Friday, May 17, 2013

Michigan Tech News: Most Scientists Agree: Humans are Causing Global Climate Change

By Jennifer Donovan, Michigan Tech Director of Public Relations
Posted on Michigan Tech News May 16, 2013
Reprinted with permission

HOUGHTON --Do most scientists agree that human activity is causing global climate change? Yes, they do, according to an extensive analysis of the abstracts or summaries of scientific papers published over the past 20 years, even though public perception tends to be that climate scientists disagree over the fundamental cause of climate change.

To help put a stop to the squabbling, two dozen scientists and citizen-scientists from three continents -- including Sarah Green, professor and chair of chemistry at Michigan Technological University in Houghton, Mich. -- analyzed the abstracts of nearly 12,000 peer-reviewed scientific papers on climate change published between 1991 and 2011. They also surveyed the authors of those papers, to find out how well the analysis agreed with the authors’ own views on how their papers presented the cause of climate change.

They found that more than 97 percent of the scientists who expressed any opinion in their papers about the primary cause of global climate change believed that human activity was the cause. Approximately the same percentage of authors who responded to the survey said that their papers endorsed anthropogenic (human-caused) climate change. Nine of the scientists who analyzed the abstracts -- including Green -- reported their findings this week in the journal Environmental Research Letters, published by the Institute of Physics.

Green says she got involved because she was curious about the apparent disconnect between the general public’s lack of concern about climate change and what she calls "the clear scientific evidence that humans are changing the planet's atmosphere." That led her to SkepticalScience.com, a web site that tracks and addresses common myths about climate change. She has since contributed several articles.

John Cook, who maintains the web site, is a climate communications fellow for the Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland in Australia. He found that one dominant myth about climate change is the idea that scientists disagree about the cause. To investigate how much disagreement there really is in the peer-reviewed scientific literature, Cook set up an on-line system that enabled a group of SkepticalScience.com authors to rate nearly 12,000 abstracts from the Web of Science database (1991-2011) on whether they report human activities as the main contributors to climate change.

"John cleverly set up the rating process so it felt like a game to me," says Green. "After I rated five abstracts, another five would quickly appear, and counters showed how many each person had done, making it like a contest."

The abstract raters were a combination of professional and citizen-scientists from Australia, Canada, the UK, Finland, the US and Germany. The group was organized through the skeptical science web site.

"I read and rated 4,146 abstracts for this study, over about 4 months in winter/spring 2012," Green explains. "This is the first time I’ve published a paper where all the research was accomplished sitting on my couch." 

Green adds, "I found it fascinating to see the array of implications of climate change identified in the abstracts -- beyond the usual ones we hear about. They examined everything from production of tea in Sri Lanka, the stripes on salamanders, child undernutrition, frequency of lightning strikes, distribution of prickly pear cactus (and pine trees, kelp beds, wild boars, penguins, arctic fishes, canine leishmaniasis, and many, many others), mitochondrial electron transport activity in clams, copper uptake by minnows, lake effect snowfall, the rotational speed of the Earth and the prevalence of naked foxes in Iceland."

Green also found a large number of papers addressing mitigation of climate change through alternative energy and other ways to limit carbon emissions.

"It is critical to raise public awareness of the scientific consensus on climate change, so the public can make policy decisions based on factual evidence," she says. "Typically, the general public thinks that only around 50 percent of climate scientists agree that humans are causing global warming. This research has shown that the reality is 97 percent."

(Photo of Prof. Sarah Green courtesy Michigan Technological University.) 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Reflection Gallery to host exhibit of high school student art May 16 - June 1

HANCOCK -- The Finlandia University Reflection Gallery, Hancock, will host "How Am I Going to Use This in Real Life," an exhibit of work by more than 300 area high school student-artists, from May 16 to June 1, 2013.

An opening reception for the artists and their families will take place at the gallery at 7 p.m. TONIGHT, Thursday, May 16. The event is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.

The artwork featured in the exhibit was created in a series of workshops conducted this spring at schools in the western Upper Peninsula.

Denise Vandeville, dean of Finlandia’s International School of Art and Design (ISAD), explains that the free workshops focused on careers in the arts and how one’s passion can be turned into a career. Vandeville, along with ISAD faculty members Phyllis Fredendall, Robert Grame and Rick Loduha, led workshops in several fine arts disciplines.

The workshops were funded by a mini-grant from the Michigan Council for the Arts and Cultural Affairs (MCACA), which was administered by the Copper Country Community Arts Center of Hancock.

The Finlandia University Reflection Gallery is located on the second level of the university’s Jutila Center campus at 200 Michigan Street, Hancock.

For additional information, please call 906-487-7225.

Women's chorus Noteworthy to perform favorite 20th-century tunes TONIGHT, May 16.

HOUGHTON -- The women’s chorus Noteworthy will present "Vintage … Vibrant … Vivacious," a concert of favorite 20th-century melodies dating from the early 1900s to the 1960s, at 7 p.m. TONIGHT, Thursday, May 16, at St. Peter and St. Paul Lutheran Church in Houghton.

The women's chorus Noteworthy, directed by Joan Petrelius, left, performs at the Church of the Resurrection in Hancock last December. Tonight they will offer a concert at St. Peter and St. Paul Lutheran Church in Houghton. (Keweenaw Now file photo)

Noteworthy, the only women’s barbershop chorus in the Copper Country, is recognized for its lush tonal quality and intricate, a cappella harmonies.

Songs on the program range from high-energy dance tunes like "This Joint is Jumpin'" and  Carole King’s "One Fine Day" (made famous by the Chiffons) to the torch ballad "It’s a Pity to Say Good Night," once sung by Ella Fitzgerald. Other favorites include the barbershop standard "Bye Bye Blues," "Wild and Wooly Cowgirl," the Barbra Streisand classic "Second Hand Rose," "Consider Yourself" from the musical Oliver! and the toe-tapping gospel tune "Ride the Chariot."

"We picked this music because we love it, and we thought our audience would love it too," said Director Joan Petrelius. "Plus, it reflects the vibrant, vivacious women of Noteworthy."

The Copper Notes quartet -- with Marilyn Sager, Bonnie Horn, Shelba Marietta and Hollie Pierce -- will also perform "Baby Face" and the Elvis Presley tune "Have You Ever Been Lonely." Carla Johnson will join Pierce in singing "Tonight, You Belong to Me."

Admission is free. A free-will donation will be taken to benefit the Angel Mission in Calumet, which provides free items to families in need, and music scholarships for St. Peter and St. Paul Lutheran Church.

Noteworthy welcomes new members. If you are interested in joining the group, contact Petrelius at petreliusj@cts.k12.mi.us or 482-5088.

St. Peter and St. Paul Lutheran Church is at 1010 Madeleine Street, Houghton.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Upper Peninsula citizens skeptical of Rio Tinto "Community Forums"

By Michele Bourdieu with press release from Save the Wild U.P.

The decline tunnel for the portal to Rio Tinto's Eagle Mine descends under Eagle Rock, at left, a sacred Ojibwa site. Keweenaw Bay Indian Community tribal members are allowed to visit Eagle Rock, but still object to the placement of the mine portal. (Keweenaw Now file photo, August 2012)

MARQUETTE -- As Rio Tinto continues another round of community forums, local citizens voiced their skepticism at Marquette’s Rio Tinto Eagle Mine Community Forum Tuesday, May 14.

"Rio Tinto portrays this data as scientific -- but that could not be farther from the truth," said Kathleen Heideman, vice president of Save the Wild U.P. (SWUP). "Their 'data' from the last round polled less than 300 people -- hardly representative of the 76,502 residents of Marquette and Baraga counties. It's a global mining corporation's idea of democracy: first they show slides about how great they are -- then we should click to indicate our agreement. That's meaningless. It's not voting."

One category of the voting, "Leaving more wood on the woodpile," is intended to show Rio Tinto's contributions to benefit the community after they leave. SWUP President Margaret Comfort commented on one of the these.

"I am surprised to see the addition of 30 miles of power lines referred to as 'more wood on the woodpile,'" said Comfort. "Rio Tinto manipulated the public process by saying they needed 30 miles of power lines for mining exploration and then sought a small modification to their Eagle permit to bring the lines to the mine site. It might be illegal, and it’s definitely unethical. They should have had their Eagle Mine permit modified, which would have included public scrutiny to discover if the public approved of this action."*

This October 2010 photo shows power lines being run along the AAA Road leading to the Eagle Mine without a request from (Rio Tinto's) Kennecott Eagle Minerals Co. (KEMC) for an amendment to their mining permit for this infrastructure. (File photo by Keweenaw Now)*

Jeffery Loman, Keweenaw Bay Indian Community tribal member and former federal oil regulator, spoke about Eagle Rock, the Ojibwa sacred site used as a portal for the mine.

"Rio Tinto touted 75 visitors to Eagle Rock as demonstration of their willingness to work with Native Nations. But we know full well that Rio Tinto placed the mine portal into Eagle Rock for one reason and one reason only: They knew that this would draw the attention away from what all Upper Peninsula residents value -- water," Loman noted. "That worked yesterday but from this day forward we will, as guided by our Great Spirits, bring the attention squarely back to the protection of our waters and everything that depends on water."

SWUP Executive Director Alexandra Thebert commented on the fact that, in early April, citing "economic headwinds," Eagle Mine announced the layoffs of 11 employees and downsized contractors by 20 per cent.

"Rio Tinto representatives announced the life of the mine has been extended to 8 years by discovering a 20 per cent increase in ore, but that’s no career for the people working in the area. The U.P. needs and deserves stable jobs to support families and send kids to college, not layoffs and short-term work," said Thebert, who recently attended Rio Tinto's Annual General Meeting (AGM) for stockholders in London, England.** 

Save the Wild U.P. is a grassroots environmental organization dedicated to the preservation of the Upper Peninsula’s unique cultural and natural resources.

Rio Tinto will hold their next community forum on the Eagle Mine from from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., with additional time afterwards for discussion, TONIGHT, May 15, at the L’Anse American Legion Building, 115 N. Front St., L'Anse, MI 49946.***

Editor's Notes:

* Concerned Citizens of Big Bay filed a contested case petition on this electric power issue in 2011. See our Feb. 22, 2011, article, "Concerned citizens file contested case: Kennecott Eagle Mine."

** See our Apr. 20, 2013, article, "Save the Wild U.P. Director Alexandra Thebert speaks about Rio Tinto's Eagle Mine at events in London."

*** See "Rio Tinto Community Forum to be held in L'Anse May 15; videos: Sept. 2012 forum held in L'Anse."

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Rio Tinto Community Forum to be held in L'Anse May 15; videos: Sept. 2012 forum held in L'Anse

By Michele Bourdieu

Simon Nish, Rio Tinto director of community communications and external relations, explains the Rio Tinto Community Scoring process during the Sept. 26, 2012, community forum in L'Anse. Another Rio Tinto communtiy forum will be held TOMORROW, May 15, 2013, at the L’Anse American Legion Building. Click on photo for larger version. (Photo by Allan Baker for Keweenaw Now)

HUMBOLDT, MICH. -- Rio Tinto will hold a community forum on their Eagle Mine and Humboldt Mill from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., with additional time afterwards for discussion, TOMORROW, Wednesday, May 15, at the L’Anse American Legion Building, 115 N. Front St., L'Anse, MI 49946.

This is the third year Rio Tinto has held community forums so the public can learn more about the status of Eagle Mine, participate in its Community Scorecard process, and meet with Eagle representatives, according to Dan Blondeau, Rio Tinto Eagle Mine advisor for Communications and Media Relations.

Blondeau spoke about the forums in a May 6 interview on Marquette's SUNNY Morning Show (101.9 FM, WKQS).*

The forums begin with an update on the Eagle Mine, located near Big Bay, Mich., and the mill in Humboldt, Mich., destined for processing the ore. The company has also moved its local office to Humboldt.

The attendees will then have an opportunity to vote on the community scorecard to evaluate Rio Tinto's performance in the areas of environment, safety, economic effects on the community, local hire, safety and transparency. The votes will by followed by discussion, questions and answers.

Superior Watershed Partnership, the organization doing independent monitoring for the Rio Tinto Eagle Mine, will be present with information on their work.

Two more forums will be held (same evening time as above) this month: Tuesday, May 21, at the Michigamme Township Hall and Wednesday, May 22, at the Powell Township School. Community forums were held last week in Humboldt and Marquette.

Blondeau said results of the scorecards will probably be posted on their Web site by July 2013.**

These forums offer an update six months after the September 2012 Community Forums.

Videos: Discussion from Sept. 26, 2012, Rio Tinto Community Forum held in L'Anse

During the Sept. 26, 2012, Rio Tinto Community Forum in L'Anse, Linda Rulison, president of FOLK (Friends of the Land of Keweenaw), asks about mineral rights and Rio Tinto's reasons for contracting the Superior Watershed Partnership to do independent monitoring of the Rio Tinto Eagle Mine. Simon Nish, Rio Tinto director of community communications and external relations, replies. (Videos by Allan Baker for Keweenaw Now)

At the Sept. 26, 2012, Rio Tinto Community Forum in L'Anse, Michigan, participants in the audience vote to rate the company's environmental performance for the Eagle Mine.

At the Sept. 26, 2012, Rio Tinto Community Forum in L'Anse, Michigan, audience participants ask questions about the company's policy of local hire for the Eagle Mine.

At the Sept. 26, 2012, Rio Tinto Community Forum in L'Anse, Mich., Keweenaw Bay Indian Community members Jessica Koski and Jeffery Loman question the company's financial assurances against pollution, such as acid mine drainage, at the Eagle Mine.

Keweenaw Bay Indian Community member Jeffery Loman asks Rio Tinto representatives why Eagle Rock was used as the portal to the Eagle Mine, since it is not above the ore body.

Notes:

* Click here for the interview with Dan Blondeau on the SUNNY Morning Show.

** Click here for the Rio Tinto Eagle Mine Web site.

Public comment requested on two Public Health Assessments for Torch Lake Superfund Site; public meeting to be May 15 in Lake Linden

LANSING -- The Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) has released two Public Health Assessments for the Torch Lake Superfund site and surrounding areas located in the Upper Peninsula, specifically Houghton and Keweenaw counties, for public comment. The assessments focus on breathing air that has stamp-sand dust in it, potential exposure to the chemicals in the stamp sands at beaches and effects of eating fish from the area.

Map of the Torch Lake Superfund Site exhibited at the June 20, 2012, multi-agency open house sponsored by the Michigan Department of Community Health, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and Western Upper Peninsula Health Department. The same agencies will sponsor a follow-up open house and public meeting on two public health assessments for the site and surrounding areas TOMORROW, Wednesday, May 15, at Lake Linden-Hubbell High School. Click on photo for larger version. (Photos by Keweenaw Now)

MDCH will host a multi-agency open house from 4:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m. -- with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and Western Upper Peninsula Health Department -- followed by a public meeting at 7 p.m., on Wednesday, May 15. The meeting will take place at Lake Linden-Hubbell High School, located at 601 Calumet St. in Lake Linden.

This poster with information on the Torch Lake Area of Concern was exhibited at the June 20, 2012, multi-agency open house in Lake Linden. Click on photo for larger version.

The Public Health Assessment about the inhalation of airborne stamp sands in the Torch Lake Superfund site and the surrounding area in Houghton and Keweenaw Counties, evaluated concentrations of metals in airborne stamp sands. MDCH estimated the air concentrations using site-specific data, when available, and relying on regulatory guidance. Exposures that may occur during excavating or riding off-road vehicles at the Gay tailings pile along Lake Superior are not expected to cause harm. MDCH needs more information to determine the public health implications of exposure during street-sweeping activities in Calumet, when stamp sands that were applied to the roads in the winter become airborne. The discussion in this Public Health Assessment can guide other agencies in future evaluations of these and other stamp-sand piles.

During the June 20, 2012, multi-agency open house in Lake Linden, Sharon Baker, right, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality Area of Concern coordinator, discusses information about the Torch Lake Superfund site with Sarah Green, Michigan Tech professor and chair of the Department of Chemistry.

The Public Health Assessment about recreational use at beach areas at Lake Linden and along Torch Lake in Houghton County looked at potential chemical exposure from recreationally used areas around Torch Lake, Boston Pond, and Calumet Lake. Even though contaminated soil and sediment have been removed from several areas, additional sampling is needed to determine if the remaining chemicals present may harm people's health. Fish from Torch Lake, Boston Pond, and Calumet Lake are under waterbody-specific and statewide fish-eating guidelines. Visit www.michigan.gov/eatsafefish for more information.

MDCH also invites the public to provide comments on the Public Health Assessments. The assessments are online at www.michigan.gov/mdch-toxics under "Health Assessments and Related Documents." Copies also are available at the Lake Linden-Hubbell Public School Library, and the Portage Lake District Library located at 58 Huron St. in Houghton. Comments must be received by June 24. Responses to all comments will be provided in the final version of the assessments.

The department's Division of Environmental Health conducted the Public Health Assessments under a cooperative agreement with the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). Information concerning the human health effects of exposure to environmental contaminants can be found on the ATSDR web page at http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxfaqs/index.asp.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Dianda introduces resolution aimed at reducing emissions from correctional facilities

LANSING -- State Representative Scott Dianda (D-Calumet) introduced House Resolution 136 today that will urge the governor and Department of Corrections to convert heating plants at the state's correctional facilities to combined heat and power plants.

"Correctional facilities are some of the biggest consumers of energy in our state. Combining heat and power plants at our prisons will save millions and millions of taxpayer dollars. That's the smart way to save money -- unlike the governor's idea of privatizing prison food service," said Dianda, referring to Michigan Department of Corrections Officials' recent decision to contract prison food services to a private corporation.

In 2012, corrections facilities consumed nearly 172 million kilowatt-hours of electricity at a cost of almost $15 million. Nine of the facilities in the corrections system operate heating plants on-site to meet the heating and cooling needs of multiple buildings. The nine facilities with on-site heating plants collectively account for nearly 50 percent of the department's annual electricity use, which presents an opportunity for substantial savings from more efficient delivery of utilities. The combination of existing heating capacity and electricity demand make these facilities ideal candidates for new cogeneration projects.

"This is a win-win situation. We are able to demonstrate leadership and a sense of urgency in managing taxpayer investments in our state, and we are meeting the demand for implementing energy saving initiatives," continued Dianda.

The resolution gives an example of a facility that provides electricity, heat and air conditioning "through a cogeneration system fired by natural gas, a cleaner burning fuel."

Click here to read the resolution as presented.

Letter: Doubts concerning the wolf hunt regulations

The Pros have figured out how best to regulate the wolf hunt "to reduce predation on pets and livestock and to minimize wolf/human conflicts." The published regulations leave me puzzled. I wonder if I am alone in that category. Show me the predation and the conflicts.

1. 1200 licenses are to be sold beginning in August.
2.  The goal is to "Kill" 43 wolves, any age or sex.  That 4-letter word sets the stage -- get the kids used to killing for fun. That’s what guns are for, isn’t it?
3.  Bait and traps are allowed to hold the wild dog captive while mighty hunter shoots it. In no way are the contestants evenly matched. It’s an execution, not a sport.
4.  Licenses can be used in any or all of the three zones set up for hunting, beginning Nov 15th.
5.  Any "hunter" can set out bait if he sees wolf sign, and replenish it frequently, much like bones for bear bait.
6.  Three months hence he can bury traps around his baitpile, later to entrap those semi-domesticated wolves.
7.  On opening day he can sit in his blind and shoot his wolf, or all of them if he is truly anti-wolf.  Otherwise his buddies can shoot the rest.  3-2-1- Shoot together at designated targets.
8. That does not thin out the wolf population -- it wipes out the local pack.
9. Repeat that pattern with 1200 licensees in other territories and there is no way that the regulators will be able to stop the shooting when the so-called quota is filled.
10. Consider too the hundreds of deer hunters sitting in blinds waiting for something to move, to take a potshot and, if it be a wolf -- to hope that it will go away to hide and die.  Pray for snow.
11. Experts, Commission members, responsible officers at MDNR and Governor Snyder, please explain to us, your neighbors and in some cases your employers, how you plan to determine how many wolves have been killed and how you will ensure that the quota will not be exceeded? Anything beyond the quota can not be designated collateral, like humans in warfare.

With these ill-conceived "Regulations" I would expect around 100 wolves to be shot and would hold the regulators culpable and deserving of punishment. $1000 each/wolf, minimum. Or revoke the regulations.

Jack Parker
Baltic MI 49963

Democratic industry discussion to be held May 14 at Café Rosetta

CALUMET -- "Rebuilding the Copper Country Through Democratic Industry," a free community event, will be held from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Café Rosetta in Calumet on Tuesday, May 14. Open discussions will center around growing the local economy through new small-business industry opportunities and democratically-owned district heating projects using abandoned mines.

Guest speakers will be Ken and Pam Rieli of Phoenix Navigation and Guidance Inc. (PNGinc), located in Munising, Mich.

"Our for-profit company has developed high-value renewable energy products, high-efficiency turbine engines and space-age vehicles for decades,"says Pam Rieli. "Now we are transferring our know-how as an educational non-profit to jumpstart democratic industries. We invite all stakeholders who want to see the U.P. become the center of global economic recovery to attend this event."

Discussions will include how to implement successful garage-level industries, personal power plants and democratically-owned district heat/power utilities that use abandoned mines for geothermal storage, supplemented by backyard solar collectors.

Bring your ramstick to download free do-it-yourself plans.

Visit www.phoenixnavigation.com for more information.

Café Rosetta is at 104 Fifth Street in Calumet.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Park recruits Youth Conservation Corps applicants

CALUMET -- Keweenaw National Historical Park (Keweenaw NHP) Facility Manager Charles Masten has announced that area young people will share in a summer work opportunity offered through the Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) program, administered by  Keweenaw NHP in Calumet, Michigan. Applications are being distributed to area high schools for students between the ages of 15 and 18 interested in applying for the popular YCC program. Applications may also be picked up at park headquarters, located at 25970 Red Jacket Road (corner of US-41) in Calumet. There are no income restrictions for this youth employment program.

The Youth Conservation Corps, a nationwide federal program for young people administered by the National Park Service, provides opportunities to contribute to the conservation of our national parks, forests, and wildlife refuges through a combined work and environmental/cultural education program.

The young people will work with National Park Service professionals on conservation and cultural heritage related projects such as trail and roadside maintenance, museum collections, vegetation removal, historic stone ruin stabilization, painting, and other facility repair and clean-up projects.

The Keweenaw National Historical Park YCC program will run eight (8) weeks from June 10 to August 2, 2013. YCC enrollees will work a 40-hour week and receive $7.40 per hour. Five to six positions are expected to be filled and are selected from among all area youth submitting applications to the Keweenaw National Historical Park headquarters in Calumet. The deadline for submitting applications by mail or hand delivery is close of business (5 p.m.) May 24, 2013. Selections of YCC enrollees are made by random drawing by Human Resources personnel. The drawing and notification of selected employees will take place the week of May 27, 2013. The names of six alternates will also be drawn for the program and will be used to fill positions if any of the original selected YCC enrollees decline a position.

Questions about the YCC work program may be directed to Keweenaw National Historical Park YCC program director at (906) 483-3034. Applications must be received by the May 24, 2013, 5 p.m. deadline at Keweenaw National Historical Park, 25970 Red Jacket Road, Calumet, MI  49913.

Stamp collecting group to meet May 14 at Portage Library

HOUGHTON -- The Portage Lake District Library will host local stamp collecting group the Portage Lake Philatelists from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, May 14.

This meeting will focus on general topics of interest to stamp collectors and share the latest news of the world’s largest collecting organization.

The Portage Lake Philatelists' meetings are open to beginner and experienced stamp collectors as well as those who are curious about stamp collecting. The group is actively seeking people who are interested in learning the art of stamp collecting, and they are eager to share their knowledge about this hobby.

For more information, please call the library at 482-4570 or visit www.pldl.org.