We were joined this week by Missy Stults (Sustainability and Innovations Manager for the City of Ann Arbor) and Ryan Hughes (former Independent Candidate for Ann Arbor City Council and current host of Civics Party on WCBN) to talk about what Ann Arbor is doing about climate change.
Together, we dug into the Office of Sustainability and Innovation’s Work Plan, which includes some interesting and, indeed, innovative ways of reducing the City’s emissions and adapting to climate impacts like increasing high-heat days and precipitation. This description isn’t doing Missy’s passion and energy justice so you’re best-off just pressing “play.”
In our conversation, Missy also mentioned the Sustaining Ann Arbor Together Neighborhood Grant Program, which supports community projects that augment the Sustainability Action Plan (perhaps even your own?), as well as a number of other ways to get involved beyond just recycling more.
Ryan also broke down the—at the time of recording upcoming, now past—vote about whether to reallocate money for climate mitigation and adaptation.
Matt Harmon, Tegwyn John, and Solomon Medintz are members of the Climate Action Movement at the University of Michigan, which defines itself as “a coalition of stakeholders” that is urging the university to craft a meaningful sustainability policy and actively move its campus toward carbon neutrality. They were also co-organizers of last week’s Washtenaw County Climate Strike, a county-wide protest spearheaded by high school and college students that “demanded better and immediate policy from Washtenaw County City Councils” and the University of Michigan.
Matt, Tegwyn, and Solomon joined Bella, Ed, and Logan in the studio to talk about the steps that CAM wants the university to take on the path toward carbon neutrality, the role that young people are playing in the global movement to confront climate change, and their own experiences at the climate strike. Check out the links below to learn more about CAM or visit them on Facebook and Twitter.
Links discussed in the show (and some extra info):
More about CAM’s mission and goals via their website
CAM’s Letter to University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel
MLive article on the Washtenaw County Climate Strike
Michigan Daily op-ed written by a member of CAM titled “Fossil fuel is not the path to carbon neutrality”
2018 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Report
Last week, we were honored to speak with one of the world’s most influential leaders on climate change, Christiana Figueres. Figueres steered the Conference of Parties to the historic Paris Agreement in 2015 and served as Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention on Climate Change from 2010-2016. She’s kind of a big deal. (You can read more about her incredible work on her website.)
Figueres joined Ed, Edie, and SNRE alum Arman Golrokhian on March 14 before she spoke at annual Wege Lecture series. During her talk, she presented mitigation as the only economically-viable option to address climate change. In our conversation, she approaches the issue with the same no-nonsense attitude. We talk big changes in industry and across multiple scales of government and touch on the University of Michigan’s carbon neutrality goals. To Figueres, it’s simple: we can wallow in fear and doubt, or we can get out there and make changes. She calls for a “solid injection of optimism.”
In this podcast, we explore Figueres’ journey to the UNFCCC. Born in Costa Rica to a family of leaders and diplomats, she’s spent three decades of her life tackling climate change. She’s enjoyed unique success in negotiations surrounding the issue, bringing people from across the world together when others failed to do so. We also hear how Figueres uses mindfulness to stay grounded and bring intentionality to climate change negotiations.
Figueres emphatically supports the efforts of young students and activists around the globe with a shout out to the March 15 climate strike and the work of Greta Thunberg. “Don’t give up,” she stresses.
With tenacity and dogged determination, Figueres continues to tackle these issues. She’s active on Twitter and will be launching a podcast soon! You don’t want to miss this one.
“One of the worst things you can do to a population is take away their ecology.”
– Oday Salim, quoted in Grist’s list of 50 “forward-thinking fixers” and sustainability leaders for 2018.
Professor Oday Salim is the director of the University of Michigan’s Environmental Law & Sustainability Clinic and he’s an attorney at the National Wildlife Federation’s Great Lakes Regional Center. (Those positions overlap.) Throughout his career, Salim has focused on environmental justice issues like water affordability, pollution control, improving non-native English speaker participation in state permitting processes, and more. In our conversation, we talk about the issue of water affordability and accessibility in largely-minority communities, including water shutoffs in Detroit and a 1998 water infrastructure case in Lansing. We also touch on the state’s obligation under the Civil Rights Act to facilitate community participation in decision-making processes, specifically when it comes to translating documents for community members who aren’t proficient in English. We cover a proposal to add a third turbine to a natural gas plant in Dearborn (which has a large Arabic-speaking population) that was eventually withdrawn by the energy company involved as well as an ongoing case regarding the proposed expansion of a hazardous waste site in Hamtramck.
Toward the end of the show, we discuss the draft environmental justice plan that’s been sitting on the Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ proverbial shelf for the last decade. Professor Salim closes us out with some recommendations as to what pathways we need to establish in Michigan law and policy in order to uphold environmental justice in our state.
You can learn more about those cases in addition to some that we didn’t have time to cover below.
Until next time, keep it hot, keep it here.
Water affordability and infrastructure:
Water shutoffs in Detroit
Bolt v. City of Lansing (1998)
Community participating in decision making:
CMS Energy’s proposal to add a third turbine to a natural gas plant
CMS’s decision to withdraw that proposal
An article from the Great Lakes Environmental Law Center after the proposal was withdrawn
U.S. Ecology’s proposal to expand a hazardous waste site in Hamtramck
More cases to learn about:
The Menominee Tribe’s challenge to the MDEQ over a wetland permit for an open-pit mine on the Menominee River
Juliana v. United States Youth Climate Lawsuit
Today, we bring you an archived show from last summer that Hot In Here alum Ben Sonnega recorded during the very first Galaxy Sustainability Learning Exchange. As you may know, our show is intertwined with the Michigan Sustainability Cases (MSC) initiative at the University of Michigan’s School for Environment and Sustainability. Check us out here if you’re curious.
MSC is hosting its second annual Galaxy conference this June, and to give you an idea of what last year’s events were like, this podcast features the co-facilitators of a charette on 1,4-dioxane groundwater contamination in Ann Arbor as well as Laura Sullivan of Kettering University, our very own Leana Hosea, and the brilliant Rebecca Hardin. The co-facilitators break down some of the history behind 1,4-dioxane contamination in the city and Leana, Laura, and Rebecca have a conversation about the Flint water crisis, Leana’s documentary film “Thirst for Justice,” and Laura’s experience as an educator and a Flint resident. These topics are particularly relevant given that the state’s Flint water investigation is ongoing and that last week, Ann Arbor residents were told that very low amounts of 1,4-dioxane were found in their drinking water for the first time.
One more thing: our friends with the Climate Action Movement at the University of Michigan are co-hosting the upcoming Washtenaw County Climate Strike, which will take place on Friday, March 15th, from 11:11AM to 1:00PM on the Diag. Check out that event on Facebook or Twitter for more details.
As always, keep it hot, keep it here.
Joe joined us to talk about an open letter he’s co-authored (that has yet to be published, by the way, so consider this your exclusive first look) titled “Now is the Time for All Good Faculty to Come to the Aid of Their Campus: Re-allocating Teaching, Research and Service to Achieve Campus Carbon Neutrality.” He tells us why it’s important to encourage actions on both a small and large scale that help propel the University of Michigan toward a carbon-neutral existence, and how he proposes we do it.
During the second half of the show, Joe tells us about his family’s “straw-bale home,” which they constructed over the course of several years using only local, sustainable materials. Joe went on to use that same process to build a one-room “house” at the University of Michigan’s Biological Station in Pellston and another up at the Campus Farm here in Ann Arbor. You can find more about Joe on his website.
We mention the upcoming Washtenaw County Climate Strike in this episode, which is taking place Friday, March 15 from 11:11AM to 1:00PM. You can find out more on Facebook, and be sure to tune in Friday, March 22 for our conversation with some of the march’s co-facilitators. Until then, like we always say: keep it hot, keep it here.
Shannon Brines and Eliot Jackson stopped by the studio to shamelessly plug the Local Food Summit, which—wouldn’t you know it—is happening this Saturday, February 16.
Shannon is a local farmer and manager of the Environmental Spatial Analysis Laboratory at the UM School for Environment and Sustainability (SEAS). He’s also one of the co-founders of the Summit and serves on the board of Slow Food Huron Valley.
(Regular listeners may remember that we had a great conversation about local food with Shannon back in November.)
Eliot is a co-leader of this year’s Summit, with a day job as a research technician working on agroecology at SEAS.
We talked about the history and growth of the Summit, working towards inclusivity in the local food movement, and why our guests believe that anyone who eats should participate.
In the second half of the show, we got into a heavier discussion about agroecology from both a theoretical and practical, down-to-earth perspective.
The two hand-shaped maps of the Upper and Lower Peninsulas of Michigan cup the hydrological corridor that links Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. The whip-sawed waters of this passageway contain some of the mightiest currents in the Great Lakes, which intermittently thrash around a volume of water ten-times that which flows over Niagara Falls. The powerful Straits of Mackinac reach a 3.5-mile distance at their widest width and a 295-foot range at their deepest depth.
But below the surface of the formidable water body lies a slipshod vein at the risk of rupture: Line 5. It was constructed in 1953 by Enbridge, a leviathan oil corporation headquartered in Calgary, Canada. This particular pipeline—though it is difficult to disentangle from the web of Enbridge lines that sprawl eastward and southward across the US—has had 33 leaks on land in its lifetime. The construction of the line itself is problematic at best, distinguished by its sub-par coating, not-so-thickness, and (lack of) physical support. A leak along the length exposed in the open waters of the Straits is likely not a matter of if, but rather when. And when it does rupture, Michigan’s marine environment, blue economy, and fresh-water dependent residents (i.e. all residents) will bleed too. Oh, and so may Enbridge, but that will just make notch number 34 in their bent bedpost. Continue reading Walk the Line (5)
You heard it here first, folks! Last Friday, we invited Peter Pellitier into the studio to elucidate the multi-faceted relationship between plants and carbon dioxide. Peter is a current Ph. D. candidate at SEAS where he researches terrestrial ecology and mycorrhizal fungi. He explained that plants have increased their carbon dioxide uptake by 31% as compared to pre-industrial rates. Continue reading Plants Are Good