Category Archives: Air Quality

Daily Iowan: “UI Ready to Shun Coal”

Earlier this week, the Daily Iowan published an article detailing University of Iowa’s President Bruce Herrald’s announcement that UI will be coal free by 2025.

Here’s a bit of the article:

“University of Iowa President, Bruce Harreld, announced on Feb. 20 the UI will be coal-free by 2025.

According to a press release, Harreld said, ‘It’s the right choice for our students and our campus, and it’s the surest path to an energy-secure future.

‘In 2025, we expect to have diminished our reliance on coal to the point it is no longer included in our fuel portfolio.’

The UI will continue its efforts to advance energy programs to ensure there is ‘an abundant supply’ of alternative-energy sources, he said.

The UI has taken steps to reduce its dependence on coal — in 2008, the university established seven ‘sustainability targets’ to be achieved by 2020, according to the press release.

Since the 2020 vision’s inception, the UI has managed to reduce its use of coal by 60 percent.

This correlates with one of the sustainability targets, which seeks to derive 40 percent of the UI’s energy from renewable resources — a far cry from a university once dependent on fossil fuels, according to the UI sustainability website.”

The coal industry’s destructive tendencies towards global climate is well known, and this plan to shift away from using the energy source as a means of powering our university remains to be small, but important step in combating climate change.

Ideally, given Iowa’s inclination towards wind energy, we’ll see more institutions making the shift away from dirty fossil fuel.

Should Cities Ban Internal Combustion Cars?

An interesting post at Green Tech Media looks at the role of cities and countries in transitioning away from internal combustion cars. Countries include Germany, Holland and Norway, as well as India.

Here’s a clip:

“The Netherlands, which has an electric vehicle penetration level of around 10 percent, voted to ban all new petrol and diesel car sales by 2025 in a motion passed in April. The move, approved by the lower house of parliament, was due to be debated by the senate last month.

Instead, the country announced plans to become “one huge Living Lab for Smart Charging of electric vehicles,” according to a press release.

The Living Lab program is light on targets and timeframes. But with a nationwide network of charging stations already in place, the Netherlands remains a major contender to become the first country banning fossil-fuel cars altogether.”

Copenhagen has more bikes than cars

As the Guardian reports, last year in Copenhagen, 265,700 bikes took to the road compared to 252,600 cars. This phenomenon is part of a long-time redesign and investment in bike infrastructure in the city.

Here’s a clip from the Guardian:

Copenhagen’s efforts to create a cycling city have paid off: bicycle traffic has risen by 68% in the last 20 years. “What really helped was a very strong political leadership; that was mainly Ritt Bjerregaard [the former lord mayor], who had a dedicated and authentic interest in cycling,” says Klaus Bondam, who was technical and environmental mayor from 2006 to 2009 and is now head of the Danish Cycling Federation. “Plus, a new focus on urbanism and the new sustainability agenda broke the glass roof when it came to cycling.”

And check out this video on the Copenhagen bike lanes:

Growth of city trees can cut air pollution, says report

The BBC had a nice report on a recent The Nature Conservancy study on the role of trees in reducing pollution in the cities.

Here’s a clip:

“Particulate matter (PM) is microscopic particles that become trapped in the lungs of people breathing polluted air.

PM pollution could claim an estimated 6.2 million lives each year by 2050, the study suggests.

Lead author Rob McDonald said that city trees were already providing a lot of benefits to people living in urban areas.

“The average reduction of particulate matter near a tree is between 7-24%, while the cooling effect is up to 2C (3.6F). There are already tens of millions of people getting those kinds of benefits,” he said.

Dr McDonald said the study of the use of trees in 245 cities around the world compared the cost-effectiveness of trees with other methods of cooling and cleaning air.”

Kate’s Outline

cnpoutline

C  N  P    O U T L I N E

Theme : will be based on the concept of oil and crude materials and their destruction of nature and society as a whole. The idea is the spilling of oil will have an effect everywhere with its drips touching everything.

General storyline I (maybe with someone else) will walk up representing humanity/Big Oil. Will admire this beautiful piece, and then spill all over it. Subject matter/ pieces in the whole canvas: forest, ocean, desert, cityscapes, possibly Iowa City, polar ice caps, human health, and how our culture is impacting these elements.

Main characters me, the piece, humanity. 

Interviews / Research Erica Damman (arts medium), Richard Priest (oil background), online research of artists of inspiration

Arts Medium  slanted canvas with acrylic subjects. Then real oil or a replacement will be spilt over it, dripping on ceramic/plastic figures of humans on a map.

Addicted to Oil

From the beginning I have been interested in the question, “if we know our current system is bad, and there is a better option, why don’t we do it?” This seems to be at the heart of every activist; trying to understand why change is not happening. What I have come up with is that Americans are plain addicted to their ways. I want to use the metaphor comparing Big Oil companies to Drug Dealers, as they facilitate quick, easy, dirty oil into our system and make almost all our products that much easier to access. Companies understand that using fossil fuels is damaging our environment, but “we must support ourselves and using Big Oil is just what our company does.” But isn’t that the same thing as providing something you know is bad because “its a part of my job”? Drug dealers don’t make you buy their product, but they are readily available when you need a fix.
As a part of my project, I would like to explore this metaphor in depth and come up with parallel examples of how the two are similar. I could put this into an art form using painting, sculpture, or a fictional short film.

Here is one example of a glass sculpture piece I would like to do.

The idea of this piece is the funnel-like quality for one thing to impact everything there after. This sculpture form could play with the idea of drugs by using objects associated (powder, oil, syringes, etc.)

 

I am also concidering a film that documents a drug dealer’s choices and decisions, and comparing that to a figure affiliated with Big Oil.

Leonardo DiCaprio’s “Before the Flood”

leo

Go Leo!!
Here is the link to his new documentary “Before the Flood” where he travels and talks to other countries about the United State’s big oil addiction. “The climate change documentary sees the Oscar-winner traveling around the world, giving an address an the U.N. and meeting with the likes of Pope Francis and Elon Musk”
http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/trailer-leonardo-dicaprio-climate-change-doc-before-flood-933167

CO2 in Atmosphere down to Preindustrial rates in Greenland


At last, some good news about the environment.

A recent analysis of core samples taken from Greenland’s ice sheet shows that levels of a common form of air pollution have dropped almost to preindustrial levels. Just take a look at the graph below:


This graph of acid content in Greenland ice cores shows how the acidity of the atmosphere rose from the 1950s through the 1970s before declining sharply.

However, these graphs do not account for the world atmosphere and it is unlikely that the USA has close to preindustrial rates.