Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Carolina in the News

Check out the recent media mentions of sustainability-related programs, practices, and people at UNC:

Startup Led by UNC Grad Brings Solar Services to Rooftops
A California startup co-founded by UNC-Chapel Hill graduate Alec Guettel is expanding to North Carolina. Sungevity is launching solar services for residential homeowners in partnership with Lowe's. The company offers solar equipment and related services, including proprietary estimating technology. Sungevity is a venture capital-backed startup and raised $125 million from investors in 2013. Read more » 

New Discovery Could Change Sea Level Rise Predictions
Dr. Mike Willis of the Department of Geological Sciences at UNC-Chapel Hill noticed something surprising while combing through satellite and GPS data: a hole twice the size of Central Park in a small Greenland ice cap. Willis and his colleagues determined that meltwater had been collecting in a subglacial lake until the whole thing blew out, sending the water out to sea and causing the ice above it to slump downward. The discovery suggests that water does not flow quickly between ice and rock and out to sea. Instead, it pauses on its rush to the ocean and heats the ice. This process could be important in understanding how Greenland will respond to climate change and contribute to the already 8 inches of global sea level rise since 1900. Greenland holds enough ice to raise global sea levels by 24 feet and its glaciers melt could affect projections of future sea level rise. Read more » 

Study Suggests that Dense Development Would Harm Air in NC’s Triangle
New research from UNC-Chapel Hill challenges the idea that dense urban development is better for the health of residents. The study, published in the December issue of Risk Analysis, found that denser development would slightly reduce the Triangle’s air pollution on a regional level, but at a more local level, it would expose a greater number of citizens to “hotspots” of particulate matter, a harmful pollutant. “Our suggestion is not necessarily that density is wrong,” said Daniel Rodriguez, a professor at UNC’s department of city and regional planning and a coauthor of the study, “but that in itself, in isolation, it’s probably not going to be beneficial for people.” Theodore Mansfield, the study’s lead author and a Ph.D. student at UNC, discussed the costs and benefits of city living. “There are a lot of great things that cities do,” he said. “But at the same time, the concentration of all those activities in a small space can have some negative health impacts.” Read more »

Lawsuits Challenge Agricultural Pollution
Federal lawsuits, supported by studies that link hog farming with air and water pollution, are challenging the livestock industry to change its ways. "Pork is cheap and cheap to produce in large factories because they don't pay for cleaning up water supply, and they don't pay for the asthma neighbors get. They don't pay for polluting downstream water that used to be potable, and they don't pay for the loss of property values," said Steve Wing, a UNC-Chapel Hill epidemiologist. In North Carolina, 10 million hogs produce as much fecal waste in a day as 100 million people, and Duplin County is the nation's top county for hog production. Read more »

Thanks to UNC News Services for finding these great stories! You can find more UNC media coverage and stories online at uncnews.unc.edu.