Environment

The Salt
5:55 am
Sun August 31, 2014

The Salmon Cannon: Easier Than Shooting Fish Out Of A Barrel

Across Washington State, hydroelectric dams are blocking salmon as they migrate to their spawning grounds. Enter the salmon cannon.
Ingrid Taylar Flickr

Originally published on Sun August 31, 2014 6:40 pm

Ever since rivers have been dammed, destroying the migration routes of salmon, humans have worked to create ways to help the fish return to their spawning grounds. We've built ladders and elevators; we've carried them by hand and transported them in trucks. Even helicopters have been used to fly fish upstream.

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Politics
4:07 pm
Fri August 29, 2014

Climate Policy Takes The Stage In Florida Governor's Race

Originally published on Fri August 29, 2014 8:40 pm

Florida is getting ready for an unusual governor's race. Like incumbent Rick Scott, a Republican, Charlie Crist is running for a second term as governor. In his first term, Crist was also a Republican.

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The Two-Way
9:09 am
Fri August 29, 2014

Volcanoes In Iceland, Papua New Guinea Keep Residents On Edge

Smoke billows from Mount Tavurvur after an eruption in Kokopo, east New Britain, Papua New Guinea, on Friday. The eruption has caused some nearby residents to be evacuated and some flights to be rerouted.
Jason Tassell AP

Originally published on Fri August 29, 2014 1:05 pm

Two volcanoes half a world apart are causing havoc today: Several flights have been diverted around an eruption in Papua New Guinea, and authorities in Iceland briefly put aviation on highest alert (again) owing to a temperamental Mount Bardarbunga, which has been rumbling for the past week.

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Business
3:38 am
Fri August 29, 2014

As BP Pays For Oil Spill Impact, Some People Aren't Seeing The Cash

Patrick Roy's company, Coastal Rental Equipment, used to rent these large pumps to offshore divers who work for oil and natural gas drillers. After the BP oil spill, when the government introduced a moratorium on drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, the Patterson, La., business suffered losses and eventually shut down.
Jeff Brady NPR

Originally published on Mon September 1, 2014 7:55 am

BP's 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico disrupted business all along the coastline. Through the end of July, the oil giant paid more than $13 billion to compensate people, businesses and communities affected. The company is disputing some of those claims in court battles that could drag on for years.

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Shots - Health News
3:29 am
Fri August 29, 2014

Rats! New York City Tries To Drain Rodent 'Reservoirs'

New Yorkers can take city-run classes to learn how to make their homes and businesses less attractive to these guys.
Ludovic Bertron Flickr

Originally published on Fri August 29, 2014 8:00 am

New York City is launching the latest salvo in its never-ending war on rats.

City officials are ramping up efforts to teach regular New Yorkers how to make their streets, businesses and gardens less hospitable to rodents — in other words, to see their neighborhood the way a health inspector would.

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Science
4:27 pm
Thu August 28, 2014

Night Of The Cemetery Bats

Big brown bats like this one are relatively common in urban areas, sometimes roosting in buildings. Contrary to popular belief, bats rarely carry rabies and are not rodents. They belong to the order Chiroptera, which means "hand-wing."
Courtesy of Robert Marquis

Originally published on Thu August 28, 2014 7:28 pm

I've visited St. Louis' Bellefontaine cemetery before, but never at night.

It's really dark. The looming trees are black against the sky, where a half-moon is just barely visible behind some clouds.

I can see eerie lights and strange, shadowy figures moving among the gravestones.

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NPR Story
5:02 am
Thu August 28, 2014

Colossal Dam Removal Project Frees Washington's Elwa River

Originally published on Thu August 28, 2014 7:20 am

Copyright 2014 Puget Sound Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.kuow.org.

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Science
3:46 am
Thu August 28, 2014

An Icy Solution To The Mystery Of The Slithering Stones

The cavity in this rock will carry the GPS instrument package and its battery pack across the desert.
Richard Norris

Originally published on Thu August 28, 2014 9:46 am

A century ago, miners working in California's Death Valley reported seeing boulders on the desert floor with long trails behind them — as if the stones had been pushed across the sand. But despite 60 years of trying, no one ever saw what moved them.

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Science
4:09 pm
Wed August 27, 2014

There's A Big Leak In America's Water Tower

Joe Giersch, an ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, studies stoneflies that live only in the melt from glaciers and snowpack in the northern Rockies.
Clint Muhlfeld USGS

Originally published on Wed August 27, 2014 7:29 pm

The northern arm of the Rocky Mountains is sometimes called "the crown of the continent," and its jewels are glaciers and snowfields that irrigate large parts of North America during spring thaw.

But the region is getting warmer, even faster than the rest of the world. Scientists now say warming is scrambling the complex relationship between water and nature and could threaten some species with extinction as well as bring hardship to ranchers and farmers already suffering from prolonged drought.

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Business
3:30 am
Wed August 27, 2014

Driven By Climate Change, Cotton Buyers Look For Alternatives

Unifi makes Repreve, a thread that comes from plastic waste bottles and leftover polyester scraps, at its Yadkinville, N.C., facility.
Courtesy of Unifi

Originally published on Wed August 27, 2014 11:32 pm

VF Corp. is one of the biggest clothing companies you might not have heard of. But its brands include Lee and Wrangler jeans, Timberland shoes and The North Face, and it also makes uniforms for police and major league sports teams.

It's also a large purchaser of cotton. "We buy roughly 1 percent of the cotton available in the world," says Letitia Webster, VF's senior director of sustainability. Her job is to both reduce the company's greenhouse gas footprint and reduce its risks from climate change.

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The Salt
3:40 am
Tue August 26, 2014

The 'Greening' Of Florida Citrus Means Less Green In Growers' Pockets

An orange showing signs of "citrus greening" this spring in Fort Pierce, Fla.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

Originally published on Tue August 26, 2014 3:42 pm

Orange juice has been an important part of breakfast tables since the 1950s, after development of frozen orange juice concentrate made it both convenient and affordable. Back in the 1960s and '70s, TV spokeswoman Anita Bryant even told Americans that "breakfast without orange juice is like a day without sunshine."

But today, sales are the lowest they've been in decades.

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The Salt
3:29 am
Mon August 25, 2014

Grocers Lead Kids To Produce Aisle With Junk Food-Style Marketing

A kids healthy snacks display at Giant Eagle.
Courtesy of Giant Eagle

Originally published on Fri August 29, 2014 4:09 pm

Despite all the cheerleading for healthy eating, Americans still eat only about 1 serving of fruit per day, on average. And our veggie consumption, according to an analysis from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, falls short, too.

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The Two-Way
9:12 am
Sun August 24, 2014

Iceland Lowers Volcano Warning

A view of a road closure to the Vattnajokull glacier, the site of the Bardarbunga volcano under the Dyngjujokull ice cap in Iceland, on Sunday. Scientists had worried that the volcano might spew steam and ash, but say now that it appears to have quieted.
Vilhelm Gunnarsson/ Fretabladid EPA/Landov

Originally published on Sun August 24, 2014 12:28 pm

Iceland is lowering the threat level on its Bardarbunga volcano. As we reported on Saturday, the warning had been raised to its highest level — red. Now, scientists in the island nation have ratcheted it down to orange.

Reuters reports:

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Shots - Health News
3:32 pm
Fri August 22, 2014

California Trees Nailed As The Source Of Mystery Infections

A false-color electron microscope image of the fungus Cryptococcus gatii, which can cause fatal illnesses in humans. The yellow areas are spores.
Microbial Pathogenesis/Duke University

Originally published on Fri August 22, 2014 5:45 pm

A fungus called Cryptococcus gattii can cause life-threatening infections, especially in people with compromised immune systems. One-third of AIDS-related deaths are thought to be caused by the fungus.

But though people in Southern California have been getting sick from C. gatti for years, nobody knew how.

Eucalyptus trees were a prime suspect, since they harbor the fungus in Australia. But even though eucalyptus trees grow like crazy in Southern California, the fungus hasn't been found on eucalyptus there.

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Around the Nation
4:56 am
Fri August 22, 2014

Pesticides Used On Florida's Mosquitoes May Harm Butterflies

Originally published on Fri August 22, 2014 7:53 am

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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The Salt
12:48 pm
Thu August 21, 2014

California Drought Has Wild Salmon Competing With Almonds For Water

A young Chinook salmon, called a smolt, near Vallejo, Calif., on April 24, 2014. North Coast tribes and environmentalists fear that the smolts and Chinooks may not survive this year's low river flows and warm water.
Rich Pedroncelli AP

Originally published on Mon August 25, 2014 3:55 pm

The ongoing California drought has pitted wild salmon against farmers in a fight for water. While growers of almonds, one of the state's biggest and most lucrative crops, enjoy booming production and skyrocketing sales to China, the fish, it seems, might be left high and dry this summer—and maybe even dead.

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Around the Nation
4:13 pm
Wed August 20, 2014

EPA Wades Into Water Fight With Farmers

Originally published on Wed August 20, 2014 8:30 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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The Salt
2:57 pm
Wed August 20, 2014

Why Vegetables Get Freakish In The Land Of The Midnight Sun

Giant Cabbage Weigh-Off 2013 winners (with placards, left to right): Scott Rob (92.1 pounds), Keevan Dinkel (92.3 pounds) and Brian Shunskis (77.4 pounds). The growers are joined by the cabbage fairies, a group of women who for 15 years have volunteered at the cabbage competition.
Clark James Mishler Courtesy of Alaska State Fair

Originally published on Tue August 26, 2014 10:09 am

Everything in Alaska is a little bit bigger — even the produce. A 138-pound cabbage, 65-pound cantaloupe and 35-pound broccoli are just a few of the monsters that have sprung forth from Alaska's soil in recent years.

At the annual Alaska State Fair, which opens Thursday in Palmer, the public will have the chance to gawk at giants like these as they're weighed for competition.

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Environment
5:15 pm
Mon August 18, 2014

One Year After Calif. Rim Fire, Debate Simmers Over Forest Recovery

Maria Benech of the U.S. Forest Service surveys a severely burned patch of forest. Almost 40 percent of the burned area looks similar.
Lauren Sommer KQED

Originally published on Mon August 18, 2014 7:40 pm

Eric Knapp breaks apart a burned pine cone, looking for seeds — in his line of work this is considered a clue.

"Going into an area after a fire, you almost feel like CSI, you know, sleuthing," Knapp says.

He is standing in a part of the Stanislaus National Forest that was severely burned by the Rim Fire. Knapp, an ecologist with the U.S. Forest Service, is studying how forests recover.

"It's completely dead," he says. "These trees won't be coming back to life."

A lot of the forest was charred like this.

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Animals
4:16 pm
Mon August 18, 2014

Often On The Move, Restless Elephants Are Tough To Count — And Keep Safe

Originally published on Mon August 18, 2014 6:18 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Energy
4:16 pm
Mon August 18, 2014

Oklahoma Wind Power Companies Run Into Headwinds

A wind-powered water pump and a wind-driven electricity turbine share a field near the town of Calumet in western Oklahoma.
Joe Wertz NPR

Originally published on Tue August 19, 2014 6:57 am

Oklahoma is the nation's fourth-largest generator of wind energy. But wind developers in the northeast corner of the state, where the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve lies, are up against stiff opposition from an unlikely pair of allies: environmentalists and oil interests.

Bob Hamilton, director of the Nature Conservancy's Tallgrass Prairie Preserve, has been fighting to block construction of a 68-turbine wind farm.

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Science
1:11 pm
Mon August 18, 2014

Elephant Slaughter, African Slavery And America's Pianos

Louis E. Pratt, master ivory cutter for Pratt, Read & Co., shows off eight ivory tusks, April 1, 1955.
Courtesy of Deep River Historical Society

Originally published on Tue August 19, 2014 7:35 am

The illegal trade in ivory from African elephants has tripled in the past 15 years, to the extent that biologists fear for the creatures' future existence.

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Environment
8:00 am
Sun August 17, 2014

Cold Winter Depleted Some Coastal Fish Populations

Originally published on Sun August 17, 2014 11:39 am

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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The Salt
5:25 am
Sun August 17, 2014

Fighting (Tasty) Invasive Fish With Forks And Knives

Asian carp, battered and fried. As the fish makes its unwelcome way up the Mississippi River, chefs are trying to get people to eat to beat it back.
Louisiana Sea Grant Flickr

Originally published on Sun August 17, 2014 11:39 am

Add kitchen knives to the list of weapons that humans are using to fight invasive species. I'm talking about fish who've made their way into nonnative waters.

How do they get here? Sometimes they catch a ride in the ballast water of ships. Or they're imported as live food or dumped out of aquariums. Once here, they can wipe out native fish, trash the ecosystem and wreck the beach business.

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Around the Nation
5:26 am
Fri August 15, 2014

Comment Period For Offshore Drilling Ends Friday

Originally published on Fri August 15, 2014 7:36 am

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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The Salt
5:20 pm
Tue August 12, 2014

Iowa's Corn Farmers Learn To Adapt To Weather Extremes

Farmer Seth Watkins (left) and agronomist Matt Liebman stand amid native prairie grasses near Des Moines, Iowa. The conservation strip is used to stop soil erosion.
John Ydstie NPR

Originally published on Thu August 14, 2014 11:32 am

Climate change is creating all kinds of challenges and opportunities for business. One of the sectors that feels the effects most immediately is agriculture. Already, weather patterns are making it more challenging to raise corn — even in Iowa — in the middle of the Corn Belt.

Seth Watkins raises corn and cattle in southern Iowa, and he recalls the memorable weather from 2012.

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Environment
8:02 am
Tue August 12, 2014

Milwaukee Finds A Fix For Stormwater Overflows: Abandoned Basements

Bob Dobrogowski and his daughter Rosie look at the collapsed basement of his parents' home during July 2010 flooding in Milwaukee.
Michael Sears MCT/Landov

Originally published on Tue August 12, 2014 1:58 pm

Some basement flooding could become happy occurrences, if more cities walk in the watery footsteps of Milwaukee.

As part of a new citywide sustainability plan and an attempt to reinvent itself as a "fresh coast" capital, Milwaukee is upgrading its water systems, and is researching options for tackling its chronic problems with stormwater management.

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NPR Story
5:11 am
Tue August 12, 2014

In Time Of Drought, U.S. West's Alfalfa Exports Are Criticized

Originally published on Fri August 15, 2014 11:02 am

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Politics
4:14 pm
Mon August 11, 2014

To Resolve Feud Over Fracking, Colo. Democrats Turn To Plan C

Originally published on Mon August 11, 2014 8:51 pm

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper has announced a last-minute compromise to avert a costly political battle over oil and gas drilling. As Dan Boyce of Inside Energy reports, the deal is meant to find a solution to disputes related to fracking — but it also serves the political interests of Colorado Democrats.

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Animals
5:21 am
Mon August 11, 2014

Scientists Investigate Outbreak Of Sea Star Wasting Syndrome

Originally published on Mon August 11, 2014 8:04 am

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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