Climate change has caused more frequent and intense weather patterns in Iowa, including floods, droughts, and powerful derechos. These events create conditions that threaten our trees. The Iowa Climate Statement 2022: The Many Benefits of Our Trees released today is focused on the climate threats and strategies to expand and support urban trees and rural woodlands.
“The August 2020 derecho, the most destructive thunderstorm in US history is emblematic of the impact of climate change on our trees. This extreme event led to the loss of an estimated 7 million rural and urban trees in Iowa,” said Dave Courard-Hauri, Chair of Environmental Science and Sustainability Program, Drake University. “Recovering from this event will take years of coordinated efforts and millions of dollars of investment,” continued Courard-Hauri.
“With their wealth of ecological and social benefits, the trees we have are valuable. We need to plant diverse species of trees to promote resilience and support and strengthen Iowa’s on-going tree planting programs,” said Heather Sander, Associate Professor, Geographical and Sustainability Sciences, University of Iowa. “In the face of climate change we should both plant more trees and provide essential care for the precious trees we already have.” continued Sander.
The twelfth annual Iowa Climate Statement 2022: The Many Benefits of Our Trees was endorsed by Iowa 203 science faculty and researchers from 33 Iowa colleges and universities.
On Tuesday, October 11th, Iowa Law is hosting a discussion surrounding the Hubbell Environmental Law Initiative (HELI). The event will feature panel discussions with policy experts, researchers, industry members, public employees, and nonprofit organization representatives. The panels will discuss solar policies around Iowa. Following the guest speakers, the audience will have the opportunity to participate in a Q&A. Breakfast and lunch will be included at the event. Attendance is both in person and virtual and open to all ages. If interested, register at: https://uiowa.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_2lU6iMrnn17eLu6
Thursday, September 23, at 5 p.m. the College of Engineering in partnership with CGRER and the CASE colloquium series presents a series of 4 webinars by world-renowned scientists who will explain the latest scientific findings, discuss measures to mitigate the impacts of climate change, adaptation to the effects on extreme weather, and natural systems, and ideas on engineering infrastructure for resilience in the face of change.
The first webinar will be presented by two leading researchers on climate and environment from the college of engineering at U Iowa, Prof. Greg Carmichael and Prof. Jerry Schnoor. The topic for the first webinar is:
“Climate science report AR6: what the IPPC’s latest climate report says about the changing climate, extreme weather and impacts on natural and engineered systems”
University of Iowa professors and CGRER Co-directors Gregory Carmichael and Jerald Schnoor will speak at a virtual event on Thursday, April 29 from 4-5 pm as part of the Hawkeyes Give Back events. Carmichael and Schnoor will speak on their current efforts to combat climate change.
Carmichael is a professor of chemical and biochemical engineering at UI. He has done intense research on air quality along with its environmental impacts. His research includes the “development of comprehensive air quality models and their application to regional and international air pollution problems”.
Schoor is a professor of civil and environmental engineering, as well as occupational and environmental health at the UI. His other environmental work includes hydroscience research and climate advocacy.
Both professors are experts in the field of environmental science. Students, alumni and friends have the opportunity to hear them speak by registering at this link.
“Called to Climate Action 2020: Uphold and Upheave!” is a faith-based program that will focus on climate awareness, action and leadership in Iowa. In his address, Harry Smith will speak on his call to climate action and talk about his career reporting on environmental stories in the United States and internationally. The event will also include various presentations by Iowa college students who have organized faith-based climate action on their campuses.
Harry Smith is a graduate of Central College in Pella and has strong ties to Iowa. He hosted morning shows at CBS news for 17 years before joining NBC in 2011, and he has hosted the A&E series “Biography.” He has interviewed world leaders, reported from disaster zones all over the world and reported from the ground during the Iraq War, the war in Bosnia and the Persian Gulf War. He has won an Edward R Murrow Award and several Emmy Awards, according to Iowa IPL’s page.
Smith also recently appeared on Iowa Public Radio where he talked about reporting in the Midwest and his dedication to environmental stewardship. You can listen to that interview here.
Climate experts David Courard-Hauri, Silvia Secchi and Eric Tate gave statements on the main points of the Iowa Climate Statement 2020: Will COVID-19 Lessons Help Us Survive Climate Change and answered questions from the press in a virtual press conference Wednesday morning.
In his statement, Courard-Hauri spoke on the importance of listening to professional public health and climate change experts.
“Unfortunately, in the face of political polarization, some have taken up the strategy of de-legitimizing science, but this distrust in expert guidance has led to preventable deaths and economic damage to working people and businesses,” said Courard-Hauri.
Secchi followed by drawing parallels between the financial costs of the pandemic and climate crisis when immediate action is delayed.
“The cost of not being prepared for the pandemic has far outweighed the costs of prevention and preparation,” said Secchi. “The cost of ignoring climate change is no different. Proactive efforts to address climate change have been proven to save lives and money.”
Tate spoke on the third lesson outlined in the climate statement. His statement involved information on how events caused by climate change and the pandemic disproportionately affect racial minorities and poor communities.
“The disproportionate number of poor people and racial minorities who have suffered severe illness or death from this pandemic has highlighted deep inequities. Inequity reduces resilience, leaving poor communities, particularly communities of color, disproportionately vulnerable to the impacts of climate-related natural disasters, just as they are to disease,” Tate said.
PDF versions of the Iowa Climate Statement 2020, the press release and written statements from all three speakers can be found on the Iowa Climate Statement Page.
Iowa’s leading climate scientists will release the Iowa Climate Statement 2020: Will Covid-19 Lessons Help Us Survive Climate Change? on Wednesday, October 7 at 10:15 a.m.
Climate experts from across the state have come together to create this year’s climate statement. The statement describes the key lessons learned from our response to controlling the pandemic and how those lessons could improve our efforts to fight the existential threat of climate change.
The lead contributors will be holding a zoom press conference immediately following the release of the statement, and key speakers will include David Courard-Hauri, Chair of Environmental Science and Sustainability at Drake University, and Silvia Secchi and Eric Tate, Associate Professors of Geographical and Sustainability Sciences at the University of Iowa.
Anyone wishing to tune in for the conference on October 7 can watch it live on the CGRER Facebook page.
The Iowa City Climate Fest begins today and will celebrate the different ways that our community is coming together to address climate change throughout the week.
There will be no in-person activities this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the organizers have planned daily personal challenges and virtual community events to keep the celebration going. Details can be accessed through their website. Today’s activities center around celebrating better transportation options, and there will be a knew theme each day.
Local businesses, organizations, and individuals can also get involved by printing off coloring sheets to decorate and hang in windows or submit videos, pictures or posts telling their personal climate action story. Anyone who is interested in taking alternative actions for reducing emissions in Iowa City is also encouraged to check out their Climate Action Toolkit.
On yesterday’s episode of Iowa Public Radio’s River to River, experts in environmental health and sustainability discussed the intersection of the COVID-19 pandemic, police brutality and the ongoing issue of climate change.
Eric Tate, associate professor of geographical and sustainability science at the University of Iowa, spoke on how health and climate crises can highlight disparities already impacting the country’s most vulnerable populations. Peter Thorne, another professor at UI and head of the Department of Occupational and Environmental Health, compared COVID-19 to climate change by speaking on how early action can cave lives and minimize harm. Finally, Ulrike Passe, associate professor of architecture and director of the Iowa State University Center for Building Energy Research, spoke on the importance of considering both climate and social factors when designing and constructing buildings.
Click here to listen to this episode of River to River.
April 22, 2020, is not just another Earth Day. It is the 50th anniversary of the first Earth Day – the one that changed my life forever. Naive and over my head as student body president at Iowa State-1970, my world was on fire with righteous indignation against a compulsory draft for an unjust War in Vietnam. At times I actually thought that it would tear the country apart.
The first Earth Day strangely diverted my immediate attention, and the diversion would last a lifetime. Brainchild of Senator Gaylord Nelson and organized by Denis Hayes as a national Teach-In, Earth Da
y spawned immense bipartisan gatherings of 20 million people in the streets for one unifying goal – a healthy Planet Earth. Earth Day ignited in me a realization that my chemical engineering education from ISU could morph into something green and more fascinating, that is, trying to understand water quality, biodiversity, and the biogeochemistry of Earth’s processes. Discerning remedies for the massive disruptions that 7.7 billion people and an $80 trillion GWP can inflict on the earth has proven even more challenging.
This year we celebrate Earth Day with digital gatherings due to coronavirus. It’s not the same, but perhaps the pandemic can teach us some valuable lessons. Some people were slow to accept the dismal science of a spreading pandemic – they lacked trust in health professionals’ recommendations for social distancing, staying home, and closing businesses, sporting events, churches and social gatherings. But the flattening curves of Wuhan, South Korea, Singapore, and even Italy, Spain, and New York bear testament to the wisdom of their call.
Our national plan for the pandemic Covid-19 was non-existent, like the Emperor’s new clothes, plain for all to see. Pandemics are “global disease outbreaks” and they require national plans and concerted global action. As recently as 2003-2004, WHO mitigated much more rapidly a similar virus, SARS, by careful messaging and international cooperation of 11 labs in 9 different countries. U.S. and Chinese scientists together developed a vaccine within a year. Far too little cooperation exists today, both at home and abroad. Politics and hyper partisanship are disastrous in a time of global need. We can do better.
Analogies between climate change and our pandemic response are obvious. We have no national plan for either. As a young egg-head professor at the University of Iowa, I published my first modeling paper on climate change and its consequences in 1994, many years after others had done so. It projected (surprisingly accurately) the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere today with business-as-usual. That’s exactly what happened – business as usual. If you had told me that the U.S. would still not have comprehensive climate change and energy legislation in 2020, I would have told you, “you’re crazy”.
But it’s in the history books. We have failed to listen to the science and failed to reduce our gargantuan greenhouse gas emissions — the planet cannot take it anymore. Now it really is a Climate Emergency. What’s more, we are threatening to extinct 1 million species in the next generation as well – the Biodiversity Crisis.
Coronavirus humbles us all. How can one not be moved by the sight of doctors, nurses, custodians, and admissions clerks risking their lives for the rest of us? How can one not weep to see the miles of cars lined-up at food banks because families have nowhere else to turn? Playing out in the richest country in the world gives great pause.
Yes, we need science-based decision making on coronavirus and on climate change, but we need compassion and understanding as well. Noted columnist Sarah Van Gelder writes, “Changing hearts and opening minds begins when we listen”. Imagine the world we want, where everyone is safe and healthy, where the air is clean and the water is pure. Then, let us celebrate the 50th Anniversary of that spontaneous, bipartisan, original Earth Day by speaking from the heart and listening to each other.
Jerry Schnoor is professor of civil and environmental engineering and co-director of the Center for Global and Regional Research at the University of Iowa.