Climate Change and the Tall Grass Prairie

Climate change and the tallgrass prairie – what’s the connection and what will happen to this endangered ecosystem as climate change advances?
Listen to a presentation by Dr. Jesse Nippert, Associate Professor at Kansas State University, Grassland Ecologist and Principal Investigator of the Konza Prairie LTER (long term ecological research), about climate change’s impact on the tallgrass prairie and what it means for the prairie’s future.  Dr. Nippert explains his research on the climate changed weather and shows convincing evidence that increased global temperatures have impact on the tall grass prairie.   Grassland Heritage Foundation brought Dr. Nippert to speak at Lawrence Public Library on November 7, 2018.

The environmental news for the week of 11/19/18:

11/16 Democracy Now reports:  At least 63 killed by wildfires in northern CA and hundreds of people are missing. A massive cloud of smoke hangs over parts of northern CA. One environmental monitoring group says the region now has the worst air quality in the world. Residents and workers in Butte County and surrounding areas have been urged to remain indoors, schools in Butte County have remained shut since the fire started, dozens of schools across the Bay Area were closed due to the poor air quality. Gov Jerry Brown said the fires were fueled by historic drought exacerbated by climate change.

11/12 Greenability Mag reports:   Switch to energy-efficient lighting. The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) challenges everyone to switch out at least one inefficient incandescent light bulb for an LED. If every U.S. household replaced just one old bulb with an LED, the NRDC reports that our nation’s electric bill would be cut by more than $5 billion, and we’d avoid 2-million metric tons of carbon dioxide pollution in just 10 years. The savings opportunity is huge because the average U.S. household has about 40 lighting sockets, and more than 2-billion sockets nationwide still contain inefficient bulbs. According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), switching to LED lighting in the United States over the next two decades could save $250 billion in energy costs and reduce the electricity consumption for lighting by nearly one half. To learn more, visit the NRDC LED Challenge.

11/15 Reuters reports:  The U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) requires refiners to blend biofuels like ethanol into their fuel pool or buy compliance credits from competitors who do. Refineries with a capacity less than 75,000 barrels-per-day can receive waivers if they prove compliance would cause them disproportionate hardship. The EPA, under President Donald Trump, has greatly expanded the waiver program, awarding 29 exemptions for the 2017 calendar year, up from 16 in 2016 and just seven in 2015.  A group representing biofuel companies asked a federal judge to force the EPA to stop exempting small refineries from renewable fuel laws until a lawsuit challenging the agency’s actions is resolved.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday rejected for now a bid by the President Donald Trump’s administration to block a trial in a lawsuit filed by young activists (Juliana v US) who have accused the U.S. government of ignoring the perils of climate change.

The Trump administration might plan to set up a side-event promoting fossil fuels at the annual U.N. climate talks in Katowice Poland next month. Repeating what they did with the 2017 gathering in Bonn, Germany, the Administration plans to highlight the benefits of technologies that more efficiently burn fuels including coal, sources said. This year’s talks in Poland – located in a mining region that is among the most polluted in Europe – are intended to hammer out a rule book to the 2015 Paris agreement on climate change which set a sweeping goal of ending the fossil-fuel era this century by spurring a trillion-dollar transition to cleaner energy sources such as solar and wind power. Even as the Trump administration aims to promote energy strategies that could detract from those international goals, it also plans to let State Department officials continue negotiating the climate accord – which would be a recognition that the next U.S. president may drop the nation’s opposition to the pact. The White House and the State Department did not respond to requests for comment.

11/15 Cherokee Tribune and Ledger-News reports: A state appellate court ruled Friday that National Fuel Gas Corp. could not use eminent domain proceedings to cross a Clarksville couple’s property for the Northern Access Pipeline from McKean County, Pa. to Western New York. The Appellate Division, Fourth Judicial Department, overturned an earlier State Supreme Court ruling which granted eminent domain powers to National Fuel Gas in order to cross the 200-acre parcel owned by Joseph and Theresa Schueckler. The property lay in the path of the proposed 97-mile $455 million Northern Access pipeline. The pipeline would move natural gas from the Marcellus shale fields of Pennsylvania into Western New York for residential and commercial supplies as well as the export market.

11/14 EcoWatch reports: Seasonal spikes of atrazine, a weed killer that disrupts hormones and harms the developing fetus, contaminate the drinking water of millions of Americans at potentially hazardous levels as run-off from corn-growing areas finds its way into source waters and reservoirs. These are among the findings of the most up-to-date analysis of national data on the pervasive contamination of drinking water with atrazine, the second-most widely used weed killer in America. Studies find that elevated exposure to atrazine in drinking water during pregnancy increases the risk of preterm delivery and of lower birth weight in the newborn child. Studies of people and laboratory animals have shown that atrazine and related chemicals harm the reproductive system and disrupt the nerve and hormone systems, affecting one’s brain, behavior and crucial hormones such as estrogen, testosterone and dopamine. Report shows KS tapwater exceeds safe ppb.

CALENDAR OF EVENTS for the week of 11/19:

* KS Sierra Club announces a change of name for grants: KS Sierra Club Environmental Grant Program now called Ed Rowe Environmental Grant for Primary and Secondary Teachers. For more information go to

* 11/23 1 – 4 P instead of going out for Black Friday, step out into nature! Learn about how accessible nature in the city can be with the HCA Youth Council The REI #OptOutside campaign was started four years ago because spending time outdoors is important for physical and mental health. There will be a two-mile hike led by local environmental professionals filled with information about local trails. **In case of inclement weather there will be activity to create sustainable gift items from 1-3 PM.** Heartland Conservation Alliance 4750 Troost Kansas City MO 64110

* 11/24 two shifts available: 9:30 a – 1 p or 1 p to 5 p Volunteers needed at Red Bridge Recycling Center located at 5200 E. Red Bridge Rd., Kansas City, MO 64137 in the KCATA Park-and-Ride commuter parking lot. Min age: 8 with parent. Volunteer alone at 14 yrs. All volunteers must register in advance. Call/text Amy Smith at 816-561-1062 or email [email protected], mentioning your preferred location and volunteer date/time.

Share This Episode