WBEZ | global warming http://www.wbez.org/tags/global-warming Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en After Water: Science, art and journalism around climate change http://www.wbez.org/series/front-center/after-water-science-art-and-journalism-around-climate-change-110544 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/After-Water_crop.png" style="height: 269px; width: 620px;" title="" />Join us as we focus on the future of the Great Lakes, in a way that is a little different for us. WBEZ&#39;s brought fiction writers and scientists together, then asked the writers to jump off from there, creating stories set decades from now&mdash;when clean, fresh water could be a rare resource.</p><p>We want to contemplate the future from a dual lens of <a href="https://soundcloud.com/wbez/sets/after-water-the-science">science</a> and <a href="https://soundcloud.com/afterwater/sets/after-water-fiction">art.</a> We&#39;ll be sharing our writers&rsquo; stories and the science behind them here. It&rsquo;s <a href="https://soundcloud.com/afterwater"><em>After Water</em></a>. We invite your thoughts.</p><p><strong>The stories</strong></p><p>Local author Nnedi Okorafor starts out the series on Chicago&#39;s South Side. In her story,<a href="http://afterwater.tumblr.com/post/92735533543/after-water-fiction-thirst-by-max-andrew-dubinsky"> </a><a href="http://afterwater.tumblr.com/post/92734891798/after-water-fiction-poison-fish-by-nnedi-okorafor">&quot;Poison Fish&quot;</a> (or, &quot;Poison Poisson&quot;), Okorafor brings us to a dystopian backdrop of memories and chaos, set along the waterfront on Chicago&#39;s Rainbow Beach.<a href="https://soundcloud.com/afterwater/after-water-an-interview-with-author-nnedi-okorafor/s-KJdW3">&nbsp;Listen to an interview</a> about this story with Nnedi Okorafor. Or<a href="https://soundcloud.com/wbez/sets/after-water-the-science"> hear some of the science behind her story.&nbsp;</a></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/159874918&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><a href="http://afterwater.tumblr.com/post/92735533543/after-water-fiction-thirst-by-max-andrew-dubinsky">In his story</a><a href="http://afterwater.tumblr.com/post/92735533543/after-water-fiction-thirst-by-max-andrew-dubinsky">,</a> &ldquo;Thirst&rdquo; Los Angeles-based author Max Andrew Dubinsky brings us to a California that&rsquo;s dry and dying, its inhabitants looking to the Great Lakes as their last salvation. <a href="https://soundcloud.com/afterwater/after-water-an-interview-with-author-max-andrew-dubinsky/s-mxJX9">Listen to an interview</a> about this story with Max Andrew Dubinsky. Or<a href="https://soundcloud.com/wbez/sets/after-water-the-science">&nbsp;hear some of the science behind his story.&nbsp;</a></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/159999662&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>In <a href="http://afterwater.tumblr.com/post/92743040588/after-water-fiction-world-after-water">&quot;World After Water,&quot;</a> Abby Geni brings us to a city drowned in dirty, toxic water. Four young brothers are forced to steal filtered water from their wealthy neighbors in order to survive. <a href="https://soundcloud.com/afterwater/after-water-an-interview-with-author-abby-geni">Listen to an interview</a> with Abby Geni about her story. Or<a href="https://soundcloud.com/wbez/sets/after-water-the-science"> hear about some of science</a> behind her story.</p><p><em style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 22px;"><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/160123800&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></em></p><p>In <a href="http://afterwater.tumblr.com/post/92840460528/after-water-fiction-the-floating-city-of-new-chicago">&quot;The Floating City of New Chicago&quot;</a>, we see a Chicago divided by class...and water. The wealthy have fled the city for a secret island in Lake Michigan. The &quot;wet-collar&quot; workers have been left behind to do the city&#39;s dirtiest jobs. <a href="https://soundcloud.com/afterwater/after-water-an-interview-with-author-tricia-bobeda">Listen to author Tricia Bobeda</a> talk about how she found inspiration in a <em>30 Rock</em> episode. <a href="https://soundcloud.com/wbez/how-do-you-sleep-at-night-michele-morano-asks-climate-scientists-how-they-cope">Or hear conversations</a> about the science behind her story.&nbsp;</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/160658367&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>In <a href="http://afterwater.tumblr.com/post/93235111273/after-water-fiction-the-last-cribkeeper-by-peter-orner">&quot;The Last Cribkeeper&quot;</a> we meet Harry Osgood as he walks along the shores of Lake Michigan. For years, he served as the guard for one of the water intake cribs miles from Chicago&#39;s shores. Now an old man, Harry looks out over the lake and reflects on how it has shaped the city&#39;s identity and his own.<a href="https://soundcloud.com/afterwater/after-water-an-interview-with-author-peter-orner"> Listen to author Peter Orner</a> talk about his lifelong fascination with the city&#39;s water cribs. Or <a href="https://soundcloud.com/wbez/how-do-you-sleep-at-night-michele-morano-asks-climate-scientists-how-they-cope">check out some of the science</a> behind the story.&nbsp;</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/160834671&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>The science behind the stories</strong></p><p>The short&nbsp;stories you&#39;ve been listening to are solidly in the science fiction category.&nbsp;But some of&nbsp;the&nbsp;issues the&nbsp;writers touch on aren&#39;t as far out as you might think. Before they jumped 100 years into the future, we paired writers&nbsp;with scientists and policy experts to talk about the threats facing the Great Lakes right now. You can hear our conversations about the science behind the stories below.&nbsp;</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/playlists/44458855&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><em style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 22px;">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, 23 Jul 2014 09:49:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/front-center/after-water-science-art-and-journalism-around-climate-change-110544 EcoMyths: Trees Cooling the Climate http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths/ecomyths-trees-cooling-climate-110420 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Tree hugger.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>The science is clear that trees help reduce the effects of Climate Change because they remove carbon dioxide from our atmosphere. For our EcoMyths segment, Kate Sackman joins us to talk with Robert Fahey from Morton Arboretum. They want us to know that &ldquo;treehugging is cool&rdquo; for us and the environment. Fahey studies forest ecosystems and urban forestry and admits to hugging trees, but clarifies that it&#39;s &quot;usually for research purposes.&quot;</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/155848109&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;visual=true" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><strong><u>Urban Trees Cool Chicago Saving $44 million annually</u></strong></p><p>What&rsquo;s cool depends on who you&rsquo;re asking. James Dean was definitely cool, <a href="http://www.metrolyrics.com/cooler-than-me-lyrics-mike-posner.html">Mike Posner</a>, not so much, and tree hugging &ndash; well, again, it depends who you are asking.</p><p>Today on <em>Worldview</em>, Jerome McDonnell and I explored the topic of how trees cool our homes, our cities, and our planet. We invited <a href="http://www.mortonarb.org/science-conservation/scientists-and-staff/robert-t-fahey">Robert Fahey PhD</a>, an expert in forest ecosystems at the Morton Arboretum, to tell us about the amazing things that trees do as well as the threats to trees caused by the warming planet. As many know, carbon dioxide (CO2) occurs in the atmosphere naturally as part of the cycle of life on earth. But excess CO2 emitted into the atmosphere causes planetary temperatures to rise. Fahey explains that forests and trees absorb much of that carbon from the atmosphere, store it in their wood, and emit oxygen in return, making forests extremely important for mitigating climate change.</p><p>He described how forests around the world, including in Borneo, the Amazon, and Siberia, suffer the impacts of global temperature rise, such as fire, severe storm damage, and drought. In the Midwest and Eastern U.S., many of our native trees, such as oaks, are hearty in a broad range of temperatures, but remain vulnerable to insects and pathogens that thrive in warmer climates. These living threats include emerald ash borer in the Midwest and the mountain pine beetle which is devastating forests in the Mountain West. Fahey says that the management policy in large forests is to let trees adapt naturally. But in urban settings, we can select trees that are more resilient to various urban stresses.</p><p>In cities such as Chicago, &ldquo;trees are extremely important for reducing energy costs and cooling the city&rdquo; Fahey says. He said a recent study &ldquo;estimated that the urban forests in the Chicago region reduce energy costs by about $44 million per year&rdquo; in addition to reducing the amount of carbon released into the atmosphere due to less fossil fuel burned that would have been used to create that energy.</p><p><u><strong>One Green Thing</strong></u></p><p>Plant a native tree! If you don&#39;t have space to do so, you can also donate to a tree-planting effort like the <a href="http://shop.arborday.org/content.aspx?page=Commemorative">Arbor Day Foundation</a>, or volunteer at a forest preserve on a planting day.</p><p><strong>Listen to the Worldview podcast (above) </strong>for the whole story and to learn more about the Global Feedback Cycle that includes trees and CO2. For a deeper dive, Read the Myth at <a href="http://www.ecomythsalliance.org/">ecomythsalliance.org</a>.&nbsp;</p><ul><li><a href="http://www.ecomythsalliance.org/2014/06/myth-treehugging-isnt-cool/">EcoMyth: Tree Hugging Isn&rsquo;t Cool</a></li><li><a href="http://www.ecomythsalliance.org/2014/06/global-warmings-not-so-hot-impact-on-trees/">Blog: Global Warming&rsquo;s Not-So-Hot Impact on Trees</a>: A closer look at the Science</li></ul></p> Tue, 24 Jun 2014 09:09:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths/ecomyths-trees-cooling-climate-110420 Looking out for climate change in Chicago http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/looking-out-climate-change-chicago-109968 <p><p><em>Editor&rsquo;s note: <a href="#event">Key interviews that contributed to this story</a> about climate change and the future of Chicago were first presented during <a href="#event">The Raw Report,</a>&nbsp;a live media event co-produced by WBEZ and <a href="http://www.prairie.org/programs/public-square" target="_blank">The Public Square</a>, a program of the Illinois Humanities Council.&nbsp;</em></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/FOR%20WEB%20family%20photo.jpg" style="height: 267px; width: 200px; margin: 5px; float: right;" title="Mark Mesle, center, asked his question out of concern for his family, including wife Abby and daughter Parker. (Photo courtesy of Mark Mesle)" />Some people find it hard to get worked up about the fate of future generations. But Mark Mesle, who came to Curious City with a big question about climate change, has no problem putting a face on future environmental anxieties.</p><p>Her name is Parker. She&rsquo;s Mark&rsquo;s 18-month-old daughter. He and his wife Abbey have another kid on the way, and it got him wondering:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>How will climate change impact Chicago?</em></p><p>Mark runs a website, <a href="http://www.50yearforecast.org" target="_blank">www.50yearforecast.org</a>, devoted to raising awareness on climate change, so he&rsquo;s no stranger to the topic. What he asked us for was a higher-resolution picture of the problem: a better understanding of how greenhouse gases might change life for his kids here in Chicago.</p><p>&ldquo;You always see 2100 projections,&rdquo; said Mark, who is 33 years old. &ldquo;How about 2045, when my daughter is my age?&rdquo;</p><p>Mark wants to know what kind of world his kids will grow up in, so understandably he asked for a high degree of detail.</p><p>&ldquo;Do the Cubs not play August games anymore?&rdquo; he asked, for example.</p><p>But here&rsquo;s the thing: Mark&rsquo;s asking for something that we don&#39;t have a clear answer for, according to Liz Moyer, an assistant professor of atmospheric chemistry and transport at the University of Chicago.</p><p>&ldquo;We know physically that climate change will happen. We know geologically what&rsquo;s happened to species in the past,&rdquo; Moyer said. &ldquo;How do you turn that into saying, &lsquo;It&rsquo;s going to cost this much, it&rsquo;ll change our economy in this way.&rsquo; That&rsquo;s something we&rsquo;ve had trouble doing, and the economic models are set up to reflect that.&rdquo;</p><p>The basic science is settled. Greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, most notably) trap heat within the atmosphere, causing a global temperature rise. As it gets warmer, sea level rises due to the physical expansion of heated water and melting ice around the globe.</p><p>What all this means for Chicago is harder to say &mdash; the<a href="http://www.ipcc-data.org/guidelines/pages/gcm_guide.html" target="_blank"> climate models scientist use don&#39;t provide that kind of resolution</a>. But the situation could be improving. <a href="http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2014/03/19/climate-data-initiative-launches-strong-public-and-private-sector-commitments" target="_blank">In March the federal government announced</a> it would release data from NOAA, NASA, the U.S. Geological Survey, the Department of Defense, and other Federal agencies on its website, climate.data.gov, <a href="http://resilience.maps.arcgis.com/home/" target="_blank">to help cities and regions plan</a> for climate change. The <a href="http://www.sws.uiuc.edu/warm/cdflist.asp?typ=a" target="_blank">Illinois Climate Network&#39;s data</a> is part of that growing cache of information.</p><p>Globally, though, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-01/climate-change-warnings-sharp-relief-104942" target="_blank">scientists are concerned</a>. A<a href="http://whatweknow.aaas.org/" target="_blank"> report issued March 18</a> by the American Association for the Advancement of Science warns, &ldquo;We are at risk of pushing our climate system toward abrupt, unpredictable, and potentially irreversible changes with highly damaging impacts.&rdquo;</p><p>So, if we won&rsquo;t be able to give a foolproof picture of what Chicago&rsquo;s climate will be like in 2045, is there any insight we could send Mark&rsquo;s way?</p><p>It turns out there is.</p><p>We found scientists, economists, activists and Chicago officials who are on the lookout for local effects of climate change. While none gives a full-blown prediction, each identifies which areas of life &mdash; the local economy, the lake, whatever &mdash; are most vulnerable and why Mark (and the rest of us) should consider them.</p><p><strong>What&rsquo;s on Chicago&rsquo;s radar</strong></p><p>The city laid out what it knows in its Climate Action Plan, which was adopted in 2008. City Hall has three main concerns:<a href="http://www.chicagoclimateaction.org/pages/temperature/20.php" target="_blank"> it will get hotter</a>, exacerbating<a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-05/weary-high-chicago-asthma-rates-some-lobby-washington-107461" target="_blank"> problems with air quality</a> and perhaps making<a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/consecutive-days-warm-temperatures-could-break-1995-record-97332" target="_blank"> deadly heat waves</a> stronger and/or more common;<a href="http://www.chicagoclimateaction.org/pages/precipitation/21.php" target="_blank"> flooding could get worse</a> as intense<a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-03/climate-change-could-worsen-chicago-floods-106174" target="_blank"> rainstorms become more common</a>, further burdening<a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-04/heavy-rain-overwhelms-combined-sewer-system-106731" target="_blank"> an already swollen sewer system</a>; and<a href="http://www.chicagoclimateaction.org/pages/ecosystems/22.php" target="_blank"> Chicago&#39;s native ecosystems could change</a>, forcing farmers, gardeners and landscapers to change their habits.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/THUMB%20flickr%20seth%20anderson%20-%20possible%20thumb.jpg" style="float: right; height: 260px; width: 325px; margin: 5px;" title="The Fisk generating plant in Chicago was closed in 2012. (FLickr/Seth Anderson)" />High school students at Robert Lindblom Math &amp; Science Academy in the West Englewood neighborhood are working on that last problem, studying which tree species are best suited to a warmer climate. So Parker Mesle and her forthcoming sibling will likely plant different saplings than her father, our question asker.</p><p>In the future there might be less Lake Michigan than Mark&rsquo;s used to, if <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/what%E2%80%99s-causing-record-low-levels-lake-michigan-105262" target="_blank">a trend toward low lake levels</a> continues. On average, warmer average temperatures should mean less ice cover during winter, which means the Great Lakes may evaporate faster than they&rsquo;re recharged. That could change coastal ecosystems <a href="http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/09/24/low-waters-and-high-anxiety/?_php=true&amp;_type=blogs&amp;_r=0" target="_blank">and hurt the lucrative shipping industry</a> in the region, which <a href="http://www.marad.dot.gov/documents/US-Flag_Great_Lakes_Water_Transportation_Industry_Final_Report_2013.pdf" target="_top">the U.S. Department of Transportation says</a> supplies $14.1 billion in annual income to U.S. citizens, and $33.6 billion in annual U.S. business revenues.</p><p>The city&rsquo;s thinking through effects of climate change that may not be so dire, however. If Mark&rsquo;s kids choose to live in Chicago, they could have plenty of company. That&rsquo;s because, under some scenarios, transportation (especially forms that involve climate-changing fossil fuels) could become more expensive, making life in the dense, urban core more attractive.</p><p>Chicago is thinking through encouraging or adapting to higher residential density, and strategies include everything from neighborhood walkability to <a href="http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/kbenfield/city_sustainability_is_about_t.html" target="_blank">historic preservation and affordable housing</a>.</p><p>&ldquo;If you think big picture, a lot of this is about creating a really livable, really competitive and really livable city,&rdquo; said Karen Weigert, Chicago&rsquo;s chief sustainability officer. She said urbanites have a lower per capita carbon footprint than those in less densely populated communities, which tend to have higher transportation emissions.</p><p>&ldquo;Living in an urban environment, as a start,&rdquo; she said, &ldquo;is actually a pretty good climate choice.&rdquo; <a href="http://archpaper.com/news/articles.asp?id=6218" target="_blank">Even suburbs are starting to reinvest in transit-oriented development</a> and walkability&mdash;characteristics traditionally associated with inner cities. Reducing the distance people need to travel reduces their fuel use, which can save <a href="http://www.nhc.org/media/documents/pub_heavy_load_10_06.pdf" target="_blank">money as well as greenhouse gas emissions</a>. So it&rsquo;s likely Mark&rsquo;s kids will have more transit options (not to mention <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/54-mpg-argonne-natl-lab-wins-grant-fuel-efficiency-research-90433" target="_blank">more fuel-efficient vehicles</a>) wherever they decide to live.</p><p><strong>Knocking on Chicago&rsquo;s door?</strong></p><p>But what if rising seas in Florida and New York &mdash; let alone Bangladesh &mdash; send &ldquo;climate refugees&rdquo; flocking to Chicago? This is an example of an indirect &ldquo;knock-on&rdquo; effect of climate change that came up during <a href="#event">our panel discussion </a>in February. As University of Chicago Law Professor David Weisbach said, however, the Chicago area might be well-positioned to handle newcomers and other unforeseen impacts.</p><p>&ldquo;We have a temperate environment. We have a highly diversified economy &mdash; it&rsquo;s not dependent on any one sector. We have a stable fresh water supply,&rdquo; Weisbach said. &ldquo;If you think about what the effects of climate change will be in Chicago, it&rsquo;s going to be the knock-on effects. We&rsquo;re connected to the rest of the world, and what matters to the rest of the world matters to us. That will affect us potentially very, very deeply.&rdquo;</p><p>When we try to figure out what those potential impacts will be, we&rsquo;re inevitably speculating about the ability of our city to respond to change. One key problem with that is our ability to cope with challenges isn&rsquo;t uniform. Poorer communities, or those with less political clout, get passed over.</p><p>That&rsquo;s true in Chicago,<a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-04/qa-kim-wasserman-little-villages-coal-crusader-106742" target="_blank"> according to Kimberly Wasserman Nieto</a>, who is executive director of the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization. During <a href="#event">our event in February</a>, she said sustainability efforts need to address communities all around the city &mdash; not just on the North Side.</p><p>&ldquo;If it&rsquo;s about saving the butterflies and building green streets in Lincoln Park, that&rsquo;s great for them,&rdquo; Wasserman said, &ldquo;but what does that do for the people on the Southwest Side of Chicago?&rdquo;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/flickr%20rainforest%20action%20network.jpg" style="float: left; height: 222px; width: 335px; margin: 5px;" title="Activists from the Little Village Environmental Justice organization protested in 2011 against the Crawford coal plant, which closed in 2012 (Flickr/Rainforest Action Network)" />She said local efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions can help marginalized communities take control of their future, possibly creating jobs in turn.</p><p>&ldquo;For us it&rsquo;s about showing how a local economy can help a community and how that in change can also help turn the impacts of climate change,&rdquo; Wasserman said. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re working, breathing, living in our communities, fighting for our environment, and we want to showcase that bringing it local is really one of the only ways that we can save our environment.&rdquo;</p><p>Climate justice is a global issue, too, because the poorest countries also happen to be those that will get hit hardest by the effects of climate change. Countries in the tropics tend to have both fewer resources and far greater biodiversity than countries in temperate zones. Sea-level rise in Bangladesh alone<a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2008/04/14/us-bangladesh-climate-islands-idUSDHA23447920080414" target="_blank"> is expected to displace tens of millions of people</a>.</p><p>Northwestern University Economist Benjamin Jones recently co-authored <a href="http://economics.mit.edu/files/9138" target="_blank">a study</a> examining the connection between severe weather and economic impacts. He and his colleagues found there&rsquo;s a surprisingly large range of possible economic outcomes.</p><p>&ldquo;For example, it&rsquo;s increasingly clear that when you have extreme heat in the U.S., that you see a large negative impact on agricultural output. It&rsquo;s increasingly clear that very high heat leads to at least temporary large spikes in mortality, especially among the very old and very young,&rdquo; Jones said. And, he said, it can impact economic growth on a large scale. With colleagues at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Jones <a href="http://economics.mit.edu/files/9138" target="_blank">statistically analyzed the connection between severe weather, climate change and economic impacts</a>. One degree Celsius of warming could curb a country&rsquo;s growth by as much as one percentage point &mdash; a huge effect, considering the U.S. growth rate <a href="http://www.tradingeconomics.com/united-states/gdp-growth" target="_blank">was around 3 percent in recent years</a>.</p><p><strong>Climate of opportunity</strong></p><p>But figuring out how to respond to change &mdash; what experts are calling climate &ldquo;resiliency&rdquo; &mdash; could create huge opportunities, too.</p><p>Jones said if Chicago innovates within the low-carbon tech sector, it can make money and jobs while coping with climate risk.</p><p>Chicago is<a href="http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-10-19/changing-gears-will-advanced-batteries-charge-midwest-economy-93278" target="_blank"> the nation&rsquo;s hub for battery technology</a>. The<a href="about:blank" target="_blank"> wind energy industry is big here</a>, too, as is<a href="about:blank" target="_blank"> energy efficiency</a> and<a href="about:blank" target="_blank"> water technology</a>. Perhaps Mark Mesle&rsquo;s children will be among the scientists and engineers who will help us adapt to climate change.</p><p>&ldquo;Necessity is the mother of invention. We&rsquo;re already seeing a lot of innovation around clean energy, around agriculture,&rdquo; Jones said. &ldquo;If there is a lowest-cost way out, it will be that route.&rdquo;</p><p>Ultimately it&rsquo;s a question of managing short-term shocks and long-term changes. A short-term influx of climate refugees could be a good thing, providing skilled labor and boosting the local tax base. But too much too fast could overburden city services, especially if those services are already strained by severe weather.</p><p>In the six years since Chicago set out on its climate action agenda, the city has implemented a few notable initiatives to curb greenhouse gas emissions. Ratepayers voted to buy power through municipal aggregation,<a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/city%E2%80%99s-power-deal-boosts-wind-energy-108003" target="_blank"> which doubled the share of wind energy in the city&#39;s electricity supply</a>. That followed the<a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/activists-rejoice-coal-fired-plants-shut-down-102129" target="_blank"> closure of two coal-fired power plants on the Southwest Side</a> ahead of schedule. And last year Chicago<a href="http://archpaper.com/news/articles.asp?id=6798" target="_blank"> directed landlords of buildings larger than 50,000 square feet, which account for 15 percent of the city&rsquo;s total energy use, to report their energy consumption</a>. That&rsquo;s expected to improve the rate of energy efficiency improvements already hastened<a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/progs/env/retrofit_chicago.html" target="_blank"> by a slimmed-down approval process</a> for retrofits.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/flickr%20steven%20vance.jpg" style="float: right; height: 289px; width: 385px; margin: 5px;" title="A stretch of Cermak Road in Chicago is meant to serve as a model for sustainable streetscape. (Flickr/Steven Vance) " />And parts of Chicago itself may look different for our question asker&rsquo;s children. Chicago has invested in green infrastructure, including<a href="http://archpaper.com/news/articles.asp?id=6409" target="_blank"> a stretch of Cermak Road meant to serve as a model for sustainable streetscapes</a>. With rain gardens and smog-eating pavement, Sustainability Chief Karen Weigert said &ldquo;It&rsquo;s the kind of infrastructure that will be strong and critically important going forward.&rdquo;</p><p>That project cost less than competing proposals, city officials said when it was announced in 2012, but not all climate resiliency infrastructure projects are easy sells. Potential costs are huge, but so are upfront investments.<a href="http://www.cnt.org/2013/05/14/urban-flooding-is-chronic-and-costly-but-not-correlated-with-floodplains/" target="_blank"> The Center for Neighborhood Technology found</a> floods cost Chicagoans $660 million between 2007 and 2011 (just based on insurance claims paid out), for example. But, as we learned from atmospheric chemist Liz Moyer, cash-strapped governments don&rsquo;t typically make major investments to fend off future pain that is <a href="http://www.cicero.uio.no/media/9411.pdf" target="_blank">inherently uncertain</a>.</p><p><strong>Global citizens</strong></p><p>Absent national movement on a carbon tax or trading scheme that might catalyze development for climate-resilient infrastructure, Chicago will probably continue to lean on its most reliable resource: its people. As Weigert said, the city&rsquo;s motto is <em>Urbs in Horto</em> &mdash; city in a garden.</p><p>And that city is increasingly connected to others around the world. Whether it&rsquo;s in response to business opportunities, climate refugees and other knock-on effects, or carbon emissions from around the globe, Chicago&rsquo;s going to change with the climate. Our question asker Mark Mesle hopes we&rsquo;ll rise to the occasion. So for the sake of his kids, he&rsquo;s urging action.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;ve sort of always felt there needs to be international cooperation,&rdquo; he said at <a href="#event">our panel event</a> in February. &ldquo;That doesn&rsquo;t happen unless U.S. politicians care about it, and U.S. politicians don&rsquo;t care about it unless you tell them to care about it.&rdquo;</p><p><a href="http://cabentley.com/" target="_blank">Chris Bentley</a> is a reporter for WBEZ&rsquo;s Curious City, and a freelance journalist. <a href="https://twitter.com/Cementley" target="_blank">Follow him on Twitter at @Cementley</a>.</p><p><strong><a name="event"></a>The Raw Report: An experiment in live media-making</strong></p><p><strong><iframe frameborder="0" height="420" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/playlists/29067314&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_artwork=true" width="100%"></iframe></strong></p><p>In February 2014, WBEZ and <a href="http://www.prairie.org/programs/public-square" target="_blank">The Public Square</a> (a program of the Illinois Humanities Council) co-produced &nbsp;&ldquo;The Raw Report,&quot; an experiment in live media-making. The event, held at the Jim &amp; Kay Mabie Studio at Chicago Public Media, included a <a href="#sources">panel of knowledgeable sources</a> that answered Mark Mesle&rsquo;s question in front of a live audience. Teams of young and newly-minted reporters interpreted that answer and created their own original audio presentations in real time, which they reported back to the audience.</p><p>Moderator Laura Washington led a follow-up discussion that explored questions such as: How do the stories generated by the teams of young reporters differ and why? How important is it to realize that each story we consume in media is only one of an infinite number of ways to tell that same story?</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe frameborder="0" height="352" scrolling="no" src="http://files.slidemypics.com/app/js/iframe.html?bg_color=1f1f1f&amp;amp;hash=ab3ebd6dc91362591b5843aca1360030&amp;amp;r=0.32371021481230855" width="526"></iframe></p><address style="text-align: center;">(Full set of photos and more info in WBEZ&#39;s Flickr pool:&nbsp;<a href="http://wbez.is/1pXyf5r" target="_blank">http://wbez.is/1pXyf5r</a>)</address><p><strong><a name="sources"></a>Sincere thanks to our panelists:</strong></p><p dir="ltr"><a href="http://geosci.uchicago.edu/~moyer/MoyerWebsite/Home%20Page/HomePage.html" target="_blank">Elisabeth Moyer</a>, Assistant Professor of Atmospheric Chemistry and Transport at the University of Chicago. Moyer&rsquo;s research explores climate modeling and impact assessment. As a researcher with the <a href="http://www.rdcep.org/" target="_blank">Center for Robust Decision-making on Climate &amp; Energy Policy</a> (RDCEP), she&rsquo;s interested in sizing up and dealing with the uncertainty involved with making climate change predictions &mdash; case in point, a recent paper, &ldquo;<a href="http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2312770" target="_blank">Climate Impacts on Economic Growth as Drivers of Uncertainty in the Social Cost of Carbon</a>.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Kimberly Wasserman Nieto, executive director, <a href="http://lvejo.org/" target="_blank">Little Village Environmental Justice Organization</a>. She&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/news/activists-rejoice-coal-fired-plants-shut-down-102129" target="_blank">led the charge to close Midwest Generation&rsquo;s Crawford coal plant in her Little Village neighborhood of Chicago, as well as the Fisk power plant in Pilsen</a> &mdash; an effort for which she <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/news/chicago-activist-wins-goldman-environmental-prize-106645" target="_blank">won the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize</a> in 2013. LVEJO&rsquo;s success has been recognized worldwide, but Wasserman says the attention has only sharpened her focus on environmental justice in Chicago.</p><p><a href="http://www.law.uchicago.edu/faculty/weisbach" target="_blank">David Weisbach</a>, Walter J. Blum Professor of Law and Senior Fellow, the Computation Institute of the University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory. Trained as a mathematician and lawyer, Weisbach is primarily interested in issues relating to federal taxation and to climate change.</p><p><strong>Thanks, too, to our teams of journalists, who represented the following organizations:</strong></p><p><a href="http://www.chicagoreporter.com/" target="_blank">The Chicago Reporter</a>: An investigative news organization that identifies, analyzes, and reports on the social, economic, and political issues of metropolitan Chicago with a focus on race and poverty.</p><p><a href="http://themash.com/" target="_blank">The Mash</a>: A weekly newspaper and website written largely by, for, and about Chicago high school students.</p><p><a href="http://www.freespiritmedia.org/" target="_blank">Free Spirit Media</a>: An organization that provides education, access, and opportunity in media production to underserved urban youth.</p><p><a href="http://www.karilydersen.com/teaching.html" target="_blank">The Social Justice Chicago Reporting Fellowship program</a>&nbsp;at Northwestern University&rsquo;s Medill School of Journalism</p><p><a href="http://www.colum.edu/Academics/Journalism/" target="_blank">Columbia College Journalism Department</a></p><p><strong>Thanks to our partner for the Raw Report:&nbsp;</strong></p><p><a href="http://www.prairie.org/programs/public-square" target="_blank">The Public Square</a>&nbsp;is a program of the Illinois Humanities Council.&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/IHC-Logo_Color_Plain.jpg" style="margin: 5px; height: 89px; width: 400px;" title="" /></div></p> Thu, 03 Apr 2014 19:16:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/looking-out-climate-change-chicago-109968 Chicago students help get fish spy camera underwater in Antarctica http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-students-help-get-fish-spy-camera-underwater-antarctica-107280 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Fish Spy 1_130520_LW.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>The swimming pool at Lindblom Math and Science Academy in West Englewood is not exactly an arctic environment. But a group of Chicago students last week tested the warm waters with a fish spy camera vehicle designed to study Antarctic icefish. The goofy-looking icefish are some of the many species at the poles who could be at risk quickly-changing temperatures due to climate change.</p><p>The spy cam vehicle is basically a metal cage that will attach to a ship with a rope and chains and drag through deep waters. Science teacher Paula Dell will take the contraption south later this month to meet up with researchers through a national program called PolarTrec that links up science teachers with field researchers.</p><p>The four students got involved with the fish spy cam because they were part of ROV (remote-operated vehicle) club, and they all like making things and using power tools. But when the spy cam vehicle dropped quietly into the pool Thursday, they weren&rsquo;t happy with the result. It spun slowly through water; after some discussion, they decided it will need a rudder and started discussing materials.</p><h2><strong>Why spy on icefish?</strong></h2><p>Antarctic icefish have adapted in remarkable ways to living in some of the coldest water on earth. They have cute faces, huge eyes and smooth bodies, and they&rsquo;re all-white. They have white blood and oversized hearts and veins because of a genetic mutation that several million years ago caused the fish not to have any hemoglobin. That means they can&rsquo;t store much oxygen and have to be very efficient at using the oxygen available. They&rsquo;re fascinating examples of adaptation in a situation of both very harsh climate and perhaps unlucky genetics.</p><p>Life for the various species of icefish on thin ice, so to speak. The fish are particularly sensitive to warmth, and they&rsquo;ll need to adapt to rising global temperatures or potentially face extinction. Researchers Kristin O&rsquo;Brien and Elizabeth Crockett, who are already in Antarctica, are <a href="http://www.polartrec.com/expeditions/biology-of-antarctic-fishes-2013" target="_blank">exploring their capabilities for adaptation</a>. They&rsquo;re the ones who asked Dell to get her students involved in the spy cam.&nbsp;</p><p>The Lindblom students aren&rsquo;t the only ones in the Chicago area with Antarctic connections.</p><p>&ldquo;In the 25 years or so that I&rsquo;ve been going to Antarctica personally, I&rsquo;ve seen changes that have not been seen in previous generations,&rdquo; said Reed Scherer, a geologist at Northern Illinois University who studies Antarctica. He and a group from NIU were in Antarctica over the winter studying ice sheets and boring holes into an Antarctic lake far below the ice to take rare samples of the water. They&rsquo;re also working on a high-tech ROV to be used in Antarctic waters.</p><p>Scherer&rsquo;s research uses geological records to get a sense of earth&rsquo;s long term climate history, which in turn helps scientists understand the significance of shorter-term climate developments -- like, for example, a rise of over four degrees Fahrenheit in Antarctic temperatures since 1958.</p><p>&ldquo;You have to go back in some cases 3 million years to get to conditions that we&rsquo;re already starting to see again in the Antarctic in certain places,&rdquo; said Scherer. He says the sensitive Antarctic environment is a canary in the coal mine for global climate change. &ldquo;Changes that are taking place there, pretty much by definition are of global significance. Whereas a change that might take place around Chicago may be part of a cycle that&rsquo;s gonna change back and forth.&rdquo;</p><p>Back at Lindblom, 7th-grader Miguel Limon says he worries about the big picture, too.</p><p>&ldquo;Basically I think climate change is affecting everything,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Even the smallest temperature changes can affect the whole ecosystem.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Lewis Wallace is a Pritzker Journalism Fellow at WBEZ. Follow him <a href="http://twitter.com/lewispants" target="_blank">@lewispants</a>.</em></p></p> Mon, 20 May 2013 16:29:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-students-help-get-fish-spy-camera-underwater-antarctica-107280 Climate Change warnings in sharp relief http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-01/climate-change-warnings-sharp-relief-104942 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/biker640px.jpg" title="Superstorm Sandy caused near-record storm surges in Chicago's Diversey Harbor. (Chris Bentley)" /></p><p>The <a href="http://ncadac.globalchange.gov/">draft of a new report</a> on climate change minces no words. Released Monday for public comment, the draft is the latest in a series of National Climate Assessments requested by Congress.</p><p>&ldquo;Climate change is already affecting the American people,&rdquo; states the opening sentence of the report, written by <a href="http://globalchange.gov/what-we-do/assessment/ncadac">The National Climate Assessment and Development Advisory Committee</a>. &ldquo;Certain types of weather events have become more frequent and/or intense, including heat waves, heavy downpours, and, in some regions, floods and droughts. Sea level is rising, oceans are becoming more acidic, and glaciers and Arctic sea ice are melting. These changes are part of the pattern of global climate change, which is primarily driven by human activity.&rdquo;</p><p>I have not thoroughly reviewed all 1,193 pages [<a href="http://ncadac.globalchange.gov/download/NCAJan11-2013-publicreviewdraft-fulldraft.pdf">full .pdf</a>] of the draft, but here is a summary of its six &ldquo;Key Messages&rdquo; for the Midwest region:</p><ul><li><strong>Lower agricultural productivity. </strong>Longer growing seasons and higher concentrations of carbon dioxide <a href="http://www.ushrl.saa.ars.usda.gov/research/publications/publications.htm?seq_no_115=238766">will increase some crop yields</a>.&nbsp;Those benefits, however, &ldquo;will be increasingly offset by the occurrence of extreme events&rdquo; like heat waves, droughts and floods. <strong><em>But</em>,</strong> we don&rsquo;t know the rate of grain yield improvements, or the degree to which future genetically modified organisms could cope with new conditions.<br />&nbsp;</li><li><strong>Fleeing forests. </strong>Tree species that can will shift northward in pursuit of familiar climatic conditions. That could change local ecosystems and even compromise the Midwest&rsquo;s role as a net carbon absorber.<br />&nbsp;</li><li><strong>Public health risks. </strong>More heat waves, worse air quality and worse water quality (via combined sewer overflows) will result from higher temperatures and the increased occurrence of extreme weather events. <strong><em>But, </em></strong>there are steps we can take. Improving building stock and access to air-conditioning or cooling stations could reduce deaths during heat waves; reducing pollution could blunt the exacerbating effect that higher air temperatures will have on the chemical reactions reducing air quality; and building green infrastructure could reduce the occurrence of combined sewer overflows.<br />&nbsp;</li><li><strong>Eyes on us.</strong> The Midwest relies heavily on coal for electricity generation and our economy is dominated by carbon-intensive agricultural and manufacturing industries, which means the region&rsquo;s per capita emissions are 20 percent higher than the national average. <strong><em>But, </em></strong>those same industries have the most room for carbon emissions reductions.<br />&nbsp;</li><li><strong>Flooding.</strong> Total precipitation is likely to increase, and more of it will fall at once. <a href="http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0380133009001841">Expect more extreme weather events</a>, from wetter springs to drier summers. Sea-level rise may not hit Chicago, but &ldquo;Inland cities near large rivers,&rdquo; the report states, &ldquo;also experience more flooding, especially in the Midwest and Northeast.&rdquo;<br />&nbsp;</li><li><strong>Great Lakes threatened.</strong> Less ice cover in winter and longer droughts in the summer could further lower average lake levels. Warming waters could change which fish species call the Great Lakes home. Extreme conditions could set the table for invasive species. All that extra rain is likely to diminish beach health and water quality by contributing to pollution from runoff, potentially increasing the frequency of waterborne illnesses and harmful algal blooms. Reduced ice cover could also lengthen the shipping season, but <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/low-water-lake-michigan-could-cause-problems-shipping-industry-104121">low lake levels</a> might increase the cost of shipping freight nonetheless.</li></ul><p>&ldquo;In general,&rdquo; the document reads, &ldquo;climate change will tend to amplify existing risks from climate to people, ecosystems and infrastructure in the Midwest.&rdquo;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/3f-drought.png" title="In addition to producing more extreme precipitation events, climate change is expected to prolong droughts in the Midwest." /></p><p>On the heels of reports <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/15/2012-global-temperatures_n_2479647.html?ir=green&amp;utm_campaign=011513&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_source=Alert-green&amp;utm_content=Title">that 2012 was the world&#39;s 10th warmest on record</a>, the draft report warns that severe heat waves like the one that claimed 800 lives in Chicago in 1995 <a href="http://www.bioone.org/doi/abs/10.1016/j.jglr.2009.12.009">could become a common occurrence</a> by 2100.</p><p>Hurricane Sandy rightly received special mention in the document. That <a href="http://www.startribune.com/blogs/176051131.html">unprecedented storm</a> came at the end of the <a href="http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/10/23/the-issue-that-dare-not-speak-its-name/">first presidential campaign since 1988 to not mention climate change</a>. While CNN refrained from using the term &ldquo;frankenstorm&rdquo; in its coverage, climatologist Joe Romm <a href="http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2012/10/28/1101241/cnn-bans-term-frankenstorm-but-its-a-good-metaphor-for-warming-driven-monster-largest-hurricane-in-atlantic-history/">said the metaphor is fitting for this &ldquo;global warming-driven monster.&rdquo;</a></p><p>Extreme weather events <a href="http://www.nrdc.org/health/extremeweather/default.asp">were unusually common in 2012</a>, leading to some hand-wringing in the media over whether or not climate change could be blamed for any particular storm. A helpful analogy is that of&nbsp;<a href="http://learning.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/11/02/did-climate-change-cause-hurricane-sandy/">loaded dice</a>. Most of the scientifically predicted effects of climate change are explained with varying factors of risk, not &ldquo;if A then always B&rdquo; causation.</p><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/3d-percent-change-heavy-precip.png" title="The draft report predicts more extreme precipitation events." /></div></div><p>&ldquo;The evidence for a changing climate has strengthened considerably since the last National Climate Assessment report, written in 2009,&rdquo; reads a &ldquo;Letter to the American People&rdquo; that accompanies the report. The authors, led by&nbsp;Jerry Melillo&nbsp;of the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Mass., draw on the strongest evidence yet linking climate change to anthropogenic activities such as burning fossil fuels.</p><p>Chicago&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.chicagoclimateaction.org/">Climate Action Plan</a> and its <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/bldgs/supp_info/green_homes/chicago_green_homesprogramresources.html">Green Homes Program</a> get shoutouts in the report&rsquo;s section on climate adaptation. The authors count Chicago among the &ldquo;vanguards in the creation of climate adaptation strategies.&rdquo; Cities may be most at risk, <a href="http://commoncurrent.com/flow/2013/01/14/us-study-on-climate-cities-center-of-risk-opportunity/">the report suggests</a>, but they may also be the most likely source of a solution.</p><p>This report is only a draft, and the authors <a href="http://review.globalchange.gov/">welcome public comment on the document</a> until April 12. It is also subject to &ldquo;extensive review&rdquo; by the National Academy of Sciences. After it undergoes any subsequent revisions, the report will become an advisory document of the federal government.</p></p> Wed, 16 Jan 2013 06:15:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-01/climate-change-warnings-sharp-relief-104942 Winter among warmest in Illinois history http://www.wbez.org/story/winter-among-warmest-illinois-history-96950 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2012-March/2012-03-05/chicago thaw_flickr_romana kley.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2012-March/2012-03-05/chicago thaw_flickr_romana kley.jpg" style="width: 630px; height: 420px;" title="(Flickr/Romana Kley)"></p><p>This winter has been the third warmest on record for Illinois, with the average temperature being 5 degrees above normal.</p><p>Illinois State Climatologist Jim Angel says the average temperature from December through February was 34.2 degrees.</p><p>The warmest winter on record was during 1931-1932, at 37.1 degrees.</p><p>Tying for second warmest were the winters of 1997 to 1998 and 2001 through 002 at 34.5 degrees.</p><p>This winter in Illinois also had few days with below zero temperatures. The coldest readings were -6 at Elizabeth and Galena in the northwest.</p><p>Precipitation was close to normal, but much of it fell as rain.</p><p>Snowfall totals were as much as 75 percent less than normal in northern Illinois and 25 to 50 percent less than normal in central and southern Illinois.</p></p> Sun, 04 Mar 2012 16:06:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/winter-among-warmest-illinois-history-96950 Avoiding global warming stories http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-09-26/avoiding-global-warming-stories-92499 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/npr_story/photo/2011-September/2011-09-27/istock_000016987380xsmall_woman_custom.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>I got a call the other day from some producers I very much admire. They wanted to talk about a series next year on global warming and I thought, why does this subject make me instantly tired? Global warming is important, yes; controversial, certainly; complicated (OK by me); but somehow, even broaching this subject makes me feel like someone's put heavy stones in my head. Why is that?</p><p>There's not much question the world is getting warmer. We can measure temperatures in conspicuous places (what used to be snowy mountaintops, vast glaciers, the once-icy Arctic sea) and inconspicuous places (ocean surfaces, temperate zones) and facts are facts: temperatures are rising.</p><p><strong>The many causes </strong></p><p>The question, of course, is why. And here there are a great clump of possible causes: it's the sun's fault; it's some complex cycle of sun/planets and orbital paths; it's coal, it's methane, it's smokestacks; it's us — this vast, increasingly citified, increasingly prosperous blob of humans trying, sloppily, to make a better life for ourselves and our kids and in the process, making the atmosphere warmer.</p><p>The true explanation may be some of those. It's probably all of them. And without getting too particular about which is the preeminent one, if the "us" cause is a plausible contributor (and I think it is), then as reasonable people, we should be able to change our behavior to reduce our contribution. But for some reason, reasonable people have been missing in this discussion.</p><p><strong>Why the anger? </strong></p><p>Instead of saying, OK, what do we do? How much remediation can we afford? Instead of arguing over strategies, the argument instead goes straight to war, to suspicion, to anger.</p><p>And why is that?</p><p>There are, of course, global warming zealots and global warming absolute deniers. Most people, I figure, live in the middle, a bit cloudy about the data, a bit weary of the hysterics on either side, and worried both ways, about the costs of changing our ways and the costs of doing nothing. I am one of those who say even if the evidence isn't all in, let's be prudent; let's change our behavior.</p><p>But on the "skeptic" side, there's a kind of growl in response. And it doesn't come from people who aren't informed; they are often very informed. When they write in to NPR, they cite study after study; <a href="http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1871503&amp;http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1871503">a recent paper by Dan Kahan and colleagues at Yale Law School</a><strong> </strong>found the more scientifically literate and numerate you are, <em>the less likely </em>you are to see climate change as a serious threat. So this isn't about a lack of science knowledge or that there aren't scientific questions to wonder about. It's not that the skeptics don't have an argument, it's <em>how they argue</em>. It's the anger. That's what puzzles me.</p><p><strong>Tell me, says Ursula Goodenough </strong></p><p><a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/13.7/2011/06/03/136884396/taking-stock-of-climate-change-skeptics">One of the most troubling and thoughtful blog posts this year</a> here at NPR was written by Ursula Goodenough, over at <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/13.7/">13.7</a>. She's a professor of biology at Washington University in St. Louis, and the author of an eloquent book about spirituality and science. Last June, she asked her readers, if you are a global warming skeptic, what makes you so angry? Or as she politely put it, "What motivates a denier?" She was deluged.</p><p>Eight hundred fifty-nine people responded, some of them skeptics, but, this being NPR, lots of them were Global Warming Worriers who had "thoughts" about skeptics. Professor Goodenough did what a scientist and teacher would naturally do; she sorted her reader mail into categories and described what she'd learned — from both sides. The skeptics, she found, were more than skeptical. They were convinced that "the climate-change argument has been either grossly exaggerated or downright falsified, they weren't buying it."</p><p><strong>You guys blew it</strong></p><p>Why would scientists (of all people) lie about data? The skeptics, she reported, believed "that the scientists were lining their pockets and/or in cahoots with Big Government to change America as we know it. ..." As one of them wrote her:</p><p>&nbsp;</p><blockquote><p>For thirty years I was told the world was going to end and it didn't. All these scary predictions were based on computer models not actual data and they never came true. And the solution always seemed to involve some bicycle riding elitist regulating my life and taking my money. You guys blew it.</p><p>&nbsp;</p></blockquote><p>This has become a standard theme: that the people who say we should tighten our belts and live with less are the people who've already got theirs; they don't want to give the strivers the same chance. Thus, the anger. The Warming Worriers, of course, have their own explanations for what's going on. They seem to think the anger comes from a more deeply rooted, even biological place. Here's Professor Goodenough's summary of their views (with headlines added by me):</p><p>&nbsp;</p><blockquote><p><strong>[INERTIA]:</strong>The default setting of the American people is inertia. We tend not to favor things that require a change in our habits, let alone gluttonous creature comforts.</p><p><strong>[NOW-ness ]</strong>: There was a 10-minute lecture by Dr. Gilbert of Harvard that explains this pretty well. He states that humans have evolved to react quickly to events that are Intentional, Immoral, Imminent, and Instantaneous. Global warming has none of these properties, whereas Terrorism has all of them. Hence we fear Terrorism but not Global Warming.</p><p><strong>[ME-ness]</strong>: It's something called "inferred justification." ... Essentially people approach things with pre-determined beliefs and then seek out facts to validate their own views and ignore facts that don't support their views. ... This is why the respondents respond with tons of links. They don't care what the facts are, they just want their belief system validated.</p><p><strong>[I HATE THAT GUY]:</strong> There's no one motivator, I don't think. For some it's politics — "If the liberals/hippies/Democrats are saying it's true, I must assert that it's false!" — and for others, in America at least, I suspect it's related to our deep (and deeply annoying) cultural bias against the very idea of expertise.</p><p><strong>[WHAT'S THE BIG DEAL?]:</strong> For my dad it was not accepting the idea that human beings, when faced with cataclysmic change, would be harmed by that change instead of adapting to it.</p><p><strong>[I SMELL A PLOT ... ]:</strong> Many deniers I speak with really believe climate change is a conspiracy among Eurocrats and America Haters worldwide to "bring us down to their level."</p><p>&nbsp;</p></blockquote><p>When she was done summarizing, Ursala Goodenough concluded, "I'm not finding many take-homes in all this. The whole experience has left me pretty weary and disheartened." Me too. That's the puzzler here. How do scientists (or reporters) talk about a science question that so many people think is a plot? Or, for those of us who aren't angry, just paralyzed, how do we address a problem that seems so vast, complex and beyond our ability to fix?</p><p><strong>A happy ending? </strong></p><p>Well, the wonderful thing about Goodenough's blog post is she took that extra step. What she suggested makes sense to me. It came to her while reading a<a href="http://www.kenyon.edu/x57433.xml"> commencement address at Kenyon College by the writer Jonathan Franzen</a>. Franzen told his audience he was not especially interested in environmental issues. "I liked the natural world. Didn't love it, but definitely liked it," he said. Yes, he worried about global warming, overcrowding, habitat destruction and all the rest, but then, about 20 years ago ...</p><p>&nbsp;</p><blockquote><p>I made a conscious decision to stop worrying about the environment. There was nothing meaningful that I personally could do to save the planet, and I wanted to get on with devoting myself to the things I loved. I still tried to keep my carbon footprint small, but that was as far as I could go. . .. BUT then a funny thing happened to me. It's a long story, but basically I fell in love with birds. Whenever I looked at a bird, any bird, even a pigeon or a robin, I could feel my heart overflow with love. ...And now, not merely liking nature but loving a specific and vital part of it, I had no choice but to start worrying about the environment again. ... Now those threatened forests and wetlands and oceans weren't just pretty scenes for me to enjoy. They were the home of animals I loved.</p><p>&nbsp;</p></blockquote><p>And this, Goodenough suggests, is the key. Everybody, deniers, skeptics, worriers, Greens, all of us connect at some point with other living things, at the pet store, in our gardens, in our backyards, in woods, rivers, hunting, hiking, gazing. We do this every day. Anger isn't an issue when you start with birds you love, roses you love, woods you love, and step by step you find yourself thinking about loving all of it, the whole web of it. These connections, says Franzen, can run deep:</p><p>&nbsp;</p><blockquote><p>Which is what love will do to a person. Because the fundamental fact about all of us is that we're alive for a while but will die before long. This fact is the real root cause of all our anger and pain and despair. And you can either run from this fact or, by way of love, you can embrace it.</p><p>When you stay in your room and rage or sneer or shrug your shoulders, as I did for many years, the world and its problems are impossibly daunting. But when you go out and put yourself in real relation to real people, or even just real animals, there's a very real danger that you might love some of them.</p><p>And who knows what might happen to you then?</p><p>&nbsp;</p></blockquote><div class="fullattribution">Copyright 2011 National Public Radio.</div></p> Mon, 26 Sep 2011 09:36:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-09-26/avoiding-global-warming-stories-92499 'Polarbeargate' scientist to head back to work http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-08-25/polarbeargate-scientist-head-back-work-91096 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/npr_story/photo/2011-August/2011-08-26/polar-bears-sparring_custom.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The polar bear scientist who has spent more than a month suspended from his government job has now been told that he should report back to work on Friday — although NPR has learned that his job is changing and he will no longer manage federal contracts.</p><p>"Chuck is planning to go to work. He just doesn't know what the work is going to be," says attorney Jeff Ruch of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, which is providing legal representation for wildlife biologist Charles Monnett.</p><p>In 2006, Monnett published a report on his sightings of apparently drowned polar bears in the Arctic. The dead polar bears became a powerful — and controversial — symbol of the danger of melting ice and climate change.</p><p>Monnett was put on administrative leave on July 18 by the agency he works for at the Department of the Interior. The move came as Monnett was being investigated by the department's Office of Inspector General.</p><p>That investigation is ongoing, and it is not clear what aspects of Monnett's research or management work are still under scrutiny. Monnett's supporters say what's become known as "polarbeargate" is a witch hunt into a scientist whose research has political implications.</p><p>Investigators have repeatedly asked Monnett questions about his dead-polar-bear report. They have also asked about his contract management duties.</p><p>According to Monnett's legal team, investigators suggested he improperly steered a federal research contract to a polar bear scientist at the University of Alberta who gave him comments on his soon-to-be-famous dead-polar-bear report prior to its publication.</p><p>Also, in a letter to Monnett, an agent with the inspector general's office said that Monnett had admitted to helping the scientist prepare a proposal for the contract, then inappropriately served on a committee that reviewed that proposal.</p><p>Monnett's lawyers say he followed standard procedures at his office and that this sole-source contract was under negotiation long before the two scientists corresponded about Monnett's dead-polar-bear report.</p><p>Ruch says Monnett got a phone call on Thursday telling him to report back to his office and that the administrative leave is being suspended. "He thinks in some sense it is a vindication that they acted in undue haste," says Ruch.</p><p>However, Ruch says Monnett is concerned that he does not yet know what his duties will be upon his return.</p><p>Melissa Schwartz, a spokeswoman for the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, confirmed in an email that Monnett's administrative leave is coming to an end.</p><p>"He was informed that he will have no role in developing or managing contracts and will instead be in our environmental assessment division," Schwartz said in the email.</p><p>"The return of an employee to work does not suggest that future administrative actions cannot/will not be taken," Schwartz added. "Federal regulations create a presumption against lengthy administrative leaves. Lengthier administrative leaves are reserved for exceptional situations when all other options are considered insufficient to adequately protect the government's interests."</p><p>When he was placed on leave, Monnett had been managing approximately $50 million worth of government-funded studies, according to a complaint that his lawyers filed with the Department of the Interior last month.</p><p>That complaint alleged that Department of the Interior officials are guilty of scientific and scholarly misconduct because of their treatment of Monnett. An inquiry is being conducted into those allegations, according to a letter sent to Ruch by the Department of the Interior's scientific integrity officer.</p><p>Ruch said that Monnett is concerned about the continuing investigation: "The fact that he's been identified as the subject as an ongoing investigation is going to leave a shadow over him no matter what he does."</p><div class="fullattribution">Copyright 2011 National Public Radio.</div></p> Thu, 25 Aug 2011 16:16:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-08-25/polarbeargate-scientist-head-back-work-91096 Arctic warming unlocking a fabled waterway http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-08-14/arctic-warming-unlocking-fabled-waterway-90584 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/npr_story/photo/2011-August/2011-08-15/northam4.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>It appears as just a speck on the horizon, a slightly darker shape against a vista of Arctic ice. Soon enough, the ship's bridge makes the announcement: "Polar bear, starboard."</p><p>Crew and passengers onboard the CCGS Louis S. St.-Laurent, Canada's largest icebreaker, head to the open deck, binoculars and cameras ready, and watch as the bear lumbers from one ice floe to another, quickly dipping into the inky blue water and effortlessly pulling himself back up again.</p><p>Often, a bear will head toward the ship and gaze up at the people gazing down at him, head tilted to one sides. The massive creatures don't demonstrate any fear, just curiosity.</p><p>That's likely because they rarely see anything like a ship passing through the Northwest Passage, a series of waterways winding through Canada's Arctic archipelago of 36,000 islands. It's mid-summer, and the first time the coast guard icebreaker, affectionately known as the Louis, is making its way through the ice-choked waters this season.</p><p>But temperatures in the Arctic are rising faster than anywhere else in the world, making the Northwest Passage easier to navigate. As the ice melts faster, the vitally strategic waterway is expected to open up for longer periods of time — an attractive notion for shipping companies, hoping to shorten trade routes and making easier access to economic powerhouses such as China and India, as well as for nations within the Arctic Circle jockeying for vast, untapped natural resources.</p><p><strong>'Everything Is Going To Change'</strong></p><p>For hundreds of years, the Northwest Passage has been prized as a potential transit route across the polar region, linking the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and greatly reducing transit times for ships that would have relied on the long, southern routes through the Suez or Panama canals. In the past, it proved to be a dangerous and difficult waterway, and the chilly Arctic waters hold the wrecks of earlier attempts to navigate the passage.</p><p>Andrew McNeill, captain of the Louis, says it's not nearly as difficult as it was when he first started sailing in Arctic waters some 30 years ago.</p><p>"My first season here was, it was 36 hours of constant ramming of ice to get through this area. ... There's been times when the ship has had to reschedule events because of delays getting through the passage," he recalls.</p><p>As the Louis makes its way through the waterway, it slices easily through the polar ice sheet. It's mesmerizing: Enormous blocks of shimmering ice shoot up, twist onto their side and bob along in the clear water, regrouping in the ship's wake.</p><p>Eddy Carmack, a leading oceanographer with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, has carefully charted the changes in the Arctic since he first visited in 1969. He is part of a diverse group of business, science and government leaders who are traveling aboard the Louis, brainstorming about the Arctic and its future. The ship is wending its way from Newfoundland in Canada's northeast, with stops in Resolute and Cambridge Bay, all the way, ultimately, to the Beaufort Sea off the country's northwest coast.</p><p>Carmack says the ice on this voyage looks the same as earlier trips he's made on the Northwest Passage, but it has a different feel.</p><p>"I would say what we're experiencing now is softer ice, it's not as formidable, it's yielding to the pressure of the ship, it's breaking easily. And that's because the ice itself is warmer," he says.</p><p>Rising air and water temperatures in the Arctic mean there is less ice each year, and for longer periods of time. Steve MacLean, president of the Canadian Space Agency, says that trend is expected to continue throughout the Northwest Passage.</p><p>"It's always opened up for the last 15 years for about six weeks in the summer. Now it is expected that period will extend. And because it's going to extend, everything is going to change," MacLean says.</p><p>Historically, that season has generally spanned late July into early September — and sometimes as late as October.</p><p>These longer periods of ice-free waters will likely mean more vessels trying to navigate the narrow straits and channels of the Northwest Passage, including commercial shippers looking for a shortened trade route. Yet only about 10 percent of the Northwest Passage is charted.</p><p><strong>Competing Claims In The Region</strong></p><p>As the waterway opens up, so, too, does the issue of who controls it. The U.S. and other nations see it as an international waterway that just happens to pass through Canada's Arctic region. Under that premise, Canada would not have the right to deny passage to foreign ships.</p><p>But Canada calls the Northwest Passage an internal waterway, and maintains it has the right to regulate and protect the passage. Leona Aglukkaq, Canada's minister of health, is from Gjoa Haven, a tiny town along the Northwest Passage. She says Canada's sovereignty over its land and its waters in the Arctic is long standing and well established.</p><p>"Our position is that these waters are Canadian, subject to full Canadian regulation and control. And (foreign vessels) only enter Canadian internal waters with the consent of Canada. That's our position, that remains our position," Aglukkaq says.</p><p>Last year, Canada released a new northern strategy that emphasized how it would bolster its sovereignty claims. That includes increasing scientific and environmental research of the region, promoting exploration, along with economic development and governance of the indigenous communities.</p><p>Canada is beefing up military operations in the Arctic as well, and is conducting a five-year, $100 million study of the region's natural resources — oil, gas, and minerals. It's believed that more than 20 percent of the world's oil and gas reserves are hidden in the Arctic.</p><p>David Boerner, a director general of the Canadian Geological Survey, says he believes those figures are generally "in the right ballpark." But he says they're often underestimated because geologists aren't able to conduct enough detailed work to establish the full extent of the resources.</p><p>Canada has also been mapping the Arctic sea bed to determine how far its land mass, or continental shelf, extends past its visible coastline. This is critical to proving its right to resources under the water. Canada has until 2013 to present its case to the United Nations. The U.S., Russia and others are also doing the same.</p><p>Warwick Vincent, director of the Center for Northern Studies at Laval University in Quebec City, says there's a need to quickly put international border and sovereignty agreements into place because development of the region is already taking place. And, he says, it's accelerating.</p><p>"Right at this moment, the Arctic is experiencing unprecedented transformation as a result of not only climate but as a result of economic development. So we need those regulations in place, rapidly," says Vincent.</p><p><strong>Challenges Remain In Inhospitable Terrain</strong></p><p>Even if all these claims are settled, the Arctic is still an extremely difficult place to operate, says Martin Bergmann, director of Natural Resources Canada's Polar Continental Shelf Program, a key logistical facility for research in the Arctic.</p><p>"The Arctic in Canada is basically the size of Europe, has maybe 30 kilometers of roads, no trains, very few airports," Bergmann says, adding that about 30 communities have the capability to land small aircraft on gravel.</p><p>Bergmann says sealift — the main form of bringing heavy cargo and larger equipment to the region — only happens "once a year when a ship visits the Arctic, just like Christmas comes once a year."</p><p>But the land and the weather are inhospitable, and the waters will stay frozen for much of the year for decades to come. And that, geophysicist Boerner says, makes it extremely expensive to do any kind of work in the area. Given all that, he says it's unlikely there will be a mad rush to the Arctic by oil and gas companies anytime soon.</p><p>"You don't really know what's there until you're tried to extract it or drill it. ... It's also not sort of who gets there first. There are well-established regulatory regimes for giving out land, and giving the rights to explore and ... a whole bunch of environmental checks and controls and balances," he says.</p><p>Given the warming trend, development is inevitable in the Arctic. Yet despite the changes, McNeill, captain of the Louis, says he still feels the magic, and mystique, as he journeys through this pristine, mostly unexplored area.</p><p>"It's an untouched area, very few people come through here still," McNeill says. "You feel very humbled and fortunate to experience that and you can relate to the hardships that those early explorers and traders had to deal with back then."</p><div class="fullattribution">Copyright 2011 National Public Radio.</div></p> Sun, 14 Aug 2011 23:01:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-08-14/arctic-warming-unlocking-fabled-waterway-90584 Worldview 8.4.11 http://www.wbez.org/episode/worldview-8411 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/episode/images/2011-august/2011-08-03/ap080328039765.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Conversations about climate change have ranged from skepticism that it exists in the first place to strategies for ending it. Today, we have a different conversation with environmentalist <a href="http://markhertsgaard.com/" target="_blank">Mark Hertsgaard</a>, author of <em>HOT: Living Through the Next Fifty Years on Earth</em>. He believes the challenge is no longer just to halt and reverse global warming, but also to live through the substantial climate change that is now locked in for the coming decades. And, the Peace Corps celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. On <a href="http://www.wbez.org/globalactivism" target="_blank"><em>Global Activism</em></a> we commemorate the volunteer program’s legacy with several former Peace Corps volunteers.</p></p> Thu, 04 Aug 2011 14:43:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode/worldview-8411