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Environment & Science

A meteoroid flew over I-75 Northbound in metro Detroit Tuesday night.
Mike Austin / YouTube

 


In January, there were sightings of a fireball in the sky over Southeast Michigan.

The following day, the United States Geological Survey confirmed it was a meteoroid which had exploded in the atmosphere.

At the time, the loud "boom" it caused was reported to register at 2.0 on the Richter scale, but for the USGS and NASA, it didn't seem like that big of a deal.

Two men in uniforms stand on a boat and a dock.
Kaye LaFond / Michigan Radio

 

Frustrated by what they say is inadequate information provided to them by Enbridge, the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians sent their own tribal research vessel to the Straits of Mackinac on Thursday to take sonar imagery of the company’s Line 5 pipelines.

 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Starting Friday, a new water plant will begin treating contaminated groundwater near the old Wurtsmith Air Force Base in Oscoda.

The base was decommissioned in 1993. But man-made chemicals known as PFAS (Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) have been slowly leaching into the neighboring community’s groundwater for decades.  

Stateside 8.30.2018

Aug 30, 2018

On Stateside today, Michigan tribal members and other activists plan to paddle the Mackinac Straits to protest Enbridge's Line 5 pipeline. Plus, why the language we use when talking about cancer matters. 

To hear individual conversations, click here or see below: 

protesters against Line 5 on the water
Courtesy of Andrea Pierce

This Saturday, a flotilla of kayaks, paddleboards, and birch bark canoes will paddle out into the Straits of Mackinac between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron.

It's the fourth annual Pipe Out Paddle Protest against the pair of oil and natural gas liquids pipelines known as Line 5 that lie beneath the Straits. 

A monarch butterfly at the Kalamazoo Nature Center.
Rebecca Williams / Michigan Radio

The monarch butterflies that are emerging right now in Michigan have a long trip ahead of them.

Barbara Barton and Roger LaBine
Barbara Barton

 


There is a rich tradition of wild rice in our state, especially for Michigan's first people. The plant plays a big role in the culture of Anishinaabe tribes, who call it manoomin. 

The former Wurtsmith Air Force base.
Mike Fritcher / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Oscoda-Wurtsmith Airport Authority has been awarded a $60,000 grant to investigate chemical contaminants.

The airport, which is on the site of the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base, is a known site of several chemical contaminants, including PFAs - which are linked to cancer among other maladies.

the flint river
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

 


Yesterday, MLive's Ron Fonger published a story detailing what the state knew about PFAS levels in the Flint River before the city switched its water source. 

A whitefish survey
Morgan Springer

Lake whitefish are the most important commercial fish species in Michigan.

But in the last decade, state biologists say fishers are harvesting about a third of what they used to get. The catch dropped to 1.7 million pounds last year, down from five million pounds in the early 2000s.

Agencies across the Great Lakes are trying to learn more about the population decline.  

The Flint River.
Sarah Razak / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

 

In the spring of 2014, Flint's water source was switched to the Flint River.

We know what happened when that untreated water leached lead from aging pipes, but in his story today for MLive, Flint journalist Ron Fonger revealed that before the water switch even happened, the state tested the Flint River and discovered rising levels of PFAS contamination. 

An architectural rendering of the Detroit Zoo biodigester.
Detroit Zoological Society

If zoos have a lot of one thing, it's manure.

That's why the Detroit Zoo turned to Michigan State University researcher Dana Kirk to help turn that manure into power.

Michigan Radio’s Issues & Ale discussion series traveled to Toledo Monday night for the station’s first event of this kind in Ohio. The event took place at Black Cloister Brewing Company and focused on Lake Erie’s toxic cyanobacteria blooms and the safety of Toledo’s water.

A painting of a house sparrow.
Louis Agassiz Fuertes/USFWS

The creatures that live with us in cities – things like spiders, owls, lizards and mice – are evolving over time.

A new set of studies in a special issue of the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B looks at all kinds of organisms that thrive in cities and how city life affects the ways they evolve.

Diane Episcopio, courtesy of Oliver Stringham

Researchers have found that some of the most common reptiles and amphibians that people own as pets are also the most likely to be released into the wild.

Sewer cover
WikiCommons / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

 

Michigan has a long list of water problems: raw sewage overflowing into the Great Lakes, PFAS chemicals in groundwater and, of course, the countless lead pipes that contributed to the Flint water disaster.

The state's first-known water crisis, though, happened more than 180 years ago.

 

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Public health experts want us to pay more attention to the effects of climate change on kids.

A mosquito
flickr user trebol-a / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Many Americans are ok with genetic engineering of animals if it benefits human health. But a lot of people oppose other uses of the technology. Those are the findings of a new Pew Research Center survey.

A man at one table and a panel of 5 people at another table sit on the stage of a full auditorium
Kaye LaFond / Michigan Radio

Representatives from federal agencies, Enbridge, and industry and environmental groups testified on Line 5, oil spill prevention and preparedness at a Senate Commerce Committee field hearing in Traverse City on Monday.

A man and two women sit around a campfire, a banner in the background says "Honor the Treaties"
Kaye LaFond / Michigan Radio

Water Protectors are camping in Northern Michigan to call for a shutdown of Enbridge's Line 5 pipeline.

 

sturgeon baby
Photo courtesy of USFS, Rob Elliott

One of the most ancient species in the Great Lakes is the sturgeon. The fish has been around since the time of the dinosaurs, and was once abundant in all five lakes.

But, like many species, its numbers nosedived thanks to overfishing and habitat destruction.

Ed Baker is research station manager at the Marquette Fisheries Research Station of the Department of Natural Resources. He joined Stateside to talk about efforts to restore the region’s sturgeon population.

Blood test.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

An opinion piece in the New York Times has stirred up a war of words. According to a recent Detroit News article, an emergency room doctor at the Hurley Medical Center in Flint persuaded the majority of his physician colleagues to ban using the words “lead poisoned” to describe children's exposure to lead from drinking Flint water.

NASA HQ PHOTO / FLICKR - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

It's the stuff of science fiction: send a space mission to the sun.

But science fiction became reality this week when NASA launched the Parker Solar Probe, humanity's first-ever mission into the corona, part of the sun’s atmosphere.

Matt Allender

We have a rattlesnake in Michigan called the eastern massasauga. It’s listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.

One of the threats it’s facing is a disease called snake fungal disease, and it can kill the snakes. 

Researchers have figured out some clues about how the pathogen affects the snakes.

Demand to kill cormorants grows in Great Lakes

Aug 15, 2018
Cormorant drying its wings on the wreck of the Francisco Morazan off South Manitou Island.
Sam Corden

There are renewed calls to kill cormorants in the Great Lakes. There are far fewer of these migratory birds left in the region after years of lethal control. But anglers and some congressmen say there are still too many and they eat too many fish. Conflict with these waterbirds is longstanding in coastal communtities where fishing is important and the birds nest by the hundreds or even thousands.

In 2004, there were almost 1,800 double-crested cormorant nests on Goose Island, a strip of land in northern Lake Huron about 500 feet wide and less than a mile long.

firefly
terry priest / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

As you watch fireflies flit around your backyard at night, do you ever wonder, "How does that firefly do it? What makes him glow?" 

Kara Holsopple

The global market for recycling has changed dramatically over the last year, and it’s already trickling down to what happens at the curb.

Stateside 8.13.2018

Aug 13, 2018

Today on Stateside, Abdul El-Sayed sits down for his first interview after coming in second place in Michigan's Democratic gubernatorial primary. And, you're not imagining it — there are more fireflies than usual showing up in your backyard this summer. 

To hear individual segments, click here or see below: 

Firefly or lightning bug on a flower
Radim Schreiber

Does it feel like you've seen a burst of fireflies this summer? You probably have!

This year will go down as a "firefly boom," not just here in Michigan, but across the country. 

JIM D / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

In 2015, the Grand Traverse Land Conservancy began a quiet campaign to protect natural lands from development in northern Michigan. Since the launch, $53 million has been raised, and 19 areas spanning five counties have been identified as in need of urgent protection.

The Land Conservancy has named it “The Campaign for Generations,” and opened the campaign to the public on August 11 to raise more money for the campaign.

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