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Environment & Science

led light bulbs on a light blue background
voloshin311 / Adobe Stock

Consumers Energy CEO Patti Poppe pulled no punches at a kickoff event for the utility's campaign to encourage customers to use less energy in the war against climate change.

"I cannot stress firmly enough that we are in a crisis and must take action right now," she said.  "We can't do this ourselves, we need your help."

City of Flint Water Plant
Adobe Stock

This post has been updated with new information about the testing of Flint's water.

Five years ago, the city of Flint switched its water to the Flint River. Citizens soon complained of dirty, foul-smelling water. Doctors found evidence of high lead levels in children. Outside researchers proved the city’s water (because of a lack of corrosion control) was corroding pipes, bacteria levels skyrocketed, and thousands of people were without clean water.

Noelle Riley / Interlochen Public Radio

Three Upper Peninsula counties have passed resolutions supporting Enbridge Energy’s proposed tunnel under the Straits of Mackinac. The tunnel through bedrock would replace the Line 5 twin oil pipelines that currently sit on the lakebed.

An aerial view of algae blooms in Lake Erie.
NOAA DERIVED IMAGE FROM EUMETSAT COPERNICUS SENTINEL-3A SATELLITE DAT / NOAA

 

It was this time five years ago that the city of Toledo placed a city-wide ban of tap water.

People stand in the water, holding both ends of a large net.
Kaye LaFond / Michigan Radio

A new nonprofit is training citizen scientists to collect data on fish in the Great Lakes. They think it could be a game-changer for research in the region, and even help prevent the establishment of invasive species.

If you want to know what climate change will look like, you need to know what Earth's climate looked like in the past — what air temperatures were like, for example, and what ocean currents and sea levels were doing. You need to know what polar ice caps and glaciers were up to and, crucially, how hot the oceans were.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Researchers are finding some of the chemicals used in pavement and driveway sealants are making their way into the environment. That could be putting the health of people and aquatic life at risk.

These chemicals are called Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons, PAHs. They’re commonly found in low levels just about anywhere something is burned. But, the levels of PAHs are much, much higher in certain pavement sealing products, coal tar based sealants.

red tractor sitting on a green field with trees in background
Matthew T Rader / Unsplash

 

 

Climate change is affecting the world in a lot of ways. The planet is warming, more rain is falling. There are colder winters, and warmer summers. And all of this is having a profound effect on agriculture.

Nicky Marcot, her husband and two children sit on lawn with red tshirt
Courtesy of Nicky Marcot

The constant barrage of news about climate change and drinking water contamination and pollution in the Great Lakes can feel overwhelming. If you care, it’s hard to know what to do or where to start.

Stateside is kicking off a new ongoing series that features ordinary people who decided to do something about it. They identified a problem – no matter how big or small – and chose to act. 

Adobe Stock

When President Donald Trump announced in 2017 that the United States would pull out of the Paris Agreement, cities across the country declared that they would uphold the goals of the accord on their own.

Two years later, a handful of Michigan cities have plans in place to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, but many more are just in the process of putting a plan together. Which is good, says Jenna Jorns, because cities are especially vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Jorns is the program manager for the Great Lakes Integrated Sciences and Assessments Center.

withered, brown leaves on an apple tree.
Peter Payette / Interlochen Public Radio

Fruit growers in northern Michigan are having a tough time with all the rain this year, because that moisture helps fungus and bacteria thrive.

Malak Silmi / Michigan Radio

At times, the threat of climate change can feel overwhelming. Up to one million species are on track to become extinct in the near future, water levels are rising at a rapid pace, and parts of northern Michigan are warming at a faster pace than other parts of the state and the country. 

Wikimedia Commons

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is considering whether lake sturgeon should be listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act.

This comes after a petition from the Center for Biological Diversity.

Aerial view of Menominee River
Flickr Creative Commons / http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

 

Today on Stateside, Samuel Stanley Jr. officially took his place as Michigan State University's 21st president earlier this month. We talk to Stanley about his goals and plans for his first year in office. Plus, we talk about the ways climate change is already impacting human health in Michigan. 

Lake Erie cyanobacterial bloom rapidly expanding

Aug 14, 2019
An aerial view of algae blooms in Lake Erie.
NOAA DERIVED IMAGE FROM EUMETSAT COPERNICUS SENTINEL-3A SATELLITE DAT / NOAA

The cyanobacterial bloom on Lake Erie has grown 20 miles in the past week. It now covers 620 square miles of Lake Erie, taking up about 6 percent of the entire lake and covering more area than Detroit and its suburbs. 

A woman with silver hair and a turquoise shirt stands next to a woman in a navy T-shirt with short brown hair and glasses. They stand on the grass in front of a tent, under which is displayed information about climate change.
Ben Thorp / WCMU

Public opinion surveys show older Americans are less concerned about climate change than young people. But some experts say older Americans may be an untapped resource when it comes to climate activism.


person holding microplastic pieces found on a beach
Rowan / Adobe Stock

A new contaminant is threatening Lake Superior. Microplastics — tiny plastic fragments under five millimeters — have been discovered in the western basin of the lake.

Researchers are studying their impact on Lake Superior, but their size makes them difficult to see and study. Elizabeth Minor is a professor at the University of Minnesota-Duluth’s Large Lakes Observatory. She says larger pieces of plastic are broken down in the water.

Penguins at the Polk Penguin Conservation Center
Courtesy of the Detroit Zoological Society

Given the myriad ecological challenges facing our world today, there are plenty of reasons to feel overwhelmed and powerless. 

But there are also many people and organizations dedicated to leading community conversations about climate change and conservation through education and example.

A bridge over a murky river has a drain with bars across it.
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

From January 2018 through May 2019, 6.7 billion gallons of diluted or partially treated sewage, called combined sewer overflows (CSOs) spilled into Michigan waters.

CSOs are the result of sewer systems that drain both stormwater runoff AND human and industrial waste. Eighty municipalities in Michigan have such systems, known as combined sewer systems.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Each year in Michigan, billions of gallons of raw or partially treated sewage end up in the state's rivers and eventually in the Great Lakes. That pollution can make people sick. There are two causes. One is poor sewer systems. The second is heavy rains. 

And climate change could be making the problem worse. 

lots of asian carp jumping out of water
Ye.Sergey / Adobe Stock

Invasive Asian Carp may pose a greater threat to the Great Lakes than previously feared, according to a new report from the University of Michigan.

NOAA

Five years after half a million Toledo-area residents were told not to drink or touch their tap water for two days, the same thick green sludge responsible for the 2014 water crisis has now spread across 600 square miles of western Lake Erie.

people holding climate change protest signs
Bob Blob / Unsplash

All this week, Michigan Radio's Environment Report will be focusing on climate change and how it's already affecting us in the state of Michigan, and what's expected to change in the future. It's a huge crisis we face now — and that generations to come will face — and it will affect every aspect of our lives, from what we eat, to how we travel, to how we live inside our homes.

Photo shows the inside of a culvert. It's square with concrete walls and a very shallow stream of water is running through it.
Kaye LaFond / Michigan Radio

Climate change is likely to bring more extreme rainfall and flooding to Michigan. So, flood risk in the next 100 years will probably look very different than in the last. But, much of our infrastructure, like culverts, bridges, and storm drains, is still being designed and built based on the floods of the past.


A diver inspects Enbridge's Line 5 pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac for a possible dent.
Enbridge inspection video shared with the state of Michigan

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says it's preparing to decide whether to let Canadian oil transport company Enbridge install supports for its underwater oil pipeline in Michigan's Straits of Mackinac.

Microbeads on a penny.
Courtesy of The 5 Gyres Institute

A new bill (HB 4819) in the state Legislature would ban the manufacturing and sale of personal care products with microbeads. The small plastic beads are already banned in some products at the federal level.

Courtesy of DNR

Michigan’s largest state park, Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park in the Upper Peninsula, was damaged by Lake Superior's rising water levels along with a recent storm. Part of a major county road near the main entrance to the park is threatened by the nearby collapse of the shoreline. The emergency repairs are expected to start on Monday, August 5th, and cost $550,000.

John Pepin, deputy public information officer for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, says visitors will likely be concerned with the single-lane closures.

Detroit Skyline
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Today on Stateside, dairy farms face an uncertain future in Michigan. We speak to a sixth-generation farmer, a pair of cheesemakers in Northern Michigan, and more about the obstacles farmers face and how they are adapting.

cow standing in a field of grass
Angelina Litvin / Unsplash

 


You might have noticed that milk in the refrigerated aisle is cheaper than before. That’s great for your wallet, but not so great for dairy farmers in Michigan.

City Hall in Benton Harbor.
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

The city of Benton Harbor says lead continues to be problem in the city water supply.

The city says 12 of 47 homes tested since January of this year were above the federal action level for lead in the water.

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