EnvIowa- Iowa City Climate Action Steering Committee


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CGRER member Charles Stanier speaks about his experience on the Iowa City Climate Action Steering Committee.

Eden DeWald| September 6, 2018

Episode 9 of the EnvIowa Podcast gives an inside look at how the City of Iowa City created its climate plan. We spoke with the Iowa City Sustainability Coordinator Brenda Nations, about her role in the planning process, and about why Iowa City needs a climate action plan. CGRER member Charles Stanier was a part of the steering committee that provided input for the climate action plan, and helped to personalize the plan to fit Iowa City. He provided context for this EnvIowa episode about what it was like being a member of the steering committee and implementing a climate action plan in his community.

The Iowa City Climate Action Plan has ambitious goals—like aiming to reduce Iowa City emissions by 80% by 2050. Take a peek at this episode of EnvIowa to learn more about the process of creating this plan!

 

On the Radio- Air pollution linked to diabetes


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A skyline obscured. (大杨/flickr)

Eden DeWald | August 27, 2018

This week’s segment explores a link between air pollution and diabetes.

Transcript:

Air pollution from power plants, wild fires and vehicle exhaust has been linked to cases of type two diabetes.

This is the Iowa Environmental Focus.

Air pollution has long been linked with numerous respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. A new study, published in The Lancet, studied how fine particulate matter pollution is linked to diabetes. Researchers monitored over one and a half million United States veterans to assess their general health, exposure to air pollution, and whether or not they developed diabetes.

The study concluded that there were a significant number of cases of diabetes attributable to particulate matter the size of 2.5 micrometers. Cases of diabetes caused by air pollution were found to be more concentrated in low income areas across the globe.

2.5 micrometer particulate matter can easily be inhaled and enter the respiratory and circulatory systems of humans due to their very small size. The particulates can be generated from anything, from wildfires to car exhaust. The study makes a point that reduction in exposure to this kind of air pollution will reap health benefits worldwide.

For more information, visit iowa-environmental-focus-dot-org.

From the UI Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, I’m Sara E. Mason.

On the Radio- Air quality of national parks


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A stunning view of Zion National Park (Matt K/flickr)

Eden DeWald | August 20, 2018

This week’s segment explores how patronage has affected the air quality of our national parks.

Transcript:

Poor air quality threatens the beauty of our treasured national parks.

This is the Iowa Environmental Focus.

A recent study done by Iowa State University and Cornell University discovered that park visitor vehicle emissions and regional air pollution have negatively affected air quality at our national parks. The study found that between 1990 and 2014, the average ozone levels measured in the 33 largest national parks were the same as ozone levels from the 20 largest US cities. The parks host more than 300 million visitors each year.

The Regional Haze Rule was put in place by the EPA to protect air quality at our national parks. However, researchers found that this has only been effective in reducing ozone in areas that exceed the “unhealthy” limit of 70 parts per billion. Exposure to ozone can have a negative effect on your respiratory system, and can reduce visibility when present.

With millions of Americans flocking to the parks each summer, it is crucial that more protections are made to protect park visitors, as well as the national parks themselves.

For more information, visit iowa-environmental-focus-dot-org.

From the UI Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, I’m Sara E. Mason.

Carbon dioxide capture using magnesite


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Magnesite is used in a variety of way, even in jewelry. (source)

Eden DeWald | August 15th, 2018

Each ton of crystalline magnesite can remove up to half a ton of  atmospheric carbon dioxide. However, the rate of formation for naturally occurring magnesite is fairly slow and needs to occur under high temperatures and pressures. Researchers at Trent University in Ontario, Canada have found a way to both speed up the process of producing magnesite and produce it at room temperature.

Polystrene microspheres were used as a catalyst to start the crystallization at room temperature. The microspheres were preserved in the process, making them potentially reusable for more magnesite production. The formation occurring at room temperature is another aspect which makes this production process more sustainable. Not having to heat and pressurize the magnesite for a long period of time makes the whole production process more energy efficient.

Magnesite can take up to thousands of years to develop naturally—this new process only takes 72 days. Research concerned with using magnesite for carbon sequestration is still in development, but the discovery of an easier production process makes it more viable.

On the Radio- An excess of parking spaces


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Fewer Americans are getting driver’s licenses. (Joey C./flickr)

Eden DeWald | August 13th, 2018

This week’s segment focuses on the amount of land the parking spaces occupy in Des Moines.

Transcript:

There are more than nineteen parking spaces for every household in the city of Des Moines, a new report shows.

This is the Iowa Environmental Focus.

The report by the Research Institute for Housing America examined the number of parking spaces in five American cities, and found that generally, the supply of parking spaces greatly exceeds the demand. In Des Moines, there are one-point-six million parking spaces, and around eighty-three thousand households.

The abundance of parking is not being widely utilized either. The report states that a spot-count of a downtown Des Moines park-and-ride was at only eight percent occupancy.

The author argues that generally, the need for parking is declining. In Seattle, for example, forty percent of households do not have a car, yet parking covers forty percent of Seattle’s land.

Fewer Americans have a driver’s license, especially in younger generations, and companies like Lyft and Uber are reducing trips made in personal vehicles.

For more information, visit iowa-environmental-focus-dot-org.

From the Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, I’m Sara E. Mason.

2017 is the third warmest year on record


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The past three years have been the hottest on record. (NASA/flickr)

Eden DeWald | August 8th, 2017

According the the State of the Climate report, 2017 is the third warmest year on record. The annual State of the Climate report is published by the American Meteorological Society and is based on international data taken from land, air, and sea monitoring stations. 2016 still remains the warmest year on record, and 2015 comes in as the second warmest.

The data from 2017 also reveals that last year, atmospheric greenhouse gas levels were the highest ever recorded.  The average global carbon dioxide concentrations reached 405 parts per million. This far surpasses any carbon dioxide concentrations from previous climate data, as well as C02 concentrations found in ice cores from well over half a million years ago.

The report also contains information about continued sea level rise, ocean surface temperatures, coral bleaching, and declining polar ice cap coverage. To read the State of the Climate in 2017, or any of the past reports, click here.

On the Radio- The coral of the future


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Coral reefs are being destroyed due to coral bleaching (USFWS/flickr)

Eden DeWald | August 6, 2018

This week’s segment explores efforts in Hawaii to grow corals resistant to bleaching.

Transcript:

Scientists are attempting to speed up evolution in an effort to save coral reefs.

This is the Iowa Environmental Focus.

Biologists at Gates Coral Lab at the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology are working on a way to cross-breed coral species that have resisted coral bleaching or persisted in spite of it. Coral bleaching, a phenomenon that has been slowly killing reefs for years, occurs when corals are stressed by environmental factors, such as pollution or extreme temperature changes.

The Biologists at Hawaii’s Coral Lab are trying to cross-breed resistant species of coral to create something like a super-coral—a variety of coral that can withstand these environmental stressors. This plan is sometimes referred to as assisted evolution, when scientists help speed up the process of evolution to yield stronger varieties of creatures.

Dr. Ruth Gates, director at the Hawaii Institute, isn’t sure if coral reefs would survive past 2050 without some assistance.

For more information, visit Iowa Environmental Focus dot org.

From the UI Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, I’m Sara E. Mason.