KOMU.com http://www.komu.com/ KOMU.com 8 Goes Green 8 Goes Green en-us Copyright 2016, KOMU.com. All Rights Reserved. Feed content is not avaialble for commercial use. () () Sat, 22 Oct 2016 05:10:09 GMT Synapse CMS 10 KOMU.com http://www.komu.com/ 144 25 Columbia residents recycle half as much as national average http://www.komu.com/news/columbia-residents-recycle-half-as-much-as-national-average/ http://www.komu.com/news/columbia-residents-recycle-half-as-much-as-national-average/ 8 Goes Green Tue, 20 Sep 2016 9:41:35 PM Sarah Henzel, Komu 8 Reporter Columbia residents recycle half as much as national average

COLUMBIA - Residents of Columbia recycle at half the rate of the national average, at just 17 percent.

This has caused the Volunteer Specialist for the City of Columbia, Jody Cook, to take action by enlisting volunteers to join as recycling ambassadors for the city.

"We have a goal in Columbia to bring that up to 34 percent, which is the national average for municipalities, but we have a lot of work to do and the recycling ambassadors can make a big difference," Cook said.

The city currently has 23 active ambassadors, Cook said. They hope to teach the public about recycling.

"It's designed to educate volunteers about Columbia's recycling programs, proper recycling, techniques of recycling, alternatives for recycling items that the city of Columbia doesn't take, and in turn those recycling ambassadors go out and share their knowledge with others in hopes to bring up the recycling rate in Columbia," Cook said.

For Earl Dunn, a future recycling ambassador, the option seemed clear.

"I just feel like it's very easy and, if it helps our planet, I don't see why everybody wouldn't do it," Dunn said.

However, there are a few steps to recycling that may not be obvious, for instance, preparing bottles.

Cook said, "You need to take the cap off and rinse it lightly and then put the cap back on. The thing with the plastic caps is that they are recyclable, but they're small and they'll fall through the machines, they'll fall through everything if they're not contained on the bottle."

Another big problem, she said, is contamination. People need to make sure to empty the contents of metal cans, plastic containers or glass bottles before recycling them. Otherwise, it diminishes the value of the recyclables. 

Still, Cook said the option to recycle may be easier than people think.

"Recycling in general is that we all have a personal responsibility," she said. "We really do, and everybody needs to start understanding that and just like simple things like looking around. So many times there is a recycling bin right next to the trash can, and if you look in there, the trash can is full of recyclables."




Permalink| Comments

Asian lady beetles may create nuisance with "swarming behavior" http://www.komu.com/news/asian-lady-beetles-may-create-nuisance-with-swarming-behavior-/ http://www.komu.com/news/asian-lady-beetles-may-create-nuisance-with-swarming-behavior-/ 8 Goes Green Mon, 30 Nov 2015 9:02:32 AM Deja Shelby, KOMU 8 Reporter Asian lady beetles may create nuisance with

COLUMBIA — With colder weather upon us, mid-Missouri residents may start to notice an array of brightly colored, domed-shaped beetles lurking in the corners of their homes.

But have no fear — these pests are harmless. They’re the Asian lady beetles, and like many other insects, they’re simply searching for a sheltered place to escape the harsh conditions of the upcoming winter months, experts say.

Scientists call them the multi-colored Asian lady beetles. The U.S Department of Agriculture introduced this native of Asia into the United States in the 1970s as a control agent for the growing population of aphids and scale insects. It was later found in Missouri in 1993.

The Asian lady beetle is about a quarter-inch long, ranging in color from bright red to orange-yellow. Some have up to 19 spots, and some have no spots at all. Many of them have an M-shaped mark slightly behind their heads.

The Asian lady beetle is often mistaken for other beetle species in the insect family known as the lady beetle or lady bugs, said Rob Lawrence, a forest entomologist with the Missouri Department of Conservation.

The Asian lady beetle’s swarming behavior makes this species more of a nuisance, Lawrence said.

“While many lady beetles often have this congregating swarming behavior, the multi-colored Asian lady beetle does it in large numbers and often poses a larger nuisance due to the fact that they are often attracted to buildings and homes,” he said.

Why Homes?

In their native Asian habitat, the lady beetle often found refuge in the vertical shafts of cliffs to escape the harsh conditions of winters. In Missouri, the vertical surfaces of many homes and other buildings mimic that natural environment.

“When lady beetles come into homes they’re not necessarily looking for warmth, because if they are warm all winter they would burn through their fat reserves and energy storage,” Lawrence said. Instead, they look for sheltered places like attics and wall cavities, which are still cool but don’t have the big fluctuations.

The beetles often enter a home through small gaps and crevices in the foundation.

“There are always a few reports that they do bite, but although they have biting mouthparts they are not harmful to people or animals,” Lawrence said. They don’t carry any diseases or reproduce in the winter months.

According to conservation department website, farmers and gardeners like the Asian lady beetle because it preys on aphids and other plant-destroying insects.


To combat the Asian lady beetle, the department recommends:

  • Seal cracks around all major entryways, such as doors, windows and utility pipes.
  • Check all windows for proper installation or screen tears.
  • In extreme cases, consider careful use of an insecticide.

If you have already started to notice these small colorful pests creeping in the corners of your home, don’t fret. There are many ways to properly dispose of them.

The most common is to sweep or vacuum them up, but be aware that they often release a stink that many homeowners find hard to eliminate. They can also leave behind a stain.

Lawrence and other entomologists urge homeowners to remember that the beetles are important to the evolutionary cycle of the insect world. So next time you see a swarm of lady beetles hiding in the corner of your home, try to release them back into the outside world, they recommend.

For more information on the Asian lady beetle go to to the University of Missouri Extension website.

(Editor's note: This story's headline has been updated to correct a misspelling.)


Permalink| Comments

Macon officials dedicate solar farm http://www.komu.com/news/macon-officials-dedicate-solar-farm/ http://www.komu.com/news/macon-officials-dedicate-solar-farm/ 8 Goes Green Wed, 1 Jul 2015 2:23:48 PM Chris Gothner, KOMU 8 Reporter Macon officials dedicate solar farm

MACON - Macon officials, along with officials from Gardner Capital and MC Power Companies, officially dedicated the city's 10,800-panel solar farm Wednesday. 

The farm provides power to 35 Missouri cities that are part of the Missouri Public Energy Pool (MoPEP). Aside from Macon, mid-Missouri cities set to receive power from the farm include Fayette, Hermann, Marshall, Salisbury and Vandalia. According to MC Power, the solar farm, which began producing power for Macon in May, is expected to generate an estimated 4,990 MWh of power annually, enough to meet the needs of 300 homes. 

Stephanie Wilson, general manager of Macon Municipal Utilities, said Macon currently generates about 12 percent of its power from renewable sources. She said the solar power farm will not bring a major increase to its renewable energy percentage but is an incremental step.

"3.2 megawatts, it doesn't increase it very much," Wilson said. "It's a good size project for our town and for our peak use of electricity."

Wilson said additional solar farms in Trenton and Marshall, which are part of MoPEP, will add additional solar power into Macon's grid. 

"It's 3.2 megawatts today, but those towns are adding 3.2 megawatts in their towns as well," Wilson said. "It makes more of our portfolio a renewable energy source." 

Macon mayor Dale Bagley said the farm reflects his city's committment to green energy. 

"The City of Macon is really interested in green energy," Bagley said. "We make our contribution to the safe, clean energy for the citizens of the United States and Macon. It sounds kind of grandiose, but that's the way we think about it." 

Loren Williamson, a vice president at MC Power, said Macon stood out among MoPEP cities for its willingness to take on the solar farm project.

"They showed a great deal of interest, the community was behind it, they had a perfect site behind their industrial park," Williamson said.

Bagley said solar power is just one form of energy the city intends to use in the coming years. He said the city also plans to capture methane from nearby landfill gas. Wilson said landfill gas energy is still years away. 

"We do have a landfill a few miles away from Macon," Wilson said. "There's not quite enough methane yet to transfer that landfill gas into electricity."  

According to MC Power, groundbreaking on a second solar farm is scheduled for Wednesday, July 8 in Trenton. The Trenton solar farm is expected to open in 2016. 

(Editor's note: This story has been updated to correct a misspelling.) 

Permalink| Comments

National guard truck crashes into overpass http://www.komu.com/news/national-guard-truck-crashes-into-overpass/ http://www.komu.com/news/national-guard-truck-crashes-into-overpass/ 8 Goes Green Thu, 25 Jun 2015 1:35:02 PM Blair Ussary, KOMU 8 Reporter National guard truck crashes into overpass

FULTON - A national guard semi-truck crashed Thursday morning into the Highway 54 overpass in Fulton.

The guard was passing through carrying a truck on the back of the semi when the truck's cab collided with the overpass. Highway patrolman Scott White said it was an oversized load.

Sergeant Charles Wickes, one of the men in the truck, said the bridge didn't have any markings to tell how high it was.

"We needed about 15' 9" to clear it," Wickes said. "And apparently this bridge is 15' 6". But there wasn't any sign on the bridge saying how low it was."

MoDOT did an inspection on the bridge, but found it to be safe for drivers. 

Permalink| Comments

Missouri among top 20 states with deficient rural roads http://www.komu.com/news/missouri-among-top-15-states-with-deficient-rural-roads/ http://www.komu.com/news/missouri-among-top-15-states-with-deficient-rural-roads/ 8 Goes Green Tue, 19 May 2015 10:40:51 AM James Packard, KOMU 8 Digital Producer and Dani Sureck, KOMU 8 Reporter Missouri among top 20 states with deficient rural roads

COLUMBIA - Missouri's rural roads need improvement, according to a report released Tuesday from TRIP, a national transportation research group.

Missouri ranks 15th in the country for percentage of rural pavement roads that are in poor condition and Missouri's rural bridges are the 10th most structurally deficient, the report said.

TRIP, based in Washington D.C., said 21 percent of Missouri's rural roads are in poor condition and 15 percent of Missouri's rural bridges are structurally deficient.

Bob Stallman, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, told TRIP, "Deteriorated and deficient rural roads and bridges are hindering our nation's agricultural goods from reaching markets at home and abroad and slowing the pace of economic growth in rural America."

The report comes as Missouri's legislature put a debate over MoDOT's budget deficiency on hold with the end of the legislative session Friday. MoDOT said earlier in the year it would have to reduce its construction budget significantly for improving Missouri's highway system.

Chief Engineer of MoDOT Ed Hassinger said they need money to match federal funds in order to create a program to maintain and improve roads and bridges.

"Every year we need about 485 million dollars on just to keep all the roads and bridges in the condition they are today," Hassinger said. "With our budget moving forward we're only going to have about 325 million."

Hassinger said the deficit will lead to roads worsening since they won't have sufficient funds to repair roads.

"Those roads are the lifeblood of a big part of our state for all things like economic development, for people to be able to live and work," Hassinger said. "It's important we have good, safe roads."

While organizations like TRIP call for an improvement to the country's rural roadways, one truck driver told KOMU 8 News Missouri's highways stack up well against the rest of the country.

"I've been to all 48 contiguous states right now and I'd say Missouri stands up quite well compared to the rest," truck driver Clint Trentman said. "It was a rough winter in most parts of the country. The freeze and thaw damages the roads and places like Tennessee and Arkansas right now are awful. They've actually closed certain lanes on I-40 just because of the potholes. They're so bad."

The report included 19 other states with poor rural road conditions. According to TRIP, Michigan had the highest percentage of rural roads in poor condition, Pennsylvania had the highest percentage of structurally deficient rural bridges and Connecticut had the highest fatality rate on rural roads.


Permalink| Comments

New environmental coalition celebrates in Earth Day rally http://www.komu.com/news/new-environmental-coalition-celebrates-in-earth-day-rally/ http://www.komu.com/news/new-environmental-coalition-celebrates-in-earth-day-rally/ 8 Goes Green Wed, 22 Apr 2015 2:57:06 PM Christian Piekos, KOMU 8 Reporter New environmental coalition celebrates in Earth Day rally

JEFFERSON CITY - Missourians met today in the Capitol to celebrate both Earth Day and the beginning of the Missouri Clean Energy Coalition (MCEC).

The coalition is pushing for Missouri to transition from reliance on fossil fuels to different forms of clean energy, specifically wind and solar.

The coalition comprises various organizations from around the state, including the Missouri Sierra Club, Renew Missouri and Missouri Coalition for the Environment.

Some of MCEC's goals include:

  • Making energy conservation and efficiency a priority
  • Shift from jobs dependent on fossil fuels
  • Secure a clean energy economy

Dr. John Kissel, a member of the Sierra Club, said today's rally aimed to push for movement toward a cleaner Missouri.

"This was an effort to organize people so that we can get some action on what is clearly the will of the people of Missouri," Kissel said. "We want to reduce green house gasses and to increase the use of renewable energy."

According to Kissel, the state relies too much on the use of fossil fuels, hitting a number above the national average.

"Missouri generates 80 percent of its electricity by burning coal," Kissel said. "The figure for the nation as a whole is 40 percent. We would like to see Missouri move in the direction of the rest of the country."

As a retired physician, Kissel said he is very concerned about the health effects of burning coal as a source for energy.

"We have people dying every year any many people being hospitalized and illnesses because of pollution from coal," Kissel said.

He said he is anxious about Missouri transitioning to cleaner energy in the near future.

"I think the Missouri House is dominated by people who seem to be more interested in what other lobbyists have to say about energy than they are about the health and welfare of the people," Kissel said.

Permalink| Comments

Breaking research on propane could mean a cleaner future http://www.komu.com/news/breaking-research-on-propane-could-mean-a-cleaner-future/ http://www.komu.com/news/breaking-research-on-propane-could-mean-a-cleaner-future/ 8 Goes Green Fri, 10 Apr 2015 5:18:33 PM Spencer Wilson, KOMU 8 Reporter Breaking research on propane could mean a cleaner future

COLUMBIA - In a world where cheap, clean, sustainable energy is a primary target, science just made one step closer to such a fuel.

A report from Manchester University in England states researchers have been working on creating a bio-fuel type of propane in order to create an efficient and sustainable propane production process.

Bio/Chemical Engineer with the University of Missouri Bill Jacoby said the benefits of this new process could be huge. 

"The supply of natural gas is a fundamental issue with climate change and fossil fuel usage remains {high}, natural gas is also a fossil fuel." Jacoby said. "Therefore something like a renewable pathway to propane could be quite advantageous."

So far, the researchers are still working, but a significant breakthrough involving synthetic pathways will enable renewable bio-synthesis.

Jacoby said because the researchers are working on a microscopic level, they would need to increase the scale of their production by 900 percent in order for it to be useful. 

Although it still would take some time to come to fruition, Jacoby said the work so far was very important and hoped it would continue. 

From an environmental standpoint, Peace Works coordinator Mark Haim said the way researchers are putting together the propane in the first place is the most important information.

"Because they didn't state how they processed the propane in the study, I can't really speak to the effects on the environment in terms of it's usage as a fuel source," Haim said.

Haim did say propane is a very clean gas, and as long as the process that was creating the propane in the first place was also efficient, clean and sustainable, that would be quite the victory for a greener future. 

Executive Director of Missouri Gas Propane Association Steve Ahrens said Missouri was one of the leading users of propane in terms of the household. 

"Our state is within the top 12 states in terms of propane usage," Ahrens said. "About 10 percent of our homes heat themselves with propane."

Until scientists are able to use the pathways to create the propane more efficiently, Jacoby said propane wouldn't really be an option.

"Hopefully people stop using fossil fuels on their own because they understand it isn't good for the environment," Jacoby said. "But if we get to the point where we can't dig anything else up, this research is going to be very important."


Permalink| Comments

City leaders, GRO Missouri urge new look at power plant contract http://www.komu.com/news/city-leaders-gro-missouri-urge-new-look-at-power-plant-contract/ http://www.komu.com/news/city-leaders-gro-missouri-urge-new-look-at-power-plant-contract/ 8 Goes Green Tue, 17 Mar 2015 12:45:22 PM Amanda LaBrot, KOMU 8 Reporter City leaders, GRO Missouri urge new look at power plant contract

COLUMBIA - City leaders and GRO Missouri want the city to reevaluate its long-term contract with a major coal burning power plant. 

Columbia signed a 40-year contract with Prairie State Energy Campus, in Marissa, Ill., in 2006 to provide the city with coal- generated energy.  The city buys about a quarter of its energy from Prairie State, and Councilperson Ian Thomas and Gretchen Maune of GRO Missouri said they had some concerns.

"It's a 40-year contract. That's a long time to keep using coal power with global warming and everything else, " Maune said.

Thomas said, "In addition to locking us into burning fossil fuels for the next forty years, thereby undermining our ability to transition to clean energy, this contract gives us no ability to negotiate the price of the energy we purchase."

Connie Kacprowicz of Columbia Water and Light said it's financially safer to "lock in" some of the city's energy contracts to ensure a set rate, but Thomas and Maune said the rate has regularly been higher than the price set in the contract.

"In the first few years of actual operations, we have regularly paid more than twice the rate "promised" by Prairie State," Thomas said. 

Maune agreed, "The prices they've been charging us have regularly been twice as much as it was going to be, and a few times, it's been three times as much as what they told us it was going to be. Well over $100 per megawatt hour."

Kacprowicz said these numbers are from 2013, and don't accurately represent what's gong on now.

Manue said three city council members, Karl Skala, Barbara Hoppe and Thomas are working with GRO Missouri to evaluate the contract. 

"The council members I mentioned agreed to meet with an attorney to look at the contract, and see about the possibilities of getting out of it."

GRO Missouri also has environmental concerns about burning coal over such a long period of time. The plant wasn't completed or functioning until 2012, and because the plant is newer, Columbia Water and Light said it's more likely to be in line with the newest emission guidelines. Kacprowicz said the city is already using several renewable energy sources, and is above the amount required for the by 2014. She said renewable energy is important, but a more reliable, constant energy is needed.

"Electricity is something that you can't store," Kacprowicz said. "So it makes it a lot more complicated, and that's why there's federal guidelines on reliability. We certainly don't want to get to the point where we don't have the power when it's being demanded and have to do either rolling brown outs or blackouts."

Manue submitted a petition to the city council earlier this month asking for a public hearing with Peabody Energy, the owner of Prairie Energy Campus.

Permalink| Comments

Missouri paddlefish fingerlings still vulnerable http://www.komu.com/news/missouri-paddlefish-fingerlings-still-vulnerable/ http://www.komu.com/news/missouri-paddlefish-fingerlings-still-vulnerable/ 8 Goes Green Sun, 15 Mar 2015 5:39:21 PM By Paige Blankenbuehler, KOMU 8 Reporter Missouri paddlefish fingerlings still vulnerable

SWEET SPRINGS - As the annual paddlefish snagging season began Sunday, conservation biologists got more creative in their management strategies of the vulnerable fish.

This year, a new Missouri Department of Conservation five-year program asks anglers to report fish they snag that have numbered metal jaw tags. About 2,000 paddlefish each in the Lake of the Ozarks, Truman Lake and Table Rock Lake are swimming around with the tags, meant to monitor their populations.

Still, amid yearly efforts to restock and manage the populations of this prehistoric fish, a threat looms: poachers.

In 2013, a ring of caviar poachers was caught in a successful sting operation by the conservation department's protection division. The operation brought in $61,488.50 in fines for poaching the paddlefish, sometimes called Missouri's "spoonbill."

Rob Farr, an investigator with the department's protection division in Benton County, has a long history monitoring the poaching threat, which has persisted since the 1980s. Farr was on the investigative team in 2013, and said even with the latest round of fines and charges, the poaching threat to paddlefish remains a concern in Missouri.

"It was a good operation here and we caught a lot of people that needed to be caught and taught a lot of people lessons they needed to learn," Farr said. "I don't think we stopped it, no I don't - that's like saying you think you stopped the drug trade by making a drug bust. You do the best you can to contain it."

It's a cause for concern given the ongoing effort to sustain the paddlefish population.

In preparation for the 2015 season, thousands of baby paddlefish - fingerlings, as they're called - were harvested from Blind Pony Fish Hatchery in Sweet Springs in September. They were transferred to the three nearby lakes to boost their populations.

Bucket by bucket, 10-inch fingerlings moved from hatchery ponds to a conservation department truck. Department and Blind Pony Hatchery staff scooped up more than 12,000 fish at the hatchery Sept. 23 and 24 alone (watch video).

The hotspot for the poaching incidents is not far away in Benton County - the nucleus of illicit activity is in Warsaw, Mo., the so-called "paddlefish poaching capital of the world."

Trish Yasger, fisheries management biologist with the department, hopes that the new tagging program combined with restocking efforts will keep the paddlefish population intact.

"Without annual stocking by Conservation Department staff, this popular pastime and food source would go away," Yasger said in a recent news release. "We manage and monitor paddlefish populations around the state, but need help from snaggers to learn more and to better manage this popular game fish."

Paddlefish poaching, by the numbers

Larry Yamnitz protection division chief for the conservation department, oversaw the 2013 investigation alongside Farr. Yamnitz told a reporter in October that the paddlefish population in 2010 through 2013 had been "hit pretty hard illegally," but the poaching problem seems to be slowly improving.

During the 2013 sting, 11 people were arrested, accounting for 256 state charges.

Of the state charges, 240 of the 256 have been decided through Missouri courts. Most resulted in fines or minor jail sentences, Yamnitz said.

Yamnitz said six people are still awaiting trial on state charges, and there are still a few people from outside of Missouri with warrants out for their arrest

Eight people were charged and more than 100 people were also issued citations "in the bust that culminated a multi-year investigation into the illegal commercialization of Missouri paddlefish and their eggs for caviar," according to a press release by the Justice Department.

Eight defendants are involved in 16 pending federal cases.

Although most of the charges from the 2013 sting have been decided, an accelerated jury trial for Andrew Alexander Praskovsky, who was charged with two felony counts of "import or exports of fish, wildlife or plants," is set for March 30 in Jefferson City, according to a Western District of Missouri case docket.

Others facing federal charges for buying paddlefish and processing the eggs into caviar are Arkadiy Lvovskiy, 51, of Aurora, Colo.; Dmitri Elitchev, 46, of Centennial, Colo.; Artour Magdessian, 46, of Lone Tree, Colo.; Felix Baravik, 48, of Aurora, Colo.; Petr Babenko, 42, of Vineland, N.J.; and Bogdan Nahapetyan, 33, of Lake Ozark. Fedor Pakhnyuk, 39, of Hinsdale, Ill., faces charges on trying to set up a business to market processed paddlefish caviar in Chicago, the Associated Press reported.

Preserving paddlefish populations
Yamnitz considers the sting operation an important step in addressing the poaching problem.

"The investigation caught the problem and we have been able to put more paddlefish into the population," Yamnitz said in an interview in November. "We're not concerned about putting fish back in there because we think we've been successful in educating people - someone is going to turn you in if you do it."

The state's paddlefish population is healthy currently, Yamnitz said.

Still, the illegal trade has the potential for healthy payout. A pregnant paddlefish can weigh anywhere from 50 to more than 100 pounds and typically has about 20 pounds of eggs. Caviar is harvested from those eggs and sold for as much as $35 an ounce.

A single paddlefish typically nets about $4,000 worth of caviar.

The poaching problem arrived in Mid-Missouri when the Caspian Sea was exhausted of much of the world's source for the high-brow hors d'oeuvre, said Yasger, an expert on paddlefish and fisheries management.

"The Caspian Sea has been fished out, and paddlefish eggs are a good substitute," Yasger said. "Less and less of the world's caviar has been harvested there since the 1980s."

Yasger said paddlefish normally take about seven years to reach sexual maturity, although some fish take up to nine years. The bigger the fish, the more eggs it will produce. The average size ranges from 40 to 75 pounds, but paddlefish, especially females, typically reach 100 pounds or more.

The state record is a 139-pound paddlefish.

Yamnitz and Farr can only guess how much caviar poachers illegally exported over the years.

"It's difficult to say for sure, Yamnitz said. "We think we caught an active poaching group before they were able to impact the populations of paddlefish significantly."

"I agree, there's no one way of knowing," Farr said. "There would have been tremendous amount."

The snagging season runs from March 15 through April 30, but there's no guarantee the new tag program and continuous restocking will keep every spoonbill away from illegal harvesting, experts say.

"As long as there's demand for the caviar, the poaching is going to be a problem for this fish," Yasger said.

Rewards for tags

According to a press release from the conservation department, anglers who report tagged, legal-sized paddlefish will receive a t-shirt that reads: "I caught a Missouri paddlefish!"

Rewards will not be given for sublegal fish - it's illegal to catch paddlefish less than 24 inches in length.

"All returned and reported tags for the season will be placed into drawings each summer for a small number of cash prizes with a grand prize of $500," Yasger said in the press release.

Tags can be reported by calling (573)579-6825, or by mailing information to the Missouri Department of Conservation at 3815 East Jackson Boulevard., Jackson, Mo., 63755.



Permalink| Comments

Local nonprofits clash over proposed trail plans http://www.komu.com/news/local-nonprofits-clash-over-proposed-trail-plans/ http://www.komu.com/news/local-nonprofits-clash-over-proposed-trail-plans/ 8 Goes Green Fri, 13 Mar 2015 3:51:18 PM Hannah Lazo & Berkeley Lovelace Jr., KOMU 8 Reporters Local nonprofits clash over proposed trail plans

COLUMBIA - Local organizations have been clashing with the city and with each other, when it comes to deciding the fate of the Hinkson Creek Valley.

PedNet Coalition and It's Our Wild Nature would like to see the GetAbout Columbia funds for the Shepard to Rollins Trail Connection used on different routes.

The city council has four options on the table.

· Option one would include construction of a sidewalk along Bluff Dale Drive to Southwood Drive, and then Southwood Drive would connect with a bike lane on Old 63. A portion of this option would involve constructing a trail through the valley. It would cost $700,000 which is the least expensive of the four.

· Option two would allow an east-west trail constructed between Old 63 and Rollins Street with an entrance south of Shepard Boulevard. The trail would switchback into the valley, run through it, and then back up the other side. Option 2 would cost about $1.5 million.

· Option three would include construction of a new trail running north-south from the new Hinkson Creek bridge down to the northwest corner of the intersection of Stadium Boulevard and Old 63. It would then connect with existing pathways. It is estimated to cost $2.2 million.

· Option four includes updating existing bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure on Stadium between Ashland Road and Old 63. It is the only option that does not go through the Hinkson Creek Valley. It is estimated to cost $900,000.

Lawrence Simonson, assistant director of PedNet Coalition, said he would like to see option one or option three selected by the city council. If either option were constructed, it would involve building a trail through the valley.

"When we've taken a look at different trail systems, and or the trail options, reviewed the engineering study, we have decided that options one and three have the greatest potential for mode shift," Simonson said. "That's getting people out of their cars and using trails for transportation."

Barbara Wren, executive director of It's Our Wild Nature, said she would like to see more people riding their bikes, but would like to see the valley, which borders her neighborhood, remain untouched.

"Option four stays up on the established pedway on Old 63," Wren said. "So we hope they would build a sheltered pedway for walkers and wheelchairs and there is room for an additional bike lane so you would feel like you are protected from the cars."

The Columbia City Council will make a decision March 16.

Permalink| Comments

Volunteers train to educate others about recycling http://www.komu.com/news/volunteers-train-to-educate-others-about-recycling-66646/ http://www.komu.com/news/volunteers-train-to-educate-others-about-recycling-66646/ 8 Goes Green Sat, 7 Mar 2015 10:35:38 AM Chris Gothner, KOMU 8 Reporter Volunteers train to educate others about recycling

COLUMBIA - The city of Columbia trained new Recycling Ambassadors Saturday. Recycling Ambassadors are citizen volunteers who educate other citizens about recycling and waste reduction. 

The Recycling Ambassadors program is designed to foster communication between recyclers and those who don't recycle, said Volunteer Program Specialist Andrea Shelton. 

"It's very difficult to convert a non-recycler to a recycler," said Shelton. "Hearing this information from a city employee may be a little more difficult to digest than hearing it from another ordinary citizen who recycles."

According to the city's website, Columbia has a recycling diversion rate, the percentage of items recycled and not placed in the landfill, of 17 percent. Its rate is well below the national average of 34.5 percent. 

Columbia resident Barbara Shaffer said she wants to become a Recycling Ambassador to make a difference.

"I was interested in making my carbon footprint a little smaller," said Shaffer. "And I was eager to take it beyond me to see if there are other people I could convince." 

Shaffer said she wasn't sure just how to encourage fellow citizens to recycle before she attended the training.

"Maybe this is one of the things that will help stimulate me to understand how I can help," she said. "I think I'll be eager to encourage other people in my own life."  

To learn how you can volunteer, visit the city's website. 

(Editor's note: This story has been updated with clarifications.)

Permalink| Comments

New study finds health risks with stopping at red lights http://www.komu.com/news/new-study-finds-health-risks-with-stopping-at-red-lights/ http://www.komu.com/news/new-study-finds-health-risks-with-stopping-at-red-lights/ 8 Goes Green Fri, 13 Feb 2015 5:51:01 PM Spencer Wilson, KOMU 8 Reporter New study finds health risks with stopping at red lights

COLUMBIA - Now there's even more fuel for your hatred of waiting at red lights. 

A new report out of the University of Surrey in England shows stopping at red lights while driving exposes people to high levels of air pollutants. 

The report is based on a daily average driving time of an hour and a half, and says even though people only spend 2 percent of that time at lights, 25 percent of the harmful particles the driver will inhale are during that time. 

These are big numbers for people like Cindy Delisle of Columbia, who said she notices the car pollutants pretty often. 

"Big trucks obviously, a lot of construction, 18 wheelers, and just diesel pickup trucks are no fun to sit behind," Delisle said. 

Urgent Care physician Kieth Groh said the amount of pollutants people take in can cause some serious health issues.

"Any artificial substances, like pollutants, into your lungs is undesirable," Dr. Groh said. "The effects can vary depending if you have an increased risk for having adverse effects, some of those can be immediate, if you have an allergic reaction to the car pollutants, or just slight irritants."

Groh said the pollutants have troubling short-term and long-term effects on the human body.

"Accumulative effects are probably one of the biggest issues," Dr. Groh said. "You look at the short-term which is acute irritant or allergic or asthmatic attack issues. But more the long-term, it's hard to tell what these things are doing to our bodies."

While it's difficult to avoid all air pollutants, the reports suggest keeping your windows rolled up when you are in congested traffic stops.

Looking forward, Delisle said she sees an answer to the problem. 

"I think people are working on it every day. It's green energy, working on different ways to make the cars run. I think that's where the answer is going to be as far as making less emission in the environment." 

[Editor's note: This story has been updated to correct grammar mistakes.]

Permalink| Comments

Sierra Club faces challenges with plastic bag ban ordinance http://www.komu.com/news/sierra-club-faces-challenges-with-plastic-bag-ban-ordinance/ http://www.komu.com/news/sierra-club-faces-challenges-with-plastic-bag-ban-ordinance/ 8 Goes Green Mon, 9 Feb 2015 1:05:45 AM Nick Hehemann, KOMU 8 Reporter Sierra Club faces challenges with plastic bag ban ordinance

COLUMBIA - Carolyn Amparan has been passionate about environment-friendly policies for quite a while, but was never extremely active until a few years ago.

"Before that, I was kind of what you would call an email activist," Amparan said. 

Now, as the chair for the Osage Group of the Missouri Sierra Club, she is leading the push for an ordinance set to reach the city council that would ban single-use plastic bags from grocery stores in Columbia. 

Amparan said changes are needed to eliminate what she calls the waste of resources that can be harmful for the environment.

But, she said raising awareness isn't always easy. 

"Of course, there are a lot of people that are opposed to it, people who are set in their ways," Amparan said. "They're used to the plastic bags."

Some residents are also opposed to the ten cent cost associated with the ordinance that stores would be able to charge customers for having to buy paper bags. 

"It's just an extra ten cents," said Rickey Christian, a Columbia resident. "You go to a store, you buy food and pay an extra ten cents. It's just inconvenient."

But, Amparan said the purpose of the fee is to encourage customers to reuse bags.  

"You don't want to just drive people from using plastic to paper," she said. "The goal is to get people to understand that the best choice for sustainable living is a reusable bag."

One resident said the unfamiliar policies tend to make people hesitate to support them. 

"People have a fear of change and feel sometimes that that will impose on their freedom," Eric Pherigo, a Columbia resident for the last seven years, said.

Although it's a new concept for Columbia, the plastic bag ban has already passed in several cities around the United States. 

Even in the Midwest, ordinances similar to the one in Columbia have already passed in Chicago, Evanston, Illinois and Marshall County, Iowa, in the past six years. 

California issued the nation's first statewide ban late in 2014.

Amparan said while Missouri is rarely considered a leader in environment-friendly policies, Columbia is different. 

"Columbia has curbside recycling, bike paths and all those great walking trails," Amparan said. "Columbia is a more environmentally-friendly city than perhaps some of the rest of Missouri."

This is in part why Pherigo said the passing of the ordinance wouldn't surprise him.

"All this stuff like the bags, it's all doable," he said. "I think once people can make that change, they will be more supportive of it."

On February 8, Amparan and other Sierra Club members stood outside the Missouri River Relief's Wild and Scenic Film Festival at the Blue Note to encourage people to sign a petition for the ordinance.

Amparan wore an outfit composed of 500 plastic bags to show the number that an average shopper goes through in a year. 

The Columbia City Council is scheduled to have its first reading on the ordinance on Monday. 

Unless the ordinance is tabled, a vote will likely take place in the beginning of March.

Permalink| Comments

E-Waste collections down http://www.komu.com/news/e-waste-collections-down/ http://www.komu.com/news/e-waste-collections-down/ 8 Goes Green Thu, 12 Feb 2015 4:44:28 PM Lina Young, KOMU 8 Reporter E-Waste collections down

COLUMBIA - Mid Mo Recycling is one of only two electronic recycling centers in Boone County. The center has been open since 2001. President, Stan Fredrick, says the center accepts everything with a cord or battery. 

"We're shipping off, typically, a semi-truck full of items. So, we're receiving in about a week's time - a week to ten days - about 25 to 30 thousand pounds," Fredrick said. 

The electronic items collected are sorted through. The items eligible for resale are kept and the other items are shipped off to various locations to be disposed of in environmentally-friendly ways. 

Waste Minimization Supervisor Layli Terrill said that the city does not have space to collect the electronics, so places like Mid Mo Recycling are good ways to keep the environment safer.

"Currently, the city would not have a place to recycle these electronics, but we understand the importance of keeping them out of the landfill," Terrill said.  

The center holds e-waste collection events 3 to 4 times a year in the Home Depot parking lot in Columbia. 

"The main reason behind recycling the e-waste is that e-waste has a lot of heavy metals in it. Those things should not go into the landfill, so we're trying to have a cooperative effort with Mid Mo Recycling to keep these items out of our landfill," Terrill said.

The most recent event held in late January received over 25,000 pounds of e-waste, but that number is much lower than the 70,000 pounds the events usually collect. 

Terrill said the weather is a major factor in whether the events are successful. The weather did not play a factor in the last event.

The next event is to be held around May. A date has not yet been set. 

Permalink| Comments

Report finds new material for cheaper solar panels http://www.komu.com/news/report-finds-new-material-for-cheaper-solar-panels/ http://www.komu.com/news/report-finds-new-material-for-cheaper-solar-panels/ 8 Goes Green Fri, 23 Jan 2015 6:40:02 PM Spencer Wilson, KOMU 8 Reporter Report finds new material for cheaper solar panels

COLUMBIA - Solar power has long been a popular, albeit expensive way to provide clean energy.

But a new report out of the University of Exeter in England shows a new way to make the same clean energy that will cost less.

Perovskite, a mineral that is being used in experiments with solar panels, and it's showing promising results.

Perovskite is less expensive than silicon or film based technologies currently being used to create solar cells for the panels, and the components needed to make it are far more common. Lead recycled in old car batteries is just one of the potential ingredients for the new compound.

Solar panels create energy using photovoltaic cells, turning sunlight into power. It is shown to be a popular energy source with environmentalists because it doesn't release by-products like fossil fuels.

Cameron Etheridge with Energy Link says while the cheaper panels aren't on the market just yet, people can expect them soon.

"Lots of different universities are working with perovskite right now, with a lot of different ingredients and results," Etheridge said. "Some are even looking into a coating that you could attach to solar panels already in the field that would double their output."

Tom O'Conner is on the board of Water and Light in Columbia and said cheaper prices would be great for Columbia.

"We are already set to get more solar panels within the next year, so cheaper can always help," he said.

While O'Conner's roof is covered in shade, he still has ten solar panels in his front yard, suspended on wood planks.

"They just bring me a lot of joy, it's just this gorgeous iridescent blue material that just sits there in the sun and shoves out clean energy." O'Conner said. "It's just falling out of the sky and there it is, and it's just very satisfying to be more self-sufficient."

While the report does say perovskite has a large potential to lower costs of solar panels, it is still in question if the material will be able to create stable solar cells under different climate conditions.

[Editor's note: This story has been updated to correct grammatical errors.]

Permalink| Comments

Local experts examine ways to evaluate energy use http://www.komu.com/news/local-experts-examine-ways-to-evaluate-energy-use/ http://www.komu.com/news/local-experts-examine-ways-to-evaluate-energy-use/ 8 Goes Green Thu, 22 Jan 2015 7:18:57 PM Tom Kackley, KOMU 8 Reporter Local experts examine ways to evaluate energy use

COLUMBIA - The League of Women Voters of Columbia-Boone County assembled a panel Thursday night to educate citizens about more efficient energy use.

The panel of local experts discussed numerous options for determining how energy efficient a house is as well as how to increase efficiency. 

One of the options includes Columbia's Home Performance with Energy Star program.

Brandon Renaud is Columbia Water and Light's Home Performance with Energy Star Program Manager. He said the program works to locate potential energy issues within a home.

"We work with local contractors that do energy assessments for us," Renaud said. "They go out and recommend upgrades and the city takes care of rebates and quality assurance to make sure the work us done up to our standards."

The panel also spent time talking about the Home Energy Score, which is used for measuring a home's existing energy efficiency.

"It's really hard for someone who's purchasing a home to know how much it costs to live in a home," Renaud said. "So if we can give that information out to someone sooner rather than later, it helps them to make an informed decision before they make that purchase."

Local architect and panelist Nick Peckham said homeowners must start thinking about being more energy efficient because of environmental concerns.

"We have more and more people who expect to live in larger and larger buildings that are 70 degrees year round," Peckham said. "It's a recipe for disaster." 

But Peckham did say some small changes can make a significant difference for homeowners.

"If you change the lighting in your house from incandescent to LED, you'll reduce your electrical consumption about 93 percent," Peckham said.

For more information about the Home Performance with Energy Star Program click here.

Permalink| Comments

Columbia asks citizens for green New Years resolution http://www.komu.com/news/columbia-asks-citizens-for-green-new-years-resolution/ http://www.komu.com/news/columbia-asks-citizens-for-green-new-years-resolution/ 8 Goes Green Mon, 29 Dec 2014 5:29:58 PM Luke Slabaugh, KOMU 8 Reporter Columbia asks citizens for green New Years resolution

COLUMBIA - The CoMo Energy Challenge starts January 1. Columbia is one of 52 cities competing for the Georgetown University Energy Prize, a 2-year competition for cities to reduce the most energy.

City organizations with environmental goals in mind, like COMO Connect, the City of Columbia Recycling Program, and the city's Stormwater Program have all teamed up with the CoMo Energy Challenge to promote greener habits residents can practice. Together, they will make up a "City Green Block" to hand out information. These organizations will host booths at Columbia Eve Fest on New Year's Eve at United Methodist Church.  

The CoMo Energy Challenge will ask residents to make a New Years resolution for a greener lifestyle. 

"Maybe it'll be a resolution they can keep," said Brenna Reed, the city's sustainability coordinator. "We're encouraging people to come down to make a resolution to change out their light bulbs and replace them with LEDs...or resolve to take COMO Connect more often or take their bike to work."

Columbia is competing for the Georgetown University Energy Prize. The $5 million grant will go to the city that reduces the most energy over the two-year span between 2015 and 2016. The city starts measuring energy use January 1.  

Reed said the Energy Challenge will use many pre-existing programs the city has already put in place. Reid said the city's efforts to go greener may give them an inside track on winning the competition.

"We're really tapping into those resources and promoting participation in those," Reed said. "It will give us a competitive edge." 

The city will measure its own buildings as well as residential areas within the city limits.

Permalink| Comments

Westminster professor reflects on Christianity and the environment http://www.komu.com/news/westminster-professor-reflects-on-christianity-and-the-environment/ http://www.komu.com/news/westminster-professor-reflects-on-christianity-and-the-environment/ 8 Goes Green Wed, 24 Dec 2014 9:45:11 AM Kevin Allen, KOMU 8 Reporter Westminster professor reflects on Christianity and the environment

FULTON - Even if it's not easy being green, for Christians it's an obligation, says Cliff Cain, the Harrod-C.S. Lewis Professor of Religious Studies and department chair at Westminster College.

Cain has studied the relationship between religion and science for more than 20 years and is the author of several books on the subject, including "Many Heavens, One Earth," in 2012, and "Re-vision: A New Look at the Relationship between Science and Religion," due out in April.

"When I read the Bible and I read theology, it seems to me that a non-green Christian is a contradiction in terms if the Bible and if the Christian faith are taken seriously," Cain said. "You've got to be green if you're a Christian."

Cain grew up in a religious family and recalls that even the first Bible verse he learned as a young Baptist boy, John 3:16, had an environmental theme.

"God loved the world," Cain said. "The word in Greek is ‘cosmos.' That basically means the earth and everything in it. So, God sends Jesus, not just because of Homo sapiens, but because of the whole earth. If God loves the whole earth, how could you and I do any less?"

Cain, now a practicing Presbyterian, said the Bible is filled with references to the environment that often go overlooked.

"When I was a kid, I remember getting a copy of the Bible, and every word that Jesus spoke was in red," he said. "Anything Jesus said would stand right out at you on the page because it was rendered in red type."

He said a newer version, "The Green Bible," highlights verses with an environmental focus by displaying them in green type.

"This will blow your mind," Cain said. "When you turn through the Bible, there's scarcely a page that doesn't have something to do about the environment."

The creation story in the Old Testament is a prime example.

"You've got the notion that God created the world, and God at every juncture in Genesis 1 pronounces it good," he said. "It's valued in its own right, and only at the very end does God say it's very good, and that's when human beings and everything have been made."

The story of Noah provides yet another example.

"What pastors have sometimes missed and, therefore, congregations have missed is, when the covenant is established after the flood, it's established between God and human beings and all life on the earth," he said.

One of Cain's favorite psalms, Psalm 24, which reads, "The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein," also establishes a moral obligation on the part of humans, he said.

"Think about that theologically and environmentally," Cain said. "If one reflects on that, that means the earth doesn't belong to you and me. We can't do with it whatever we want. It belongs to God. And God has allowed us to be God's representatives on Earth to take good care of that which God has made. So, if we screw up the earth, we're actually sinning against God."

Cain, who earned a doctorate in theology from Vanderbilt University in 1981, said the birth of his son and daughter inspired him to take environmental issues more seriously. When his children were born in the 1980s, the nuclear arms race with the Soviets and the newly discovered hole in the ozone layer troubled him.

"It made me more consciously aware of the quality of the world, or the lack therein, into which I'd brought my children," he said. "I started thinking, having children is not just a biological event. It's a moral action. So, I thought, I need to do some things to try to make the world a bit of a better place."

After becoming interested in environmental issues, he discovered that few people saw any connection between religion and the environment.

"They thought either the environment was a new-age kind of phenomenon that had nothing to do with traditional mainstream religion, or they thought that mainstream religion really didn't have much to say about the environment," he said.

Beginning in 1981, Cain worked at Franklin College in Franklin, Ind., where he would spent most of his career. He served as professor of philosophy and religion until 2010 as well as dean of the chapel until 2003. In 1990 he took a leave of absence to accept a position as theologian-in-residence at the University of Alabama at Birmingham in an honors program that focused on environmental issues.

His experience in Alabama left him with a desire to learn more about science.

"You can actually be very well intentioned regarding environmental issues, but if you don't know the science, you could be advocating something that actually would be counterproductive and unhealthy," Cain said.

To explore the science of these issues, he extended his leave of absence from Franklin College to pursue a Ph.D. in religion and ecology at Rikkyo University in Tokyo, which he completed in 1994.

The focus of his doctoral research was human population growth, which is projected to increase by 1 billion in little more than a decade, he said. But climate change is the issue that most concerns him today. He said it is a symptom of a larger problem.

"I just think our environmental problems are symptoms of a disease, and the disease is materialism, greed, short-term vision, consumerism," Cain said. "So, it's a spiritual dilemma. It's a values dilemma."

He said religion can help cure that disease.

"If science provides the ecological consciousness through its knowledge, then religion has to provide an ecological conscience - that we take the consciousness and use it well," Cain said. "This is my challenge to religious leaders. I don't care whether they're Buddhist, Christian, Hindu or Muslim. We're not going to solve the problems without religion."

Over the past two decades, Cain has spent much of his time researching and writing about what the world's religions have to say about science and the environment.
In 2009 he published two books. In "An Ecological Theology," he examined Christian teachings about the environment, and in "Down to Earth" he explored the teachings of other world religions.

In "Many Heavens, One Earth," in 2012, Cain collected first-person environmental reflections from scholars of nine world religions, including a chapter written by the Dalai Lama from the Buddhist perspective.

Cain's forthcoming book, "Re-vision: A New Look at the Relationship between Science and Religion," examines the Big Bang, genetics, evolution and intelligent design from both scientific and theological perspectives. He said he asked four of his colleagues - three scientists and a philosopher - to write chapters explaining these theories for a general reader. He then wrote a chapter of theological response to each of them.

"I don't pretend for a moment that this book will not be somewhat controversial," Cain said. "I think my science colleagues here and worldwide will probably say, that Cliff Cain is trained as a scientist, but he's probably a little bit too religious. And I think my religious colleagues and people of faith will probably say, you know that Cliff Cain, he's a religious person and he's trained as a theologian, but he's a little bit too scientific."


Permalink| Comments

Holiday light recycling aims to help environment and create jobs http://www.komu.com/news/holiday-light-recycling-aims-to-help-environment-create-jobs/ http://www.komu.com/news/holiday-light-recycling-aims-to-help-environment-create-jobs/ 8 Goes Green Tue, 16 Dec 2014 3:07:25 PM Courtney Kiley, KOMU 8 Reporter Holiday light recycling aims to help environment and create jobs

COLUMBIA - The holiday season is in full swing and lights can be seen on houses all across the Mid-Missouri area, but a Randolph County business hopes to end up with the leftover lights once the season is over. 

Randolph County Sheltered Industries (RCSI) is one of five workshops participating in a holiday light recycling drive, with the goal of preventing the lights from ending up in landfills. 

"It's getting a little bit bigger as word of mouth gets out," said Kit Brewer, Director of RCSI. "The first few weeks there might have been a strand or two of lights and now that people have revisited those stores they realize there is a place to drop off their lights."

Brewer said RCSI's main function is as an extended employment center for workers with special needs, so breaking down the decorations into lights and wires for recycling and reuse is a project they can work on.

Areas like Kansas City, where they got the idea from, have seen huge success with the drive. 

"They are collecting enough lights throughout the year to go back to this project year round," Brewer said. 

Ryan Schultz is a Columbia homeowner, responsible for the "Candy Cane Crib" light decorations. 

"I have about 40,000 lights," Schultz said. "This year I went LED on half my lights." 

Schultz said he had never heard of light recycling but would use it if it came to the Columbia area. 

For now workers in Randolph County will keep checking bins at 12 area businesses for lights each week. 

"I suspect they will get large just after Christmas after everyone has gotten out their lights that aren't quite functioning anymore," Brewer said.   

Permalink| Comments

Mid-Missouri businesses strive to go green http://www.komu.com/news/mid-missouri-businesses-strive-to-go-green/ http://www.komu.com/news/mid-missouri-businesses-strive-to-go-green/ 8 Goes Green Wed, 19 Nov 2014 2:49:37 PM Marcel Clarke, KOMU-8 Reporter Mid-Missouri businesses strive to go green

COLUMBIA - Some local businesses in Mid-Missouri are making sustainability a priority in the office. The Mid-Missouri Tourism Council sponsored an event Wednesday for business owners and managers to communicate ideas in how to decrease carbon offsets.

Barbara Buffaloe, sustainability manager for the City of Columbia, said the event helped companies learn tips in how to go paperless and proper ways to donate leftover food.

"We have businesses come in that want to know how they can go green for their meetings," said Buffaloe. "We help provide recycling bins at the meetings or refill water stations instead of bottled water."

Buffaloe said these changes really make a difference on both the enjoyment of the meeting as well as how much stuff goes into the landfill.

Norm Benedict, president of the Mid- Missouri Tourism Council, said this event is the first of its kind.

"People are talking about sustainability and being environmentally friendly," Benedict said. "We figured now is the time to sit down and talk about it. So in other words, if you own the business, what can you do to make it better."

The forum also provided the names of local companies that can lend a helping hand to those who want to go green.

Permalink| Comments