WBEZ | trees http://www.wbez.org/tags/trees Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Is an artificial tree part of the solution to climate change? http://www.wbez.org/programs/world/2015-08-31/artificial-tree-part-solution-climate-change-112776 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/chemtree.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Here&#39;s the skinny: CO2 traps heat. There&rsquo;s about 40 percent&nbsp;more of it in the atmosphere today than there was in the millennia of human history before the Industrial Revolution, and that number is rising fast, since we just can&rsquo;t seem to curb our thirst for fossil fuels.</p><p>So what if there were a simple solution? What if we had a way to suck that excess&nbsp;CO2 right back out of the sky?</p><p>Well, actually, we do, says&nbsp;<a href="http://www.chbe.gatech.edu/faculty/jones" target="_blank">Chris Jones</a>, a chemical engineer at Georgia Tech in Atlanta.</p><p>&ldquo;These are our best ways of capturing CO2 from the air,&rdquo; Jones says as he walks under a canopy of trees on the school&rsquo;s campus. &ldquo;Trees evolved over millions of years to do this very efficiently.&rdquo;</p><div style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="http://cdn1.pri.org/sites/default/files/styles/original_image/public/xIMG_2101b%20crop.jpg?itok=cbzXoNg1" style="height: 333px; width: 500px;" title="Physicist Klaus Lackner stands beside a miniature greenhouse in his lab at ASU's Center for Negative Carbon Emissions, in which he's testing out the properties of his &quot;artificial tree. Lackner says he expects a square mile of artificial trees could suck as much as ten million tons of CO2 a year out of the atmosphere.(PRI/Ari Daniel)" typeof="foaf:Image" /></div><p>Thing is, we just don&rsquo;t have enough trees to fix our CO2 problem. In fact, the earth has fewer acres of trees every year. But Jones says that even if we planted trees everywhere we could, they still wouldn&rsquo;t be able to pull enough CO2 out of the air to offset our emissions.</p><p>Which for Jones means one thing. &ldquo;We have to come up with a chemical tree that can effectively extract CO2 out of the air,&rdquo; he says.</p><p>Essentially mimic nature, only do her one better. The technical name for the idea is direct air capture. And it is a tall order &mdash; to improve on trees, which have been honed by millions of years of evolution. In fact, some say the technology will never be efficient or cheap enough. To which Jones and some of his colleagues reply, that&rsquo;s ridiculous.</p><p>&ldquo;People in the past said heavier than air flight is impossible, and all you needed to do is look at a bird and you know that&rsquo;s wrong,&rdquo; says&nbsp;<a href="http://engineering.asu.edu/cnce/klaus-lackner/" target="_blank">Klaus Lackner</a>, the director of the&nbsp;<a href="http://engineering.asu.edu/cnce/" target="_blank">Center for Negative Carbon Emissions</a>&nbsp;at Arizona State University in Tempe.</p><p>&ldquo;Capture from air is not impossible. All you need to do is look at a tree and you know it&rsquo;s possible.&rdquo;</p><p><strong><span style="font-size:14px;">Prototypes and pasta cutters</span></strong></p><p>Chris Jones&rsquo; approach to the challenge is a ceramic cube about half the size of a loaf of bread and almost as light, hollowed out by hundreds of tiny square tunnels. If you hold it up to the light, you can see through it.</p><p>&ldquo;All of us who own a car own one of these,&rdquo; Jones says. &ldquo;They&rsquo;re in the catalytic converter in our car. Normally, these are used to clean up the exhaust coming out of our engine.&rdquo;</p><div><img alt="" src="http://cdn1.pri.org/sites/default/files/styles/original_image/public/xIMG_3930b.JPG?itok=7NI6Mj6W" style="float: left; height: 224px; width: 300px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px;" title="The artificial trees Georgia Tech chemical engineer Chris Jones is working on look nothing like actual trees. They're ceramic cubes full of tiny corridors, similar to the catalytic converter of a car, but coated with a material that absorbs carbon dioxide instead of carbon monoxide. (PRI/Ari Daniel)" typeof="foaf:Image" /></div><p>The ones in our cars are designed to hold onto pollutants like carbon monoxide. The tunnels of Jones&rsquo;s cube are coated with a material his team has developed that grabs onto carbon dioxide. As air flows through it, the lattice gradually fills up with CO2.</p><p>Jones has a pilot plant in California where he has 600 of these bricks stacked together into a block about the size of a semi-tractor trailer stood up on its end. The system uses fans to blow air onto the bricks, and steam to remove the captured CO2 so the bricks can be reused. The prototype sucks down about 1,000 tons of CO2 per year.</p><p>By itself, that&rsquo;s an inconsequential amount. But it is a start. Klaus Lackner&rsquo;s group at Arizona State is taking a different approach. It starts with a cream-colored piece of fabric that Lackner&rsquo;s colleague&nbsp;<a href="http://engineering.asu.edu/cnce/allen-wright/" target="_blank">Allen Wright</a>&nbsp;describes as almost &ldquo;leathery &hellip; kind of like a very, very dense sponge.&rdquo;</p><p>It&rsquo;s a material that bonds with CO2, and is usually used to purify liquids like wine and beer. Wright and Lackner used a pasta cutter to cut some of the fabric into thin strips &mdash; angel hair size &mdash; then wove the ribbons into a central rod. What they ended up with looks like a duster.</p><div><img alt="" src="http://cdn1.pri.org/sites/default/files/styles/original_image/public/961646068%281%29.jpg?itok=o-b9CF4X" style="float: right; width: 300px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; height: 450px;" title="This pilot plant in California holds 600 of Jones's bricks. He says the prototype sucks down about 1,000 tons of CO2 per year. (Global Thermostat)" typeof="foaf:Image" /></div><p>&ldquo;These are nature-inspired shapes &mdash; pine-tree looking pieces,&rdquo; Lackner says, &ldquo;where contact with the wind is very, very natural.&rdquo;</p><p>Lackner says the eventual goal is to build devices much like a tree that would stand passively in the wind and absorb CO2 as the air blows over them.</p><p>No fans are necessary with their approach.</p><p>The material sheds the CO2 when it gets wet, so Lackner and his colleagues have also been working on ways to discharge the gas so it can be stored or reused later.</p><p>He says a full-scale version of the system &mdash; one with tree-like structures spaced out like a forest &mdash; is still 20 or 30 years away, but that initial results show real promise. Eventually, he believes, a square mile of artificial trees could suck up as much as ten million tons of CO2 per year.</p><p>That&rsquo;s still a far cry from the 1.5 trillion tons or so that we need to take out of the air to reset our atmosphere, but again, it is a start.</p><p>And lots of other people around the world are barking up the same artificial tree.</p><p><strong><span style="font-size:14px;">Daring to dream</span></strong></p><p>The biggest hurdle right now is engineering these and other materials so they can grab enough CO2.</p><p>&ldquo;The technical challenge&rdquo; says Chris Jones at Georgia Tech, is &ldquo;to make it more efficient and optimize the process so that we can reduce the overall costs.&rdquo;</p><p>Jones says it&rsquo;s his job to get the cost down to the point where policymakers have no choice but to say yes to the technology.</p><p>That could take a long time &mdash; remember Klaus Lackner&rsquo;s estimate of 20 to 30 years to perfect his artificial tree.</p><p>But Lackner says costs are likely to fall dramatically. He points to the examples of wind turbines, which are 40 times cheaper today than 50 years ago, and photovoltaic panels, which are 100 times cheaper than they were half a century ago.</p><p>The first step was to show that direct air capture of CO2 was possible, and that&rsquo;s been done.</p><p>&ldquo;We can reverse the CO2 concentration in the air,&rdquo; Lackner says. &ldquo;We cannot reverse the melting of a glacier. We&rsquo;re already way too late. But we will do it.&rdquo;</p><p>And the carbon dioxide will be waiting for us when we do.<br />&nbsp;</p><p><em>&mdash;<a href="http://www.pri.org/stories/2015-08-30/artificial-tree-part-solution-climate-change-these-guys-think-so" target="_blank">The World</a></em></p></p> Sun, 30 Aug 2015 08:15:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/world/2015-08-31/artificial-tree-part-solution-climate-change-112776 Political unrest in Burkina Faso http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2014-11-03/political-unrest-burkina-faso-111046 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/AP27374661912.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>After a 27-year rule, Burkina Faso&#39;s president sought to extend his term through a constitutional change. The resulting protests in the country forced Blaise Compaore to step down. We&#39;ll discuss the state of democracy in Africa with Richard Joseph, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.</p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/worldview-political-unrest-in-burkina-faso/embed?header=false&amp;border=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/worldview-political-unrest-in-burkina-faso.js?header=false&border=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/worldview-political-unrest-in-burkina-faso" target="_blank">View the story "Worldview: Political unrest in Burkina Faso" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Mon, 03 Nov 2014 10:52:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2014-11-03/political-unrest-burkina-faso-111046 Argentina's debt crisis http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2014-06-24/argentinas-debt-crisis-110398 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/AP344717063728.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A U.S. judge says Argentina must repay hedge funds that own bonds the country had defaulted on in 2001. Argentina has asked for a stay in the ruling. Stephen Nelson, a professor of political science at Northwestern University who specializes in the politics of debt, explains the case.</p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/worldview-20/embed?header=false&amp;border=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/worldview-20.js?header=false&border=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/worldview-20" target="_blank">View the story "Worldview: Argentina's debt crisis " on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Tue, 24 Jun 2014 11:21:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2014-06-24/argentinas-debt-crisis-110398 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 EcoMyths: Emerald Ash Borer destroys millions of trees in Chicago and US http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths/ecomyths-emerald-ash-borer-destroys-millions-trees-chicago-and-us-106872 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F90022516" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><strong>Slash and burn: Why so many trees are cut down in the Chicago area.</strong></p><p>Say hello to a small unwelcome guest: the emerald ash borer.</p><p>This invasive wood boring beetle has killed tens of millions of ash trees in the US and millions more to come. Cutting down these trees is just one strategy to get rid of the pest and save the remaining ash forest, but as we learned here at <a href="http://www.ecomythsalliance.org/">EcoMyths Alliance</a>, it&rsquo;s not enough. For the next segment of our <em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths">EcoMyths</a></em> series, Kate Sackman and Jerome McDonnell talk with Peter Gordon, city forester for Lake Forest, and David Horvath from <a href="http://www.thecareoftrees.com/">The Care of Trees</a> - both are ISA Certified Arborists.</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/AP090611054785_1.jpg" style="float: left; width: 264px; height: 158px;" title="Emerald ash borer. Actual size of adult ranges from 3/8 to 5/8 inches. The invasive beetle has destroyed tens of millions of ash trees over the past decade. (AP Photo/Minnesota Dept. of Natural Resources, File)" /></div><p>Emerald ash borer (EAB) is an exotic insect native to China and eastern Asia. The bug hopped a ride to the U.S. in cheap wood packing material more than ten years ago. First detected in Michigan in 2002, today EAB infestation is a problem in 19 states. Most recently in <a href="http://myemail.constantcontact.com/For-Immediate-Release--Save-Your-Ash-Trees---Learn-to-ID-EAB--.html?soid=1109594220206&amp;aid=hPdylZ4kTmU">New Hampshire</a>, the state&rsquo;s department of agriculture confirmed detection on April 5<sup>th</sup>.</p><p>Aside from feeding on leaves, the adult beetles do little harm. Ruin occurs when in larva stage, EAB</p><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><p>chew through trees and damage its vascular system &ndash; the tissue right under the tree bark that&rsquo;s responsible for transporting water and nutrients from the roots to the top leaves and branches.</p><p>Scientists say its continued spread across the country is most likely due to the sale of firewood from <a href="http://www.aphis.usda.gov/plant_health/plant_pest_info/emerald_ash_b/quarantine.shtml">quarantined</a> areas across state lines. Even worse: Stress from climate change, namely drought, makes the trees more vulnerable to EAB. North American ash trees have no natural resistance to this foreign guest.</p><p>Arborists explain with such a large food source for the pests, the problem is only expected to grow. According to one of the nation&rsquo;s largest tree care companies, The Care of Trees, Ash trees comprise 10 percent to 40 percent of local urban forests. Many ash trees were planted during the recent housing boom &ndash; creating a monoculture that makes them easy targets for EAB -- and they are natural reproducers.</p><p>So what to do? Initially, many communities took a wait and see approach, says Peter Gordon, city forester for Lake Forest, IL -- where 19 percent of the tree inventory is ash. EAB came to attention during the economic downturn, Gordon notes, and budget-strained municipalities had few resources for tree treatment.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" height="181" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP1110260175558_1.jpg" style="float: right;" title="Forester Jeff Wiegert, of the NY State Department of Environmental Conservation, points out markings left from emerald ash borer larvae on an ash tree. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)" width="240" /></div><p>&ldquo;The strategy was to see how states, count[ies] and towns handled EAB where it was first discovered,&rdquo; he adds.&nbsp; &ldquo;But now we don&rsquo;t have as many options.&rdquo;</p><p>Indeed EAB is an epidemic and can&rsquo;t be ignored, says Fredric Miller, a professor of horticulture at Joliet Junior College and a research associate with the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Ill.</p><p>&ldquo;If you choose not to do any treatment, you will be overrun,&rdquo; Miller says. &ldquo;What communities have to come to grips with is that either you are going to manage this on your schedule, or the insect will dictate the schedule.&rdquo; And that means, in part, cutting down lots of trees in our neighborhoods in an effort to stop or slow the spread of EAB.</p><p>Arborists explain the alternative for a badly infested tree &ndash; allowing it to die from EAB damage and then cutting it down &ndash; is worse, because it does nothing to prevent the beetle from paying a house visit to a neighboring tree. Also, Miller points out, dead ash trees are a dangerous liability and must be removed &ndash; they&rsquo;re structurally weak and can fall during wind or ice storms. Many of these trees line walkways and paths in neighborhoods and forest preserves.</p><p>But some trees can, and should, be saved with proper insecticide treatment, explains David Horvath, an arborist in suburban Chicago with The Care of Trees.</p><p>Horvath says that homeowners and municipalities are now charged with identifying &ldquo;valuable&rdquo; trees &ndash; generally larger (greater than 12 inches in diameter) that provide environmental benefits such as shade to decrease energy demand, a deep root system that mitigates storm water damage or simply beauty to the property.</p><p>Overall, an integrated approach &ndash; treatment, prevention and some targeted tree removal &ndash; is the best way to put the brakes on EAB, and avoid destroying urban forest, say Horvath and the other scientists EcoMyths interviewed.</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/AP03041601077_0.jpg" style="width: 244px; height: 159px; float: left;" title="Crews cut down trees infected with the Emerald Ash Borer, north of Whitehouse, Ohio. (AP Photo/J.D. Pooley, File)" /></div><p>According to a 2011 article in the <a href="http://www.nrs.fs.fed.us/pubs/jrnl/2011/nrs_2011_kovacs_002.pdf">Journal of Environmental Management</a>, prevention and treatment may make more sense economically, too. The estimated cost of treatment, removal and replacement of EAB in all affected states from 2010 through 2020 is $12.5 billion. Prevention tactics (such as destroying egg-laying EAB and targeted tree removal) could slash those costs by up to $7.5 billion, the authors concluded.</p><p>In the Chicago area, for example, municipalities spend up to $1,100 to remove and replace one tree, according to a 2012 survey conducted by Miller and his team.&nbsp; He notes that the same tree can be treated with insecticides for more than 50 years at the same cost.</p><p>Insecticides may sound nasty, but remember the alternative: cutting down the tree or letting it die anyhow, while giving that nasty beetle a free pass for its next meal. Plus, when used correctly and responsibly, experts say, insecticides targeting EAB are not likely to harm humans or the environment.</p><p>How else are government and science addressing the spread of EAB? Interstate regulation prohibits the sale of firewood from <a href="http://www.aphis.usda.gov/plant_health/plant_pest_info/emerald_ash_b/quarantine.shtml">quarantined</a> areas. Also any wood packing material used for international trade must be fumigated or heat-treated, explains Kerry Britton, a national pathologist with the U.S. Forest Service who studies invasive forest pests.</p><p>Another strategy: Britton notes that researchers are trying to breed ash trees with natural resistance to EAB by crossing Asian ash trees that fight off the pest with vulnerable North American ash species.</p><p>&ldquo;By the time the beetle was detected, it could not be eradicated,&rdquo; Britton says. &ldquo;The goal now is to slow it down.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>One Green Thing You Can Do: </strong></p><p>Don&rsquo;t move firewood from <a href="http://www.aphis.usda.gov/plant_health/plant_pest_info/emerald_ash_b/quarantine.shtml">quarantined</a> areas. One study showed that EAB can establish on a credit card-size piece of bark.</p><p>Keep an eye out for EAB, whether in your yard or your neighborhood. Here&rsquo;s a <a href="http://www.extension.iastate.edu/pme/Publications/EAB/FAQSUL21AshTrees.pdf">helpful guide</a> to identifying ash trees and distinguishing between EAB and other problems. Realistically, your best bet is to call an <a href="http://www.tcia.org/">accredited tree care company</a> since early evidence of EAB damage occurs at the treetop level, where it&rsquo;s not visible to most folks. <strong>Now</strong> is the time to act. Treating trees by mid-May minimizes the damage by adult beetles, which emerge in the spring. If detected early, trees can be treated with insecticide rather than being cut down.&nbsp;</p><p>Think you spotted one? <a href="http://www.emeraldashborer.info/call.cfm#sthash.59Vb2IGy.dpbs">Report</a> it to your state&rsquo;s agriculture department office or the call USDA&rsquo;s EAB toll-free hotline at 1-866-322-4512.</p><p><strong>Resources:</strong></p><p>The unofficial <a href="http://www.emeraldashborer.info/treatment.cfm#sthash.jVmXYeMO.dpbs">EAB web site</a> with background and treatment information, a collaborative education effort by state universities and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service</p><p>A <a href="http://www.aphis.usda.gov/plant_health/plant_pest_info/emerald_ash_b/downloads/multistateeab.pdf">map</a> showing EAB detections across the U.S. and Canada as of December, 2012 (does not reflect the recent discovery of EAB in New Hampshire)</p><p>To save or not to save? A <a href="http://extension.entm.purdue.edu/EAB/pdf/NABB_DecisionGuide.pdf">guide</a> deciding when to treat EAB</p><p>Summary argument by <a href="http://labs.russell.wisc.edu/eab/files/2012/03/EAB-Consensus-Document.pdf">Coalition for Urban Ash Tree Conservation</a> on why ash tree conservation is preferable to wholesale tree removal</p><p><a href="http://www.slameab.info/">SLAM</a> (Slow Ash Mortality) is a pilot project in Michigan &ndash; ground zero for EAB &ndash; to slow down beetle infestation.</p></p> Mon, 29 Apr 2013 08:43:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths/ecomyths-emerald-ash-borer-destroys-millions-trees-chicago-and-us-106872 The great maple leaf mystery http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-12/great-maple-leaf-mystery-104161 <p><p>As WBEZ special investigations editor, Cate Cahan has doggedly pursued some of Illinois&#39; most <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/reporters-finally-get-look-inside-illinois-prisons-104129">intractable issues</a>. But earlier this week Cahan ran up against a real head-scratcher that hit close to home. Literally &ndash; the case in question began under a tree in her backyard.</p><p>And so Cahan arrived at the office on Monday with what she thought might be a telling piece of evidence: a seemingly once-beautiful maple leaf covered in pitch-black spots the size of quarters.</p><p>&ldquo;It looks like it got burned,&rdquo; said one WBEZ reporter. &ldquo;It looks sick,&rdquo; said another.</p><p>It was a disturbing sight, indeed.</p><p>Between <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/low-water-lake-michigan-could-cause-problems-shipping-industry-104121" target="_blank">low water levels</a>, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-08/what-does-drought-do-ranch-full-grass-fed-cattle-101629" target="_blank">extreme drought</a>, and the fact that it reached nearly 70 degrees on December 3, it wasn&rsquo;t a stretch to imagine that some environmental funny business might be behind the splotchy-leaf dragnet of 2012. Plus, Cahan recently experienced the loss of most of her garden to what she described as an oozing, yellow mold. So there was reason to be worried.</p><p>It turns out the coal-colored stain on our city&rsquo;s autumnal gem is a) harmless, and b) not all that unusual.</p><p>The black spots on maple leaves, aptly named tar spots, are evidence of the fungus known as&nbsp;<em>rhytisma.</em></p><p>&ldquo;It looks awful, and it makes people concerned,&rdquo; said Sharon Yiesla, plant clinic assistant at the <a href="http://www.mortonarb.org/" target="_blank">Morton Arboretum</a>. &ldquo;But it&rsquo;s more of a cosmetic problem than a health problem. It makes the leaves look ugly.&rdquo;<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS6778_007-scr.JPG" style="height: 150px; width: 200px; float: right;" title="Maple leaf with tar spots (WBEZ/Lewis Wallace)" /></p><p>She did say tar spots have been showing up more frequently in the region in the last few years, but did not recommend any treatment for the fungus. The best thing to do is thoroughly rake up and dispose of the afflicted leaves, Yiesla said. Otherwise, the fungal spores that stick around all winter may float up onto the fresh leaves come spring.</p><p>The emerald ash borer, on the other hand, &ldquo;that&rsquo;s a more serious problem,&rdquo; Yiesla said. Ash borers have devastated the ash population in Michigan, and they&rsquo;ve been digging away at Illinois ashes since 2006. The larvae of the ash borer get under the bark of ash trees and gnaw away at it, slowly cutting off ash trees from their water supply at the roots. In just two or three years, your ash can be grass.</p><p>Yiesla said ash borers can be stopped if you catch them early &ndash; but catching them isn&rsquo;t easy. They make a small hole the shape of a capital D in the trees bark, but other than that, they&rsquo;re invisible. A weak-looking ash, loss of leaves, or a sudden influx of hungry woodpeckers (who dig under the bark to eat the borers) can all be telltale signs.</p><p>Salt damage from ice melters used on roads and sidewalks is another concern this season.</p><p>&ldquo;As cars are going by, you&rsquo;ll get it spraying up onto the needles of an evergreen, and it can do physical damage to the needles,&rdquo; Yiesla explained. &ldquo;But then it also gets into the soil, and can do some harm at the root level.&rdquo;</p><p>The salt in the ground makes it harder for trees to absorb water.</p><p>Water absorption is particularly pressing given this summer&rsquo;s drought, which will likely affect next year&rsquo;s plant growth.</p><p>&ldquo;We might see reduced growth, reduced flowering, and weaker plants,&rdquo; Yiesla said. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re not getting much additional rain this fall, and who knows what snow will come this winter.&rdquo;</p><p>In other words, maple leaves with black spots are the least of her worries.</p></p> Mon, 03 Dec 2012 12:47:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-12/great-maple-leaf-mystery-104161 Morning Rehearsal: Chicago theater 4/26 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-04-26/morning-rehearsal-chicago-theater-426-85688 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//blog/photo/2011-April/2011-04-26/ElNogalar_C.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-April/2011-04-26/ElNogalar_C.jpg" style="width: 400px; height: 292px;" title="The set of El Nogalar (Brian Sidney Bembridge)"></p><p>1. The Goodman <a href="http://goodman-theatre.blogspot.com/2011/04/planting-nogalar-on-owen-stage.html">tells us how</a> they make and utilize those beautiful trees you see onstage in <a href="http://www.goodmantheatre.org/season/Production.aspx?prod=117"><em>El Nogalar</em></a>. The secret is revealed; they are actual trees! The trees are actually slowly dying, and Assistant Production Manager Matt Chandler says that&nbsp;their branches have “begun to droop and we are constantly trimming them during the run."</p><p>2. <a href="http://www.infusiontheatre.com/soulsamurai.htm"><em>Soul Samurai</em></a> opened last night at Theater Wit. This midwest premiere by InFusion Theatre Company tells the story of "A young samurai girl and her sidekick fight through the mean streets of post-apocalyptic New York, featuring martial arts, a live DJ, multi-media, hip-hop, and vampires!" Bring the family!</p><p style="text-align: center;"><object height="349" style="height: 349px; width: 560px;" width="560"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/_-mXOMQiX9A?version=3"><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"><param name="allowScriptAccess" value="always"><embed allowfullscreen="true" allowscriptaccess="always" height="349" src="http://www.youtube.com/v/_-mXOMQiX9A?version=3" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="560"></object></p><p style="text-align: left;">3. Fans of Larry David will be pleased, at least a little; for one week, <em>Curb Your Enthusiasm</em> co-star Jeff Garlin <a href="http://leisureblogs.chicagotribune.com/the_theater_loop/2011/04/jeff-garlin-is-coming-to-steppenwolf.html">will be at</a> the Steppenwolf Upstairs Theater, July 13-24. The show is called "No Sugar Tonight", and tickets will be on sale Friday. I'm sure you also remember Garlin from his vocal work in films like <a href="http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0307531/"><em>Toy Story 3</em> and&nbsp;</a><em><a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0910970/">WALL·E</a></em>.</p><p>4. Though this is slightly outside of Chicago's scope, Kate Powers <a href="http://www.2amtheatre.com/2011/04/25/we-are-arthur/">writes about</a> Michael McKean <a href="http://www.steppenwolf.org/boxoffice/productions/bio.aspx?id=425&amp;crewId=1815">of Steppenwolf</a> visiting&nbsp;the imprisoned men she works with through <a href="http://www.rta-arts.org/">Rehabilitation Through the Arts (RTA)</a>&nbsp;in New York. McKean originated the role of Arthur Przybyszewski in <em>Superior Donuts</em>, so Powers thought it would be a natural fit for him to come help out. McKean was drawn to the play himself because “redemption is our favorite story. Arthur exists without the kindness of the world, and he is able to find a way to redeem the 40 years he’s lost," which Powers said immediately resonated with the men.</p><p>5. <a href="http://www.facebook.com/pages/Two-Black-Dudes-And-An-Open-Microphone/233982727161?sk=wall">2 Black Dudes and an Open Mic</a> are at <a href="http://www.townhallpub.com/">Town Hall Pub</a> tonight at 9 pm (last Tuesday of the month people). Sign-up is at 8, so don't get carried away by the bar's self-proclaimed mantra that they've been "helping Chicago get drunk since 1969."</p><p>Questions? Tips? Email kdries@wbez.org.</p></p> Tue, 26 Apr 2011 14:18:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-04-26/morning-rehearsal-chicago-theater-426-85688 Mission #70 Let's plant a POETree ! http://www.wbez.org/blog/mission-amy-kr/2011-04-25/mission-70-lets-plant-poetree-85646 <p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-April/2011-04-25/Wallpaper-tree.jpeg" style="width: 499px; height: 490px;" title=""></p><p>April = <strong>Poetry Month</strong></p><p>Friday April 29 = <strong>Arbor Day</strong></p><p>So what happens when you put these two celebrations together?</p><p>We are going to plant a big, beautiful <strong>POETree!</strong></p><p><strong>HERE'S WHAT <u>YOU</u> DO NOW:</strong> &nbsp;Share a favorite poem in the comment section. The only criteria is that a) you have to really, really love it; and b) it's probably best if the poem is not super long. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p><strong>HERE'S WHAT <u>WE'LL</u> DO LATER:</strong> &nbsp;We will gather up the poems, transfer them to paper "leaves" which we will then hang from the best public tree we can find. We will document and preserve this magnifcent tree in photos and video, which we'll of course post here later. &nbsp;</p><p><strong>AND FOR ALL YOU ROMANTICS OUT THERE</strong>: If you want to dedicate a love poem (or heck, even write your own original love poem), just include your name and the recipient's name with the poem in the comment section. This way we can include that dedication info in the final video. (and what a surprise for that special someone, right?)</p><p><strong>ONE MORE VERY IMPORTANT THING:</strong> &nbsp;This week's POETree mission is "rooted" in an exchange we had here a few weeks ago, when I asked if anyone had a mission idea they'd really like to see happen. &nbsp;<strong>And so POETree kudos and full credit go to Lisa Coughlin and Anna Mangahas, cherished regulars of this blog.</strong>&nbsp; Thank you so much, Lisa and Anna.&nbsp;</p><p>ANNA MANGAHAS is a newbie AYSO soccer coach, lifetime learner, volunteer coordinator for the best non-profit ever (<a href="http://www.inspirationcorp.org/programs/cafe/cafe.html">Inspiration Corporation</a>) and soon-to-be teacher who likes to cook up trouble in and out of the kitchen. Her favorite bands are&nbsp;<span class="yshortcuts" id="lw_1303747368_5" style="line-height: 1.2em; outline-style: none;">Sly and the Family Stone,</span>&nbsp;<span class="yshortcuts" id="lw_1303747368_6" style="line-height: 1.2em; outline-style: none; cursor: pointer; background-color: transparent; border-bottom-style: none;">Michael Franti</span>&nbsp;and Spearhead. &nbsp;LISA COUGHLIN&nbsp;<a href="http://doughnutdreams.blogspot.com/">makes doughnuts</a> (<em style="line-height: 1.2em; outline-style: none;">not the kind you eat</em>) and dreams up ways she can make the world a happier, more wonder-filled place to be.</p><p style="margin: 5px 0px 10px; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.4em;">&nbsp;</p><p style="margin: 5px 0px 10px; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.4em;"><strong>QUICK KEY LINKS:</strong></p><p style="margin: 5px 0px 10px; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.4em;"><a href="http://www.wbez.org/amykr/2010/01/missions-accomplished-the-archive/12696" style="text-decoration: none; color: rgb(0, 104, 150);">Mission Archives</a></p><p style="margin: 5px 0px 10px; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.4em;"><a href="http://www.whoisamy.com/" style="text-decoration: none; color: rgb(0, 104, 150);" target="_blank">Amy's Website</a></p><p style="margin: 5px 0px 10px; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.4em;"><a href="http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/mission-amy-kr/id420630232?mt=8" style="text-decoration: none; color: rgb(0, 104, 150);" target="_blank">Download the Mission Amy KR mobile app</a></p><p style="margin: 5px 0px 10px; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.4em;"><a href="http://feeds.feedburner.com/amykr" style="text-decoration: none; color: rgb(0, 104, 150);" target="_blank">Subscribe to Mission Amy KR</a></p></p> Mon, 25 Apr 2011 16:05:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/mission-amy-kr/2011-04-25/mission-70-lets-plant-poetree-85646 Chicago researches look to lengthen life of city trees http://www.wbez.org/story/scitech/environment/chicago-researches-look-lengthen-life-city-trees-85088 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-April/2011-04-13/Biochar research begins.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Researchers in Chicago are beginning a study Tuesday that they hope will extend the life of urban trees.</p><p>All those trees you see lining shady Chicago sidestreets actually have it pretty rough. Their average lifespan is less than ten years. That's compared to fifty or sixty years for their suburban cousins.<br> <br> Bryant Scharenbroch is a soil scientist with the Morton Arboretum. He said all those city roads and buildings make soil too dense.<br> <br> "When you compact the soil to make it suitable for infrastructure, you're also making it kind of a hostile environment for trees," he said."<br> <br> So scientists are testing out biochar, a sort of super-heated charcoal made from plant matter. Ancient Amazonians were using biochar on their crops centuries ago, but its affects on trees haven't been widely studied, said researcher Kelby Fite, with Bartlet Tree Experts.<br> <br> Biochar adds nutrients into the soil, like compost, but lasts a lot longer.<br> <br> "So compost may degrade in a matter of a handful of years, whereas biochar could be stable for hundreds, or even thousands of years," Fite said.<br> <br> The researchers will monitor sample trees in the Bucktown neighborhood for the next couple years.</p></p> Tue, 12 Apr 2011 18:39:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/scitech/environment/chicago-researches-look-lengthen-life-city-trees-85088 Conserving the tree canopy http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/conserving-tree-canopy-0 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//N15 Cloud forest.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Rainforests are recognized and valued for their astounding biodiversity. They play an important role in reducing carbon in the atmosphere. Environmentalists continue to fight hard for rainforest conservation. But while most people like trees, it's hard to feel a connection with the vibrant world of rainforests.</p><p><a href="http://academic.evergreen.edu/n/nadkarnn/">Dr. Nalini Nadkarni</a> thinks making that connection is crucial for the rainforest's survival. Nadkarni is one of the world's leading tree forest ecologists. She teaches at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. She also co-founded the <a href="http://academic.evergreen.edu/projects/ican/ican/">International Canopy Network</a> to help people engage with the canopies all around us.</p></p> Wed, 22 Dec 2010 15:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/conserving-tree-canopy-0