Greening Michigan's cannabis industry

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CO2 2022/2021 : 415.6 ppm / 413.38 ppm

Dear Michigan Climate News readers,

Will Michigan's lakes stay blue? Will Ann Arborites tax themselves to fund climate change action? Can the state's cannabis industry ever truly be green? All that and more in this week's exciting Michigan climate news roundup!

Enjoy your week!

— Nina Ignaczak, Editor of Michigan Climate News + Planet Detroit

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Watercolors: A new study estimates that only about 30% of the world’s lakes are mostly blue, typically located in cool, high-altitude regions. But the researchers from Illinois State University and Southern Methodist University found that while the Great Lakes are in a climate conducive to blue waters, land use and ice cover changes could lead to greener waters. A decline in ice cover can foster microscopic phytoplankton, which can turn lakes green and make water more difficult to use. "It's much more complicated for us to use water that's got algae in it," said Catherine O'Reilly, a professor in the Illinois State University Department of Geography, Geology and the Environment who co-authored the study. "As lakes, in general, have lower water quality, it does become more expensive for us to use that water for the things we would want to use it for." (Freep)

Climate vote: On November 8, Ann Arbor voters will decide whether to approve a 20-year tax to fund climate action in the city. Here’s what to know about the measure:

  • Funding: The tax could underwrite a host of actions in the city, including building geothermal and solar energy, constructing neighborhood resilience centers, expanding transit and non-motorized transportation networks, electrifying buildings, and more.
  • Higher taxes for some: Property owners would pay $100 yearly for every $100,000 taxable value. The city estimates this could raise $100 million between 2023 and 2043.
  • Who supports it?: Ann Arbor Mayor Christopher Taylor and several Washtenaw county politicians support the measure, which has also been endorsed by groups like the Huron River Watershed Council and Ecology Center. More information on the initiative can be found here. (MLive)

Greening the weed: Michigan’s cannabis industry produces a lot of waste, according to Aaron Hiday, Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy compost program coordinator. This includes biomass from the non-smokable portions of plants, often sent to landfills where it produces climate-warming methane. Some compost companies and cannabis growers are pushing the state to relax rules that make it difficult for producers to send plants to composting facilities. Currently, growers have to chip plants and add soil, cardboard, or something else to render it “unusable and unrecognizable,” as well as send the material to a facility that’s licensed to accept cannabis waste. “A lot of this industry has young, environmentally conscious people, and they want to do right, but they have two big hurdles," Hiday said. "There's little infrastructure to support them, so they may have to try and do it themselves, or they just don't know what's out there. And the composting industry is not ready for the amount of organics that we've got. But it could be." (Detroit News)

Nuclear needed? Some environmental groups are pushing back on a bill passed by the Michigan Senate to spend $250,000 studying nuclear power generation. This will include looking into “small modular reactors,” which proponents say deliver safer and cheaper power than traditional nuclear plants. “Wind and solar just keep winning and getting cheaper,” said Mike Berkowitz, with the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign in Michigan. “So we don't need false solutions like the Palisades nuclear plant or small modular reactors that don't even exist yet.” Governor Gretchen Whitmer will decide on the nuclear study while she also attempts to reopen the Palisades plant in southwest Michigan. The recently passed federal Inflation Reduction Act created tax credits that Katherine Peretick, a Michigan Public Service Commission member, says would lower the cost of nuclear generation. (Bridge)

Intensifying storms and booming populations: Rescue efforts are ongoing after Hurricane Ian swept through Florida and South Carolina, leaving at least 80 dead and causing tens of billions of dollars in damages. The hurricane intensified rapidly as it approached the southwest coast of Florida, which has become a familiar pattern for major storms in the Gulf of Mexico. Climate scientists say warmer oceans are helping drive this intensification, and climate change also increases the amount of rainfall a hurricane like Ian drops. Storms also seem to be slowing down with climate change, increasing rainfall duration and damaging wind. And rising sea levels means storm surge can move further inland, jeopardizing areas that were once considered relatively safe. All this could influence how evacuation orders are given in the future and what areas are zoned for residential development. Yet, flood-prone places like Charleston, South Carolina, and Fort Myers, Florida, have seen rapid growth in recent years. The U.S. Census Bureau projects the Southeast will see a more significant population increase than any other region over the next two decades. (NY Times, Guardian, WaPo, Mother Jones)

SOLUTIONS: Northern-Michigan-based nonprofit forms peer group to help farmers face climate change, practice 'carbon farming'

There’s an old adage that predicting the weather is more art than science. Rapid and drastic changes in weather brought on by climate change make this statement even more accurate.

It makes sense, then, that Amanda Kik of the northern Michigan-based nonproft Crosshatch for the interconnectedness of art, farming, ecology and economy.

Since 2005, Brad and Amanda Kik, co-founders of Crosshatch, have worked with farmers, artists, individuals and organizations to tackle challenges to food production in northern Michigan. Centering the human experience in a place-based narrative, Crosshatch works to create a more sustainable and self-reliant community in their part of Michigan.


What questions do you have about the environment and climate change in Michigan? Please let us know by reaching out to me at or hit reply!


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