, to an MRI. There are also new regulations as a result of the blackout, such as high fees for not trimming trees and mandatory training. Experts say all that means blackouts on the scale of 2003 are less likely today. But they also say we need to be doing a lot more to be ready for the future.</p><p dir="ltr">John Estey is the Executive Chair at <a href="http://www.sandc.com/">S&amp;C Electric Company,</a> a business that makes energy products to build smart grids.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;A smart grid is the use of intelligent controls, software communication and automation to help improve the reliability and the efficiency of the delivery of electricity,&rdquo; he explained. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s a grid with a lot of brains.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">To show me what that means, Estey takes me to big warehouse room with a miniature city &nbsp;inside it. The city has real lights and electrical wires. But this isn&rsquo;t just any city, it&rsquo;s a city that has upgraded to a smart grid.</p><p dir="ltr">Estey points to little boxes on top of the electrical poles and explains they are smart devices. Each of the boxes takes measurements and tells the other devices how much energy they are carrying, if there are any problems, and how energy might be rerouted.</p><p dir="ltr">For the sake of demonstration, the warehouse has a big switch that mimics the power of God. It can short-circuit wires or take an entire energy plant offline. Estey tells a colleague to pretend that someone using a backhoe hit an underground electrical wire. The system shuts down the area around the severed wire, so dangerous electricity isn&rsquo;t running through it. Then the power automatically routes around the problem so people in surrounding areas don&rsquo;t lose their power.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;The streets stayed on through the whole thing,&rdquo; Estey declared proudly.</p><p dir="ltr">In an old grid, there wouldn&rsquo;t be any smart boxes to locate the problem. The company would have to wait until people called in to report it. Then they&rsquo;d drive around just looking for the downed wire. Once they found it, they&rsquo;d have to reroute each switch manually. That can take hours, instead of seconds and leave thousands, instead of hundreds, without electricity.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>MOVING THE GRID FORWARD</strong></p><p dir="ltr"><a href="http://boingboing.net/author/maggie_koerth-baker">Maggie Koerth-Baker</a> says in addition to stopping blackouts, the way we updated the grid will determine what we can do over the next 30 years in terms of all kinds of energy infrastructure, like using renewables. So what&rsquo;s in the way?</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;We [need to] invest $8 billion a year to make the grid stronger. $17-20 billion dollars to make it smarter,&rdquo; said Koerth-Baker.</p><p dir="ltr">That sounds like a lot of money. But experts estimate that blackouts cost U.S. customers $<a href="http://emp.lbl.gov/sites/all/files/REPORT%20lbnl%20-%2058164.pdf">79 billion each yea</a>r and savings with a smart grid could be as high as $<a href="http://tli.umn.edu/blog/security-technology/u-s-electrical-grid-gets-less-reliable-as-outages-increase-and-rd-decreases/">49 billion a year.</a></p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;But because we don&rsquo;t have the incentives in place for anybody to be thinking about and benefiting financially from &nbsp;those long term changes, there is nobody really paying attention to them&rdquo; said Koerth-Baker.</p><p dir="ltr">For example, smart grids would make it easier for people to add solar panels to their houses. They could produce energy for themselves, but also put it back on the grid or provide energy to their neighbors. But why would a company that makes money selling energy, pay to build something that might lower their profits?</p><p dir="ltr">That&#39;s just one of many questions regulators across the country are working to solve. Next in the series Flipping the Switch, we&rsquo;ll explore some of the political and social factors that are helping and hindering improvements to our current electrical grid.</p><p><br /><em>Shannon Heffernan is a reporter for WBEZ. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/shannon_h">@shannon_h</a></em></p></p> Tue, 13 Aug 2013 07:16:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/front-center/ten-years-after-historic-blackout-are-we-better-108387