We hear all the time about invasive species in the Great Lakes region. But many people have no idea what Eurasian Ruffe, Round Goby, or European Frogbit look like and even less of an idea about what to do about the problem. But environmental education groups are trying to change that. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Tamar Charney reports:
We hear all the time about invasive species in the Great Lakes region. But many people have no
idea what Eurasian ruffe, Round Goby, or European frogbit look like and even less of an idea
about what to do about the problem. But environmental education groups are trying to change
that. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Tamar Charney reports:
Doug Jensen runs the Aquatic Invasive Species Information Center for the University of
Minnesota Sea Grant Program. He’s created a series of nine cards to help people identify exotic
species that are causing problems in the lakes.
“The front cover of the card is high quality photo of the aquatic plant, fish or invertebrate species
and it folds open and the inside of card has text which describes what the problem is how the
species is spreading and what people can do to take action and prevent the spread.”
Jenson hopes people will keep the ID cards in their tackle boxes, glove compartments, and aboard
their boats. Over 3.2 million of them have been printed including a French language version for
Quebec. They’ll be distributed through bait shops, marinas, environmental education
organizations, and resource management offices throughout the Great Lakes
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Tamar Charney.
Principles of sustainable design, or “green building” have been around for years. These are designs that, among other things, reduce energy use and create more comfortable working environments. Yet they are often dismissed as costly, impractical, and experimental. But green design has come a long way in recent years. The construction cost of an environmentally-friendly office building today is comparable with the cost of more traditional methods, and the maintenance costs are often much lower. Architects and builders across Pennsylvania have learned that, and the result has been a major shift in how buildings are constructed. And the lessons learned there could eventually make their way across the entire Great Lakes region. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Brad Linder reports:
Principles of sustainable design, or “green building” have been around for years. These are designs that, among other things, reduce energy use and create more comfortable working environments. Yet they are often dismissed as costly, impractical, and experimental. But green design has come a long way in recent years. The construction cost of an environmentally friendly office building today is comparable with the cost of more traditional methods, and the maintenance costs are often much lower. Architects and builders across Pennsylvania have learned that, and the result has been a major shift in how buildings are constructed. And the lessons learned there could eventually make their way across the entire Great Lakes region. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Brad Linder reports:
The Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum Marsh lies just around the corner from the Philadelphia International Airport. The refuge is also home to the Cusano Environmental Education Center, celebrating its first anniversary as what many consider to be the city’s greenest building.
The Center’s heating and cooling relies on a geothermal system. About five hundred feet below the Cusano Center, the temperature remains near 50 degrees all year round. Deep wells reach into the ground to borrow heat in the winter, and cool air in the summer.
(Natural sound marsh machine)
The Center also makes use of a “marsh machine,” to clean and recycle wastewater. Refuge Manager Dick Nugent says the machine uses natural processes to filter water through a “constructed wetland” of PVC pipes, gravel, and marsh plants. Nugent says the city water department delivers drinking water, but the marsh machine has a more important use.
“We wanted this here as an environmental education tool. It isn’t as if we needed it for the functionality of this building. The message to take home is that marshes serve a very important function.”
Cyrus Baym is a volunteer coordinator at the Cusano Center. He says people come expecting to learn about nature, but wind up getting something special out of the building.
“The people that are coming in, they see this fabulous building, a lot of space, a lot of glass, and then when you start explaining along with the exhibits the sustainable design features, the use of recycled materials, passive solar windows their eyes get even bigger. They get more excited and want to implement it in their own house.”
Refuge Manager Dick Nugent says there was some additional cost to innovations like the geothermal system and the southern wall of the building, which is made mostly of glass windows. But in the long run, many of those additions will wind up saving money on electricity and heating. And the overall goal isn’t to be frugal, but to teach.
On the other side of the state, another approach toward sustainable design is taking hold.
Pittsburgh is currently home to one-quarter of the nation’s buildings that have been certified as green by the U.S. Green Building Council. The non-profit national industry group represents design, construction, and environmental interests. The council also administers the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, rating system, which judges the overall environmental performance of buildings.
Unlike the Cusano Center in Philadelphia, many of Pittsburgh’s green buildings weren’t designed to be educational tools. The PNC Firstside Center in Downtown Pittsburgh provides workspace for 1800 employees in the bank’s technology and processing divisions.
Elmer Burger was one of the principle architects for the building. He says designing the largest LEED certified building in the country made sense for the project. The large floor space improved communication within business departments, and also allowed for extensive use of natural light.
“With a large floor plate, we had an opportunity to make the ceilings higher and bring daylight further into the building. So you can be as far as 125 feet away from the outside wall and still have daylight in a view.”
Burger says the building’s large windows give employees a view of the Monongahela River, and also save money by reducing the need for artificial light.
Rebecca Flora is director of Pittsburgh’s Green Building Alliance, a non-profit group working to encourage and facilitate environmentally friendly design in the city. She says some non-profit groups are interested in green buildings for ideological reasons, but also wind up getting long-term economic benefits.
“The life cycle value of doing a green building is actually quite significant in some cases. I know with Conservation Consultants, their building actually uses 60% less energy than a traditional building, which can have huge implications in terms of the small operating budgets that many non-profits have to work with.”
Flora says saving money is one of the main factors in getting major institutions like PNC to build green
“The myth that is out there is that green buildings cost more, and that’s one that we’re constantly trying to educate people around in that you get what you pay for. We’re trying to educate people around the fact that green building also adds value, and how do we equate that value with increased bottom line is a real key issue for most people.”
Flora says it’s important to convince clients, and not just architects of the benefits of green design. She says if the demand for LEED certified buildings increases, sustainable design techniques will become more common.
A number of other commercial and non-profit institutions in the city have also chosen green design. Both the Alcoa Corporate Center, and the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank are green buildings. And the new David L. Lawrence Convention Center is the first convention center in the country to earn LEED certification
With so many high profile green projects, sustainable design is starting to look like common sense to many architects and their clients. Elmer Burger says the success of the PNC Firstside Center has led the company to adopt a new policy. All of their new corporate buildings will be designed to meet LEED requirements.
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Brad Linder.
It’s not uncommon to hear reports of stock prices, inflation, and GNP numbers with most news broadcasts these days. As Great Lakes Radio Consortium commentator Terry Link argues, maybe it’s time for the media to give similar regular reports of environmental indicators to increase our mindfulness of our environmental health:
It is not an infrequent occurrence to hear reports of stock prices, inflation, and GNP numbers with most news broadcasts these days. As Great Lakes Radio Consortium commentator Terry Link argues, maybe it’s time for the media to give similar regular reports of environmental indicators to increase our mindfulness of our environmental health.
There’s an old adage that you are what you measure. So by that standard, how do we appear? Look at what the media tell us…
“The Dow Jones tumbled 170 points on heavy trading of more than 1 billion shares.” “Consumer confidence is lagging, dropping 0.2 percent from last month’s figure.”
“Wholesale prices rose 2.3 percent for the month, hinting that demand for products may once again signal a rebound in the economy.”
You get the picture.”
Given the standard then that you are what you measure, it should be no surprise that we have become simply homo economus.
By constantly trying to measure wealth by GNP and stock prices, we idolize consumption while we devalue much of what gives life its true meaning; namely our connections to each other and with the marvelous and mysterious spinning sphere that provides us with life.
So I believe it’s way past time to give us equivalent daily reports on the health of our biosphere.
Why not report on the spread or decline of disease in humans, animals and plants? Or give regular updates on receding glaciers, severity of storms. Or increased rider ship on mass transit and its affect on reducing pollution? A daily report might sound like this:
“Energy consumption was up briskly in June. But on a bright note the percentage of power generated from renewable resources climbed 25% faster than the overall increase. This has resulted in an overall drop in greenhouse gas emissions despite the rise in overall consumption”
How about we start reporting not only agricultural production but also the inputs –Michigan saw its consumption of lettuce produced locally climb by 19% from last year, as local growers were more effective in marketing locally grown food. This boost in the state economy is welcomed. The diminished transportation need of locally produced food has other advantages for state residents. The reduction of air pollution, traffic congestion, and noise with a simultaneous increase in the freshness of produce is even a bigger benefit for consumers
We must understand that the condition of our air, land and water is more important than fluctuations in our stock portfolios. Making environmental information more prominent and regularly available as we do with stock prices and business reports is a step toward crucial mindfulness.
We might even copy a Wall Street/business reporting model and highlight a socially and environmentally responsible firm or organization that is developing products, services, or processes that help build more sustainable communities.
We need all the hope we can find. We need to nourish the entrepreneurial spirit towards community solutions. And we need the mass media to give more of its news hole to report daily on the indicators of total community health, not simply the financial numbers. We ignore our environment at the peril of our children and grandchildren. By offering regular daily doses of the health of our planet, the media will be a more responsible partner in its recovery. By making visible more measures of what we value we just may nurture a transformation to a more sustainable society.
A report from the National Wildlife Federation shows colleges are doing a poor job in educating students about the environment. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Jonathan Ahl reports:
A report from the National Wildlife Federation shows colleges are doing a poor job in educating students about the environment. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Jonathan Ahl reports.
A report card from the National Wildlife Federation gives colleges a C plus on Environmental Lessons in the classroom. The report shows only eight percent of schools require any environmental coursework before graduation. Debra Rowe teaches at Oakland Community College in Michigan, and works with schools to add environmental coursework to the curriculum. She says every graduate needs a basic understanding of the environment.
“Since we all live on the planet and all impact the planet, don’t you think you think its really important that they at least get a core base of information so that they can be an educated citizen?”
The Federation’s report also shows some important majors like engineering and education are also lacking. Only ten percent of those students have any environmental instruction as part of their degrees. For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Jonathan Ahl.
For years, people have grappled with the age-old question: Which
came first, the chicken or the egg? Of course, there’s no definitive
answer. But as the Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Wendy Nelson
reports, at one elementary school, the chickens always come first:
Ann van Dyk isthe
director and owner of the De Wildt Cheetah Center in South Africa. Her
efforts to breed cheetahs in captivity have been recognized as thechief
reason the cheetah is no longer on the endangered species list.
cheetah basks in the sun at De Wildt. More than 500 cubs have beenraised
at De Wildt since the center opened in 1971.
Zoos in North America have been working with
a small farm in South Africa to save one of the
fastest animals on earth. In the first report of a
two-part series… the Great Lakes Radio
Consortium’s Lester Graham reports… the effort
has helped restore populations of cheetahs in the
wild and in zoos:
A pair of cheetahs in a gamepark
in Swaziland are protected from hunters. However, there are few places left
in the wild for the sleek cats.
This cheetah was born and bred at
the De Wildt Cheetah Center in South Africa. Its home is now the Saint
Louis Zoo where it's part of a 'Species Survival Plan.'
Although the cheetah was removed from the endangered species
list more than a decade ago… zoos are still breeding the animal in
captivity. In the second report of a two part series… the Great Lakes
Radio Consortium’s Lester Graham reports… along with a cheetah center
in Africa… the zoos plan to keep producing cheetahs in case something
happens to the animal in the wild:
The city of Seymour, Indiana had two problems: it’s low-income residents
needed public transportation, and like most cities across the nation, it
needed to reduce the amount of waste heading to landfills. Working with
state and federal government agencies, the city solved both problems,
with one solution never before tried in any U-S city: a public bus that
accepts recyclables as fare. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Janet
Most people surf the web for things like stock prices, chat rooms and
pornography. But a bird enthusiast in upstate New York is hoping to
catch their attention another way. He’s using a website to share the
birth of baby eagles with the rest of the world. The Great Lakes Radio
Consortium’s Karen Kelly reports.
It’s been called a domestic version of the PeaceCorps. AmeriCorps is a
service learning program that puts young people to work in communities
around the country. It was an early priority of the Clinton
administration, and since the project was established four years ago,
more than 100-thousand people have participated. AmeriCorps members
work in schools, churches and for non-profit groups, such as Habitat for
Humanity and the Red Cross. One of the newest AmeriCorps chapters was
established last fall in the middle of the Adirondack Park in New York
State. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Todd Moe reports: