Day: August 3, 2015

Urban Flooding A Big Problem In Illinois

Listen to the interview from WUIS. Researchers are from the Illinois State Water Survey.

A new report details urban flooding problems in Illinois.  The report from the Department of Natural Resources says damage from urban flooding (flooding on higher ground outside a flood plain) cause more than $2 billion worth of damage between 2007-2014 in Illinois.

The report offers 33 recommendations to address the problems including more awareness, more local government oversight and a tax on homeowners insurance to help fix problems.

Urban flooding is most notable for flooded streets and flooded basements, especially due to storm sewer backups.   This type of flooding occurs in all of the counties in Illinois and usually happens in older sections of town where the infrastructure is old and also in subdivisions that were built in the 1950’s and 1960’s.

Michigan company uses dogs to sniff out water pollution

Listen to the full story at Great Lakes Echo.

It’s said that no location in Michigan is more than a few miles from a lake, pond, river or stream. That makes the safe and responsible disposal of waste water of primary concern to all of us. One Michigan-based company has introduced a new way to detect and source illicit discharges in storm and drain systems.

Karen and Scott Reynolds founded Environmental Canine Services in 2009 using dogs to detect waste water problems.

Dr. Kirk Heinze spoke with Karen Reynolds recently on MSU Today’s Greening of the Great Lakes, an occasional feature on Current State.

Some Google Street View Cars Now Track Pollution Levels

Read the full story from NPR.

For years, Google has had eyes in neighborhoods across the world: Google Street View cars armed with cameras, lasers, and GPS devices to filter “360-degree panoramic views” and “locations on all seven continents” to Google Maps.

Now, on top of having eyes, Google’s got a nose. It has partnered with Aclima, a company that designs environmental sensor networks, to equip some Google Street View cars with equipment that allows them to track air pollution in real time. The technology will allow the cars to monitor levels of several pollutants: nitrogen dioxide, nitric oxide, ozone, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, methane, black carbon, particulate matter, and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs).

Minnesota library loans gently used prom dresses

Read the full case study at Programming Librarian.

Drought: College teaching water preservation design

Read the full story in the Ukiah Daily Journal.

Although El Niño is raising the hopes of forecasters for a wet winter, California is still in the grips of a historic drought and those on the cutting edge of sustainable water development are working to create drought- friendly environments for local homeowners and a program and curriculum for a water certification program at Mendocino College.

Anna Birkas, proprietor of Village Ecosystems, hydrologist and California State licensed general building and engineering contractor with a master of arts degree in hydrology and watershed science from the University of Montana, grew up on the Mendocino coast, off the grid, and worked in construction during the summers building creative projects—timber frame construction—cutting trees and helping to mill the lumber. She received her B.S. from Humboldt State in environmental ecology and moved to Ukiah and established her business in 2009.

Rootworm Resistance to Environmentally Friendly Farming Practices: An Interview with Dr. Joseph L. Spencer

Read the full interview with Illinois Natural History Survey researcher Joe Spencer at Azo CleanTech.

Dr. Joseph L. Spencer, Principal Research Scientist and Research Program Leader in Insect Behavior at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, speaks to AZoCleantech about how the behavior of corn rootworms has changed in recent years and how this is affecting their resistance to crop rotation techniques.

 

Germany Is Showing the Rest of the World How to Tackle Global Warming

Read the full story at Mic.com. (H/T to Charlotte Roh for the link).

On Sunday, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton unveiled the first major commitments of her climate change policy. Her plan centers on dramatically increasing renewable energy sources in the United States, with the goal of having 33% of the country’s power generation come from renewable sources by 2027. While commentators debate how realistic her goals are and whether they’re adequate for meeting the challenge of climate change, they might do well to look across the Atlantic for some inspiration.

Last week, Germany hit an extraordinary milestone: On July 25th, 78% of the country’s electricity was generated by renewable energy sources.

How Widely Used Sustainability Metrics Distort Actual Performance — And a Solution to This All-Too-Common Problem

How Widely Used Sustainability Metrics Distort Actual Performance—And a Solution to This All-Too-Common Problem (2015). Environmental Quality Management, 31 July 2015. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/tqem.21400

Because of their ultimate relevance to measuring a corporation’s impact on the environment, absolute measures, specifically total quantities of key sustainability aspects (e.g., total liters of water used, total tons of GHG emitted) are the primary metrics recommended for disclosure. However, absolute quantities almost always provide distorted measures of a corporation’s progress in improving its sustainability performance. Moreover, use of absolute quantities can even signal improvement—or the lack thereof—when the opposite is true. For example, it is widely recognized that changes in the level of business activity distort the evaluation of a company’s improvement in sustainability performance when only total quantities are evaluated. As a result, most disclosure guidelines identify intensity ratios as supplemental measures that corporations may want to report. Intensity ratios, which are typically reported as average intensities for business units or for the entire company, normalize total quantities of a sustainability aspect by a rate of activity (e.g., total liters of water used per ton of output produced or per dollar of revenue).

Intensity is an appropriate construct for measuring sustainability performance as it is commonly understood—as how efficiently a company utilizes resources or minimizes waste and negative environmental impacts produced in the delivery of its goods and services. Unfortunately, nearly all companies are calculating average intensity measures in a manner that fails to measure accurately improvements in sustainability performance, just as a change in the total quantity of a sustainability aspect may not reflect actual sustainability performance. In this article, we will explain the fundamental errors with the standard calculation of changes in rates of intensity (e.g., 5% reduction in total liters of water used per ton of product) and demonstrate a solution to avoid these errors.

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