Environment & Science

Environment & Science
5:41 pm
Mon January 7, 2013

Stateside: The state of our waste

Glass recycling units help decrease the waste sent to landfills.
skatebiker Wikimedia Commons

Mark Kurlyandchik discusses his Hour Magazine article, "Waste Matters."

Mark Kurlyandchik, author of “Waste Matters,” is tracking his trash.

Kurlyandchik’s recent Hour Magazine article investigated Michigan’s treatment of its waste materials.

Some of his findings were striking.

“The average American produces almost four and a half pounds of trash a day. The U.S. makes up four percent of the world’s population, but we generate 30 percent of the global waste,” he said.

Kurlyandchik noted the country’s culture of consumerism as a reason for this large amount of waste.

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The Environment Report
11:40 am
Thu January 3, 2013

2012 shaping up to be warmest on record

The redder the area... the higher the difference from average temperature, June-August 2012.

You can listen to today's Environment Report above or read the story below.

The experts are still finalizing the data, but it looks like 2012 will go on the books as the warmest year in the U.S. in recorded history (ever since 1895).

I spoke with state climatologist Jeff Andresen for today's Environment Report. He's also a professor of geography at Michigan State University. He says in Michigan, we also came close to setting a record last year.

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Environment & Science
12:44 pm
Wed January 2, 2013

State wildlife officials will start mulling wolf hunt this month

Michigan natural resources officials will start the new year considering a possible wolf hunt in the state.

Governor Rick Snyder recently signed a bill that establishes the gray wolf as a game species.

But that doesn’t mean there will be a wolf hunt in the state. That will be up to the state wildlife commission.

Department of Natural Resources spokesperson Ed Golder said the commission will start looking into the issue in January.

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Environment & Science
11:28 am
Tue January 1, 2013

Sleeping Bear Dunes could gain special protection

EMPIRE, Mich. (AP) - Nearly half of Michigan's Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore would be preserved as wilderness under legislation awaiting a possible vote in the U.S. House in the last days of the 112th Congress.

The wilderness tag would be given to more than 32,000 undeveloped acres in the scenic lakeshore in northwestern lower Michigan. It's the highest level of conservation protection for federal lands.

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Environment & Science
11:26 am
Tue January 1, 2013

Fermi 2 nuclear plant restarts at low power

FRENCHTOWN TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) - DTE Energy Company says it has restarted its Fermi 2 nuclear power plant after an eight-week shutdown for repairs to a reactor water pump.

The plant began running at reduced power in July and went off line November 7th when operators saw that water in part of the cooling system for the generator contained higher than normal amounts of hydrogen.

The 1,100 megawatt reactor is next to Lake Erie in Monroe County's Frenchtown Township, near Monroe.

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Environment & Science
9:45 am
Mon December 31, 2012

Cleaning Michigan's rivers

(file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

State officials have opened up a competitive grant program for river cleanup projects.

People can buy a special fundraising license plate in Michigan. It’s called the water quality protection plate and it funds small grants to local governments for river cleanup projects.

Bill Dimond is with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. He says the DEQ collects the fees from those license plates. Then an agency called the Great Lakes Commission decides who receives the grants. The cities and towns have to provide 25%.

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Environment & Science
5:31 pm
Thu December 27, 2012

Michigan DNR Wants Teenagers

The DNR is looking for Teen's Input.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources Youth Advisory Council needs your kids' opinions.

The council is seeking applications from teenagers (14-18) to help make the outdoors fun and interesting.

Organizers say they want input from all over the state and plan to even explore the use of mobile applications to learn what draws young people to enjoy the outdoors.

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Environment & Science
6:29 am
Thu December 27, 2012

Michigan snowstorm snarls driving, air traffic

Ann Arbor picked up more than 6 inches of snow in Wednesday's storm
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

COMMERCE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) - Southeastern Michigan residents are making the best of the region's first big snowstorm of the season, which peaked during the evening rush hour and snarled road traffic and air travel.

The fringe of the storm pushed into populous metropolitan Detroit on Wednesday afternoon, and the National Weather Service says it should taper off Thursday.

Snowfalls were topping half a foot by late Wednesday, with 6.5 inches already on the ground in Ann Arbor.

Environment & Science
5:40 pm
Wed December 26, 2012

Winter's blast delaying flights, causing accidents in southern Michigan

Snow piling up in Ann Arbor
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

UPDATE 5:30pm

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Environment & Science
10:15 am
Wed December 26, 2012

Major snow storm coming to southeast Michigan

DETROIT (AP) - Southeast Michigan is bracing for the first major snowstorm of the season.

National Weather Service officials say a winter storm is expected to dump four to eight inches of snow on the region between Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning.

Temperatures are expected to hover around 32 degrees on both days, with wind gusts approaching 30 mph Wednesday and 20 mph Thursday.

Environment & Science
1:56 pm
Tue December 25, 2012

More snow coming to Michigan

A window view of a winter day in Jackson, Michigan
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

TROY, Mich. (AP) - Northern Michigan has had its first big snowstorm of the season, and the South is awaiting its introduction to winter this week.

Most Michiganians awoke to a white Christmas after a moderate snowfall on Christmas Eve made travel risky and caused dozens of spinout accidents around the state.

The Upper Peninsula and northern Lower Peninsula got up to 20 inches of snow in a storm that hit last Thursday, and the weather service says a storm expected to push across southeastern Michigan will bring four to seven inches on Wednesday and Thursday.

Environment & Science
3:02 pm
Sun December 23, 2012

Officials: Common terns doing well on Belle Isle

The uncommon 'common tern'
DTE Energy

DETROIT (AP) - Officials say they've confirmed that common terns are doing well in restored habitat on the eastern tip of Belle Isle in the Detroit River.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says this year was the first time that the gull-like migratory birds have fledged, or grown enough to fly, in the area since the 1960s.

The habitat was created by the Detroit Zoological Society, the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department and the Fish and Wildlife Service.

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10:51 am
Fri December 21, 2012

Will we have a white Christmas?

Current radar shows snow falling over Michigan.
screen shot AccuWeather.com

If this snow sticks around, we will.

Snow is falling around much of the state today, but the major snow fell on the norther lower and upper peninsulas yesterday and overnight.

The Traverse City Record-Eagle reports ten inches fell around the northwest part of the state. The storm also brought high winds leading to power outages:

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Environment & Science
5:32 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

Stateside: Fish farming in Detroit

Noah Link is the co-owner of Food Field. It's a small farm in Detroit's Boston-Edison neighborhood. Link calls the converted shipping container his "post-industrial" farm house.
Mercedes Mejia

The Detroit Planning Commission recently approved a new Urban Agriculture Ordinance. The action takes the city a step closer to officially recognizing the dozens of urban farms and gardens scattered across the city.

The ordinance also defines the kinds of projects that would be allowed, such as farm stands, orchards or greenhouses. Stateside’s Mercedes Mejia reports some residents are experimenting with aquaponic systems. It’s a method of growing crops and fish at the same time.

Noah Link: Over here is our chicken coop. We have about 42 chickens and 4 ducks so far. You can hear the ducks – they’ve awfully loud and hungry probably.

Noah Link is the co-owner of Food Field. He lives and works in the Boston-Edison neighborhood in Detroit. I met up with him on his farm called Food Field. It’s on the site of a former elementary school - imagine a small farm tucked away in the city.

 "So if you go a few blocks one way there are huge historical mansions, and you go a few blocks the other way and it’s all run down old shops, and total poverty, and we’re right in between," he says.

Link and his business partner worked on several farms across the country. They knew it wouldn’t be easy to own a farm, but they’re doing the hard work. On the land are different kinds of crops, chickens, a few beehives, and a young orchard of fruit and nuts trees. There’s also a hoop house to grow vegetables year-round.

"And we’ve just built an aquaponic system to be able to raise fish in there, which I’ll show you."

An aquaponic system is a combination of hydroponics and aquaculture - growing plants in water and fish farming.

"And it takes the best of both of those in a self-sustaining system so then rather than having to worry about toxic fish waste to get rid of or keeping it sterile hydroponic environment for your plants, the plants grow out of the waste water from the fish that just get circulated with the pump and they clean out the water to keep it safe for all the fish in the tank," Link says.

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1:06 pm
Wed December 19, 2012

6 to 12 inches of snow for northern Michigan

Snow! Well... a little anyway.

Snow is likely to hit northern and possibly west Michigan starting tomorrow and through Friday morning.

The National Weather Service says the first major winter storm of the season is over the middle of the country and is expected to track northeast.

Shortwave energy triggering widespread showers across the four corner states at the start of the forecast period will swing out into the plains and help intensify a surface low in the lee of the Central Rockies by Wednesday afternoon.  The strengthening cyclone will quickly track northeastward towards the middle Mississippi valley Wednesday night and is expected to reach southern Michigan by early Friday.

Snow is expected to start in Kalkaska, for example, after 4 a.m. tomorrow. Accumulations are expected to be 6 to 12 inches.

Check out the forecast for your area from the NWS.

Environment & Science
4:21 pm
Tue December 18, 2012

Ann Arbor plan could reduce greenhouse gases by 90 percent

Ann Arbor unveiled a plan to reduce green house gas.
GsGeorge WIKIMEDIA Commons

Ann Arbor has just announced a plan to reduce greenhouse gases by 90 percent by 2050 - and they'll need residents' help to do it.

Nathan Geisler helped author the plan and says the almost 200-page plan suggests dozens of strategies for the community to reduce its carbon footprint.  “The climate plan is an energy plan and a transportation plan and has land use elements and a variety of things to look at how as a community we can reduce energy consumption and therefore greenhouse gas emissions.”

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The Environment Report
10:52 am
Tue December 18, 2012

Researchers map 34 threats to the Great Lakes

The research team used the combined influence of 34 different threats to map environmental stress on the Great Lakes.
University of Michigan

You can listen to the interview with David Allan on today's Environment Report.

The Great Lakes are under a lot of stress. 

34 different kinds of stress, to be exact.

That’s according to a research team that has produced a comprehensive map showing many of the things that stress the Great Lakes.  Think: pollution, invasive species, development and climate change... just to name a few. 

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The Environment Report
12:03 pm
Thu December 13, 2012

Palisades: a year in review

NRC officials Jack Giessner, Tom Taylor, April Scarbeary, Robert Orlikowski, and Chuck Castro answer questions from the public.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

The Palisades Nuclear Power Plant near South Haven has been going through some significant challenges over the past couple of years. It’s been shut down eight times in two years, and federal regulators downgraded its safety rating to one of the worst in the country.

Michigan Radio's Lindsey Smith has been writing about the plant through the turmoil. She joined me on today's Environment Report to take a look back at the events of the past year.

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Environment & Science
4:21 pm
Wed December 12, 2012

TIMELINE: 8 shutdowns at Palisades Nuclear Power Plant in past 2 years

Palisades Nuclear Power Plant on the shores of Lake Michigan near South Haven.
Entergy Corporation

Michigan Radio has been following the problems at the Palisades Nuclear Power Plant for the last several years.

Our West Michigan reporter, Lindsey Smith, has been on top of all the leaks, shutdowns, public meetings and visits from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Last February, after five shutdowns in one year, the NRC downgraded Palisades' safety rating. It was rated as one of the four worst in the country.

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2:53 am
Wed December 12, 2012

“Significant” issues at Palisades plant resolved, but still a “long way to go"

Kevin Kamps of Beyond Nuclear asks officials from NRC questions about Palisades at a meeting Tuesday night in South Haven.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Company officials who run the Palisades nuclear plant in southwest Michigan say they are improving the safety culture among workers that led to “significant” safety concerns last year. But at a meeting in South Haven Tuesday night, Palisades Site Vice President Tony Vitale said the plant has a “long way to go” to reach “operating excellence.”

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