WorldCanvass event to focus on climate solutions


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Jenna Ladd | April 20, 2018

It’s obvious to anyone that follows climate news that climate change is longer a far-off possibility, it is happening now. Dr. Jerry Schnoor, professor of civil and environmental engineering and co-director of the Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research at the University of Iowa, illustrated this point in a recent guest opinion piece for the Press Citizen.

Dr. Schnoor pointed out several ways in which climate change has already taken hold in Iowa. More intense storms are eroding soil into waterways, humidity is on the rise, and floods are likely to be separated by periods of drought. If greenhouse gas emissions are not cut dramatically, all of these effects will become more severe. So, what can Iowans actually do to reverse course? Dr. Schnoor had several recommendations.

He urged individuals to consider limiting their own carbon emissions. At the state level, he stated that Iowa should join the sixteen other states in The Climate Alliance, which is a “proposition that climate and energy leadership promotes good jobs and economic growth.” Iowa is a national leader in wind energy and biofuel usage; the professor argued that joining the alliance obviously aligns with the state’s clean energy accomplishments.

Private sector and industry groups can be a part of the climate solution, too, he said. The World Business Council for Sustainable Development provides innovative ideas for companies looking to curb their emissions. Just recently, international martime shipping companies agreed to cut their greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent before 2050.

Climate change policy recommendations must be based in research. Dr. Schnoor invited Iowans to attend a WorldCanvass program on April 25th to hear about the latest scientific research related to climate change and climate-smart policy from several CGRER members. Part of a series of nine recorded discussions focused on topics of international interest, the event is free and open to the public.

What: WorldCanvass Climate Science and the Environment—What’s Next?

When: Wednesday, April 25th from 5:30-7:00 pm

Where: MERGE, 136 South Dubuque Street, Iowa City, Iowa

A catered reception will take place from 5:00-5:30 pm. Dr. Schnoor’s full piece in the Press Citizen can be found here.

On The Radio- 2,500 chemicals sites at risk for floods


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Sites at risk for high and moderate flooding 

Kasey Dresser | April 16, 2018

This weeks segment looks at chemical sites across the U.S. that are located in flood risk areas.

 

Transcript:

Twenty five hundred toxic chemical sites in the U.S. are located in areas with high risk for flooding. 

This is the Iowa Environmental Focus. 

Last year the Climate Science Special report predicted a higher flood risk going into 2018. The heightened risk is from heavy rainfall and rising sea levels that lead to coastal floods and potential hurricanes. As of now, fourteen hundred toxic chemical sites are at high risk and eleven hundred are at moderate risk of flooding. 

Last year, Hurricane Harvey released hazardous pollutants at more than 40 sites. In 2012 Tropical Storm Debby destroyed a chemical plant in White Springs, Florida that produced phosphates to be used in fertilizer. Flooding from the tropical storm overflowed the Suwanee River destroying the algae and duckweed growth and caused the oxygen levels in the lakes and rivers to plummet. Record-breaking rains in May of last year overflowed storage ponds of sodium hydroxide sending the contaminant into the Alabama River.

Currently federal law and most state governments do not require a flood risk plan for toxic chemical sites. More needs to be done to protect our waterways from natural disasters.

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

From the UI Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, I’m Betsy Stone.

Mock climate change negotiation set for April 21st


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A mock climate negotiation is coming to Iowa City, challenging participants to keep climate change well below 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels. (MIT technology review)
Jenna Ladd | April 12, 2018

Iowa City area residents have the opportunity to understand what it might be like to be a part of the United Nations climate change negotiations.

On Saturday, April 21,  the public is invited to participate in a World Climate Simulation. Created by Climate Interactive, nearly 900 of these simulations have taken place in 75 countries. The role-playing exercise assigns each participant a delegate position with a nation, interest group or negotiating bloc. During the mock international climate change negotiating meeting, participants are tasked with negotiating climate policy that would keep climate change below 2˚C over preindustrial temperatures. Meanwhile, the event facilitator, acting as a UN leader, uses the C-ROADS interactive computer model to demonstrate the climate implications of any number of climate policy proposals. The C-ROADS simulation is based on current climate change science.

Climate Interactive details the learning outcomes of the activity. They write, “During the event participants must face the climate science, engage in the drama and tensions of global politics, test their ambitions against a climate-modeling tool used by actual climate negotiators, and then reflect on how the experience challenges their assumptions about climate action.”

Iowa City’s simulation will take place from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm at the Iowa City Public Library on April 21st. Interested parties are encouraged to sign up as soon as possible. More information about this event and the link to register can be found here.

On The Radio- A decade since the 2008 flood


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Cedar Rapids

Kasey Dresser | April 9, 2018

This week’s segment looks at statistics from 10 years ago when Iowa experienced the 6th largest FEMA disaster in the U.S. 

Transcript:

This year marks a decade since the historic Iowa Floods of 2008.

This is the Iowa Environmental Focus. 

Most of the flooding started in early June, finally receding in July. Thousands of Iowans were left displaced and jobless from the rising waters. The banks of the Mississippi, the Cedar, the Iowa, and the Wapsipinicon Rivers all overflowed. Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, and the University of Iowa were among the worst affected in Eastern Iowa. Recovery has taken nearly a decade. 

At its peak, the Cedar River was around 20 feet above flood stage. In Cedar Rapids alone, around 10,000 residents were forced to evacuate their homes. The estimated financial assistance received by Iowans as a result of the 2008 floods totaled $848 million. This was the  6th largest FEMA disaster declaration in the U.S.. 

The Iowa Flood Center, established as a result of the 2008 floods, has been working diligently with many communities to make them more resilient to the impact of future flooding. The Flood Center is the only facility of its kind in the nation, dedicated to helping Iowans better prepare for more flooding.

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

From the UI Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, I’m Betsy Stone. 

The Getting Ahead of the Watershed Expo in Davenport, IA


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Kasey Dresser | March 7, 2018

The Getting Ahead of the Watershed Expo will be held in the Davenport River Center’s Mississippi Hall on Saturday, March 10th from 10am to 3pm. 
This is a free event, presented by students of Davenport North High School and Davenport Public Works, that aims to raise awareness about the quality of our waterways and individual impact on water quality through engaging demonstrations and exhibits.
The event will feature several interactive student and vendor booths with topics ranging from environmentally positive ways to increase the curb appeal of your home to locks and dams and levees.  In addition to interactive displays, a play featuring Franny the Fish, is sure to bring a smile to all ages, while delivering important information about our watershed.
There will also be a 9ft+ root system of native grass Big Blue Stem. The root system is certain to amaze and highlight the ecosystem, soil and water quality benefits of native plants in our landscape.
Attendees will also enjoy theDavenport Community School student artwork on display at the Expo, and to vote for their favorite art piece and booth, as well as enter a drawing for a beautifully decorated rain barrel.
This event is one you won’t want to miss!

Iowa City Darwin Day events this weekend


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Jenna Ladd | February 23, 2017

Just after what would have Charles Darwin’s 209th birthday, Iowa City will host its 12th annual Darwin Day celebration this weekend.

Each February, the non-profit Iowa City Darwin Day organization brings scientists from around the country to provide free, public workshops to residents. The organization aims to “recognize and show our appreciation for the enormous benefits that scientific knowledge, acquired through human curiosity and ingenuity, has contributed to the advancement of humanity” through its lectures and social events.

The weekend’s events kick off today at 2 pm in the University of Iowa Biology Building with an art exhibit followed by a presentation from Jacquelyn L. Gill, Assistant Professor at the University of Maine Climate Change Institute, titled “The Past is Not Dead: How the Last 2.5 Million Years of Global Change Can Prepare Us for the Next Century.” In all, Friday will feature presentations from three scientists, including former NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies director and University of Iowa Alumni, Dr. James E. Hansen.

Tomorrow’s programming will run from 9 am to 5:30 pm and be rounded out by a workshop for Iowa teachers. The workshop, titled, “Getting Students to Think, Talk and Write Like Scientists” will be facilitated by Dr. Paul K. Strode. A doctorate in ecology and evolution, Dr. Strode teaches science to high school students in Boulder, Colorado. His efforts are centered around teaching students to distinguish between real science and pseudoscience and engage in inquiry-based learning.

Local teachers also have the option to register for a two-day course and interactive workshop, which is sponsored by the Darwin Day Iowa City organization. Titled “Raising Scientific Literacy in a Time of Climate Change,” the workshop will take place during the other public events and provide participants with 1 semester hour of continuing education credit.

Have a busy weekend and can’t make it to all of this fantastic programming? If nothing else, be sure to attend Darwin’s birthday part on Saturday at 1 pm in MacBride Hall’s Hageboeck Hall of Birds!

More details about Darwin Day Iowa City activities can be found here.

Super blue blood moon: What is that?


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A super blood moon shines over France in 2018. (Falcon Photography/flickr)

Jenna Ladd | January 31, 2018

People around the U.S. observed a very rare phenomenon in the Earth’s skies this morning. Well, actually, three phenomenon.

A super blue blood moon was easily seen by people in the Midwest between about 6 am and 8 am. Even if you did wake early enough to see this peculiar lunar event, you may be wondering what all this moon talk means. Let’s start with the word “super.” Super moons are when the moon appears especially large in the night sky, owing to the fact that it is at its closet point to earth. During this time, the moon can appear to be 30 percent brighter and 14 percent larger. “Blue moon” is simply another name for the second full moon within a calendar month.

And “blood moon?” This name refers to the reddish color that the moon has when there is a total lunar eclipse, or the moon passes through Earth’s shadow and all of the sun’s light is blocked from illuminating it.

The total lunar eclipse began giving the moon a reddish tint at around 6:51 am and was no longer visible by 8:07 am in Des Moines. Those in the western part of the country were able to enjoy the eclipse for longer, as the moon remained above the horizon for more time. People in the eastern U.S. did not get to see the event, as the moon went below the horizon before it began in that part of the country.

Did you forget to look up this morning? Unfortunately, you’ll have to wait until January 31, 2037 to see these three characteristics all in one moon.