Lightfoot rejects Southeast Side metal shredder’s plan to open

Read the full story in the Chicago Sun-Times.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s top public health official has determined that a car-shredding operation will not open on the Southeast Side, ending an almost three-year battle between her administration and residents who said they can’t tolerate any more air pollution.

Southside Recycling, the renamed, relocated business formerly known as General Iron, had expected to open about a year ago under an agreement with the city. Community organizers fought back, saying the industrial Southeast Side already suffers from very poor air quality. The fact that the business was being moved from white, affluent Lincoln Park to a working-class Latino neighborhood surrounded by Black communities is racist, residents said. That claim drew a federal civil rights investigation that is ongoing.

White House Council on Environmental Quality seeks comment on Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Sequestration Guidance

Read the full Federal Register notice.

Consistent with the Utilizing Significant Emissions with Innovative Technologies (USE IT) Act, the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) is announcing the availability of and seeking comment on an interim guidance document, “Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Sequestration Guidance,” to assist Federal agencies with the regulation and permitting of CCUS activities in the United States.

Microsoft and ClimateWorks Foundation launch The Carbon Call

Read the full story in GreenBiz.

Today, Microsoft and the ClimateWorks Foundation along with over 20 other organizations launched The Carbon Call, a collective action organization that will try to transform carbon accounting from fuzzy and frustrating into something standardized and trustworthy. 

5 ways climate change increases the threat of tsunamis, from collapsing ice shelves to sea level rise


by Jane Cunneen, Curtin University

The enormous eruption of the underwater volcano in Tonga, Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai, triggered a tsunami that reached countries all around the Pacific rim, even causing a disastrous oil spill along 21 beaches in Peru.

In Tonga, waves about 2 metres high were recorded before the sea level gauge failed, and waves of up to 15m hit the west coasts of Tongatapu Islands, ‘Eua, and Ha’apai Islands. Volcanic activity could continue for weeks or months, but it’s hard to predict if or when there’ll be another such powerful eruption.

Most tsunamis are caused by earthquakes, but a significant percentage (about 15%) are caused by landslides or volcanoes. Some of these may be interlinked – for example, landslide tsunamis are often triggered by earthquakes or volcanic eruptions.

But does climate change also play a role? As the planet warms, we’re seeing more frequent and intense storms and cyclones, the melting of glaciers and ice caps, and sea levels rising. Climate change, however, doesn’t just affect the atmosphere and oceans, it affects the Earth’s crust as well.

Climate-linked geological changes can increase the incidence of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions which, in turn, can exacerbate the threat of tsunamis. Here are five ways this can happen.

1. Sea level rise

If greenhouse gas emissions remain at high rates, the average global sea level is projected to rise between 60 centimetres and 1.1m. Almost two thirds of the world’s cities with populations over five million are at risk.

Rising sea levels not only make coastal communities more vulnerable to flooding from storms, but also tsunamis. Even modest rises in sea level will dramatically increase the frequency and intensity of flooding when a tsunami occurs, as the tsunami can travel further inland.

For example, a 2018 study showed only a 50 centimetre rise would double the frequency of tsunami-induced flooding in Macau, China. This means in future, smaller tsunamis could have the same impact as larger tsunamis would today.

2. Landslides

A warming climate can increase the risk of both submarine (underwater) and aerial (above ground) landslides, thereby increasing the risk of local tsunamis.

The melting of permafrost (frozen soil) at high latitudes decreases soil stability, making it more susceptible to erosion and landslides. More intense rainfall can trigger landslides, too, as storms become more frequent under climate change.

Tsunamis can be generated on impact as a landslide enters the water, or as water is moved by a rapid underwater landslide.

In general, tsunami waves generated from landslides or rock falls dissipate quickly and don’t travel as far as tsunamis generated from earthquakes, but they can still lead to huge waves locally.

In Alaska, US, glacial retreat and melting permafrost has exposed unstable slopes. In 2015, this melting caused a landslide that sent 180 million tonnes of rock into a narrow fjord, generating a tsunami reaching 193m high – one of the highest ever recorded worldwide.

Scientists survey damage from a megatsunami in Taan Fiord that had occurred in October, 2015 after a massive landslide. Peter Haeussler, United States Geological Survey Alaska Science Center/Wikimedia

Other areas at risk include northwest British Columbia in Canada, and the Barry Arm in Alaska, where an unstable mountain slope at the toe of the Barry Glacier has the potential to fail and generate a severe tsunami in the next 20 years.

3. Iceberg calving and collapsing ice shelves

Global warming is accelerating the rate of iceberg calving – when chunks of ice fall into the ocean.

Studies predict large ice shelves, such as the Thwaites Glacier in Antarctica, will likely collapse in the next five to ten years. Likewise, the Greenland ice sheet is thinning and retreating at an alarming rate.

Iceberg near ship
Icebergs colliding with the seafloor can trigger underwater landslides. Shutterstock

While much of the current research focus is on the sea level risk associated with melting and collapse of glaciers and ice sheets, there’s also a tsunami risk from the calving and breakup process.

Wandering icebergs can trigger submarine landslides and tsunamis thousands of kilometres from the iceberg’s original source, as they hit unstable sediments on the seafloor.

4. Volcanic activity from ice melting

About 12,000 years ago, the last glacial period (“ice age”) ended and the melting ice triggered a dramatic increase in volcanic activity.

The correlation between climate warming and more volcanic eruptions isn’t yet well constrained or understood. But it may be related to changes in stress to the Earth’s crust as the weight of ice is removed, and a phenomenon called “isostatic rebound” – the long-term uplift of land in response to the removal of ice sheets.

If this correlation holds for the current period of climate warming and melting of ice in high latitudes, there’ll be an increased risk of volcanic eruptions and associated hazards, including tsunamis.

5. Increased earthquakes

There are a number ways climate change can increase the frequency of earthquakes, and so increase tsunami risk.

First, the weight of ice sheets may be suppressing fault movement and earthquakes. When the ice melts, the isostatic rebound (land uplift) is accompanied by an increase in earthquakes and fault movement as the crust adjusts to the loss of weight.

We may have seen this already in Alaska, where melting glaciers reduced the stability of faults, inducing many small earthquakes and possibly the magnitude 7.2 St Elias earthquake in 1979.

Another factor is low air pressure associated with storms and typhoons, which studies have also shown can trigger earthquakes in areas where the Earth’s crust is already under stress. Even relatively small changes in air pressure can trigger fault movements, as an analysis of earthquakes between 2002 and 2007 in eastern Taiwan identified.

So how can we prepare?

Many mitigation strategies for climate change should also include elements to improve tsunami preparedness.

This could include incorporating projected sea level rise into tsunami prediction models, and in building codes for infrastructure along vulnerable coastlines.

Researchers can also ensure scientific models of climate impacts include the projected increase in earthquakes, landslides and volcanic activity, and the increased tsunami risk this will bring.

Jane Cunneen, Adjunct Research Fellow, Curtin University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

U of I study maps lead in Chicago soils

Read the full story at Farm Week.

New soil sampling work from the University of Illinois and Illinois Extension revealed elevated lead in parkways and backyards across Chicago. Every sample measured lead above the naturally occurring level of 20 parts per million (ppm), according to the study. And the median value across the city’s parkways was 11 times that amount or 220 ppm.

Hydrogen rainbow may dazzle, but journalists should eye it warily

Read the full story from the Society of Environmental Journalists.

Hydrogen energy will probably not solve the climate crisis. But we are hearing a lot of hype about its energy these days, so environmental journalists would be wise to learn more.

General Motors to power three automotive plants with clean energy

Read the full story at Environment + Energy Leader.

General Motors today announced a new pledge to power Michigan automotive plants in Flint, Burton, and Wyoming with clean energy. General Motors partnered with Consumers Energy for the project.

The hidden challenge: Have you defined plastic?

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

Plastic is among the top priorities for many corporate sustainability strategies. A growing number of companies have goals to reduce plastic use, working to ensure plastic packaging is recyclable and making claims about plastic-free products and packaging. A hidden challenge with these efforts is the lack of clarity about what materials are considered plastic and preferred solutions.

The American Chemistry Council tracks these resins: polyethylene (LDPE/LLDPE/HDPE); polypropylene (PP); polyvinyl chloride (PVC); polystyrene (PS); expanded polystyrene (EPS); epoxy; isocyanates; and polyether polyols. While these materials are often the focus of corporate plastics efforts, questions arise such as: Are bio-based versions included? What about alternative resins or compostable items?

Without a solid understanding of what materials are of focus, how can action be taken and progress achieved? The solution is simple: to define what plastic means for your company’s efforts. To get to an effective definition, it is important to consider the drivers and aims for the program.

Climate change is the greatest design problem of our time. Mushrooms to the rescue?

Read the full story at Fast Company.

Mycelium offers an exciting change to upcycle agricultural waste into a low-cost, sustainable, biodegradable construction material. Even NASA wants to use mycelium on Mars.

Adapt or die: The ecology of plastics

Read the full story at Packaging Europe.

It’s no secret that the plastics industry currently finds itself under immense, unprecedented pressure from legislative bodies and the general public alike. In this context, Robert Lilienfeld, founder and executive director of sustainable packaging think tank SPRING, argues that the industry has a choice to make: adapt or die.