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Despite some snow on the ground this week, spring has officially sprung in Michigan. For some, it’s not the calendar that clued them in, but instead, their itchy eyes and runny noses. Whether you're experiencing allergy symptoms for the first time or you feel like your normal allergies are coming back with a vengeance, you may be wondering just what’s going on this year.

“Right now what we're seeing is that environmental allergens are increasing, especially in the Midwest and the state of Texas, randomly. That seems to be our path. But we've reached record levels that we've never reached before,” said Dr. Kathleen Dass, an allergist, immunologist, and medical director with the Michigan Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology Center in Oak Park. 

Report: Lake Michigan is 'running a fever.' More storms, less fish possible.

Apr 2, 2021
Courtesy: NOAA, Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory

Diminished surface ice is just the beginning: Climate change is warming Lake Michigan and other big lakes all the way down to their chilly depths, according to new federal research.

In a first-of-its kind study, scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory have used the only known long-term dataset of deep-lake temperatures to determine that Lake Michigan’s temperature is slowly increasing over the past 30 years.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Updated March 25, 2021 at 5:29 p.m.

The University of Michigan is pledging to achieve "net zero" carbon status for its $12.5 billion endowment by 2050. The board of regents approved a plan Thursday that calls for shifting investments away from companies that produce fossil fuels and toward those generating renewable energy.

It pledges $140 million in new investments in wind and solar power and projects to limit carbon emissions. It would continue the current practice of not investing in the top 200 oil, gas and coal companies or those that extract tar sands oil.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Climate change in the Great Lakes region means more intense storms. Already some towns are finding they’re flooding where they never have before. One city in Michigan is finding the solution is nature.

The University of Michigan football stadium
Emma Winowiecki / Michigan Radio

Today on Stateside, two-thirds of Washtenaw County's COVID-19 cases are affiliated with the University of Michigan. A campus health official discusses efforts to curb the spread of the virus. Also, a look at Michigan’s possible future as a haven for those escaping the worst effects of climate change.

gretchen whitmer wearing mask at podium
Michigan.gov

Governor Gretchen Whitmer told a U.S. Senate committee Wednesday that the country needs a national strategy to tackle failing infrastructure and climate change.

Whitmer was part of a panel that testified before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. During her time, the governor referred to her promise to fix roads and to address climate-related flooding events that have bedeviled parts of the state.

John Pizniur / GBBC

Michigan has had quite an irruption this winter. We’re not talking lava, but rather an irruption of birds. It’s been a great year for winter birding because of this irruption and Michigan Audubon education coordinator Lindsay Cain explained that an irruption is when northern wintering birds come down south for winter because they’re not finding enough food. 

“They're moving to find food for the winter, which is a really great experience for a lot of birders because we're seeing a lot of things that we wouldn't normally see over the winter,” Cain said.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The recent cold spell has meant ice fishing at more lakes in Michigan. Some anglers go after a tiny fish called smelt in the cold water. In the past, people went after them during spawning runs using dip nets. But smelt populations have crashed.

Bob Ruleau with Ruleau Brothers, Inc. in Stephenson, Michigan is a commercial fisher licensed to catch smelt. He says a lot of things combined to devastate the smelt fishery over the last 30 years, including predation by larger fish, zebra and quagga mussels, and the climate.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio


Water could make Michigan a climate refuge. Are we prepared?

Feb 16, 2021
© J. Carl Ganter / Circle of Blue

Intrigued by warming winters, researchers from the University of Michigan set out in 1989 to formally measure changes in the geographical distribution of plants and animals in the dense pine and hardwood forests of northern Michigan. 

Their laboratory, the university’s 10,000-acre Biological Station east of Petoskey, had advanced forestry and natural sciences since the field station’s founding in 1909. Few projects, though, attracted the same level of attention as the migration research. 

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

It’s freezing outside and Larry Scheer is in neoprene chest waders kicking up sediment in Boyden Creek near Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The downtown office for the Sault Sainte Marie Tribe of the Chippewa Indians Fisheries Management Program is a simple, small two-story brick building.

KRIS KRÜG ON FLICKR

The plan to dig a nearly four-mile tunnel underneath the Straits of Mackinac and replace the Line 5 oil and gas pipelines continues to move forward.

Last week, Michigan’s Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy said the plan complies with environmental laws on wetland protection, cultural resources, and wastewater discharge.

But other state and federal agencies still need to weigh in on the project. And one big sticking point is climate change and whether carbon emissions from burning the oil and gas that flow through Line 5 should be a factor in deciding if the tunnel project gets greenlit.

How we know Michigan will lose lake ice if we don’t change our ways

Feb 3, 2021
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

If humans continue to release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere at current rates, we should be prepared to say goodbye to ice-covered winters on the Great Lakes.

That’s the conclusion of a new study from researchers at Toronto’s York University, who used historical data from lakes throughout the Northern Hemisphere to track the steady loss of Earth’s ice and predict how ice loss will progress if we act now to curb the effects of climate change — and if we don’t.

Michigan is on thin ice. Get used to it, climate experts say

Feb 3, 2021
J. Carl Ganter / Circle of Blue

Hope is waning for those who hoped to stick an ice shanty on Little Traverse Bay this winter. 

The same goes for nearby Torch and Elk lakes, two large inland waters adjacent to the bay. At the height of Michigan winter, all three are so devoid of ice, fishing guide Jim Chamberlin said, “you could launch a boat out there.” 

Today on Stateside, a collision in Grand Traverse County between the region’s gun culture, and a growing awareness of how firearms inform public debate. Also, how Michigan’s winter recreational culture is weathering a warmer climate.

Yolanda Sun / unsplash

General Motors says it is setting a science-based target of carbon neutrality by 2040.

The automaker says the vast majority of its cars, SUVs and pickups will be zero emission vehicles by 2035, and its global manufacturing sites will rely 100% on renewable energy by that year as well. GM expects to have its U.S. manufacturing sites using only renewable energy even sooner, by 2030.

The automaker is following in the footsteps of VW and Ford, says Sam Abuelsamid, Principal Analyst for Guidehouse Insights, but going further than those companies' targets of carbon neutrality by 2050.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The University of Michigan has a draft plan to reach carbon neutrality. The President’s Commission on Carbon Neutrality’s recommendations call for the university’s campuses to reduce emissions and to use carbon offsets to become carbon neutral by 2025 and reduce total U-M emissions to net-zero by 2040.

A sign of the University of Michigan Central Campus
Anna Schlutt / Michigan Radio

A group wants the University of Michigan to think beyond its campuses as it works on a climate action plan.

Voices for Carbon Neutrality says climate change affects people of color and low-income people first.

Ember McCoy is a U of M student and one of the panelists on a webinar. She said those are the people who should also be part of the plan.

SARAH CWIEK / MICHIGAN RADIO

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has released a planning guide that draws a strong connection between climate change and people’s health.

The document, called the Climate and Health Adaptation Planning Guide for Michigan Communities, is the result of 10 years of research funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

 

Gretchen Whitmer
Michigan.gov

Michigan is on the road to carbon neutrality by 2050, per an executive order Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed on Wednesday.

Whitmer made the announcement at a U.S. Climate Alliance virtual meeting. That’s a group of states led by governors who have committed to addressing climate change according to the framework laid out by the Paris Agreement, which President Donald Trump announced the withdrawal of the U.S. from in 2017.

A sunset seen through wildfire haze in Ann Arbor.
Lauren Talley / Michigan Radio

The wildfire season in the Pacific Northwest has been historic. With millions of acres of Western land up in flames, the trail of smoke has made its way to Michigan. It’s created strange and spectacular displays in the sky, especially at sunset. But Nick Schroeck says those beautiful colors hold an ugly truth: the impacts of climate change don’t stay in one spot.

Ann Arbor at sunset.
Jodi Westrick / Michigan Radio

The city of Ann Arbor plans to become carbon neutral over the next 10 years. Ann Arbor City Council voted unanimously early Tuesday morning to adopt guidelines for community-wide carbon neutrality by 2030.

The A2 Zero Carbon Neutrality plan would significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions, and offset the remaining emissions so that the community's overall carbon output is zero.

VW showed off their Gold TDI Clean Diesel at the 2010 Washington Auto Show. The company has since admitted to evading emissions standards for the last seven years.
wikimedia user Mariordo / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Michigan has joined 22 other states and the District of Columbia to challenge an effort to roll back Obama-era fuel efficiency standards.

Attorney General Dana Nessel announced the lawsuit Wednesday.

The lawsuit claims new federal rules are illegal and would set back efforts to fight climate change.

Winters are warming faster than other seasons across much of the United States. While that may sound like a welcome change for those bundled in scarves and hats, it's causing a cascade of unpredictable impacts in communities across the country.

Temperatures continue to steadily rise around the globe, but that trend isn't spread evenly across the map or even the yearly calendar.

Ann Arbor city hall.
Heritage Media / FLICKR CREATIVE COMMONS HTTP://MICHRAD.IO/1LXRDJM

The city of Ann Arbor is considering a carbon tax on internal operations that rely on fossil fuels and carbon emissions. This comes three months after the city declared a climate emergency and set a goal of carbon neutrality for the city by 2030.

Source: https://water.weather.gov/precip/ / NOAA

Parts of Michigan ended the year under flood advisories, as the state’s rivers continue to be high from an extremely wet 2019.

The National Weather Service issued flood warnings for parts of the Grand, Muskegon and Saginaw rivers.

Emma Winowiecki / Michigan Radio

In a few short weeks, the 2010s will be over, and the 2020s will begin. It's the end of a decade (even if some people insist it's not exactly the end of the decade). Life in Michigan on the cusp of 2020 is quite a bit different than it was in 2010. Our newsroom has been reflecting on the stories that most shaped Michigan in the 2010s. Below is our list. What would you add? 

Centering the classroom on climate resilience

Dec 9, 2019
Lauren Janes

Once a week, two young men take over Jessica Krueger-Koupal’s Algebra II classroom at Ypsilanti Community High School.

Their names are Logan Applebee and Keem King, and they work for the Detroit-based non-profit EcoWorks. They help teachers facilitate discussions on climate resilience, in communities that could see a disproportionate share of climate disruption.

michigan.gov

Today on Stateside, a team from Emory University is in Michigan this week to take blood samples from people who were exposed to polybrominated biphenyls—or PBBs—in the 1970s. Plus, is new technology the key to fighting climate change—or is a radical cultural shift needed? 

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