Category Archives: Iowa River

Creek CNP Outline 11/2/16

Creeks of Johnson County

Theme: Restoration and Conservation and reconnecting with the land

General storyline: The four seasons will be analogous to the development of the destruction of our land and resources and will be threaded together with my families land and the waterway running through it juxtaposed with the greater area surrounding it. Spring is a time of birth and great opportunity and I will explain how the land we see today was shaped by natural process and then utilized as a partner by the Native People of The Americas. Summer is a time of agitation and preparing for the future survival in winter. I will use this verse to illustrate where man went wrong and what we still do wrong. Fall is a time of reflection and will be used to promote possible solutions to our wrong-doings as well as how we impact the entire globe all of its inhabitants. Winter is a time for huddling together and staying alive or being left in the cold to freeze to death. This will be an opportunity to predict what will be of our future if we stay on our current trajectory or if we merge together as one and begin to respect nature as a fellow, not a foe. As Thoreau said, “Alert and healthy natures remember that the sun rose clear, it is never too late to give up our prejudices.”

Main characters: Creek Hoard, Old Man’s Creek, Mother Nature

Interviews / Research: I will be interviewing a few scientist from campus to attain a clear understanding of what has happened as well as what my come in the future, as well as possible solutions. I will also be interviewing my family members to get an idea of what the land means to them. Research will be done to gather historical information about the area and what it has been used for in the past.

Arts Medium: I will write and read live a prose poetry, essay and short story. I will also include a visual medium and Music for thought throughout the reading.

The Story of Little Bluestem

Page 5My final CNP project encompassed writing a children’s book titled “The Story of Little Bluestem.” In an effort to discuss the role of climate change in Iowa, this story told the history of Iowa’s native tallgrass prairie from the viewpoint of one prairie grass, Little Bluestem. My book was aimed at children with the goal of encouraging kids to understand the benefits of prairie grasses in a state where virtually all the land has been groomed to promote the monoculture of corn grass. Iowans may not see the immediate impacts of climate change but our land management is tied to climatic change in numerous ways. There are a few villains throughout the story, the Unsettlers, a green Deere, and industrialized agriculture. However, the story finishes with a hopeful perspective from the Restorers fighting to save the tallgrass prairie. All of the imagery featured in the book was taken travelling around much of the state to capture the heart of Iowa. If possible, I may pursue publishing this book since I was unable to find any children’s books about Iowa’s prairie grasses and its important role in the history of Iowa. I thoroughly enjoyed participating in the Spring 2016 CNP class and this experience was very eye opening on how to better tell the message of climate change to encourage forward-thinking action.

Water and Climate Justice

Screen Shot 2016-02-19 at 12.17.17 PM According to a new study in the Science Advances journal, ” two-thirds of the global population (4.0 billion people) live under conditions of severe water scarcity at least 1 month of the year. Nearly half of those people live in India and China. Half a billion people in the world face severe water scarcity all year round.”

In an age of climate change, should access to clean water be considered a human right?

And if so, how do we begin to consider water rights as a climate justice issue?

As the Guardian noted recently, agriculture and growing food demands account for the biggest water demand. ““Taking a shorter shower is not the answer” to the global problem, said Hoekstra, because just 1-4% of a person’s water footprint is in the home, while 25% is via meat consumption. It takes over 15,000 litres of water to make 1kg of beef, with almost all of that used to irrigate the crops fed to the cattle.”

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The Guardian provided a global overview:

“These water problems are set to worsen, according to the researchers, as population growth and increasing water use – particularly through eating meat – continues to rise.

In January, water crises were rated as one of three greatest risks of harm to people and economies in the next decade by the World Economic Forum, alongside climate change and mass migration. In places, such as Syria, the three risks come together: a recent study found that climate change made the severe 2007-2010 drought much more likely and the drought led to mass migration of farming families into cities.

“If you look at environmental problems, [water scarcity] is certainly the top problem,” said Prof Arjen Hoekstra, at the University of Twente in the Netherlands and who led the new research. “One place where it is very, very acute is in Yemen.”

Yemen could run out of water within a few years, but many other places are living on borrowed time as aquifers are continuously depleted, including Pakistan, Iran, Mexico, and Saudi Arabia.”

Check out this excerpt from the documentary series, Years of Living Dangerously, on the drought in Texas, and a community’s struggle with climate change dynamics:

2015: Hottest Year on Record

Screen Shot 2016-01-20 at 11.52.58 AM “The globally averaged temperature over land and ocean surfaces for 2015 was the highest among all years since record keeping began in 1880. During the final month, the December combined global land and ocean average surface temperature was the highest on record for any month in the 136-year record.” That’s the conclusion of a joint NASA and NOAA examination of climate records, which were released on Wednesday.

Here are some global highlights: Calendar Year 2015

During 2015, the average temperature across global land and ocean surfaces was 1.62°F (0.90°C) above the 20th century average. This was the highest among all 136 years in the 1880–2015 record, surpassing the previous record set last year by 0.29°F (0.16°C) and marking the fourth time a global temperature record has been set this century. This is also the largest margin by which the annual global temperature record has been broken. Ten months had record high temperatures for their respective months during the year. The five highest monthly departures from average for any month on record all occurred during 2015.

Record warmth was broadly spread around the world, including Central America, the northern half of South America, parts of northern, southern, and eastern Europe stretching into western Asia, a large section of east central Siberia, regions of eastern and southern Africa, large parts of the northeastern and equatorial Pacific, a large swath of the western North Atlantic, most of the Indian Ocean, and parts of the Arctic Ocean.

During 2015, the globally-averaged land surface temperature was 2.39°F (1.33°C) above the 20th century average. This was the highest among all years in the 1880–2015 record, surpassing the previous record of 2007 by 0.45°F (0.25°C). This is the largest margin by which the annual global land temperature has been broken.

During 2015, the globally-averaged sea surface temperature was 1.33°F (0.74°C) above the 20th century average. This was the highest among all years in the 1880–2015 record, surpassing the previous record of last year by 0.20°F (0.11°C).

Looking above Earth’s surface at certain layers of the atmosphere, several different analyses examined NOAA satellite-based data records for the lower and middle troposphere and the lower stratosphere.

The 2015 temperature for the lower troposphere (roughly the lowest five miles of the atmosphere) was third highest in the 1979-2015 record, at 0.65°F (0.36°C) above the 1981–2010 average, as analyzed by the University of Alabama Huntsville (UAH). It was also third highest on record, at 0.47°F (0.26°C) above the 1981–2010 average, as analyzed by Remote Sensing Systems (RSS). Record warmth was observed during the September–November seasonal period as well as December.

The 2015 temperature for the mid-troposphere (roughly two miles to six miles above the surface) was third highest in the 1979–2015 record, at 0.49°F (0.27°C) above the 1981–2010 average, as analyzed by UAH, and fourth highest on record, at 0.40°F (0.22°C) above the 1981–2010 average, as analyzed by RSS. A routine University of Washington post-analysis found the UAH and RSS values to be 0.65°F (0.36°C) and 0.54°F (0.30°C), respectively, above the 1981–2010 average, both ranking third highest. Record warmth was observed during the September–November seasonal period as well as December.

An independent assessment of the mid-troposphere, derived from weather balloons, found the mid-troposphere departure to be 0.92°F (0.51°C) above the 1981–2010 average, the highest in the 58-year period of record. Record warmth was observed during the September–November seasonal period as well as December.

The temperature for the lower stratosphere (roughly 10 miles to 13 miles above the surface) was 13th lowest in the 1979–2015 record, at 0.56°F (0.31°C) below the 1981–2010 average, as analyzed by UAH, and 14th lowest on record, at 0.40°F (0.22°C) below the 1981–2010 average, as analyzed by RSS. The stratospheric temperature is decreasing on average while the lower and middle troposphere temperatures are increasing on average, consistent with expectations in a greenhouse-warmed world.

According to data from NOAA analyzed by the Rutgers Global Snow Lab, the average annual Northern Hemisphere snow cover extent during 2015 was 9.5 million square miles. This was the 11th smallest annual snow cover extent since records began in 1968 and smallest since 2008. The first half of 2015 saw generally below-normal snow cover extent, with above-average coverage later in the year.

Recent polar sea ice extent trends continued in 2015. The average annual sea ice extent in the Arctic was 4.25 million square miles, the sixth smallest annual value of the 37-year period of record. The annual Antarctic sea ice extent was the third largest on record, at 4.92 million square miles, behind 2013 and 2014.

Climate Connections: CNP Fellows Present on Dec. 3rd!

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Join the Climate Narrative Project Fellows for their final presentations on Thursday, Dec. 3rd, at the Old Capitol Mall.

Wars Over Water! We can prevent these!

Screen Shot 2015-10-16 at 7.32.56 AMIt’s HIGH TIME TO ACT ON CLIMATE CHANGE AND PROTECT WHAT WE HAVE!

WATER is becoming a rare commodity, and unlike other commodities, it is something that every organism needs for survival.  We have a chance to prevent a major global insecurity, by saving water and conserving our natural resources.

Residents of Kohsan district in Afghanistan’s Herat province say that when they try to collect precious potable water on the barren eastern bank, the Iranian guards open fire.

Read more on the issue of water, climate change and conflict at the Guardian: The rising costs of water: dire consequences for Afghans in battle with Iranians

Gary Paul Nabhan: Food Web Restoration in the Face of Climate Change

Gary Paul Nabhan is an internationally-celebrated nature writer, food and farming activist, and proponent of conserving the links between biodiversity and cultural diversity. He has been been honored as a pioneer and creative force in the “local food movement” and seed saving community by Utne Reader, Mother Earth News, New York Times, Bioneers and Time magazine.

He spoke at Bioneers in Boulder, Colorado on November 9, 2013

Iowa City’s Biodiversity Management Strategy

Screen Shot 2015-09-16 at 1.11.12 PM Last spring, several groups came together to produce the report, Biodiversity for a Healthy Future:A Proposed Biodiversity Management Strategy for Iowa City. Here are some highlights:

We urge Iowa City government to devise and follow a biodiversity management strategy, which would
include the following core components:

Update and improve the Sensitive Natural Areas Ordinance

Transform the City’s Forestry Department into a new Department (or Division) of Biodiversity Services

Increase biodiversity by devising an ecological network

Educate Iowa Citians about what has been accomplished in other cities.

Read the full report here.

CGRER: Climate Narrative Project – Spring 2015

Screen Shot 2015-05-11 at 9.24.44 AM Climate Narrative Project fellow Nick Fetty reviewed the spring 2015 Climate Narrative Project final event for the University of Iowa Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research blog.

Here’s a clip:

Nick Fetty | May 9, 2015

Fellows with the spring 2015 Climate Narrative Project presented their works on Thursday night at Art Building West on the University of Iowa campus.

The Climate Narrative Project is “a special media arts initiative in the Office of Sustainability at the University of Iowa, designed to reach across academic disciplines and chronicle regenerative approaches to energy, food, agriculture, water and waste management, community planning and transportation.” Fellows participate in a semester-long graduate-level workshop where they developed ideas ranging from documentary films to dance performances. This semester the fellows focused on “regenerative agriculture, urban farming and food policy, with a special focus on schools.”

During Thursday night’s event – Urban Farms, Real Food, Edible Campus: An Evening of Film, Art, Dance and Storytelling – I was the first one to present with a documentary entitled “Soil Mate: It Takes A Teacher.” The film focused on Iowa City soil educator Scott Koepke and the influence he has had on children in the area. Koepke stresses with his students the importance of organic gardening techniques, composting, and healthy eating.

Anna Kilzer presented next with her project “Edible Campus: Beyond a Public Health Building” in which she laid out ideas for planting vegetables and other plants near the UI’s new College of Public Health building with the hope that the rest of the campus would eventual embrace this concept. Kilzer presented her project in the form of a monologue, describing what the UI’s campus would look like if it emulated edible campus models such as the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

“I can see Pawpaw trees and raspberry bushes outside McBride Hall stretching down the sidewalk like a corridor to Clinton street. The wind carries the aroma of basil, thyme and rosemary, as leafy greens reached out of raised beds with the gentle pokes of kale, spinach, and arugula. . Students swing in the Hammocks studying and napping between classes. And those famous writers at their workshop – they were meeting in the middle of rooted vegetables and walnut trees, bookended by pages of lettuce. Engineering students argue over the water irrigation system, as the math assistants measured the perfect amount of water to each vegetation. The PE students lounged on the chairs and benches designed by the 3D design students on display for the general public to enjoy. And down below, the Iowa River teems with life and as the boats cart the boxes of fresh veggies, and food carts and truck lined up with the fervency of filling sand bags–though this time, filling bags of real food from the Edible Campus to feed students, faculty and community members of Iowa City.”

Sophia Finster then took the stage for a dance performance entitled “The Dinner Party: Processed vs. Unprocessed Food.” The performance consisted of four dancers and their struggles to eat healthy unprocessed food when faced with the monetary constraints and the busy lifestyle of being a college student. The story was told through the medium of dance but also used statistics and facts about the environmental impact of processed foods.

“Forty percent of food grown, processed, and transported in the U.S. will never be consumed. Every year 60 million tons of food waste is generated in the U.S. and nearly 40 million tons of that goes to the landfill. Unprocessed food often has much less packaging than processed food and around 45% of our food system’s carbon emissions arises from the production of food that is never eaten. But that’s another conversation for another time. What’s really in our food, safely sealed up in crinkly bags and flashy boxes?”

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Audience members to the stage at the end of Sophia Finster’s performance to enjoy some locally- and -organically-grown produce. (Photo by Sarah Nagengast)

The night concluded with Bridget Fonseca and her project “Don’t Let Your Children Grow Up to Be Farmers: Women Farmers Respond,” a question and answer session between herself (an aspiring farmer) and four characters who played the role of real-life female farmers in the Iowa City area. Fonseca asked the farmers about monetary and other struggles they face to maintain a sustainable operation. At the end, she reflected on her project and reevaluated whether or not she wanted to pursue a career in farming.

“Over this journey, I’ve gained a new perspective on the realities of owning a far. It’s not as flexible [or] glamorous as I initially though. Farming is hard work and the answer is hot that we all have to become farmers to save the food system. What we need is more support for out farmers, for our environment, and for our health.”

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Climate Narrative Project fellow Bridget Fonseca presented her project “Don’t Let Your Children Grow Up To Be Farmers: Women Farmers Respond.” (Photo by Nick Fetty)

The Climate Narrative Project is currently accepting applications for six fellows for the fall semester. Those interested in applying should contact UI writer-in-residence and workshop leader Jeff Biggers (jrbiggers[at]gmail.com).

http://iowaenvironmentalfocus.org/2015/05/09/climate-narrative-project-spring-2015/