On the Radio: Climate statement addresses public health


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Des Moines University Professor Yogi Shah addresses media during the release of the Iowa Climate Statement 2015.

 

June 29, 2015

This week’s On the Radio segment looks ways the Iowa Climate Statement 2015 highlighted public health issues related to climate change. Listen to the audio below, or continue reading for the transcript.

Transcript: Climate Statement and Public Health

SCIENTISTS AND RESEARCHERS IN IOWA HOPE TO USE THE STATE’S ROLE AS THE FIRST IN THE NATION CAUCUS TO BRING PUBLIC HEALTH AND CLIMATE CHANGE INTO THE PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE.

THIS IS THE IOWA ENVIRONMENTAL FOCUS.

THE FIFTH ANNUAL STATEMENT ENCOURAGES IOWANS TO ASK PRESIDENTAL HOPEFULS HOW THEY PLAN TO ADDRESS CLIMATE CHANGE WHILE ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL IN IOWA. DES MOINES UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR YOGI SHAH CITED SEVERAL PUBLIC HEALTH CONCERNS AFFECTING IOWANS INCLUDING INCREASED FLOODING, INCREASED RATES OF INSECT-BORNE DISEASES, AS WELL AS INCREASED ALLERGEN RATES AND A LONGER ALLERGEN SEASON.

YOGI SHAH: “Because of increased CO2 in the air, the ragweeds, the poisons, the proteins are stronger and causing more allergies. So that way we are seeing longer seasons. In Iowa itself, shown by national studies, we have 19 extra days of allergies which we didn’t see a few years ago.”

188 SCIENTISTS FROM 39 COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES SIGNED ‘IOWA CLIMATE STATEMENT 2015: TIME FOR ACTION.’

FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE STATEMENT, VISIT IOWAENVIRONMENTALFOCUS.ORG

FROM THE UI CENTER FOR GLOBAL AND REGIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH, I’M JERRY SCHNOOR.

On the Radio: Iowa scientists urge politicians to address climate change


Drake University professor of environment science and policy David Courard-Hauri addresses the press during the release of the Iowa Climate Statement 2015 - Time for Action on Tuesday, May 12, 2015. (KC McGinnis/CGRER)
Drake University professor of environment science and policy David Courard-Hauri addresses the press during the release of the Iowa Climate Statement 2015 – Time for Action on Tuesday, May 12, 2015. (KC McGinnis/CGRER)
June 22, 2015

This week’s On the Radio segment looks at the “Iowa Climate Statement 2015 – Time for Action,” which calls Iowa voters to ask politicians and presidential candidates key questions on climate change. Listen to the audio below, or continue reading for the transcript. Listen to the audio below, or continue reading for the transcript.

Transcript: Iowa Climate Statement 2015 – Politics

IOWA SCIENCETISTS AND RESEARCHERS HOPE TO USE IOWA’S ROLE AS THE FIRST IN THE NATION CAUCUS TO BRING ATTENTION TO CLIMATE ISSUES DURING THE 2016 PRESIDENTAL ELECTION.

THIS IS THE IOWA ENVIRONMENTAL FOCUS.

“IOWA CLIMATE STATEMENT 2015 – TIME FOR ACTION” WAS UNVEILED DURING A PRESS CONFERENCE AT THE STATEHOUSE IN MAY. THE FIFTH ANNUAL STATEMENT WAS SIGNED BY 188 SCIENTISTS AND RESEARCHERS FROM 39 COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES. DAVID COURARD-HAURI – ONE OF THE STATEMENT’S LEAD AUTHORS – SAID ISSSUES REGARDING CLMIATE CHANGE HAVE BEEN IGNORED BY POLITICIANS FROM BOTH PARITIES:

“This is unacceptable and we’re calling on voters in the state and members of the press who are interviewing candidates or asking questions in debates to make sure that anyone who wants to be president has the opportunity to spell out clearly for voters how they will deal with the most critical of issues.”

THE AUTHORS OUTLINED SEVERAL ISSUES FOR PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES TO ADDRESS INCLUDING REGULATIONS ON CARBON EMISSIONS FROM POWER PLANTS, ENERGY CONSERVATION, AND THE FUTURE OF THE PRODUCTION TAX CREDIT FOR RENEWABLE ENERGY PROJECTS.

FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT IOWA CLIMATE STATEMENT 2015, VISIT IOWAENVIRONMENTALFOCUS.ORG.

FROM THE UI CENTER FOR GLOBAL AND REGIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH, I M JERRY SCHNOOR.

Study: Fewer greenhouse emissions for states with more environmental activism


Thomas Dietz is a professor of Sociology and Environmental Science and Policy (ESPP) and assistant vice president for environmental research at Michigan State University. Dietz teamed up with MSU Foundation professor of sociometrics Kenneth Frank on the study. (Photo by Kurt Stepnitz)

Nick Fetty | June 19, 2015

A new study shows that states with the highest rates of environmentalism saw lower rates of greenhouse gas emissions.

The researchers from Michigan State University examined greenhouse gas emissions from all 50 states dating back to 1990 and analyzed how emissions correlated with population, gross state product per capita, employment rate and environmentalism. Environmentalism was calculated using “the environmental voting record of a state’s congressional delegation, as rated by the League of Conservation Voters.” The report concludes that a one percent increase in environmentalism can reduce emissions by more than enough to compensate for the typical annual increase in emissions.

“We’ve used new methods developed over the years and new innovations Ken has developed to add in the politics – and find that politics and environmentalism can mediate some environmental impact,” study co-author Thomas Dietz said in a statement. “Environmentalism seems to influence policies and how well policies that are in place are actually implemented, and it also influences individual behavior and the choices people make.”

Vermont had the greenest voting record and ranked 2nd nationally (behind for Rhode Island) for fewest emissions while states line Texas, Wyoming, and Louisiana had the least green voting records highest rates of emissions.

The study – “Political influences on greenhouse gas emissions from US states” – was published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Support for this research was provided by MSU’s AgBioResearch.

 

UI archivist to talk climate change on Iowa Public Radio’s “Talk of Iowa”


Connie Mutel (Photo: Tim Schoon)
IIHR archivist Connie Mutel (Photo: Tim Schoon)
KC McGinnis | June 16, 2015

Science writer and University of Iowa IIHR – Hydroscience and Engineering archivist Connie Mutel will be a guest on Iowa Public Radio’s “Talk of Iowa” this Wednesday, June 17, at 10 a.m.

Mutel has written several books on Iowa ecology and natural history, including The Emerald Horizon: The History of Nature in Iowa (2008) and A Watershed Year: Anatomy of the Iowa Floods of 2008 (2010). She will be sharing insight from her new book, which focuses on climate change. Mutel frequently writes about the effects of climate change on Iowa’s already altered natural environment.

Mutel, along with Iowa State University’s Gene Takle, can be heard Wednesday on WSUI-AM (910 AM) or KUNI-FM (90.9 FM). The podcast will also be available after broadcast at Iowa Public Radio’s website.

 

Research shows environmental impact of smartphones, mobile contracts


New research shows that smartphones could be more detrimental to the environment than previously thought (Japanexperterna.se/Flickr)
The manufacturing of smartphones uses vast amounts of natural resources such as gold, silver, and copper. (Japanexperterna.se/Flickr)

Nick Fetty | June 11, 2015

New research out of the University of Surrey in England finds that current mobile phone business models are having a greater environmental impact that previous thought.

The study was published this week in the International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment. The researchers found that current mobile phone contracting practices have led to the manufacturing of more smartphones which require large amounts of natural resources such as gold, silver, and copper. These practices have also led to increased CO2 emissions.

The researchers calculated that there are approximately 85 million unused phones in the U.K. Combined these phones contain roughly 4 tons of gold and have used up about £110 million or more than $170,000,000 worth of resources. Additionally, the manufacturing of these devices has led to the equivalent of 84,000 tons of CO2 being released into the atmosphere.

“The current business model of mobile contracts encourages consumers to upgrade frequently, regardless of whether their current phone is fit for purpose. Our study shows that there is little incentive for people to recycle old mobiles. Unfortunately this leaves many unused devices lingering in drawers, until they are eventually thrown away and end up in landfill. This isn’t a trend that can continue if we are to have the mobile lifestyle we want, while still ensuring a sustainable future,” lead author Dr. James Suckling said in a press release.

The authors suggested utilizing a “cloud-based product service system” which would lessen the need for complex processing systems that require large quantities of resources. The researchers also suggested a “take-back” clause for mobile service contracts which would encourage customers to retain devices for longer periods of time and to return devices to the manufacturer when the contract expires.

The study also found that people tend to hold on to old phones and instead suggest that these devices be properly recycled so their materials can be reused.

UNI event focuses on solar energy


CEEE_SolarEnergyFair_Poster-page-001

Nick Fetty | June 4, 2015

An upcoming event at the University of Northern Iowa aims to educate the public about solar energy, its economic feasibility, and other related topics.

The Solar Energy Fair is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday at Center for Energy & Environmental Education on the UNI campus. The event “is intended to make solar energy accessible and easy to find; to connect businesses and homeowners with local and regional solar installers and contractors; and to show that solar energy systems are available, practical and cost-effective.

Scheduled speakers include Mike Barnes of Hawkeye Community College, Warren McKenna of Farmers Electric Co-op, and Pete Olson of Cedar Falls Utilities as well as representatives from the UNI Center for Energy & Environmental Education and the Iowa Waste Reduction Center.

The event coincides with an announcement by Cedar Falls Utilities to construct a solar energy garden expected to produce roughly 500 kilowatts of energy which is enough to power about 100 homes for a year. The project – Simple Solar – will take up as many as 8 acres in Prairie Lakes Park, about three miles south of the UNI campus. Cedar Falls residents can purchase a share of the garden for $399. The utility is providing about 3,000 shares with each share expected to provide about 2.5 percent of an average home’s electricity consumption. Construction on the project is expected to be completed by mid-2016.

Saturday’s event is free and open to the public. Funding was provided by the Iowa Energy Center.

Study: Iowa ranks 3rd in nation for honeybee die-off rates


(BeeInformed.org)
(BeeInformed.org)

Nick Fetty | May 28, 2015

Iowa ranks third in the nation for the rate of honeybee dying off according to a report by researchers from 10 different institutions.

The report found 61.4 percent of honeybees in Iowa died between 2014 and 2015. Oklahoma led the nation with a 63.4 percent die-off rate while Illinois was in second at 62.4 percent. The research was a collaboration of the Bee Informed Partnership, the Apiary Inspectors of America, and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The study received valid responses from 6,128 beekeepers who managed 398,247 colonies in October 2014. This accounts for just 14.5 percent of the country’s estimated 2.74 million managed honey bee colonies. Approximately two-thirds (67.2 percent) of respondents reported winter colony loss rates greater than the average rate of 18.7 percent.

“What we’re seeing with this bee problem is just a loud signal that there’s some bad things happening with our agro-ecosystems,” study co-author Keith Delaplane (University of Georgia) said in an interview with The Guardian. “We just happen to notice it with the honeybee because they are so easy to count.”

The results from this report are preliminary and the researchers expect these rates to fluctuate. A more detailed report is being prepared for publication in a peer-reviewed journal at a later date. Funding for the research was provided by the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Earlier this year researchers at Iowa State University were awarded a three-year, $103,626 grant “to better understand how agricultural landscape diversity and approaches to pest management impact the health of native bees and other pollinators.”