Iowa Climate Statement 2015 getting national media attention


Dr. Yogi Shah, of Des Moines University, speaks during the presentation of Iowa Climate Statement 2015 at the statehouse on May 11, 2015. (KC McGinnis)
Dr. Yogi Shah, of Des Moines University, speaks during the presentation of Iowa Climate Statement 2015 at the statehouse on May 11, 2015. (KC McGinnis/CGRER)

Nick Fetty | July 22, 2015

Iowa Climate Statement 2015: Time for Action was released more than two months ago but the news is still getting noticed by national media outlets.

On Monday, Yale Climate Connections ran a radio piece about the statement which urges Iowa voters to ask presidential hopefuls to address climate-related issues while on the campaign trial. The piece interviewed Drake University environmental science and policy professor David Courard-Hauri who was also one of the statement’s lead authors.

Iowa Climate Statement 2015 was signed by 188 scientists and researchers from 39 colleges and universities in the state. This marked the 5th installment of the series which started in 2011 with just 30 signers. With the 2016 presidential election just around the corner, the 2015 statement encourages Iowa voters to ask presidential candidates about climate policies they support during campaign stops in the Hawkeye State.

Aside from coverage on Iowa Environmental Focus, the statement has also been noticed by local outlets such as the Cedar Rapids Gazette, WHO-TV, Iowa Public Radio, and Radio Iowa as well as national outlets like ThinkProgress and Al Jazeera America.

The statement has also gotten much attention on social media, particularly Twitter.

The authors of the 2015 statement hope to use Iowa’s role as the first in the nation caucus to bring attention to climate issues for both republican and democratic candidates. Iowa’s caucus takes place on February 1, 2016.

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.

Estimate finds ethanol production may be worse for environment than Keystone XL


(futureatlas.com/Flickr)
(futureatlas.com/Flickr)
KC McGinnis | June 9, 2015

New estimates show that corn ethanol production could be worse for the environment than originally thought – even worse than the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.

Using U.S. Environmental Protection Agency date, the Environmental Working Group found that last year’s ethanol production process, including the conversion of millions of acres of arable land for use as corn crops, led to 27 million tons more carbon emissions than if Americans had used regular gasoline only. That’s compared to oil transmitted from Alberta, Canada to the Gulf Coast via the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, which would emit 24 million tons of carbon per year.

The EPA’s Renewable Fuel Standard mandates that gasoline sold in the U.S. contains a minimum volume of renewable fuel. Critics argue that the promise of the standard to promote energy independence and reduce emissions was squandered by mass conversion of grasslands and wetlands to grow corn, releasing carbon stored in the earth and leading to decreased biodiversity. This also had massive implications for the food supply, with the proportion of U.S. corn crops dedicated to ethanol rising from 6 percent in 2000 to 40 percent in 2013. The conversion of more than 300,000 acres of wetlands between 2008 and 2012 alone released between 25 and 74 million tons of CO2 each year, according to an EWG estimate.

While the EPA predicts that emissions from ethanol production will be lower than that of gasoline by 2022 if ethanol plants use biomass as their energy source, critics are skeptical that plants won’t instead turn to cheaper natural gas. The EWG recommends cutting the ethanol mandate, while industry studies insist that ethanol production will continue to reduce greenhouse gas emissions over time.

On the Radio: New carbon reduction incentives for farmers


Carl Wycoff / Flickr
Carl Wycoff / Flickr
June 1, 2015

This week’s On the Radio segment looks at a new set of incentives from the U.S. Department of Agriculture that could help farmers combat global warming. Listen to the audio below, or continue reading for the transcript.

Transcript: USDA to give incentives for farmers

A new set of incentives from the U.S. Department of Agriculture may give farmers even more reasons to combat global warming.

This is the Iowa Environmental Focus.

In an effort to reduce emissions and increase carbon sequestration, the USDA has released new programs to persuade agricultural producers to generate renewable energy in their operations. The initiatives, carried out under the 2014 farm bill, are voluntary, but could lead to a 120 million metric ton reduction of greenhouse gases from the ag sector per year. Agriculture is one of the leading greenhouse gas emitting sectors in Iowa.

The programs will incentivize several GHG-lowering practices, like cover crops, lagoon covers (to manage methane emissions), tree planting and independent energy generation. These practices could coincide with Iowa’s existing nutrient reduction strategy.

For more information about incentive-based programs, visit IowaEnvironmentalFocus.org.

From the UI Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, I’m Jerry Schnoor.

http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome?contentidonly=true&contentid=2015/04/0109.xml

Climate action can help curb hay fever, asthma


Allan Foster/Flickr
Allan Foster/Flickr
KC McGinnis | May 27, 2015

With one in three Americans exposed to worsening allergies and asthma as a result of climate change, sustainable practices could mean fewer hay fevers.

The National Resources Defense Council’s (NRDC) Sneezing and Wheezing report recently highlighted the United States’ allergy epicenters – areas with both high ragweed content and high levels of ground-level ozone, or smog – revealing that about 109 million Americans live in these areas. The report shows that the changing climate is leading to higher production of allergenic ragweed pollen and favoring the formation of smog in industrial areas. These factors can lead to an extended allergy season across the U.S. and increases in asthma attacks, especially in children.

An estimated 24 million Americans were diagnosed with allergic rhinitis (hay fever) in 2012, with symptoms ranging from runny nose to throat, eye and ear irritation. These illnesses often lead to missed work days – more than 3.8 million, according to the NRDC. More concerning, however, is the increase in asthma among children, a chronic lung disease which can be triggered by allergens.

With air quality closely linked to allergy and asthma severity, decreasing CO2 emissions is expected to lead to improving respiratory conditions, especially in heavily populated and industrial areas. This is especially true with industrial facilities and power plants, which both source ozone-producing chemicals and drive climate change with carbon emissions. Minimizing these emissions could have the double impact of slowing climate change and reducing smog, leading to decreases in hay fever and asthma severity.

Last year’s Iowa Climate Statement 2014: Impacts on the Health of Iowans, further highlighted the importance of decreased emissions. See the full statement here, and the complete list of Iowa Climate Statements, including this year’s, which focuses on a call for presidential candidates to address climate change, here.

On the Radio: Power grid braces for climate change


Old power lines being fed by renewable wind turbines in Dexter, Minn. (Elvis Kennedy/Flickr)
Old power lines being fed by renewable wind turbines in Dexter, Minn. (Elvis Kennedy/Flickr)
May 26, 2015

This week’s On the Radio segment looks at a U.S. Department of Energy effort to overhaul the current power grid in anticipation of future extreme weather events associated with climate change. Listen to the audio below, or continue reading for the transcript.

IN APRIL, THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY RELEASED A REPORT CALLING FOR AN OVERHAUL OF THE CURRENT POWER GRID TO BETTER HANDLE EXTREME WEATHER EVENTS ASSOCIATED WITH CLIMATE CHANGE.

THIS IS THE IOWA ENVIRONMENTAL FOCUS.

THE REPORT STATED THAT SEVERE WEATHER HAS BEEN THE LEADING CAUSE OF POWER DISRUPTIONS IN THE U.S., CAUSING BETWEEN 18- AND 33-BILLION-DOLLARS IN DAMAGES EACH YEAR. THE REPORT’S AUTHORS EXPECT THAT THE EFFECTS OF CLIMATE CHANGE WILL CAUSE MORE SEVERE WEATHER AND WORSEN THESE DAMAGES. DURING THE UNVEILING OF THE PLAN IN PHILADELPHIA, VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN SAID THAT MORE ENERGY IS BEING PRODUCED FROM WIND AND SOLAR, WHICH PRESENTS PROBLEMS FOR THE GRID IN TIMES OF POWER OUTAGES, PARTICULARLY IN RURAL AREAS WHERE THE INFRASTRUCTURE LAGS BEHIND THE TECHNOLOGY.

THE REPORT RECOMMENDS SPENDING MORE THAN FIFTEEN-BILLION-DOLLARS OVER THE NEXT DECADE TO IMPROVE THE GRID AND MAKE ENERGY INFRASTRUCTURE MORE RESILIANT TO EXTREME WEATHER AND OTHER EFFECTS OF CLIMATE CHANGE.

FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE REPORT, VISIT IOWA-ENVIRONMENTAL-FOCUS-DOT-ORG.

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

SOURCE: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-04-21/white-house-unveils-road-map-for-upgrading-energy-infrastructure