Carbon emission cuts, ice cover, and microbeads: this week in environmental news

Each week, MNA gathers news stories from around Michigan and the United States related to conservation and the environment. Here is some of what happened his week in environmental news:

Great Lakes ice cover at 85.5% Feb. 25. Image: NOAA CoastWatch

Obama cuts federal government’s carbon emissions (U.S. News & World Report): On Thursday, President Obama signed an executive order cutting greenhouse gas emissions by the federal government. The measure calls for a 40 percent reduction in heat-trapping emissions over the next decade, which the White House says is expected to save $18 billion in taxpayer money. The government will increase use of renewable energy like wind and solar power by 30 percent.

Great Lakes ice in retreat (Great Lakes Echo): Ice cover on the Great Lakes has dipped below 55 percent coverage, down from 80 percent cover earlier this month. Temperatures this week are expected to hover around average, dipping below freezing at times. Daily temperature changes and wind impact lake ice coverage. Last year, the Great Lakes were not completely free of ice until June, though observers expect ice-free waters earlier this year. Great Lakes Echo offers a cool sliding tool that shows the dramatic difference in ice coverage on the Great Lakes in just three weeks.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder wants up to 40 percent clean energy by 2025 (MLive): Gov. Rick Snyder released an energy message last week saying he’d like to have between 30 and 40 percent of Michigan’s energy needs met by a combination of renewable energy and energy efficiency efforts. By 2025, Snyder believes Michigan could get 19 percent of its energy from renewable sources.

State rep. introduces microbeads bill to protect Michigan waterways (C&G News): Michigan State Rep. Christine Greig has introduced a bill that would remove microbeads from personal care products. Microbeads, tiny pieces of polyethylene used in facial scrubs and other products, are too small to be filtered out at wastewater treatment facilities and end up in lakes, rivers, and streams, eventually reaching the Great Lakes and seaways. Similar legislation has been introduced in Illinois, while Wisconsin and Indiana are also considering taking action.

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Michigan bird guide, financial case for carbon rule presented and the social network of prairie dogs: this week in environmental news

An American Robin. Photo by John Beetham courtesy of the Great Lakes Echo.

An American Robin. Photo by John Beetham courtesy of the Great Lakes Echo.

By Kary Askew Garcia, MNA Intern

Every Friday, MNA gathers news related to the environment from around the state and country. Here are a few highlights from what happened this week in environmental news:

Winged Wednesday: A Great Lakes summer bird guide (Great Lakes Echo): There are 47 million bird watchers in the nation over the age of 16, according to a 2011 U.S. Fish and Wildlife survey. With this nationwide trend, the Great Lakes State offers diverse habitats throughout both peninsulas, making it difficult for birdwatchers to pick a favorite location.

Peter Marler. Photo by Ingbert Gruttner. Courtesy of the New York Times.

Peter Marler. Photo by Ingbert Gruttner. Courtesy of the New York Times.

Peter Marler, graphic decoder of birdsong, dies at 86 (New York Times): Basic animal science in the 1950s made the claim that animals made noises very unlike human conversation. Yet, when Peter Marler, an animal behaviorist born in Britian, came along, he showed that songbirds learned to sign in varieties or dialects of their region.

White House pushes financial case for carbon rule (New York Times): According to an analysis by the White House Council of Economic Advisers released Tuesday, carbon emissions causing climate change could cost $150 billion per year. The report serves as another way to further Obama’s plan of cutting carbon emissions and reducing climate change.

Vicious cycle: Air conditioning is making your city even hotter (Conservation Magazine): Rising temperatures start creating a cycle of turning on the air conditioning, emitting carbon into the air and causing temperatures to continue to rise in the long run. Yet recent research has shown that air conditioners are also making temperatures hotter just through the absorption of hot air in a room and its emission outdoors.

Prairie Dogs. Courtesy of Conservation Magazine.

Prairie Dogs. Courtesy of Conservation Magazine.

Creating a prairie dog “Facebook” to aid conservation (Conservation Magazine): In recent studies, researchers have attempted to gain more insight into the social world of animals via “social network analysis.” This method in research has helped scientists to take a closer look into the complex social networks, hubs and connections of prairie dogs.

Project in UP halted, EPA limits emissions and blacklights save bats: this week in environmental news

By Kary Askew Garcia, MNA Intern

Every Friday, MNA gathers news related to the environment from around the state and country. Here are a few highlights from what happened this week in environmental news:

Court upholds UP ethanol plant review but project likely dropped (Great Lakes Echo): A federal appeals court has upheld the decision to review a $100 million construction subsidy in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The U.S. Department of Energy declared the project to be void of significant harm to the environment. Despite this, recent mandates calling for the elimination of cellulosic ethanol and an investor backing out may have closed the project.

An East Lansing resident explores options in the East Lansing Food Co-op. Photo by Corey Damocles courtesy of The State News.

An East Lansing resident explores options in the East Lansing Food Co-op. Photo by Corey Damocles courtesy of The State News.

Local grocers specialize to thrive (The State News): The East Lansing Food Co-op, among other stores, have tried ways to make them stand out to customers. The co-op is different compared to other grocery stores and provides organic and locally grown food, something a little different than at the supermarket. Owner David Finet said the co-op works directly with its producers when buying products.

EPA releases much-anticipated limits on power plant emissions (Huffington Post): The Environmental Protection Agency announced one of its new mandates: a 30 percent cut in carbon emissions by 2030. “For the sake of our families’ health and our kids’ future, we have a moral obligation to act on climate,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy.

Twitter chat about new EPA carbon pollution regulations (New York Times): The New York Times hosted a Twitter question and answer session with environmental reporter Coral Davenport. Davenport had an exchange with those asking questions about the new EPA regulations and their effects on coal-producing states, among other topics.

A map tracking cases of white-nose syndrome. Map by Lindsey Hefferman, courtesy of Conservation Magazine.

A map tracking cases of white-nose syndrome. Map by Lindsey Hefferman, courtesy of Conservation Magazine.

Scientists diagnose white-nose syndrome in bats using ultraviolet lights (Conservation Magazine): The white-nose syndrome is devastating to many hibernating bats. The disease comes from a fungus and infects bats as they hibernate and often kill them. A major guide for scientists to start tackling this disease is to find its location, although it is difficult to locate as testing bats for the disease calls for killing them.