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Environment & Science

black rhino by an african watering hole
lnichetti / Adobe Stock

The Trump administration says it will issue a permit to a Michigan trophy hunter to import the skin, skull and horns from a rare black rhinoceros he shot last year in Africa.

sturgeon baby
Photo courtesy of USFS, Rob Elliott

Sturgeon are a long-grey, spiney, prehistoric fish that can live up to 100 years old.

But overfishing and habitat destruction has decimated their population across the state.

Lake Huron waves crashing
n_his_image / Adobe Stock

Rising water levels in the Great Lakes are bringing pieces of shipwrecks ashore along Michigan's Lake Huron shoreline.

A groundwater well head
Engdao / Adobe Stock

Company officials from Michigan Seamless Tube have requested that the city of South Lyon ban water wells on land adjacent to its plant. That's because a plume of contaminated groundwater is spreading from the MST plant. 

Two sheets of paper, one with a meeting agenda, one with a resolution in support of Enbridge's Line 5 tunnel.
Kaye LaFond / Michigan Radio

Cheboygan County passed a resolution to support Enbridge’s construction of a tunnel underneath the Straits of Mackinac at their board meeting Tuesday morning. 

 

Eight counties — Cheboygan, Delta, Dickinson, Houghton, Iron, Gogebic, Grand Traverse and Ontonagon — have now passed nearly identical resolutions.

user MirkoB / Wikimedia Commons

Sometimes, bad things can lead to good things.

New research by ecologist Cory Suski of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign suggests that pollution in the Chicago Area Waterway System is deterring invasive silver carp from moving into Lake Michigan.

Oshki founder Jackson Riegler picking up platstic on a beach.
Photo courtesy of Jackson Riegler

Nearly 22 million pounds of plastic end up in the Great Lakes each year. University of Michigan student and West Michigan native Jackson Riegler is stepping up to face that challenge, and he's doing it through fashion. 

Riegler is the founder of Oshki, a company that uses plastic waste to create sustainable apparel.

The Ann Arbor emissions testing facility
Wikimedia Commons

Environmental Protection Agency employees at a Grosse Ile facility will not be returning to work on Monday. The Large Lakes Research Station was closed on Wednesday, despite backlash from local, state, and federal politicians. The Grosse Ile workers were supposed to move to an emissions testing facility in Ann Arbor, but many are concerned about the safety of the facility, as they have yet to receive results from air quality testing.

A combine on a soybean farm
Laurie Isley

Between the ongoing trade war with China and one of the wettest springs to date, this year has brought major challenges for Michigan’s farmers and growers.

Laurie Isley owns Sunrise Farms in Lenawee County, where she and her husband grow corn and soybeans on a thousand acres. She’s also the president of the Michigan Soybean Promotion Committee.

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

At least eight 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.

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