Environment

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. Today, a look back at the biggest environmental stories from around the basin in 2014 for a Great Lakes Year in Review.

Flickr - Ray Dumas

Last week, a Michigan-made home video created a stir on the internet, particularly among animal lovers. It showed a pair of adult moose in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula being fed through the window of a cabin. According to Mlive, the resident says the moose have begun appearing daily, apparently expecting to be fed. The video offers a fascinating, close-up view of these extraordinary animals in or near the wild.

Courtesy Natural Resources Research Institute, University of Minnesota Duluth

The populations of an invasive snail in the Great Lakes may be increasing, according to a new study. Researchers from ten universities including Central Michigan University and Grand Valley State University have found “faucet snails” in more areas along the Great Lakes coastline than experts previously thought.

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

The water cycle is pretty simple. Evaporation. Condensation. Precipitation. But when urban areas filled with buildings and parking lots get in the way, the cycle gets interrupted, and that can cause all sorts of problems, from flooding basements to sewer overflows.

http://css.snre.umich.edu/

A new Michigan study looks at what we eat in the context of its environmental impact. Every few years, the U. S. Department of Agriculture puts out guidelines on how Americans should eat to maintain good health. The balance between fruits and vegetables, protein, and other nutrients has been the topic of much debate.

http://law.wayne.edu/

The environment has taken center stage in President Barack Obama’s second term. Under his direction, the Environmental Protection Agency has issued sweeping regulations aimed at curbing global warming. But should the EPA have to consider what it costs utilities to comply with those regulations? That’s the question being asked in a case before the Supreme Court right now.

Flickr - Seth Sawyers

Shortly before Thanksgiving, some rural businesses in Michigan’s Thumb region faced a difficult request. At the peak of the fall harvest, Consumers Energy asked several customers to voluntarily curtail their natural gas usage for 10 hours a day. The shutoff didn’t last long, but agri-business leaders say it highlighted an ongoing concern for the future of Michigan’s energy infrastructure.

Scott Pohl/WKAR

There’s a special kind of library in the basement of the Plant Biology Labs at Michigan State University. Here, instead of taking a book off of a shelf, you can open a folder and find a dried plant that’s 150 years old and still green. The MSU Herbarium is an important resource for research biologists on campus.

Flickr - U.S. Department of Agriculture

Emerald ash borers are tiny creatures, smaller than a penny, with  metallic green shells and big, black eyes. They’d almost be cute if they weren’t so destructive. This tiny beetle’s big appetite has had a devastating impact on forests in the U.S.

http://coast.noaa.gov/llv/

A new computer tool is helping official planners and even just people who are interested in the Great Lakes actually see what varying water levels do to the shoreline.

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. For today’s Great Lakes Month in Review, we’ll be talking about what impact the recent midterm elections could have on environmental policies, both in Washington and in Michigan.

http://www.michigan.gov/dnr

Killer shrimp might sound like the name of a B-grade horror film you’d see on the Syfy channel. But unlike Sharknadoes, the tiny crustacean poses a real threat, especially in the Great Lakes. Its voracious appetite has earned it a spot on the state’s recently updated banned species list, which identifies potential invasive aquatic pests.

Flickr - Ray Dumas

Many Michigan deer hunters consider the opening day of firearms season a state holiday. Thousands of sports-people joined the hunt starting this past Saturday. Last year 43-percent of Michigan hunters were successful, for a total of about 385,000 deer harvested.

www.aboriginalpower.ca

In recent years, Canada has included its First Peoples populations in its efforts to expand renewable, clean energy projects. Lumos Energy president Chris Henderson has spent the last two-and-a-half decades working, as his website states, “at the intersection of clean energy, sustainable development, environmental action, economic development, and Aboriginal communities”.

http://cas.msu.edu

Warnings about the climate change have gotten increasingly dire over the past decade. In its latest report, released earlier this month, the International Panel on Climate Change says mitigating the effects of global warming will require immediate action. But while a majority of Americans believe climate change is happening, most don’t think it will have an impact during their lifetime, and some think that’s why belief hasn’t necessarily translated into political will. The scientific community continues to push for action.

Flickr - Jeffrey Smith

In middle of the 20th century, America’s rivers were in rough shape. Decades of urban growth and industrial pollution had turned many of them into dumping grounds for everything from hazardous chemicals to human waste. A burgeoning environmental movement and high profile events like the 1969 fire on the Cuyahoga River finally pushed Congress to take action. In 1972, it passed the Clean Water Act, giving the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency the authority to regulate water pollution. But which waterways the agency can regulate has been a source of conflict and confusion. In March, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed a rule it says clarifies its jurisdiction.

http://www.michigan.gov/deq

Michigan has its share of infrastructure issues. You probably notice it most when you’re dodging potholes in your car. But while road funding has been a hot topic lately, the state has plenty of other pressing infrastructure needs. The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates that Michigan will need to invest around $15-billion in its drinking and waste water systems over the next 20 years.

http://msutoday.msu.edu/

Fall on Michigan’s waterways means it’s time for the salmon to spawn. Salmon can be found in many places, including the Red Cedar River and the Grand River.

Courtesy - MSU College of Engineering

In March of 2011, an earthquake and tsunami in Japan resulted in a nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant. Three of the plants six reactors melted down, and substantial amounts of radioactive material was released. That includes contaminated water that escaped from the three units. Containing that water has proven to be an ongoing problem confronting those who are working to clean up Fukushima.

Flickr - LouisvilleUSACE

Stopping new invasive species from taking hold in the basin has become a top priority for Michigan and other Great Lakes states. At the top of their hit list: Asian carp. The non-native fish have already infiltrated the Mississippi River system, crowding out native species and creating a nuisance for boaters.

http://glc.org/

The boom in oil production in North Dakota and Western Canada has turned the Great Lakes region into a transportation corridor for crude oil. The domestic production of oil has become a cornerstone of energy policy in both the U.S. and Canada. But several high-profile spills, including the one into the Kalamazoo River in 2010, have raised questions about the safety of how we transport oil.

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. For today’s Great Lakes Month in Review, we talk about a summit on water resources led by the region’s mayors and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s update to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

Flickr - dallieedee

The gray wolf was declared an endangered species in 1975 after overhunting decimated their population. After a decades long recovery, their numbers rebounded and they were taken off the Endangered Species List in 2012. Now some states, including Michigan, are considering using hunting as a way to control potential wolf human conflicts.

senatorphilpavlov.com/

Residents of Michigan’s Thumb region are looking across Lake Huron with some concern these days. The Canadian utility provider, Ontario Power Generation, is seeking approval to build an underground nuclear waste disposal site near the town of Kincardine, Ontario.

michiganpharmacists.org

Today, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and the Michigan Pharmacists Association will accept unwanted, unused or outdated prescription medications for safe disposal. The event is at the state capital in Lansing from 10:30 a-m to 1 p-m. The idea is to keep these medications out of the state’s water supply.

batconservation.org/

Which of the following is true about bats? They’re blind; they get tangled in your hair; they’ll drink your blood as you sleep; or none of the above?

http://www.great-mi.org/

Here on Current State we do lots of reporting on environmental programs and policies in the Great Lakes region, but it’s always good to remember that taking care of our waters often happens because someone decides to fight pollution one empty bottle at a time. That’s happening in Jackson this coming weekend.

www.egr.msu.edu/

When we think of capturing solar energy, we often think of the large, clunky panels on rooftops that are expensive and inefficient. But what if your windows could capture the energy of the sunlight as it passes through them to help run your coffee maker or heat your house in the winter?

Flickr/Ohio DNR

    

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. For today’s Great Lakes Month in Review we’re focusing on the Toledo water crisis, which was in the news for several weeks this month, and could be again.

Flickr - Brooke Singer

Starting in 2017, the state of Minnesota will ban the use of an antibacterial chemical in consumer products. Triclosan has been found in the waters and fish of the Great Lakes, and a number of health organizations in Canada are urging their government to ban the chemical as well.

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