environment

  

Snowy Owls don't make it to Washtenaw County every winter. They made it this winter in greater numbers than usual. Why? Where might you see one?  In this week's installment of WEMU's Issues of the Environment, David Fair seeks out answers to those questions.

NASA Goddard Photo and Video

 The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says Great Lakes water levels rebounded sharply last year after a prolonged low period dating from the late 1990s.

Barbara Lucas

 Energy conservation is low-hanging fruit--no new technology, power plants or pipelines are required.  But it can be a stubborn nut to crack if there is no financial motivation to conserve, and the question of motivation all depends on who pays the bills. 

Additional Resources:

Lyndon Township’s Planning Commission will continue discussions on a proposed gravel pit and sand mining operation northwest of Chelsea next month.


Lawmakers to probe Army Corps of Engineers report on invasive species Tuesday
By Jake Neher

State lawmakers want to know whether the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is inflating the cost and time it would take to keep invasive species out of the Great Lakes.

Army Corp officials will face questions from legislators Tuesday about a report it released last month. It says separating the lakes from the Mississippi River would take more than two decades and up to $18 billion to complete.

University of Michigan Ford Battery Lab, University of Michigan Partners with Ford Motor Company on an $8 Million Car Battery Development Lab
Joseph Xu / University of Michigan

 On this week's Issues of the Environment, Andy Drews, Technical Specialist at the Ford Research and Innovation Center in Dearborn, discusses Ford's partnership with the University of Michigan for car battery research and the future of car batteries and electric cars in Washtenaw County.

Listen to the extended interview here:

Ann Arbor Greenbelt
A2gov.org / The City of Ann Arbor

Ann Arbor's Greenbelt Commission is developing a registry of potential properties to be preserved.  The goal is to give property owners interested in finding out more about the program a chance to let the city know.


Environmentalists across the country are urging President Barack Obama to reject the proposed Keystone X-L pipeline linking Canada with Texas. Rallies were held Monday night, including in front of Ann Arbor's federal building.

Robert Gordon says adding 30 to 50 jobs isn't worth the environmental risk.  He says the pipeline runs to refineries but also ports where he believes much of the oil will be shipped across the globe.  He says this will do nothing to help domestic energy independence. 

Rita Mitchell says promoting the use of tar sands oil is an issue beyond the pipeline.  She and other Ann Arbor protestors highlight the Enbridge leak in the Kalamazoo River as an example of what can happen.  They also fear proposals to pump tar sand oil under the straits of Mackinac or ship it on the Great Lakes.

The rallies across the country were in response to the State Department releasing a new environmental assessment on the project. 

See NPR's coverage of the State Department report here 

Barbara Lucas

What plans do you have for your body after death? More people than ever are looking for ways to better serve the environment in their post-life decisions. What are the options? Which is better for the environment? That's the focus of this month's installment of WEMU's The Green Room. 

Space Science And Engineering Center- University of Wisconsin - Madison

Had enough of the cold and snow already? It has been the snowiest January in this area in history. Add in the polar vortex and frigid temperatures, and it's been a somewhat trying winter. Why is it happening, and will it continue to happen in winters to come? 

 This week on Issues of the Environment our guest is  Dr. Tom Kovacs, Associate Professor of Meteorology at Eastern Michigan University.  Kovaks teaches courses on the effects of climate change on weather and will discuss the consequences for our county.

Courtesy / Facebook / Habitat for Humanity of Huron Valley

This week the discussion centers around dispelling the myths of affordable housing. New affordable housing is often equated with being "cheaply built."  We didn't have a definitive answer on the subject, so we went looking. We found that quite opposite is true.  

Our guest this week builds affordable homes in the Metro Detroit Region; quality and efficiency is what makes them affordable. 

Rob Nissly, Housing Director for Habitat for Humanity of Huron Valley will discuss the connection between reigning in energy costs and homeownership for lower income residents of Washtenaw County.

We're halfway through the first month of 2014, and many of the those New Year resolutions have already fallen by the wayside....

With the New Year in mind, it's really never too late to consider new resolution and perhaps some that benefit the environment.  Sometimes it's the small things. Everyone pitching in can make a difference.  Melissa Sargent of Local Motion Green at the Ecology Center is our guest this week, helping identify some of those small personal actions we can take on as  new year resolutions to help create a healthier and more sustainable environment.

In this week's installment of Issues of the Environment, WEMU's David Fair talks with Susan Pollay about development in downtown Ann Arbor and how it fits into a more sustainable future for the city. Susan Pollay is Executive Director of the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority. 

Among the most debated issues in Ann Arbor and the Southeast Michigan region, is the matter of public transportation. What should we be working towards, what should public transit of the future look like, what elements should it contain….and of course: how do we pay for it all?  These are questions debated on a regular basis at Ann Arbor City Council, and our guest this morning is in the middle of all of it. John Hieftje is the Mayor of Ann Arbor.
kate.gardiner / Foter.com / CC BY-NC

This month on 89.1 WEMU's First Friday Focus on the Environment, we we will explore  a growing threat in the region - Asian Carp. We look into its growing threat of expanding territories to the world's greatest freshwater resource, the Great Lakes.

The Executive Director of the Great Lakes Commission, Tim Eder joins us to talk about the issue and what can be done to establish a long-term solution.


Recycle Ann Arbor

This week, the conversation centers on recycling in Washtenaw County. Our guest  is Christine Chessler-Stull, Recycle Ann Arbor’s Outreach & Zero Waste Coordinator. 

We will explore a variety of recycle-centric topics and discuss some new programs Recycle Ann Arbor rolled out this year to benefit all Washtenaw County residents, not just those in Ann Arbor.

Listen to the full report: 

Issues of the Environment  is a regular feature, heard each Wednesday at 8:20am during Morning Edition on 89.1 WEMU. Each week, David Fair invites an expert to join him in conversation about an environmental issue of local importance. 

Barbara Lucas

Collegiate athletic events are big generators:  of excitement, of revenue, and of waste.  How can we cut down on the trash, while leaving the finances and fun intact?  In this month's installment of The Green Room, WEMU looks at game-day waste at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, and Michigan stadium in Ann Arbor.

Additional Resources:

The climate is changing. The evidence is clear. It's no longer a matter of whether we need to prepare, but instead, how we need to prepare. In this week's installment of WEMU's Issues of the Environment, David Fair talks with Matt Naud. Matt is the City of Ann Arbor's Environmental  Coordinator, and has been right in the middle of the city's efforts to adopt a pro-active Climate Action Plan.


WEMU's Issues of the Environment is a weekly feature and is heard each Wednesday at 8:20am, as part of Morning Edition.

In this week's installment,  WEMU's David Fair is joined by Ypsilanti City Planner Teresa Gillotti. The city has been looking to re-purpose the 38-acre water Street property since 199, and now there is it looks as though there will be development in 2014. 

The land has required some environmental remediation, and any new development will have to meet Ypsilanti's Master Plan goals. And, of course, it must ensure the health of the Huron River. Listen below as David and Teresa look at the environmental issues surrounding Ypsilanti's Water Street property. 


Courtesty Victor Shendel / National Wildlife Federation

A new report from the National Wildlife Federation outlines the effects of climate change for Michigan's big game animals and their habitat. 

The report says deer, moose, and elk experience dire repercussions from human-induced climate change. 

Christopher Hoving is the Wildlife Adaptation Specialist at the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. He says that a decrease of snowfall will affect the deer population locally and regionally.

Hoving also says that the disease Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease, or EHD, found in white tailed deer, is more common thanks to longer summers and warmer winters. 

From the report:

Nowhere to Run takes a comprehensive look at the best available science on climate change’s impacts on big game, covering moose, mule deer, white-tailed deer, elk, pronghorn, bighorn sheep and black bears. The most significant effects include:

  • Heat: Moose can become heat-stressed in warm weather, especially in summer if temperatures climb above 60 to70 degrees when moose coats are thinner. Heat stress leads to lower weights, declining pregnancy rates and increased vulnerability to predators and disease. Because of warmer fall and winter temperatures, black bears are already more active than usual during times when they normally conserve energy through hibernation, pushing fat stores to the limit.
  • Drought: More droughts have reduced aspen forests in the west, a favorite elk habitat, and many elk are not migrating as much as they traditionally have. Increasing periods of drought, more invasive plants and wildfires will alter sagebrush and grassland ecosystems, favored pronghorn habitats.
  • Parasites and disease: With less snowpack to kill ticks, moose in New Hampshire are literally being eaten alive, losing so much blood to ticks that they die of anemia. White-tailed deer are susceptible to hemorrhagic disease caused by viruses transmitted by biting midges

Nowhere to Run outlines the key steps needed to stem climate change and save big game:

  1. Address the underlying cause and cut carbon pollution 50 percent by 2030.
  2. Transition to cleaner, more secure sources of energy like offshore wind, solar power and next-generation biofuels and avoid polluting energy like coal and tar sands oil.
  3. Safeguard wildlife and their habitats by promoting climate-smart approaches to conservation.
  4. Factor a changing climate in big game plans and management.

Read the report at NWF.org/Sportsmen. Nowhere to Run is the latest in the National Wildlife Federation’s 2013 Wildlife in a Warming World series:


Wikimedia Commons / Leo Koivulehto

In this week's installment of Issues of the Environment, WEMU's David Fair looks into the global helium shortage. 

To help us better understand helium gas, it's uses and the potential ramifications of running out of this non-renewable resource, David spoke with Eastern Michigan University Chemistry Professor Dr. Gregg Wilmes.


Credit James Marvin Phelps / Foter / CC BY-NC

In this week's edition of WEMU's "Issues of the Environment", David Fair talks with Washtenaw County Water Resources Commissioner, Evan Pratt. 

This interview is a follow-up to an earlier conversation with Jennifer Lawson, Water Quality Manager for Ann Arbor, that followed the large sewage spill into the Huron River in June or 2013. Evan will address the fact that several spills have occurred since then and talk about projects that Washtenaw County is working on to update the water treatment system.

Overview

  • There have been at least four breaches of the water treatment system in Ann Arbor since this summer.
  • These spill have prompted concerns that Washtenaw County’s aging water treatment network and sewage system may not be robust enough to handle the demands of today’s residents.

Listen to "Issues of the Environment" with David Fair and Washtenaw County Water Resources Commissioner Evan Pratt below.


Governor Snyder has released a new report that shows that Michigan has the ability to move towards more usage of renewable energy.  

Jack Schmitt is the Deputy Director of the Michigan League of Conservation Voters.

He says the Snyder Administration's report shows we have the potential to triple our current renewable energy goal.

Schmitt also says wind energy could be an alternative for renewable energy in Michigan, reducing our dependency on the environmentally destructive method of burning coal.

Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council

On the first Friday of every month, WEMU Morning Edition Host David Fair partners with Michigan League of Conservation voters Executive Director Lisa Wozniak. Together they invite a guest to spend 20-minutes discuss a topic of environmental importance. 

This month, our guest is Dan Scripps. Dan is a former State Representative and current President of the  Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council. Today's conversation centers on progress that has been made in both energy efficiency and renewable energy usage in the state, where we are going next, and how we'll get there.

Michigan's Energy Future: That's the topic on WEMU's First Friday Focus on the Environment.


Clean Energy Action

An environmental group lists Michigan among a dozen states in which the cost of delivering coal for use in energy production has grown at two to three times faster than inflation over the past decade.

Clean Energy Action Director of Research and Policy Leslie Glustrom says the government is also over-estimating the amount of affordable coal reserves. 


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