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Bathtub: The Great Lakes just had their warmest November on record and research from the Environmental Law and Policy Center suggests the region has warmed more quickly than other parts of the U.S. Warmer lake temperatures have resulted in a decrease in ice cover and less ice means the lakes are absorbing more solar radiation, increasing warmth and evaporation. The La Niña climate pattern could add to the warming this winter, contributing to an increase in lake effect snow. This occurs when cool air passes over the relatively warm lakes, producing clouds and snow. “This winter will be a warm winter, a mild winter and less ice cover and that will lead to more lake-effect snow,” said Jia Wang, a climatologist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory. (Michigan Radio)
Survey says: Climate change and other pressures have U.S. and Canadian citizens concerned about the health of the Great Lakes, according to a new poll from the Great Lakes Water Quality Board. The poll found:
- 33% said their favorite lake is in poor condition and lakes Michigan, Erie and Ontario were considered in worse shape than Superior and Huron.
- 30% said it’s not safe to swim in the Great Lakes, while 40% said it is safe.
- 36% said Great Lakes water is unsafe to drink and 29% said it is safe.
- 90% replied that it was important that the health and water quality of the Great Lakes be protected, an increase from 88% in 2018 and 85% in 2015.
- Algal blooms were listed as a top concern, followed by invasive species, sewer overflows, flooding and climate change. (Michigan Radio)
See @AVZejnati's post on Twitter.
Public comment: Michigan residents have some thoughts on how the state can meet its goal of becoming “carbon neutral” by 2050. At an online forum last week, Michiganders spoke out in favor of electric vehicles, rooftop solar and other renewable energy options. Alison Sutter, for the city of Grand Rapids, said the state’s climate plan should pay special attention to initiatives in communities of color. “Environmental justice communities really need to be prioritized in terms of looking to directly reduce the energy burden in those communities as well as emissions for communities of color and looking at specific goals to deploy clean energy resources,” she said. However, Kate Madigan, executive director for Michigan Climate Action, warned that the state’s goal could be jeopardized by industries that profit from pollution. “We now have plenty of evidence that fossil fuel companies and industry groups intentionally misled the public and spent millions of dollars influencing policymakers to take no action on climate change for many decades,” she said. (MLive)
Chips wanted: The U.S. will need more domestic semiconductor manufacturing to meet its goal of having electric vehicles make up half of all vehicles sold by 2030, according to Commerce Secretary Gina Ramondo. Computer chips are already in short supply and electric cars could make the problem more acute because they use more chips per vehicle. Raimondo is pushing for passage of the Chips Act, which would send $52 million in subsidies toward semiconductor manufacturing and research. “Probably the car you drive now has hundreds of chips. The (electric vehicle) that we want you to buy over time has two thousand chips,” Raimondo said in a speech to the Detroit Economic Club. (WaPo)
Unequal opportunities: The recently passed federal infrastructure bill has raised questions about how the $50 billion included in the legislation for climate resilience will be allocated. President Biden has promised to send 40 percent of climate spending to underserved communities, but historically whiter and wealthier communities have received the majority of federal grants so far. Billions of dollars in the infrastructure bill will go to competitive grants programs, which can undercut the ability of communities with fewer resources to secure funding. Communities also often have to pay for a portion of the project as well as prove that the value of the properties they want to protect are worth more than the cost of the project. These requirements can be prohibitive for many low-income communities. (NY Times)
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