News Article | April 27, 2016
The signing of the Paris Agreement this past Friday—Earth Day—convened leaders from 160 countries in one of the largest civic celebrations in the world. The agreement, a historic commitment that emerged from the COP21 talks in Paris last December, represents a top-down leadership role that national governments must play. But an equally important development also came out of Paris: a bottom-up approach from cities and companies around the world. COP21 emphasized the important role cities play in addressing the problems Earth faces. In light of the serious threats posed, over 1,000 cities worldwide have joined the effort to address climate change through actions they can take every day. Giant global companies, many of them USGBC members, also signed pledges to address climate change in their own operations. The first Climate Summit for Local Leaders was held at COP21 on December 4, 2015, and gathered mayors, leaders, celebrities, students and citizens at the historic Paris City Hall (Hôtel de Ville). The event, led by Anne Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris, along with Michael Bloomberg, former New York mayor and Special U.N. Envoy, invited elected officials to reflect on the threat climate change posed to their cities, to reaffirm their commitments and to explain the importance of their actions. Beyond speeches, there were exhibits at the entrance to City Hall, including small wind turbines and a model solar home. Along the Champs-Elysees, there was a wind turbine and photovoltaic arrays, and Ikea set up stationary bicycle stations that allowed people to peddle bikes hooked up to power the beautiful lights along the grand boulevard. Energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies and policies were featured throughout the day. Videos also helped inspire. Business leaders and celebrities joined the effort. Elon Musk came to address the summit about the need for breakthrough technologies. Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert Redford also joined the mayors to extend their support for leaders and citizens to act. Unilever announced a consortium to require local sourcing. Leading into COP21, Mayor Bloomberg leveraged public events to gather commitments to climate action through the Compact of Mayors. The U.S. State Department paid attention to cities as well; for example, by convening the United States–China Climate Leaders Summit held in October 2015, which resulted in many Chinese cities agreeing to achieve China’s national GHG goals by 2020 instead of 2030. USGBC joined the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the National League of Cities (NLC) and ICLEI in hosting 11 U.S. mayors at COP21. These mayors from cities such as Atlanta, Boulder, Des Moines, Grand Rapids, Oakland, Pittsburgh, Salt Lake City and West Palm Beach participated in the Local Climate Leaders Summit as well as events at Le Bourget, where negotiations, technical sessions and displays filled the former airport site. The challenge to achieve the ambitious climate goals set in Paris is enormous, but there is a collective understanding that despite the severe threats, humankind is capable of taking on the challenge. It will take the concerted efforts of national governments, local governments, businesses and people around the world. I am heartened by the fact that we, the USGBC community, are well positioned to be a big part of the solution. Through our extensive membership network; our hundreds of thousands of LEED professionals; our tools, such as LEED and partnerships with WELL, GRESB, PEER and SITES; and our extensive network of allies—together, we can be a major force for good. Read more about USGBC’s participation in COP21
Garshelis D.L.,Grand Rapids
Ursus | Year: 2011
Few attempts have been made to estimate numbers and densities of Andean bears (Tremarctos ornatus). It is understandable that the many challenges involved in these efforts have made it difficult to produce rigorous estimates. A crude estimate of ∼20,000 Andean bears was derived by extrapolating the lowest observed density of American black bears (Ursus americanus) across the range of Andean bears. A second estimate, based on rangewide genetic diversity, produced a wide range of values; however, the low end of the confidence interval roughly matched the population estimate based on minimum black bear density. A mark-recapture analysis of 3 camera-trapped bears in Bolivia also yielded a similar density (4.4-6 bears/100 km 2), but overlapping home ranges of 2 radiocollared bears at that same site suggested a higher density (≥12 bears/100 km 2). Neither of these estimates can be considered reliable or representative of the wider population because of the small sample sizes. Moreover, the effective sampling area for the camera-trapping study was uncertain. A DNA hair-trapping mark-recapture study in Ecuador sampled a greater number of bears (n = 25) within a larger study area, but a male-biased sex ratio suggested that closure was violated, precluding a simple estimate of density based on the area of the trapping grid. Also, low capture rates in what was perceived (from incidence of bear sign) as prime bear habitat might be indicative of a sampling bias. These issues are not simply incorporated into confidence intervals (CIs): CIs only include uncertainty due to sampling error, not biased sampling or an ambiguous sampling area. Whereas these (low density) estimates may provide guidance for conservation, their greatest usefulness may be in providing directions for improvement of future studies of Andean bears, as well as bears in Asia, which also lack rigorous population estimates. © 2011 International Association for Bear Research and Management.
« Jaguar returns to motorsport with team entry in Formula E; Williams Advanced Engineering technical partner | Main | GM invests $356M in Flint, Saginaw and Grand Rapids engine/component operations; commits to $1B investment in Michigan by 2030 » The US Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) will issue, on behalf of the Bioenergy Technologies Office, a funding opportunity announcement (FOA) entitled “Advancements in Algal Biomass Yield, Phase 2 (ABY2).” This FOA will support projects to develop technologies that are likely to succeed in producing 3,700 gallons of algal biofuel intermediate (or equivalent dry weight basis) per acre per year (gal/acre/yr) on an annualized average basis (not peak or projected) through multiple batch campaigns or on a semi-continuous or continuous basis, in an outdoor test environment by 2020. Under this FOA, applicants must address one comprehensive topic area with three main priority areas: DOE anticipates posting the FOA on or around 30 December.
Cytosine bases here and there in DNA are famously decorated with methyl groups, chemical modifications that silence genes so that specific cells express only certain, appropriate DNA sequences. This safety strategy ensures, for instance, that eyelash cells don’t sprout from spleen cells. Thanks to new research, cytosines can no longer claim to be the only bases that slip on a methyl group in mammals. Adenine bases can also be methylated, says Yale University’s Andrew Z. Xiao, whose research team found the modification in mouse stem cells. Xiao and his team recently identified an enzyme responsible for removing the chemical mark from adenine (Nature 2016, DOI: 10.1038/nature17640). Although adenine methylation has long been observed in single-celled organisms, researchers didn’t think it decorated the DNA of multicellular organisms, comments Gerd P. Pfeifer, who studies epigenetics at the Van Andel Research Institute in Grand Rapids, Mich. “Adenine methylation in DNA was totally ignored for a very long time,” Pfeifer says. By 2015, the epigenetic mark had been reported in algae, plants, mosquitoes, fruit flies, and worms—discoveries in multicellular organisms that tantalized researchers with the possibility that mammalian DNA may also possess the mark. Last December, researchers at the University of Cambridge reported initial evidence suggesting the epigenetic mark was also found in adult human and mouse cells (Nature Struct. Mol. Biol. 2015, DOI: 10.1038/nsmb.3145). Methylated adenine appears to be quite rare in mammalian cells, Xiao says. For example, DNA in mouse stem cells has about six to seven methylations per million adenine bases, a frequency several orders of magnitude rarer than cystosine methylation. To find the mark in mouse stem cells, Xiao’s team carefully measured the kinetics of polymerase enzymes as they replicated DNA during sequencing. The rate of the replication slowed when the enzymes hit a methylated adenine. The team then used mass spectrometry to confirm the presence of the mark at these spots on the DNA. In the new study, Xiao and colleagues also took a stab at figuring out what role the epigenetic mark plays. They found that, like methylated cytosines, methylated adenines silence genes in mouse stem cells, albeit using an entirely independent system of enzymes. Curiously, research in worms and flies suggests adenine methylation is involved in activating nearby genes, a function opposite to what Xiao’s group found in mouse stem cells. “I’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure out this difference,” he says. “We need to do a lot more research before we can connect all the dots.”
"Across Michigan, in cities large and small, lead poisoning continues to plague children, limiting them in school and on the playground. While much of the state’s focus on lead has rightly been on poisoned water in Flint, the metal continues to turn up annually in the bodies of thousands of children across the state, at percentages well above the numbers that raised red flags in Flint. Elevated blood-lead levels are seen in a higher percentage of children in parts of Grand Rapids, Jackson, Detroit, Saginaw, Muskegon, Holland and several other cities, proof that the scourge of lead has not been eradicated despite decades of public health campaigns and hundreds of millions of dollars spent to find and eliminate it." Mike Wilkinson reports for Bridge Magazine in the Detroit News via the Detroit Journalism Cooperative January 28, 2016. "Flint Weighs Scope of Harm to Children Caused by Lead in Water" (New York Times) "House Investigates Flint Water Crisis, But The Governor Isn't On The Invite List" (Huffington Post) "Lead In Water Not Confined To Flint" (Charlotte Observer) "Much Went Wrong To Delay Public Notice Of Lead In Sebring Water" (Columbus Dispatch) "If You Want Clean Water, Don't Be Black in America" (CityLab)