Air Quality: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Mary Lynam
Assistant Research Scientist,
Environmental Health Sciences,
Univ. of Michigan

Johnson Rooms, Lurie Engineering Bldg, Univ of Michigan, North Campus.
Noon, October 24, 2018

Outdoor air pollution, episodic air pollution events and resulting health effects receive lots of attention and news coverage by the global media. The World Health Organization estimates that 4.2 million people die every year as a result of outdoor air pollution. This presentation will discuss the current state of air quality in the world with particular emphasis on the United States. It will focus on particulate matter (PM), ozone, methane and mercury pollutants. Using mercury as a case study, the long process leading to regulation from industrial, medical and electrical utility emissions sources in the United States will be examined. The role of citizens and the judiciary in interpreting air quality laws will be discussed especially in light of recent proposals to roll back regulations on mercury and methane emissions in the United States.

Dr. Lynam is an Assistant Research Scientist in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at the University of Michigan. She holds a B.Sc. in chemistry and biology, an M.S. in chemistry and a Ph. D. in Environmental Health Sciences. She has completed a postdoctoral research fellowship at the National Exposure Research Laboratory, Research Triangle Park, Durham, NC. Dr. Lynam’s research is focused on the characterization of atmospheric deposition of toxic air pollutants (trace metals and particulate matter) in rural an urban environments in order to assess fate and transport of these pollutants as well impacts to public health.

Viewgraphs from the presentation are here.

Are We Ready for the Power Grid Revolution?

Paul G. Rasmussen
Arthur F. Thurnau Professor
Univ. of Michigan Depts. of Chemistry & Macromolecular Science & Engineering

Johnson Rooms, Lurie Engineering Bldg, Univ of Michigan, North Campus.
Noon, October 4, 2018

What are AC and DC and why does it matter? We will trace a bit of history of Edison, Tesla, and the battle of the currents. We will show that this history still resonates into the modern era of energy transfer as it affects everything from cellphones to car batteries to LED’s to photovoltaic panels to the household power system. Where does the energy in our power grid come from? We will look at how generation, transmission and distribution have developed over the past hundred years and the revolutionary changes that are in progress.

Most states have initiatives to increase renewable resources into their distribution system which will make them more dynamic and interactive. They are looking into how to roll out Distributed Energy Resources (DERs) such as solar, storage, plug-in vehicles, demand response and any other resources that are behind the meter, in the most efficient way possible. We will give a local example of how much energy solar panels can provide in Michigan and describe how, in the coming years, plug-in electric vehicles and distributed power will evolve into the Smartgrid.

In the past history of the grid, no one has seriously contemplated storing grid level quantities of electrical energy. However, the DER grid of the future with its dependence on solar and wind power, will need storage. A special kind of battery called the Redox Flow Battery is being investigated to meet this need. We will describe this progress towards grid-level storage.

Paul G. Rasmussen is Arthur F. Thurnau Professor Emeritus of the University of Michigan Department of Chemistry and the Macromolecular Science and Engineering program. He was Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies in the College of Literature Science and Arts and his research experience includes synthesis and experimental characterization of polymers and electrochemical energy conversion systems. After retiring from teaching at UM he worked for several years with the Levi Thompson group in Chemical Engineering. He was a senior engineer at the China Lake Naval Base working on materials for super-capacitors. He is founder and president of Vinazene Inc., a Michigan corporation. His company has had over a $1M in grants from DOE and NSF for research on flow batteries and supercapacitors. He has engaged in contract and grant work with numerous corporations, including GM, Ford, Amoco, and Pharmacia Biotech. Dr. Rasmussen has numerous papers and patents in the fields of synthesis, polymer characterization and electrochemistry. He taught a course entitled “Cars, Energy & Chemistry” in the Program in the Environment, and has been active in promoting alternative energy resources.

The video of the meeting is below:

Solving Climate Change: A Simple, Fair, Effective and Feasible Plan

Ginny Rogers and Catherine Garton of the
Ann Arbor Chapter of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby

(image courtesy of NASA)
This presentation gave the details of a proposal by the Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL) for a Carbon Fee and Dividend (CFD), intended to be a federal policy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The presentation showed how this proposed legislation is the fairest, simplest and most politically viable solution. Also described was how CCL is effective at creating political will and  the momentum that is building in Congress. If you’re worried about leaving a livable world for future generations, this presentation showed how you can make a difference.

More information on the Citizens’ Climate Lobby
… and the Ann Arbor Chapter

How Culture Shapes the Climate Change Debate

Prof. Andrew Hoffman, The University of Michigan School of Business

Though the scientific community largely agrees that climate change is underway, debates about this issue remain fiercely polarized. These conversations have become a rhetorical contest, one where opposing sides try to achieve victory through playing on fear, distrust, and intolerance. At its heart, this split no longer concerns carbon dioxide, greenhouse gases, or climate modeling; rather, it is the product of contrasting, deeply entrenched worldviews. This presentation examines what causes people to reject or accept the scientific consensus on climate change. Synthesizing evidence from sociology, psychology, and political science, Andrew J. Hoffman lays bare the opposing cultural lenses through which science is interpreted. He then extracts lessons from major cultural shifts in the past to engender a better understanding of the problem and motivate the public to take action. How Culture Shapes the Climate Change Debate makes a powerful case for a more scientifically literate public, a more socially engaged scientific community, and a more thoughtful mode of public discourse.

Andrew (Andy) Hoffman is the Holcim (US) Professor of Sustainable Enterprise at the University of Michigan, a position that holds joint appointments at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business and the School of Natural Resources & Environment. Andy also serves as Education Director of the Graham Sustainability Institute. In his research, Andy uses organizational, network and strategic analyses to assess the implications of environmental issues for business, and has published over a dozen books and over ninety articles and book chapters on the topic. Prior to academics, Andy worked for the US Environmental Protection Agency (Region 1), Metcalf & Eddy Environmental Consultants, T&T Construction & Design, and the Amoco Corporation.

Prof. Hoffman\’s website:

Book Flyer

Book Website

Video recordings of this talk appear below. A podcast can be downloaded here.

Recycling Myths Debunked

Tracey Artley, Coordinator of Waste and Recycling, The Univ. of Michigan
MacKenzie Maxwell, The Ecology Center of Ann Arbor

The meeting will be a panel comprised of Tracy Artley from U-M Waste Reduction & Recycling, and MacKenzie Maxwell from the Ecology Center. We will learn where our recycling goes after we put it in the bin, what happens to it at the recycling facility, hear common recycling myths debunked, and finish with a question and answer session.

Learn more about Tracy Artley from this University Record article

. Learn more about MacKenzie Maxwell from this webpage.

The Ecology Center of Ann Arbor also hosts Saturday Open House Events

Here is a video of the Materials Recovery Facility in action.

The video of the meeting is below

Light Pollution in Ann Arbor

Ben Greaves, CLASP Graduate Student, The Univ. of Michigan

There is a growing light pollution problem in the Ann Arbor area. Many factors are adversely affected by this over-saturation of light, and this presentation will discuss the steps people have taken around the country to help improve the problem. Specifically, the growing light pollution in Ann Arbor has affected people’s access to the night sky, especially considering that more than 80% of Americans live in urban areas. The night sky is a basic cultural heritage that connects us to the natural world, the stars, and the universe. It also causes serious problems for wildlife, as well as medical concerns for humans. Furthermore, all the light pointed into the sky is simply wasted energy, and the city’s lighting bill could be reduced by 30 – 50% by using well designed and placed lighting fixtures. There are some very simple steps we can take as a community that can save money, improve safety, and restore the natural environment and habitat.

More information on
More information on Ben Greaves

A video from this talk appears below:

GeoStorm: To What Degree Can We Control the Weather?

Prof. Perry Samson, CLASP, The Univ. of Michigan

Conspiracy theorists (both left and right) often concoct theories about the environment that fester in the world of social media unfettered by scientific evidence. This presentation begins with a critical review of “chemtrails”, the claim that the government is engaged in activities to manipulate atmospheric processes to meet sinister designs. Embodied in this claim is the hypothesis that the atmosphere is being seeded to create clouds, precipitation and even hurricanes.

While chemtrails claims are preposterous, if not laughable, the reality is that humans can and do modify weather and climate. This presentation discusses the reality that techniques are being studied that could offset warming due to increasing greenhouse gas concentrations through geoengineering, the alteration of natural processes to either reduce incoming solar radiation or increase the removal of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.


A video from this talk appears below:


Sustainable Living and Environmental Justice

Prof. Joe Trumpey, Director, Sustainable Living Experience, The Univ. of Michigan
Rachel Beglin, Senior in PitE and Graham Scholar, The Univ. of Michigan

The Sustainable Living Experience is a built-in living-learning community for freshman students who want to fully immerse themselves in a culture that acknowledges and appreciates sustainability. Students go on nature retreats, work at farms, take a seminar together, and challenge each other to be more environmentally conscious people and students. Environmental Justice looks at environmental racism and equity and provides a social justice perspective to environmental issues. This talk discusses how environmental issues intersect with various identities, and a little bit of history of the movement, and provides resources for the audience to learn more or get involved.


More information on Sustainable Living
More information on Environmental Justice

A video from this talk appears below: