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Meeting the Future: Climate+Energy

Changing the Game in Planetary Carbon Emissions

Climate change, one of the greatest challenges facing society, requires large-scale implementation of both mitigation and adaptation strategies. Transforming the energy system through supply and demand changes is critical to address this challenge. The SEAS community responds by working to provide energy solutions for stable climate systems.

Climate Matters in Michigan

Nearly fifty years after the 1970 Teach-In on the Environment, which began with a rally in Crisler Center, the School of Public Health (SPH) invited five colleagues, including two SEAS faculty members,  to discuss what climate change will mean for the state of Michigan’s environment and its people. Gathered in Crisler’s Hall of Honor, they shared insights from their work and research in the region and their hopes and concerns for communities across the state.

“We’ve made incredible progress in air quality. Climate change is bigger, but we know we can make significant shifts.” –TRISH KOMAN, SPH Research Investigator in Environmental Health Sciences

“Moving forward, we have to talk not only about economic and environmental impacts but health impacts.” –ZACHARY ROWE, Executive Director, Friends of Parkside in Detroit

“In Flint, we’re looking to help residents and businesses become part of the fastest growing job market—solar and wind energy.” –PAMELA PUGH, Chief Public Health Advisor, City of Flint

“We often focus on production, but we need to look closely at the ways a farm stewards its landscape.” —SHANNON BRINES, Applied Geographer at SEAS and Washtenaw County farmer

“The solution is creating processes where people affected by climate change are at the table with people who have access to information and who have influence over decision making.” –PAIGE FISCHER, Assistant Professor, SEAS

Read the full discussion titled “Climate Matters in Michigan: Pressing realities for a state and a region”—which appears in the SPH publication, Findings Magazine

Leading the Charge

As the number of electric vehicles (EVs) replacing internal combustion engine vehicles increases worldwide, the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) grows more promising. But given the complexities of battery systems—a key component of EV energy storage—the design, manufacture, use, and disposal of batteries are critical elements in determining environmental impacts.

Under sponsorship from the national nonprofit Responsible Battery Coalition (RBC), SEAS researchers have identified 10 new “Green Principles” that guide responsible management in the full lifecycle of EV batteries.

The authors of the study, Maryam Arbabzadeh (PhD ’18), research specialist Geoffrey Lewis (PhD ’06), and Greg Keoleian, professor and director of the Center for Sustainable Systems (CSS), are working with the RBC on educational campaigns that will advance the Green Principles into further practice.

Keoleian noted that CSS just finished developing recommendations for users on how to extend the battery service life of cellphones, laptops, power tools, and electric vehicles. Their research will be published in coming months.

SEAS researchers at CSS have also developed a comprehensive set of Green Principles for Vehicle Lightweighting, as well as a set of strategies to limit degradation and maximize service lifetime in lithium-ion batteries.

The charging-rate diagram above is a simplified representation of the electrode particle lattice structure of a new battery (LEFT) contrasting with a battery that has degraded over time (RIGHT). Fast charging (high C-rate) accelerates battery degradation due to 1) lithium plating, and 2) electrode lattice cracking.

Fake News Facebook

SEAS doctoral student Lauren Lutzke (MS ’19) and fellow researchers from SEAS and the Erb Institute created a set of guidelines and techniques to help spot disreputable news on climate change. Lutzke and her team found that these simple guidelines can have a positive impact on a user’s evaluations of Facebook content. Those exposed to the guidelines were less likely to “trust, like, and share” fake news about climate change. The study also found that these same intervening guidelines did not have a negative effect on legitimate climate news. “This research definitely opens the door to preventing other areas of fake news, but fake news about climate change is especially problematic because climate change itself is such a widespread, global problem,” Lutzke said. “Anything that can be done to limit the influence of fake news should be pursued. Our research is promising since it shows that small, simple interventions on Facebook can help.”

Lutzke was joined in the research by Joe Árvai, professor of sustainability and environment and faculty director at the Erb Institute, and Caitlin Drummond, a postdoctoral fellow at the Erb Institute. Paul Slovic of Decision Research was also a co-author. Their work was published in Global Environmental Change.

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