climate change

Chicago Confronts Climate Issues

Most Sunday nights in December you will find me in comfy clothes and huddled inside.

This past Sunday, however, I pulled myself from my cozy couch, got dressed, and went to the Field Museum.

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I have not been to the Field Museum since elementary school, but I was not going to see Sue or King Tut, I was going to meet up with a community of people concerned about climate change.

The Chicago Community Climate Forum brought together over 60 organizations and OVER 2,000 PEOPLE in the climate movement.

 

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Chris Wheat, Chicago’s Chief Sustainability Officer

 

This gathering preceded Monday and Tuesday’s 2017 North American Climate Summit, where over 50 mayors came together to discuss climate change on a local level here in Chicago.

 

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Packed hall listening to great speakers

 

For the public gathering on Sunday, a plethora of speakers and performers provided a dialogue on what we can do on a local and community level. Afterwards, there was an opportunity to mingle and network, as well as sign the Chicago Agreement on Climate & Community (which you can sign here.)

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Overall, it was a really moving experience. Sometimes, especially with this administration, it can feel very frustrating and the future can look dismal. But seeing the passion and drive of all the attendees on Sunday calmed my anxious heart a bit.

Chicago is defiant.

Chicago is strong.

And Chicago will show the nation and the world that just because this country is is the only one IN THE WORLD that has not signed the Paris Agreement, we will persevere.

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Participating in A Climate Science Sweat Fest

Saturday, April 29th, I had the opportunity to be a part of the 200,000 people marching in solidarity with environmental regulations, climate protection, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency down Pennsylvania Avenue.

Thousands joined in sister marches all over the world.

D.C., the home of the President (when not at Mar-a-Lago), and my home for 2 years was plastered with signs defying the administration’s 100 days of damage.

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I have never been a part of such a large-scale protest march before, even though it is now becoming the norm. We overheard another marcher saying they had not been to a protest since Vietnam.

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As the clouds parted, we gathered near the Capitol, trying to stay in the shade of the trees as long as possible, before lining up in the street. Once we were assembled, we baked in the sun, sweat pouring down our backs.

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Everyone we saw and met was kind and generous and strong-willed to be there in the heat. There were babies, dogs, kids, and grandparents marching for clean air and water for their grandchildren.

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It was an extremely peaceful march. I saw zero incidences of conflict or arrests, just concerned citizens. Everyone walked, holding up their signs, frying in the relentless sun.

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There were times when chants were shouted, especially when we passed the Trump International Hotel.

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The Newseum sits on Pennsylvania Avenue. On the outside of the building is a bold reminder of our first amendment right to peaceably assemble and petition the government.  How appropriate.

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The signs, the outfits, and yes, the puppets, were all creative. These people spent hours and days getting ready for their voice to be heard, even if the President was not physically in the District to bother to listen.

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We proceeded along towards the White House at a decent pace, only bottle-necking shortly in front of the hotel.

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The sidewalks were crowded with onlookers and marchers taking a quick break to sit in the shade.

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With the higher than normal temperatures, we had to be very diligent with our water, as we would not get a chance to refill until the end at the Washington Monument.

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Ironically, entrepreneurs were taking advantage of the thirsty by peddling water in disposable plastic bottles to the crowds. Most people had their own or wore CamelBaks (great idea), but sometimes thirst is too overpowering, an issue we are going to have to deal with more and more in the future.

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As we approached the White House, the crowd started to spill out into Lafayette Square to be rescued by the benches and shady trees.

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It was an experience I will never forget, even though it is only a blip on the radar of this administration.

No matter.

I am positive we won’t be backing down soon.

 

 

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The chants we repeated basically said it all.

“We won’t go away.

Welcome to your 100th day.” 

Standing Up for Climate

I am heading back to DC this weekend to attend the People’s Climate March, planned for Trump’s 100th day in office.

On Friday, I will be spending the day in an advocacy training held by EDF Action.

On Saturday, we will march.

Keep on the lookout for a post on my experience marching in DC.

Will you be joining any of the sister marches around the world?

An Ode to That One Planet We Can Live On

Earth Day had always been my favorite “holiday” as a child. I am not even kidding.

I have vivid memories of my elementary school class going outside and planting a tree. We could buy t-shirts with endangered whales, swirling clouds, and towering trees on them.

Our planet Earth provides us with so much that no blog post could ever cover it all.

So instead of writing over and over again of how important this Earth Day is, I am just going to show you its beauty and just some of what it has provided, for me personally, in pictures from my everyday life.

Hey Planet Earth, you provide me with:

A place to play softball.

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National Mall, Washington DC

A forest to ride through.

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Cal-Sag Trail, Palos Park, IL

A place to take it all in.

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Grand Canyon National Park, AZ

The opportunity to enhance it.

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Casey Tree planting, Washington DC

Fond family memories. 

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Lake Wandawega, Elkhorn, WI

Somewhere to splash my toes in. 

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Lake Michigan, Chicago, IL

The reminder of nature in a concrete jungle.

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Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicago, IL

How amazing the tide is. 

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Sand flats, Duxbury, MA

Sunsets that are top notch. 

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New Buffalo, MI

And sunrises that are equally fantastic.

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Lincoln Memorial, Washington DC

Fall colors make my heart melt. 

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Indiana University, Bloomington, IN

And breathtaking ocean views.

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Big Sur, CA

The power of water.

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Niagara Falls, NY

Planet Earth, you remind us of just how tiny we are.

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Great Smoky Mountains National Park, TN

 

How are you celebrating Earth Day?

Wild Weather for the Wild Things Conference

Yesterday, it was over 60 degrees. In February. In Chicago.

A record high of 67 degrees was set on 2-17-17, destroying the previous record of 60 degrees set in 1880.

I did not get to spend much time outside in the unseasonably warm weather, though.

That was because I spent the entire day inside learning with other environmentalists/conservationists/naturalists at the Wild Things Conference.

 

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From the Wild Things Conference program

 

For the first time ever, the conference sold out of tickets a month before the event. The waitlist was over 300 people long. It goes to show how many people are starting to take action, and it was heartwarming to see.

 

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Packed room for the opening plenary session

 

I attended one session on the importance of stories in conservation featuring Gavin Van Horn of the Center for Humans and Nature. My favorite term he used was reSTORYation.

“Science needs story.

Story needs science.”

-Gavin Van Horn

The next session, “Past, Present, and Future: Understanding Climate Change in the Chicago Region,” could easily be summed up with the below slide.

 

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Molly Woloszyn’s (climate specialist at the Illinois State Water Survey and Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant at UIUC) popular presentation

 

The packed room had space for standing room only. So I stood and listened about how by midcentury, Chicago could be 4.4-4.7 degrees warmer and have a climate more like the southern city of Salem, IL.

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In the future, Chicago should be prepared for the following:

  • An increase in overnight low temperatures (that is bad for agriculture and humans)
  • An increase in annual precipitation of 3.2″-4″
  • More consecutive dry days (meaning longer periods between rain)
  • An increase in the intensity of precipitation (think big, quick storms)
  • A decrease in ice cover in the Great Lakes

Sounds pleasant…

 

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Composting available at the conference! 

There were so many other sessions where I got to listen to passionate people present. Just a sample:

  • archeological sites within the Forest Preserve District of Cook County
  • storm water management case studies
  • the evolution of prescribed burns
  • environmental advocacy best practices

It was a really awesome day to be surrounded by so many people who care about wildlife and the environment.

I absolutely recommend keeping your eyes open for information on the 2019 Wild Things Conference.

I have a feeling it is going to be even bigger.

 

EPA Blog Re-Post #4

Due to certain political circumstances, I will be re-posting links to EPA blogs I wrote while I was working there.

Here is the fourth one. Originally posted February 13, 2015.*

*I apologize if some links are no longer active. This is a few year old. 


Storm Water Management Model Gets Climate Update

By Marguerite Huber

Image of a flooded local park

EPA researchers are developing strategies and resources to help city planners, managers, and others address stormwater runoff problems, including those related to impervious surfaces and combined sewer overflows. One powerful tool available is the Stormwater Management Model, also known by its acronym, “SWMM.”

EPA’s Storm Water Management Model is a publically-available rainfall-runoff simulation model that provides a suite of information about urban water patterns. It is used for planning, analysis, and design related to stormwater runoff, combined sewers, sanitary sewers, and other drainage systems in urban areas, and is the basis for the National Stormwater Calculator.

SWMM has the ability to estimate the pollution loads associated with stormwater runoff. Various versions of the model have been in existence since 1971, and it has been used in thousands of hydrology and drainage system design projects around the world.

The tool is designed to be customizable, helping particular urban areas meet local watershed challenges. For example, municipalities and communities can use it to design and size drainage system components for flood control, to design control strategies for minimizing combined sewer overflows, and to control site runoff using low impact development practices.

The Storm Water Management Model Climate Adjustment Tool (SWMM-CAT) is a new addition to SWMM. It is a simple to use software utility that allows future climate change projections to be incorporated into SWMM.

SWMM-CAT provides a set of location-specific adjustments that derived from global climate change models run as part of the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP) Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 3 (CMIP3) archive. These are the same climate change simulations that helped inform the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in preparing its Fourth Assessment report.

Both SWMM and the Stormwater Calculator are a part of the President’s Climate Action Plan.

“Climate change threatens our health, our economy, and our environment,” said Gina McCarthy, EPA Administrator. “As part of the President’s Climate Action Plan, this tool will help us better prepare for climate impacts by helping build safer, sustainable, and more resilient water infrastructure.”

The continued development of predictive modeling tools such as SWMM will provide urban planners and other stakeholders with the resources they need to incorporate both traditional stormwater and wastewater system technologies with the emerging, innovative techniques of green infrastructure. The collective impact will be more sustainable urban areas and healthier waterways across the nation.

SWMM-CAT can be downloaded here.

Read the post in its original format here


Read the other posts:

 

Stand Up and March

All day yesterday I felt really weird.

Sick to my stomach, yet full of anger.

TV and the internet were avoided like the plague.

All week, I had been on the fence about attending the Women’s March on Chicago. I was afraid of the crowds and the possibility of violence, but I knew I should be there.

On the first day of this administration, we need to take a stand, so I hoped on my bike and rode down the lakeshore path to Jackson and Columbus in Grant Park to attend the rally.

 

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There are my rallying shoes since I technically didn’t stay for the march part (which actually got cancelled because there were just too many people to march)

 

I mostly just listened and looked around, taking all of it in. It was great to see families and their young children, groups of young women, and groups of older women, all gathering together in a common fight.

My favorite part is always the creativity of the signs people bring to protests. Below are some of my favorites.

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How to: Get Excited Again Post-Election

Many of the people I follow on WordPress, Facebook, and Twitter expected last Tuesday to come out a little different than we thought. I woke up that morning at 4:40 AM to head to my polling place to serve as an election judge. I was excited. I was ready to contribute to and witness history. I had planned on saving my “I Voted” wristband, writing “11/8/16 Election of First Female President” on it and saving it forever.

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So much excitement the morning of. 

 

Unfortunately, when I woke up Wednesday morning my world was a completely different place. I was in denial and not really sure how to accept the next four years of my life. For myself and my colleagues in the environmental field, this was a huge blow. I took Wednesday to sulk,  be sad and eat a bowl of cereal in bed. I avoided watching the news or looking at articles on the internet.

By the time Monday rolled around, I had come to a different place of acceptance. For those of us who care about our planet and climate change, we have to remember that this election was not a vote on climate. It wasn’t a hot topic and wasn’t talked about as much as it should have been. As much as we tweeted and emailed, it was never asked about in any of the 3 presidential debates.

Monday night, I attended a meeting with my fellow Environmental Defense Fund Chicago Ambassadors and others interested in talking about how EDF planned to move forward post-election. This meeting was already planned well before the results of the election were known and our gathering had a much more somber feeling than originally intended.

Everything is a little blurry still, but this is what we know so far:

  • The President-Elect wants to end the “War on Coal”
  • The President-Elect wants to eliminate the Clean Power Plan
  • The President- Elect wants to abandon the Paris Agreement
  • Myron Ebell will be leading the EPA transition

Unfortunately, we are fortunate that the battle for clean air and water has always been a battle. It was never easy in the first place to get the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the EPA established. So this time, it is no different. Fighting for the environment is all we know how to do. Protests, petitions, writing to support legislation, and sharing sound science are actions we are all very familiar with.

Richard Nixon despised environmentalists, yet he was the most pro-environment president the US has ever seen. His administration created the EPA and charged it with protecting human health and the environment. Our outcry was enough for Nixon to give in.

So what we have to do now is stand and fight. EDF will be working hard to defend the work they have already accomplished. This is going to go down to the states. In Illinois, our legislators will be voting on the Clean Jobs Bill after Thanksgiving. SO WRITE TO YOUR LEGISLATORS!

We need the public to tell this new administration we won’t stand for a rollback on environmental rules and regulations. We won’t stand for a president that does not believe in climate change despite the overall consensus from scientists AROUND THE WORLD.

It was a battle from the very beginning and that battle is not going to end in the next four years. Because it is a battle, the wins are that much more worth it. We will keep moving forward and hopefully, our destruction won’t catch up to us.

 

 

 

#VoteOurPlanet

Last night I attended an event at my local Patagonia store called Vote Our Planet.

“We need to elect leaders at the local, state and national levels who will defend the well-being of our families and communities—leaders who support clean water, clean air, strong climate action and a courageous shift to renewable energy.

If we don’t act, then someone else will—someone who doesn’t care about a future for our children and other wild things.

The point was to get people to vote locally and nationally for our natural resources, because if we don’t, no one will. Additionally, Chicago Votes was there to register any new voters. Since I am already registered and I have been since I turned 18, I was asked to film a quick segment on why I am registered and how it makes me feel. Basically, I said that while being able to vote in presidential elections is an honor, it is also extremely important that young people vote in local elections as well.

In the first part of the event, we watched a segment from Patagonia on their Defend Our Air campaign, but you can also check out their Defend Our Water, and Defend Our Soil campaigns.

Afterward, there was a panel discussion that included people from Illinois Environmental Council, Sierra Club Illinois Chapter, and the Environmental Law and Policy Center. The audience asked questions ranging from how college students could get more involved in local politics, to what are the most challenging parts of their job.

Overall, the night was very informative and made me really think about how I have been lacking in participating in local and state elections. While the presidential election is the one making the news right now, the smaller elections are ones that can also help defend our air, water, and soil.

C3 Week 2: Energy

Last week our class discussed energy topics with a number of players from around Chicago and the state.

We heard from:

Our climate specialist discussed the climate of Chicago and how that may change over time. For instance, Chicago may be 4.4 Degrees to 4.7 Degrees warmer by mid-century and an increase in the frequency and intensity of extreme precipitation events are likely as well.

You can learn more about what Chicago plans to do by reading Chicago’s Climate Action Plan.

The class also got the chance to explore the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum‘s new exhibit “Weather to Climate: Our Changing World.” It was pretty neat and hands on. There was a game that let you calculate how much CO2 you put into the atmosphere each day!

Citizen’s Utility Board is a non-profit that represents the interests of Illinois ratepayers.

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Source: CUB

They help individuals with their bills, conduct consumer education events and are advocates for energy efficiency and demand response programs.

Many utility bills are confusing, so we got an explanation of our electric bills and then the benefits of a smart grid.

After that, we discussed ComEd’s free home energy assessment that can provide free energy-saving products for your home. The products included programmable thermostats, ENERGY STAR certified CFLs, smart power trips, WaterSense certified shower heads, faucet aerators, and hot water pipe insulation.

Since the majority of us in C3 are not homeowners, we also discussed how to approach your landlord about taking part in this program. Basically, you need to explain all the benefits and mention a million times that it is FREE!

Finally, CDOT is in charge of building and maintaining our transportation network. It may seem random that we were talking about transportation in our energy class, but the goal was to talk about active forms of transportation that help reduce our reliance on cars and therefore energy.

The City of Chicago has some pretty impressive transportation goals:

  • 5% of all trips under 5 miles will be taken by bicycle
  • All Chicago residents will live within .5 miles of a bikeway
  • Reduce pedestrian and bicycle crash injuries, each by 5% within 5 years

We then talked about Chicago’s bike share system, Divvy, which is ideal for short trips and commutes. So far Divvy has 475 stations and 4,760 bikes. While I have not ridden a Divvy bike yet, I did ride the bike share in DC occasionally. I have my own bike, but I see plenty of people out riding Divvy on the streets and many bike lanes.

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Source: Divvy Bikes