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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.