Environment

Satellite image of Great Lakes
Flickr - NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Our Great Lakes Month in Review for June looks at reducing phosphorous runoff into Lake Erie and a Wisconsin town that wants to draw drinking water from Lake Michigan.


Author Doc Fletcher has merged his love for kayaking and baseball in his new book "Paddling and Pastimes: 6 Midwest Cities, the Rivers that Made Them, The Baseball Teams that Entertained Them." Current State talks with Fletcher about the intersection of paddling our rivers and our national pastime.


Algae is usually a nuisance. The green slime is unsightly and can cause water quality problems. But one Michigan company is harnessing algae’s potential benefits, including treating wastewater. Current State talks to CEO of Algal Scientific Geoff Horst.


Picture of the book cover
Oxford University Press

Current State's Scott Pohl talks to Paul Thompson about his new book From Field to Fork, which deals with the ethics surrounding the American food system.


Kirk Heinze talks with Mark Lichtenstein of the National Recycling Coalition about local, national and global recycling efforts.

Current State talks with Jon Allan of the Department of Environmental Quality about the plan to protect one of the state’s most treasured natural resources.

www.cleanwateraction.org/mi

In the second half of his presidency, Barack Obama has been flexing his muscles on environmental regulations. The president has proposed regulations that would significantly cut carbon emissions, one of the main contributors to climate change. But the administration isn’t just worried about air pollution and climate change, they’ve also been thinking about water. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently finalized a rule that would limit pollution into streams and wetlands that are upstream of major waterways.

http://msutoday.msu.edu/

Even the most casual cable TV viewers have, on occasion, been led to ask themselves "How long could I survive in the wild without food? What could I eat?" Peter Carrington will offer those kind of insights tomorrow at Michigan State University’s Beal Botanical Garden. He's the assistant curator of the Beal Garden, where he is the edible and toxic plant specialist. He’s also been an assistant instructor in the MSU plant biology department. His free, 40-minute session is called "Weeds you can eat, and NOT."

April Van Buren/WKAR

The state of Michigan used to be rich in wetlands. The receding glaciers that carved out the Great Lakes also left smaller depressions across the landscape which would fill in with water and become important habitats for all kinds of birds, amphibians, and other animals. But after Europeans began to colonize the region, those areas were drained for agriculture or development. Today, we learn about a program that’s helping private landowners restore some of that habitat, the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program.

April Van Buren/WKAR

If you’re planning your summer vacation, you’re probably going to be booking a hotel or summer cottage soon. And so will some of the winged visitors to the Horticultural Demonstration Gardens here on the MSU campus. But, lucky for them, the bees at MSU’s “bee hotels” won’t be needing reservations.

Wikimedia commons

Many Michigan farmers are wrapping up their spring planting this month.  But this season, there’s a cloud hanging overhead...and it’s not bringing nourishing rain.  It is, however, all about water.   Last week, the U-S Environmental Protection Agency issued its final rule on what it calls the “Waters of the United States.”  The action expands the EPA’s jurisdiction over more waterways protected by the Clean Water Act.   The agency says the action is necessary to keep the nation’s waters clean.

Scott Pohl/WKAR

Last week on Current State, we heard from the leader of a Michigan petition effort that's aimed at banning hydraulic fracturing in the state. Fracking, as it’s called, pumps a combination of water and chemicals into underground rock where natural gas and oil are trapped. The process crushes the rock surrounding the deposits and frees them. The growth of hydraulic fracturing is credited for making the United States the world’s leading producer of oil and gas.

Flickr - U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Northeast Region

The conversation around climate change often focuses on how it will disrupt human life. Scientists warn that food shortages, flooding in coastal cities, and deadly heatwaves are just a few of the potentially devastating consequences of a warming planet. But humans aren’t the only ones at risk. Even small changes in temperature could drastically alter the native habitats of plants and animals across the globe, including here in Michigan.

Scott Pohl/WKAR

Officials say there are some 2,800 vacant, under-utilized and contaminated brownfield sites in Mid-Michigan. Some are the legacy of a wave of automotive plant and parts supplier closures spanning three decades. Others are former gas stations, garages and dry cleaning shops that contain an array of environmental pollutants. These idle sites are a threat to public health and a barrier to economic development. Now, a new federal grant will be put towards remediation.

Courtesy Harris Nature Center

From Celandine Poppy to Jack-In-The-Pulpit, Michigan wildflowers are in full bloom this time of year. Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. you can look and learn all about Michigan blossoms in a class at Meridian Township’s Harris Nature Center.

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources says it’s found a deer in Meridian Township that’s tested positive for chronic wasting disease.  It’s the first reported case of the disease in the state since 2008, and the very first time it has occurred in a wild deer population. Chronic wasting disease is not harmful to humans, but is always fatal to deer.

http://www.letsbanfracking.org/

For the third time in recent years, opponents of hydraulic fracturing are organizing to end the practice in Michigan. The Committee to Ban Fracking, based in Charlevoix, has begun a ballot campaign hoping to put a ban before voters in next years general election.

http://www.fijiabroad.com/

Say the words “climate change,” and the first thing that might come to mind is melting polar ice caps. That’s an accurate image, but of course, climate change affects the entire planet. Scientists say the rising tides from all that melting ice have to go somewhere, and some Michigan State University students are watching one remote part of the world that’s starting to see some effects.

Satellite image of Great Lakes
Flickr - NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

At the end of each month, we check in with Great Lakes commentator and journalist Gary Wilson for updates on environmental stories from around the basin. This month, some of the biggest environmental stories had to do with energy and how we transport it across the Great Lakes region.

Courtesy MSU Today

Earlier this week, Valerie Brader, an attorney and former senior policy adviser to Gov. Rick Snyder, assumed her role as executive director of the new Michigan Agency for Energy. Brader will be the top energy adviser to Snyder and state department leaders. Snyder created the agency by executive order in March after setting it as a priority in January’s State of the State address.

Flickr - U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Northeast Region

The alewife was once the scourge of the Great Lakes. The small, silver herring made its way into the basin through the St. Lawrence River in the late 19th century and proceeded to wreak havoc on the ecosystem. If you were around the region in the 1960s, you might remember the stench of thousands of dead alewives washing up on Great Lakes beaches. Now, scientists are concerned with a decline in the population of this invasive species and how the shrinking numbers of alewives could impact their main predator, the popular Chinook salmon.

In the coming year, nine of Michigan’s coal-fired power plants are scheduled to retire. That has environmentalists and renewable energy advocates cheering. And the state’s two major utilities, Consumer’s Energy and DTE, say they are ready to invest in a more sustainable energy future. But first, the companies say, Michigan has to return to a fully regulated electricity market.

Scott Pohl/WKAR

There’s no shortage of talk in Michigan about renewable energy sources. But despite all our efforts to go green, our state is still very dependent on fossil fuels. Recently, a Traverse City-based oil and gas company has been looking at an area in and around the city of Mason as a possible drilling site.

Courtesy University of Michigan College of Engineering

Think about an everyday substance like pollen. There’s lots of it floating around right now. It’s probably on your car windows. Botanists think of pollen’s role in the world as helping propagate new plants. Allergists think of pollen’s role as being something that causes sneezing.

Christopher N. Hull

Dozens of bird lovers have journeyed to Lansing’s Potter Park Zoo recently to view the area’s first nesting bald eagles in decades. The nest sits in a large tree in a marshy area in the middle of the Red Cedar river. What’s the likelihood that the birds could make that area a permanent home? Biologist Christopher Hull has his doubts. He has vield the nest and the eagles a number of times, and he thinks the eagles may be in the process of abandoning the nest now.

State officials and other stakeholders are asking Michigan commuters a question: do you drive to work alone? If so,  they want to remind you of options that could not only reduce air pollution, but lower your gas budget and benefit your health. Governor Rick Snyder has declared May Commuter Challenge Month. Part of the effort is aimed at the many drive alone commuters that you see on the state’s roads every day.

Dr. Andrew Hoffman is the Holcim Professor of Sustainable Enterprise at the University of Michigan. His new book "How Culture Shapes the Climate Change Debate" examines ways in which non-scientific views shape opinion on the subject of global climate shifts.

Ashley Wick

Along with the spring tulips and early morning birds, you might have also started to notice a few butterflies now that the weather has warmed up. Michigan is home to over 150 species of butterflies, from swallowtails to monarchs. And that means that  soon, volunteer monitors will be out in full force for the annual state butterfly survey.

Courtesy Harris Nature Center

From March Madness to April showers, the signs of spring have been making their arrival in Michigan these past few weeks. You’ve probably also noticed a few more bird songs accompanying those first rays of morning light. Bird enthusiasts such as Harris Nature Center bird naturalist Clare Bratton have been venturing out more and more lately, binoculars at the ready.

Satellite image of Great Lakes
Flickr - NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

At the end of each month, Current State checks in with Great Lakes commentator and journalist Gary Wilson for updates on environmental stories from around the basin. For today’s Great Lakes Month in Review, we’re focusing on agriculture and water across the country, from California to the Great Lakes.

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