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Environment & Science

pressure gauge
Observe The Banana / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Next Idea

 

So many innovative ideas begin with inventors observing simple events. Take Newton’s falling apple, for example, or Archimedes’ overflowing bathtub. 

For Emil Ureel of West Michigan, it was building an ice rink in his backyard — or rather designing a refrigeration system to keep it from melting.

 

“I thermodynamically ended up producing a chiller system from a used central air unit,” Ureel said. “Going through the process, I learned something related to thermodynamics that’s referred to as saturation vapor pressure.”

image of Asian carp at the Shedd Aquarium
Kate Gardiner / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

People worried about Asian carp infecting the Great Lakes have been anxiously awaiting a long-overdue carp "battle plan" from the Army Corps of Engineers — a report held up for six months by the Trump Administration.

Now the Army Corps is free to talk details, and as it does, the reaction among some in Michigan is disappointment and disbelief.

That's because the Army Corps says it will take eight years — until 2025 — to get this fix in place.

MRPOLYONYMOUS / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Does killing coyotes make things safer for livestock?

Last winter, Stateside did a story about a sporting goods store near the Irish Hills that held a bounty hunt on coyotes. The store said the hunt came in response to customers who expressed worry about their chicken coops and family dogs.

Megan Draheim, a lecturer in conservation biology and human dimensions of wildlife at Virginia Tech, joined Stateside today with a differing perspective. She said there’s no evidence that killing coyotes makes livestock safer. In fact, she said it can make the coyote-human problem even worse.

Courtesy photo / 110th Attack Wing, Battle Creek Air National Guard Base

There’s a new guy running the drinking water division at the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

Eric Oswald served 12 years of active duty in the Air Force. He spent the last five years as a commander at the Air National Guard Base in Battle Creek.

Oswald is not a drinking water expert.

Courtesy of Michigan Department of Natural Resources

Before Europeans arrived in Michigan, “moose were pretty much all over” the state, said Rachel Clark of the Michigan History Center.

After that arrival, the moose population declined as settlers began over-hunting the animal and damaging its habitat.

deer
mwanner_wc / creative commons

One deer in Genesee County has tested positive for epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD), according to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Disease Laboratory and the Michigan State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory say the free-ranging white-tailed deer died from the disease, which can be found in wild ruminants such as white-tailed deer, mule deer and elk.

One of the anchors used to hold Line 5 in place under the Straits of Mackinac.
Screen shot of a Ballard Marine inspection video / Enbridge Energy

Monday's meeting of the Michigan Pipeline Safety Advisory Board was filled with worry about the condition of Line 5, the two 64-year-old Enbridge pipelines carrying oil and liquid natural gas under the Straits of Mackinac.

Enbridge recently revealed there are areas of the pipeline where the protective coating has worn off. At first, the company said the areas were "Band-Aid" sized. But then, the story changed.

The Mackinac Bridge
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

The state pipeline safety board met for the first time Monday since it was revealed that Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline had lost some of its coating.

The controversial pipeline sends oil and liquid natural gas under the Straits of Mackinac. The board was updated on the coating issue. But it’s waiting on a plan and repair schedule from Enbridge before deciding what to do next. 

The board did recommend state universities start a new study on the risks of the pipeline.

Congressman Fred Upton
Republican Conference / Flickr

The U.S. House of Representatives has rejected an amendment to cut the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency by nearly 25%. The cut would have reduced the EPA budget by nearly $2 billion.

Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, joined Stateside to talk about why he voted against the proposal. Upton said the budget cut would have ended vital programs that protect the Great Lakes.

security camera
CWCS Managed Hosting / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

 


You are being tracked. Your actions are being tracked by government, retailers, credit agencies, social media, and it all goes much deeper than you might realize. 

Jonathan Weinberg, a professor of law at Wayne State University, joined Stateside host Lester Graham to discuss the state of surveillance on the average person today, and where it might go in the future.

Asian carp jumping out of water
michiganoutofdoors.com

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers held a public meeting in Muskegon last night on its $275.4 million plan to keep invasive fish species out of the Great Lakes.

A recent study found that electric barriers and complex noises, like the sound of boat motors, are the most effective ways to keep certain fish away. So the plan to keep Asian carp out of Lake Michigan includes both.

A diver inspects Enbridge's Line 5 pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac for a possible dent.
Enbridge inspection video shared with the state of Michigan

Michigan’s energy chief says Enbridge downplayed the significance of damage to the protective coating on its oil and gas pipeline that runs under the Mackinac Straits.

Parts of the coating were removed while workers installed safety anchors on a portion of Line 5 that runs beneath the Straits of Mackinac.

The patches where the metal was scraped bare are close to a foot in diameter. That's much larger than Enbridge initially reported.

U.S. Supreme Court
U.S. Supreme Court

The number of state and federal lawsuits related to climate change has been on the rise since 2006.

Sabrina McCormick is an associate professor of environmental and occupational health at The George Washington University Miliken Institute School of Public Health. She's the lead author of a study in the journal Science that finds the role of climate science in court is changing.

The Great Lakes from space.
NASA

The Next Idea

One afternoon while waiting for my flight to board, a headline caught my eye: “Civilization-Destroying Comets Are More Common Than We Thought.” I assumed it was one of those flashy clickbait attention-grabbers like the ones about how researchers have discovered how you can lose ten pounds just by drinking dandelion tea. Much to my surprise, it wasn’t one of those smarmy websites you’ve never heard of. It was Popular Mechanics. Yes, that do-it-yourself periodical for the pocket-protector jet set that has all the panache of your dad’s brown shoes. So why the hyperbole?

Amanda Bevan in front of a crowd of people
Courtesy of Renee Voit-Porath

 


Bats have a PR problem. They’re so associated with blood sucking and horror films, a lot of people want nothing to do with them.

That makes it hard to get people to care when they're in trouble, said Amanda Bevan, head of the Urban Bat Project and education specialist at the Organization for Bat Conservation.

That's a problem because right now, bats are in some pretty serious trouble. In the past decade, a fungal disease known as white-nose syndrome has killed 80 percent of the bats in the northeastern United States.  

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

A major dredging project in the Flint River remains on schedule.

Consumers Energy is paying to remove tons of coal tar waste along a third of a mile stretch of the river in downtown Flint. The coal tar waste is the legacy of a gasification plant that closed almost a century ago. 

Consumers spokesman Kevin Keane says crews recently started using a so-called “moon pool” as part of the dredging work.

“The moon pool is used to contain excavations in the river and it collects sheen and sediments that otherwise might travel over the dam,” says Keane.

Ciccone Vineyard & Winery
lincolnblues / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCLO

Driving along the Michigan shoreline often means passing vineyard after vineyard.

That made listener Blake Trombley wonder, so he submitted this question to our MI Curious project:

"Why are so many of Michigan's vineyards located on the coast?"

Smallmouth bass
micropterus_dolomieu / Wikimedia commons

Antidepressants that people take are building up in the brains of fish like walleye, bass, and perch. Researchers studied fish from the Niagara River, which connects lakes Erie and Ontario.

Chesapeake Bay Program / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCLO

Casting a fishing line into the water is just about as Michigan as you can get. And for some families, it's a legacy passed down through generations.

It might be easy to take fishing in Michigan for granted. But nearly sixty years ago, a group of fishing fanatics got together near the Au Sable River to ensure that trout-fishing in Michigan would remain strong for years to come.

That group was--and is still--called Trout Unlimited.

Sara Bird / Michigan Tech

Earthworms seem pretty harmless. But they’re causing problems for Michigan’s multi-million dollar sugar maple industry.

That’s the finding of a study by Tara Bal, a research assistant professor of forest resources and environmental science at Michigan Technological University.

Women walk wearing banners that say "Water Protector" and "Defend the Sacred"
Kaye LaFond / Michigan Radio

Chants of "Mni wiconi" (meaning "water is life" in Lakota) punctuated the annual Mackinac Bridge Walk on Labor Day, where tens of thousands of Michigan residents made the five-mile trek from St. Ignace to Mackinaw City.

Indigenous and environmental activists came from around the state for a full weekend of events calling for the shutdown of Enbridge's Line 5 oil pipeline. The 64-year-old pipeline runs beneath the Straits of Mackinac and carries up to 540,000 barrels of oil per day.

A boy wears special glasses to view the eclipse
Adam Fagen / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Grand Valley State University's Regional Math and Science Center is collecting eclipse glasses for a 2019 total solar eclipse that will be visible from the Pacific Ocean to parts of South America.

The Holland Sentinel reports that glasses used to view the sun during the August 21 eclipse over a long stretch of the United States will be sent to schools in South America and Asia through Astronomers Without Borders.

Invasive plant Japanese stiltgrass
Tom Potterfield / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The state Department of Natural Resources says an invasive grass from Asia has been found in Michigan for first time.

The DNR said Friday that Japanese stiltgrass was recently found on private property in Scio Township, near Ann Arbor in Washtenaw County.

The invasive plant originates in Asia and is a thin, bamboo-like grass with jointed stems and well-spaced leaves.

The DNR is asking landowners and others spending time outdoors to be on the lookout for Japanese stiltgrass and to report its location to the state agency.

picture of a peregrine falcon
Flickpicpete / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCLO

The pesticide DDT was responsible for wiping out large populations of top predator birds in Michigan and across the country. One of the most well known was the bald eagle whose eggs, thinned by the pesticide, cracked during incubation.

DDT was banned in the 1970s and raptors — with some help from wildlife biologists — started to make a comeback.

The historic Whitney Mansion
Levin Energy Partners

The 123-year old Whitney Mansion wastes a lot of electricity. But now the Detroit icon is going green. Let's just hope the ghost living there is okay with it.

A diver inspects Enbridge's Line 5 pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac for a possible dent.
Enbridge inspection video shared with the state of Michigan

The state is ordering Enbridge Energy to take swift action to fix portions of the Line 5 energy pipeline that runs beneath the Straits of Mackinac.

Enbridge reported to the state that small portions of enamel coating were accidentally removed in two places. The coating protects the oil and gas line that runs beneath the Straits of Mackinac from corrosion.

Melody Kindraka of the state Department of Environmental Quality says there’s no immediate threat to the Great Lakes, but it’s concerning that the problem was the result of human error.

water faucet
Laura Nawrocik / Flickr http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality is investigating whether a shoe manufacturer is responsible for water contamination in West Michigan.

In the 1960s, Wolverine Worldwide used a licensed dump site near Rockford to get rid of waste from its leather tanning process. Two chemicals used in the process, PFOS and PFOA, are now showing up in nearby residential wells.

Bloody red shrimp under a dissecting scope
NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Lab

Around the Great Lakes, millions of dollars are spent to fight invasive species like Asian carp. But when scientists find a new animal or plant in the area, it’s not always clear if it’s harmful or helpful.

D. Weckerle

Some of the most toxic chemicals used in industry are treated and temporarily held at the US Ecology plant on the Hamtramck-Detroit border, and plans to expand it tenfold have raised fears for neighbors and environmentalists.

According to Samuel Brinton of the American Nuclear Society, there are more than 75,000 metric tons of nuclear waste in storage all over the country.
daveynin / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The nuclear power industry has a problem. It has no way to dispose of spent nuclear fuel rods, which are high-level nuclear waste.

Since 1987, the plan was a facility in Nevada known as Yucca Mountain. The Obama administration basically put that project on hold. 

Now the Trump administration indicates Yucca Mountain is back on the agenda. In the president’s proposed budget, $120 million is set aside for restarting the approval process. And, earlier this month, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission voted two to one to begin "information gathering activities" related to the proposed nuclear waste depository site.

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