Environment

Arizona farmer Terry Button grew up eating beans in New England.

"I never sit down to eat a little portion of beans," he said, grinning. "I eat a big bowl of beans."

They were his favorite food — baked beans, great northern beans, navy beans, lima beans mixed with corn in succotash.

"But we didn't have tepary beans," Button said. "Never saw a tepary bean until I got here, and they became my favorite bean."

Botanist David Fairchild grew up in Kansas at the end of the 19th century. He loved plants, and he loved travel, and he found a way to combine both into a job for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

We expected the cold. It was, after all, the Winter Olympics.

But the wind is what has made an impression on many of us visiting Pyeongchang. It's even caused competition schedules to be rewritten.

For a string of days last week, the wind blew steady at 15 to 20 mph, with gusts of 45 mph. Concession stands and security scanners were toppled; temporary tents were blown away.

On the worst day, it looked as if a massive dust storm had descended. Three days later, we were still shaking sand out of our boots.

Animals that live in the ocean communicate with sound — humpback whales, for example. But these voices could soon be drowned out by powerful sonic booms from vessels searching for oil and gas.

In the height of ski season this year, blades of grass and patches of dirt still dot cross country ski trails in Aspen, Colo. Conditions like this present a conundrum for professional skiers: Their livelihood relies on snow and cold temperatures, but essentials like travel and snow-making come with an environmental cost.

In the brave new world of synthetic biology, scientists can now brew up viruses from scratch using the tools of DNA technology.

The latest such feat, published last month, involves horsepox, a cousin of the feared virus that causes smallpox in people. Critics charge that making horsepox in the lab has endangered the public by basically revealing the recipe for how any lab could manufacture smallpox to use as a bioweapon.

Back in 1983, it seemed like a good idea.

Germany is considering free public transit in its cities in order to curb car use, as it hurries to meet the European Union's requirements for air quality.

In 2015, the top toxicologist for the state of Texas, Michael Honeycutt, was interviewed on Houston Public Radio. At the time, the Environmental Protection Agency was pushing for tighter limits on ozone, a type of air pollution that is hazardous for people with asthma and other respiratory diseases.

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