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Making climate change a moral issue: A Midwest faith letter to support carbon pollution rules

David Beach  |  05/14/14 @ 2:00pm  |  Posted in Clean energy, Climate

Religious congregations are increasingly placing carbon pollution in a moral context. They are seeing how climate change exacerbates issues on which faith communities are already working — issues such as hunger, clean water, disaster relief, refugee services, and conflict resolution.

Big emissions source<br />Proposed EPA rules to reduce carbon pollution from coal-burning power plants will be a major step toward cleaner air and the reduction of risks from climate change.

The deluge now: Climate change today in our own backyards

David Beach  |  05/09/14 @ 11:00am  |  Posted in Clean energy

The latest required reading about the most important issue facing humanity is the National Climate Assessment, released May 6 by the U.S. government. The upshot: climate change is happening sooner and with more harmful impacts than previously feared. And the longer we wait to reduce the carbon pollution that is warming the planet, the harder and more costly the transition...

Observed U.S. Temperature Change Map<br />Source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Climatic Data Center

Birds and birders flock to northern Ohio

David Beach  |  05/02/14 @ 1:00pm  |  Posted in Connecting to nature, Plants & animals

We often think of northern Ohio as a working landscape of industry and agriculture. But, if you open your eyes, you can see amazing natural wonders. A highlight is the spring bird migration, which attracts birders from all over the country.

Spring mania<br />The boardwalk at Magee Marsh is one of the best places in the country to observe the spring migration of warblers and other neotropical migrants. Late winter at Pymatuning Reservoir<br />Northeast Ohio offers year-round birding opportunities, such as a late winter field trip to the Pymatuning Reservoir in eastern Ohio led by the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. Lakefront phenomenon<br />During the winter thousands of gulls congregate around the warm water discharges of power plants along the Lake Erie shore, including the plant by Gordon Park in Cleveland.New lakefront treasure<br />The Cleveland Lakefront Nature Preserve, a former disposal area for river dredgings, is now a birding hotspot within view of downtown. Dunes along the shore<br />The rare habitat of Mentor Headlands Dunes State Nature Preserve attracts unusual birds throughout the year.

Best and worst communities in Northeast Ohio (based on household carbon footprint)

David Beach  |  01/29/14 @ 5:00pm  |  Posted in Clean energy

Households in the wealthy suburbs of Northeast Ohio have roughly twice the impact on climate change as households in the region’s central cities.

Carbon footprints<br />Map of household carbon footprints in Northeast Ohio by zip code (Source: UC Berkeley CoolClimate Network, Average Annual Household Carbon Footprint, 2013, http://coolclimate.berkeley.edu/maps)

West Creek Watershed Stewardship Center shows where the water goes

David Beach  |  12/16/13 @ 2:00pm  |  Posted in Clean water

Northeast Ohio has an amazing new place to learn how to take care of water—the Watershed Stewardship Center at Cleveland Metroparks West Creek Reservation. The center combines research, education, and community action to promote the protection of urban watersheds. The slideshow below shows many of the center’s stormwater management features and exhibits.

Watershed Stewardship Center at West Creek<br />The new visitor center at Cleveland Metroparks West Creek Reservation is a place for everyone to learn about stormwater issues and the care of water resources.Green roof<br />The first place to intercept rain water is on the roof, with a green roof planted with sedums and globe onions. A green roof also shades the building in the summer.Water storage<br />Some of the rain water from the roof is collected in this 2,200-gallon cistern and then used for watering the green roof and other landscaping during dry periods.Wetland pools<br />Stormwater from the front of the center is directed to a restored wetland, which filters pollutants and settles out sediment. Rain chains<br />Some of the West Creek Center's downspouts are replaced by rain chains, which dissipate the erosive energy of falling water, as well as make water more visible.Bioswale step pools<br />Rain water from the site drains into a long swale with weirs positioned as dams to make a series of temporary pools. This gives more of the runoff time to soak into the ground. Pervious pavers<br />Pervious pavers are made so spaces remain when they fit together, thus allowing water to infiltrate. A layer of porous sand or gravel under the pavers provides room for water storage. Pervious patio<br />The rear patio features pervious paving, a rain garden, and decorative runnel that conveys rain from a downspout to make the flow of water visible.Grass swale<br />A vegetated swale collects runoff from the road and trail and allows it to infiltrate slowly into the ground. The storm sewer catch basin is raised so it only accepts water when necessary during very heavy rains. Road collector<br />This traffic circle by the parking lot slopes to a rain garden. The curb is cut to allow water to flow in. The storm drain in the center is raised so it only works as an overflow. Bioswale for parking lot<br />Stormwater runoff from parking lots can be quite polluted. The main lot at the West Creek Center is sloped to drain into this bioswale, which filters the water and lets it soak into the ground. Inside a healthy stream<br />Among the exhibits inside the West Creek Center are aquariums showing fish and other wildlife that can be found in streams when stormwater runoff is reduced. Watershed view<br />This interactive exhibit in the West Creek Center allows you to project different land use and water features onto a three-dimensional map of the watershed.

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