Environment

The Two-Way
2:44 pm
Tue January 6, 2015

Obama Will Veto Keystone XL Legislation, White House Says

Originally published on Tue January 6, 2015 7:25 pm

Updated at 5:46 p.m.

The White House says President Obama will veto any congressional legislation that approves the Keystone XL pipeline.

"If this bill passes this Congress, the president wouldn't sign it," White House press secretary Josh Earnest said.

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Code Switch
3:57 am
Tue January 6, 2015

For Many Navajo, A Visit From The 'Water Lady' Is A Refreshing Sight

Darlene Arviso is known as the water lady in Smith Lake, N.M., on the Navajo Nation. She delivers water to 250 people each month. Here, she fills buckets from her water truck.
Laurel Morales KJZZ

Originally published on Mon January 12, 2015 9:37 am

The people who live in the northwest corner of New Mexico consider Darlene Arviso to be a living saint.

"Everybody knows me around here. They'll be waving at me," she says from behind the wheel of the St. Bonaventure Indian Mission water truck. "They call me the water lady."

That's because Arviso hauls water for tribe members of the Navajo Nation, where, on average, residents use 7 gallons a day to drink, cook, bathe and clean. The average person in the U.S. uses about 100 gallons a day.

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The Salt
3:52 am
Tue January 6, 2015

How Anglers Are Learning To Save Fish That Get 'The Bends'

Barotrauma can cause a fish's eyes to pop out of its head and its stomach to be pushed out of its mouth, according to Chris Lowe, a marine scientist at California State, Long Beach.
Jon Hamilton NPR

Originally published on Tue January 6, 2015 11:35 am

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Environment
5:02 am
Mon January 5, 2015

Entrepreneurs Find Ways To Make Money From Carbon Emissions

Originally published on Mon January 5, 2015 9:41 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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Environment
8:54 pm
Sun January 4, 2015

A Shadow Economy Lurks In An Electronics Graveyard

Kwesi Bido, 14, (right) stops to fix 13-year-old Inusa Mohammed's flip flop. Both spend evenings and weekends searching for scrap at Agbogbloshie, an electronic waste dump in Accra, Ghana.
Courtesy of Yepoka Yeebo

Originally published on Wed January 7, 2015 3:51 pm

The average American produces an estimated 66 pounds of electronic waste every year. You can't compost it; it's gotta go somewhere.

Often, in violation of the law, that means a dump in the developing world β€” like the region of Agbogbloshie in the West African nation Ghana.

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Around the Nation
3:20 pm
Sat January 3, 2015

A Young Generation Sees Greener Pastures In Agriculture

Marya Gelvosa and Josh Gerritsen run a small farm on Maine's rocky mid-coast, providing their local community with beef, lamb and heritage poultry. They're decades younger than the average American farmer, but they love the lifestyle. "It's very fulfilling work," Gelvosa says.
Josh Gerritsen Donkey Universe Farm

Originally published on Sun January 4, 2015 10:54 am

America's heartland is graying. The average age of a farmer in the U.S. is 58.3 β€” and that number has been steadily ticking upward for more than 30 years.

Overall, fewer young people are choosing a life on the land. But in some places around the country, like Maine, that trend is reversing. Small agriculture may be getting big again β€” and there's new crop of farmers to thank for it.

Fulfilling Work, Noble Work

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Energy
8:00 am
Sat January 3, 2015

Utilities Fight For Revenue Lost To Solar Power

Originally published on Mon January 5, 2015 2:20 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ERIC WESTERVELT, HOST:

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Goats and Soda
3:24 am
Fri January 2, 2015

Where Could Ebola Strike Next? Scientists Hunt Virus In Asia

Ecologists found signs of Ebola in a Rousettus leschenaultii fruit bat. These bats are widespread across south Asia, from India to China.
Kevin Olival/EcoHealth Alliance

Originally published on Sat January 3, 2015 12:45 pm

A few years ago, disease ecologist David Hayman made the discovery of a lifetime.

He was a graduate student at the University of Cambridge. But he spent a lot of that time hiking through the rain forest of Ghana, catching hundreds of fruit bats.

"We would set large nets, up in the tree canopies," he says. "And then early morning, when the bats are looking for fruit to feed on, we'd captured them."

Hayman didn't want to hurt the bats. He just wanted a few drops of their blood.

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Around the Nation
4:36 pm
Wed December 31, 2014

Rain Eases California Drought Anxiety, If Not The Actual Drought

The drought forced many citrus farmers near Orange Cove, Calif., to mulch their trees because they couldn't afford to keep them alive. Recent rain and new groundwater regulations have eased the crisis, but only slightly.
Kirk Siegler/NPR

Originally published on Thu January 1, 2015 1:25 pm

The small city of Orange Cove, at the doorstep of the Sierra Nevada in central California, was suffering the brunt of the state's drought in April.

The rolling hills around the town are lined with citrus groves, and most people work on farms. As the irrigation canals dried up last summer, so did the economy.

"If there's no water, there's no work," Salvador Perez told NPR at the time.

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Politics
4:03 pm
Tue December 30, 2014

2014 Brought Lasting Action On Climate Change Policy

Water vapor, which looks like smoke, is seen rising from a power plant near Hengshui in China's Hebei province. In November, President Obama announced a landmark carbon-cutting deal with China β€” the world's leading producer of greenhouse gases. And the Chinese government has announced plans to cap the use of coal within five years.
Fred Dufour AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed December 31, 2014 11:30 am

Some of the stories that gripped our attention in 2014 will probably be forgotten in a few years β€” if not a few weeks. But there's one story that President Obama argues we'll be living with for decades to come.

"There's one issue that will define the contours of this century more dramatically than any other. And that is the urgent and growing threat of a changing climate," he said in September, addressing the United Nations Climate Change Summit.

Even as Obama struggled with other big challenges this year, climate was one area where he managed to get some traction.

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Goats and Soda
3:06 pm
Tue December 30, 2014

Tribute: The Man Who Linked Climate Change To Global Health

Tony McMichael has written more than 300 papers on how erratic weather and climate can cause health problems. He died in September.
James Giggacher Courtesy of Australian National University

Originally published on Tue January 6, 2015 9:32 am

When I asked climate change expert Tony McMichael back in March how he thought the world would deal with climate change, he said, "It's likely to be an extraordinary century and we're going to have to have our wits about us to get through it."

But the legions of scientists he inspired will have to go on without him. McMichael died in September in his native Australia from complications of pneumonia, leaving behind the fledgling field he founded β€” determining the health effects of climate change.

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The Two-Way
9:32 pm
Mon December 29, 2014

Plastic Bag Industry And Allies May Dispose Of California's Ban

A man carries plastic single-use bags past the State Capitol in Sacramento, Calif. Starting in July 2015, California could become the first state to ban single-use plastic bags, unless a referendum delays the measure from taking effect.
Rich Pedroncelli AP

Originally published on Wed December 31, 2014 12:45 pm

Last October, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a law that would ban single-use plastic bags at grocery and convenience stores, and allow shops to sell customers environmentally-friendly bags for 10 cents. Senate Bill 270 was set to take effect in July 2015.

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Environment
2:43 am
Mon December 29, 2014

Road Salt Contributes To Toxic Chemical Levels In Streams

Salt is unloaded at a maintenance yard in Scio Township, Mich., in September.
Carlos Osorio AP

Originally published on Tue December 30, 2014 10:05 am

This is the time of year when it's not uncommon to see big trucks barreling down highways and streets spreading road salt.

Steve Corsi, a hydrologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, says that translates into high levels of chloride concentrations for rivers like the Milwaukee in Wisconsin or 18 other streams near urban areas in Illinois, Ohio, Colorado and several other states.

"At many of the streams, concentrations have now exceeded those that are harmful to aquatic life," he says.

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Arts & Life
10:10 am
Sat December 27, 2014

One Man's Trash, Another Man's Fashion Brand

Javier Goyeneche contends that trash can be transformed into beautiful cloth β€” with a much higher percentage of recycled materials than found in most commercially popular recycled fabrics.
Courtesy of Javier Goyeneche/Ozy.com

Originally published on Tue December 30, 2014 12:33 pm

Trying to save the world today can take on many forms. For Javier Goyeneche, a 44-year-old Spanish entrepreneur, it happens to involve trash β€” discarded tires, leftover coffee grounds, even old fishing nets from the sea. He's not just recycling them; he's using them to make a fashion statement.

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Animals
4:26 pm
Fri December 26, 2014

Recordings That Made Waves: The Songs That Saved The Whales

By the 1960s, humpback whales and other whale species had been hunted extensively, sometimes to the point of near extinction. Then a recording of humpback whale songs helped shift public opinion on the hunting of all whale species.
Luis Robayo AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri December 26, 2014 6:22 pm

In the mid-20th century, whale populations were dwindling. More than 50,000 whales were killed each year by commercial whalers.

But then in the 1960s, a song β€” or rather, many songs β€” sparked a movement.

It started with some underwater equipment that, for the first time, captured the sound of humpback whales.

Composer-Poets

At his home in Vermont, biologist Roger Payne plays the audio that was discovered back then. He points out themes in the whales' song, and how they evolve over time.

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Around the Nation
4:52 am
Thu December 25, 2014

Ecologists Take On Tiny Green Beetles That Infest Ash Trees

Originally published on Thu December 25, 2014 7:00 am

Copyright 2014 WYSO-FM. To see more, visit http://www.wyso.org.

The Two-Way
3:34 am
Thu December 25, 2014

Unexpected Life Found In The Ocean's Deepest Trench

Schmidt Ocean Institute/HADES YouTube

Originally published on Fri December 26, 2014 5:39 pm

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Around the Nation
3:29 am
Thu December 25, 2014

Christmas Tree Farmers Invest Long-Term In The Holiday Spirit

The Carrolls, who once raised cattle, decided three decades ago to raise Christmas trees instead. The trees take seven to 12 years to mature.
Courtesy of Claybrooke Farm

Originally published on Thu December 25, 2014 8:09 pm

When you step into the bright red barn at Claybrooke Farm in Louisa, Va., it instantly feels like Christmas. A pot of hot cider bubbles on the stove. Friends, neighbors and extended family make wreaths while owner John Carroll hauls in wood for the fire. It's gray outside, but the barn is full of holiday cheer.

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Goats and Soda
1:47 pm
Tue December 23, 2014

Floating Toilets That Clean Themselves Grow On A Lake

During the dry season, human waste makes the water putrid along the floating village of Prek Toal on Tonle Sap Lake.
Courtesy of Taber Hand

Originally published on Wed December 24, 2014 11:03 am

Imagine you live on a floating lake house. Open air. Chirping crickets. Clear, starry nights. Everything seems great until you need to use the bathroom.

The natural instinct might be to make a deposit in the water. But that wouldn't be safe. Microbes in your feces would contaminate the water and could cause outbreaks of deadly diseases, like cholera.

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The Salt
11:17 am
Tue December 23, 2014

Farm Fresh? Natural? Eggs Not Always What They're Cracked Up To Be

Cage-free eggs for sale in 2008 in Knoxville, Tenn.
Joel Kramer/Flickr

Originally published on Tue December 23, 2014 3:49 pm

You're in the supermarket gathering ingredients for eggnog and a Christmas Bundt cake, and you're staring at a wall of egg cartons. They're plastered with terms that all sound pretty wonderful: All-Natural, Cage-Free, Free-Range, Farm Fresh, Organic, No Hormones, Omega-3. And so on.

And yet the longer you stare at them, the more confused you become. You are tired and hungry, so you just grab the cheapest one β€” or the one with the most adorable chicken illustration β€” and head for the checkout line.

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Religion
8:15 am
Sun December 21, 2014

Staff Picks: An Evangelical Christian Believer In Climate Change

Originally published on Sun December 21, 2014 12:52 pm

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

The Salt
9:17 pm
Sat December 20, 2014

In Wineries Vs. Weather, Drones To The Rescue?

An unmanned aerial vehicle films vineyards in France. Drones like this one are also being used in Califiornia, as part of a broader "precision farming" movement designed to lower greenhouse gas emissions.
Sami Sarkis Ocean/Corbis

Originally published on Sun December 21, 2014 1:43 pm

Tucked behind a hill in Sebastopol, Calif., with a 5,400-square-foot cave that holds some 500 barrels of wine, DRNK Wines exudes the quiet charm that a visitor might expect. But the grapes in some of the wines that are sold here are under a growing threat β€” which is why DRNK's winemaker, Ryan Kunde, can sometimes be seen in various vineyards testing his fleet of drones. Their mission? To one day collect aerial images that will help determine the vines' vigor, ripeness, flavor and harvest dates, which due to rising soil temperatures have inched up in Sonoma County over the past few years.

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The Two-Way
4:50 pm
Fri December 19, 2014

New EPA Standards Label Toxic Coal Ash Nonhazardous

Smoke rises from the Colstrip Steam Electric Station, a coal burning power plant in in Colstrip, Mont., in September. New EPA guidelines treat toxic coal ash from such plants much the same as common household garbage.
Matt Brown AP

Originally published on Mon December 22, 2014 11:58 am

The Environmental Protection Agency has issued new national standards designating coal ash β€” a nearly ubiquitous byproduct of coal-fired power plants that contains arsenic and lead β€” as nonhazardous waste.

NPR's Christopher Joyce reports that coal-fired power plants produce more than 130 million tons of the coal ash each year, and they have long stored millions of tons of it in giant ponds.

But many of those ponds have failed in recent years, allowing contaminated water to get into rivers and streams, and ultimately into drinking water.

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It's All Politics
11:38 am
Fri December 19, 2014

Advocacy Groups Tell Lawmakers To Back Off

Workers with the Pebble Mine project test-drill in July 2007 in the Bristol Bay region of Alaska near the village of Iliamma.
Al Grillo AP

Originally published on Fri December 19, 2014 4:00 pm

Three advocacy organizations β€” across ideological lines β€” are telling congressional investigators to back off in a probe of EPA ties to a leading environmental group, the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Republican Rep. Darrell Issa of California and Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana are leading the investigation. They contend that NRDC lobbyists have exerted too much influence over EPA on the issues of carbon reduction and the proposed Pebble Mine at Bristol Bay, Alaska.

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Science
4:02 am
Fri December 19, 2014

7 Miles Beneath The Sea's Surface: Who Goes There?

The research vessel Falkor in August 2013.
Courtesy of Mark Schrope

Originally published on Fri December 19, 2014 10:11 am

A ship full of marine scientists is floating over the deepest part of the world: the Pacific Ocean's Mariana Trench. They're sending down probes to study life in one of the most hostile environments on the planet.

This week the researchers are targeting the two deepest spots in the trench β€” the Sirena Deep and the Challenger Deep β€” which each extend down about 7 miles beneath the ocean's surface.

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Energy
5:43 pm
Thu December 18, 2014

No Fracking In New York? That's OK With Pennsylvania

Leslie Roeder of New York City cheers outside New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office on Wednesday after the state announced a ban on hydraulic fracturing.
Andrew Kelly Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Fri December 19, 2014 11:23 am

Pennsylvania's fracking boom has led to record-breaking natural gas production, but its neighbor, New York, announced Wednesday it was banning the practice. Industry and environmental groups say New York's decision could be good for Pennsylvania.

New York's ban comes six years after the state placed a temporary moratorium on fracking to study the gas drilling technique. Now, officials question fracking's economic benefits and cite environmental risks.

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The Salt
5:36 pm
Thu December 18, 2014

What The Change In U.S.-Cuba Relations Might Mean For Food

Sugar, coffee, fruit juice for babies, oil and salt inside a market subsidized by the government in Havana on July 11, 2013.
Enrique De La Osa Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Fri December 19, 2014 8:14 am

It took a few hours for some Cubans to realize the magnitude of President Obama's announcement on Wednesday about changes in the relationship between the U.S. and Cuba, according to Cuban blogger Yoani SΓ‘nchez.

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NPR Story
5:11 am
Thu December 18, 2014

Citing Health, Environment Concerns, New York Moves To Ban Fracking

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 12:31 pm

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

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

The state of New York has banned fracking. After six years of study, the state says there are too many health and environmental questions involved in the controversial drilling method. NPR's Jeff Brady reports.

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Science
3:36 am
Thu December 18, 2014

Arctic Is Warming Twice As Fast As World Average

A lone polar bear poses on a block of arctic sea ice in Russia's Franz Josef Land.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 12:36 pm

The latest word from scientists studying the Arctic is that the polar region is warming twice as fast as the average rise on the rest of the planet. And researchers say the trend isn't letting up. That's the latest from the 2014 Arctic Report Card β€” a compilation of recent research from more than 60 scientists in 13 countries. The report was released Wednesday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

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Around the Nation
3:45 am
Wed December 17, 2014

For Crop-Duster Pilots, Wind Towers Present Danger

A pilot for Earl's Flying Service sprays chemicals on a field in southeastern Missouri.
Courtesy of Mike Lee

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 11:29 am

Crop-dusting pilots are the adrenaline junkies of the agriculture world. They whiz through the air, flying under power lines to sow seeds or spread pesticides on farmers' fields.

It's a dangerous job, and now these pilots are facing a new challenge β€” short towers that can sprout up in fields overnight. These towers are used to gather data for wind energy companies.

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