RAGBRAI will experience a detour after central Iowa flooding left a portion of the route underwater.
The annual bike ride across the state, slated to begin in Onawa on Sunday and end in Davenport on July 28, was supposed to ride through Ledges State Park in Madrid, Iowa on July 24. Portions of the route through the park are under 20 feet of water as the Des Moines River and Saylorville Reservoir have swelled from recent storms.
The ride will now detour around the park on Highway 30 and Quill Avenue — a ride that is about three miles shorter. This also removes a large hill that many riders were looking forward to.
“It’s unfortunate cyclists will not get the opportunity to see the scenic beauty that Ledges has to offer,” Park Manager Andy Bartlett said in a release. “Ledges is definitely a gem within out state parks system and I would encourage those interested in exploring what it has to offer to plan a visit in the future.”
The Iowa Department of Natural Resources has advised beach goers against swimming at nine Iowa beaches across the state due to high levels of E.coli in the water. Signs have been posted to warn Iowans about the high levels of E.coli, but there is still no shortage of swimmers on the affected beaches.
E.coli, or Escherichia coli, is a bacterium that lives in the digestive tracts of humans. However, pathogenic strains of E.coli can cause infections in humans with symptoms including diarrhea and vomiting, and in some serious cases, kidney failure. Exposure to pathogenic bacteria can occur via contaminated food, water or contact with another infected person. Young children, the elderly, and those with weakened immune systems are the most susceptible to an E.coli infection.
The DNR recognized that it is hard to pinpoint what causes these high levels of E.coli in water. However, E.coli outbreaks in lakes and beaches have been linked to human and animal waste. A paper from the Iowa Public Policy project published earlier this year also links E.coli to waste from concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs, of which there are an estimated 10,000 in Iowa.
With a video version narrated by U of I’s Betsy Stone, the report predicts many of the weather patterns and changes that we are currently seeing in the midst of a very hot and humid 2018 summer. The climate report clearly details how humidity, coupled with heat index, makes temperatures soar, and discusses how heat can do everything from damaging physical infrastructure to heightening the chances for sunstroke and heat exhaustion.
Heat and humidity aren’t the only consequences of our mounting global crises: Floods, an all-too-familiar sight for Iowa, are hitting with a vengeance. Iowans in places like Waverly are already being evacuated from their homes because of flood risks, and the likelihood of flooding will only continue to increase unless steps are taken to reduce global warming overall.
The new Iowa Climate Statement, set to be released at the end of 2018, will predict, perhaps, a whole new year of environmental issues.
This week’s segment explores a study focused on removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Scientists and engineers at Harvard believe they may have found a way to convert carbon dioxide pollution into usable fuel.
This is the Iowa Environmental Focus.
The Harvard study explains the process to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere at a very low cost — around one-hundred to two-hundred dollars per ton of carbon dioxide. Researchers told the Atlantic magazine this would be a game-changer, because it could mitigate climate change without requiring a shift in lifestyle or a major change in the energy industry.
In a pilot device, researchers were able to turn the atmospheric carbon dioxide into fuels like gasoline. When burned, this carbon-neutral fuel would return back to the atmosphere without adding new greenhouse gases.
The researchers believe they could implement this on an industrial scale by 2021, the Atlantic reported.
For more information, visit iowa-environmental-focus-dot-org.
From the UI Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, I’m Sara E. Mason.
Between 1901 and 2016, she wrote, Iowa’s average temperature has increased about 1 degree Fahrenheit. With this, weather events in Iowa have become more extreme and unpredictable.
Among the staggering statistics are increases in:
Absolute humidity due to greater evaporation from lakes and rivers (23 percent increase since 1971 in Dubuque)
Rainfall due to the higher capacity of air to hold moisture (about 5 more inches per year compared to 100 years ago)
Heavy precipitation events, causing soil erosion impacting agriculture (37 percent increase between 1958 and 2012)
If humans continue to emit greenhouse gases at the current rate, the predictions for the future are even more dire:
Extreme heat waves (one every 10 years) will be around 13 degrees Fahrenheit hotter by 2050
Global average temperature increase of over 7 degrees Fahrenheit from 1900 levels by 2100 — compared to a 1.8 degree increased seen so far
Mutel calls for more action in Iowa and nationwide to switch to renewable energy sources, following in the footsteps of countries like China, Costa Rica, and New Zealand that are on their way toward serious reductions in fossil-fuel based energy production.
“Will we continue to allow current trends to slide us toward a less dependable globe that degrades life’s abundance, beauty, and health?” she asks. “Or will we work for a self-renewing, healthier, more stable planet fueled by the sun, wind, and other renewables? The choice remains ours.”
At least 100 members of the Iowa City community committed to actions to help mitigate and adapt to climate change.
In an effort to increase participation in climate-friendly behaviors, Iowa City held a meeting for community members to come together to discuss solutions, both at the individual and societal level.
Five areas of action showed the diverse potential to make change:
Buildings in terms of energy efficiency, conversion of natural gas to electric, and on-site renewable energy
Transportation in terms of improvements to mass transit, and enabling walking and cycling, including a future bike share program
Waste in terms of increasing recycling and composting, reusing items, and reducing consumption
Adaptation in terms of resilience to disaster and outreach and education to vulnerable populations
Sustainable lifestyle in terms of diet and purchasing habits
This meeting was another step toward a Climate Action and Adaptation Plan, which the city decided to pursue to continue the Paris Accord, an international agreement to reduce greenhouse gases. The Obama Administration committed to the Paris Accord in 2016, but the Trump Administration announced plans to withdraw in 2017.
Attendees learned about steps they can take in their own lives to help combat climate change. Many participants signed a climate pledge promising to take specific actions addressed by the five areas of action.
At the end of the event, Martha Norbeck, a member of the Iowa City Climate Action Steering committee, reminded everyone that changes must continue to be made to make a difference.
“Whatever you’re doing, you can do more,” she said.