The prospect of the Gulf Stream slowing down and even stopping altogether has worried many experts. Some believed that this would cause a rapid cooling around the world.
A new study had different findings. Researchers say a slower current will carry less heat down to the deep oceans meaning more will enter the atmosphere. Worries over the fate of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (Amoc), of which the Gulf Stream is part has been a concern for decades. But, what's the evidence for this new Amoc theory?
When the Amoc was at a minimum between 1975 and 1998, more heat entered the atmosphere and global temperatures gradually went up. When the current started to accelerate from the mid-1990s to the early 2000s, and sink more heat it coincided with a so-called slowdown in the pace of global warming.
Now the authors say that the big decline in Amoc flow since 2004, means less heat going into the waters and more into the air, leading to higher global temperatures. We have seen that trend.
Water Quality Issues
There are two major issues with water:
1) ensuring an adequate supply of clean water; and
2) dealing in a responsible fashion with waste water and stormwater runoff.
Fortunately, Chicago has access to one of the premier clean water sources in the world, Lake Michigan. While essentially an unlimited source, its use is constrained by court decisions. To allow for availability and use by many municipalities in the region, it must be used efficiently by all.
There are also significant costs in purifying and distributing water, which is the responsibility of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District, but our individual actions can reduce the amount of excess water overflow during a rain event
The following are some stormwater diversion tactics:
Residents & Businesses Can Act by:
1) Use permeable pavers in driveways, alleys and parking lots. New developments will be a focus.
2) Use native plants for ornamental landscaping and add bioswales to absorb water.
3) Use Rain Barrels to catch water and use for watering plants.
4) Build Rain Gardens or Native Gardens to catch water diverted from disconnected downspouts.
Air Quality Issues
We have little control over the big issues related to outdoor air quality. We are at the mercy of what is upwind of us. But we can do our part in not degrading it and we do have a lot of control over our indoor air quality
An unfortunate new record occurred in April 2017, the Mauna Loa Observatory recorded its first-ever carbon dioxide reading in excess of 410 parts per million. And is still rising (see chart & updates below) Carbon dioxide hasn’t reached that height in millions of years. It’s a new atmosphere that humanity will have to contend with, one that’s trapping more heat and causing the climate to change at a quickening rate. All the more reason for everyone to work to reduce the release of carbon dioxide. Work to implement the Paris Accords, Work for the conversion to renewable energy.
Another air quality issue today is ozone at ground level
Ozone is quite toxic to our lungs and to plants, and is used to sterilize water and air. It is formed during the day in the summertime when volatile organic compounds (VOCs; gasoline vapors, aerosol sprays, plant volatiles, etc.) react with sunlight and with nitrogen oxides [ NOx ] that come mostly from cars, trucks and buses.
Other issues are air particulates, the tiny bits of dust that can travel deep into our lungs carrying toxic materials with them, and toxic chemicals in the air such as pesticides and industrial chemicals. Ozone and particulates are known to cause significant health problems in those with impaired lung function, as those suffering from asthma.
Occurances affecting Water Quality
Chicago Area Waterways
1) All surface waters in the Chicago region normally flow away from Lake Michigan to the Illinois River system
2) When used, the waste water goes to one of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District’s wastewater treatment plants. Most of the region has a combined sewer system
3) An intense or prolonged rain can result in massive runoff that overwhelms the capacity of the collection systems and treatment plants. The excess water, a mixture of sewage and runoff, the combined sewer overflow (CSO) is discharged to the Chicago River. This is a problem that must be addressed at the source when the rain event occurs.
4) Large CSO events cause major flooding of highway underpasses and basements. To minimize this problem with large events, water from the river is diverted to Lake Michigan. These diversions to the lake occur about once a year, on average.
When a CSO event is occuring anything that decreases the discharge to the sewers will decrease the amount of CSO going into the river. Therefore, it is important that residents and business enact stormwater diversion strategies.
Scope of Local Action on Air Quality
To improve the quality of our air environment by changing those practices that result in the degradation of air quality indoors and outdoors
To implement the air quality component our goal is to educate residents to:
• Decrease the use of toxic and ozone producing volatile organic chemicals, VOCs,
• Create Clean Air zones .
• Have Edgewater join the Clean Air Counts campaign in Northeastern Illinois. EESP joined the coalition in 2013.
• Encourage businesses to participate in Clean Air Counts and reduce their contributions of solvents, VOCs, Freons, etc. to the air.
• Decrease the use of aerosol sprays and other VOCs in our homes.
• Encourage anti-idling practices for standing vehicles at schools, shopping areas, train stations, etc.
• Eliminate the use of gasoline-powered lawn mowers, leaf-blowers and snow blowers with their excessive air emissions. (2015-2020)
The Edgewater Environmental Coalition (EEC) is an all volunteer group - and a partner of the Overhead Project, a 501(c)3 non profit group.(EIN 46-4457047) (See Note for link information). Donations to EEC are tax deductible under IRS rules.*
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EEC is a proud affiliate of the Illinois Environmental Council (IEC)