Environment

Shots - Health News
5:07 pm
Mon June 30, 2014

Lead Exposure May Cause Depression And Anxiety In Children

A child plays in a Beijing park. Health threats caused by pollution have become a major concern in China.
Andy Wong AP

Originally published on Tue July 1, 2014 9:44 am

Lead is well known for causing permanent behavioral and cognitive problems in children, but a study says it may also cause less obvious problems like depression, too, even at low levels.

That's the word from a study tracking the health of 1,341 children in Jintan, China, where the health effects of pollution from rapid development have become a national concern.

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The Two-Way
4:42 pm
Mon June 30, 2014

Carbon-Sensing Satellite Prepares For Second Launch

The Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 will monitor carbon dioxide emissions.
jhoward NASA/JPL

Originally published on Tue July 1, 2014 2:27 pm

NASA is preparing to launch a satellite capable of monitoring carbon dioxide emissions from space. The Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) will be the first U.S. spacecraft dedicated to seeing the greenhouse gas from orbit, and could pave the way for new technology to enforce future global warming treaties.

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Environment
3:24 am
Mon June 30, 2014

Drought Has Drillers Running After Shrinking California Water Supply

Juan de La Cruz operates a drilling rig that is probing for groundwater 2,500 feet beneath Fresno County.
Sasha Khokha for NPR

Originally published on Mon June 30, 2014 3:02 pm

Steve Arthur practically lives out of his truck these days.

He runs one of Fresno's busiest well-drilling companies, and hustles up and down the highway to check on drilling rigs that run 24 hours a day.

"It's officially getting crazy," Arthur says. "We go and we go, but it just seems like we can't go fast enough."

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Environment
12:33 pm
Sat June 28, 2014

As Yosemite Park Turns 150, Charms And Challenges Endure

Over the past century and a half, visitors have traveled through Yosemite on foot, by carriage, by tram and by car. Now some regions will be once again be accessible only by foot, to protect delicate regions of the park.
Courtesy Yosemite National Park Research Library/KQED

Originally published on Sun June 29, 2014 12:04 am

Yosemite National Park, in California's Sierra Nevada, is celebrating the 150th anniversary of the law that preserved it — and planted the seeds for the National Park system. At the same time, the park faces the challenge of protecting the natural wonders from their own popularity.

Since President Abraham Lincoln signed the 1864 law that protected this land, visitors have been enjoying the park's spectacular features, from Half Dome to the giant sequoia grove — and the moonbow at Yosemite Falls.

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Parallels
7:15 am
Thu June 26, 2014

Oil Off The Coast Of Ibiza? Protesters Don't Want To Know

Ibiza
David Ramos Getty Images

Originally published on Thu June 26, 2014 11:03 am

Ibiza — famous for wild, all-night parties — is home to some of the Mediterranean's most pristine beaches and thriving marine ecosystems. But these could soon be endangered by more than the island's hedonism.

Spain's central government is considering whether to allow oil prospecting near the coasts of Ibiza and its neighboring island, Formentera. The proposed survey area is about 1,500 square miles and starts around 30 miles off the coastline.

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Research News
7:10 am
Thu June 26, 2014

How To Sell Green Products To The Self-Regarding Consumer

Originally published on Mon June 30, 2014 9:40 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

When consumers think about green products, they often face a dilemma - that car that uses less gasoline or a more efficient refrigerator tends to cost more. Buyers have to choose whether money is more important to them than public good. Now new research shows there might be a way to boost interest in these products, at least among a core group of consumers. NPR social science correspondent Shankar Vedantam is here to talk with us about that. Hi Shankar.

SHANKAR VEDANTAM, BYLINE: Hi Steve.

INSKEEP: What consumers?

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NPR Story
5:06 am
Thu June 26, 2014

Meters Would Help Sacramento Homes Save More Water

Originally published on Thu June 26, 2014 2:19 pm

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

The drought in California is growing more serious by the day. Yet, one-quarter million homes in California still lack the most basic conservation device there is - a water meter. Nowhere is this problem more clear than in the state capital, Sacramento. Joe Rubin reports.

JOE RUBIN, BYLINE: It's not quite daylight when, at 5:15 a.m., Ron Carpenter hops in his car and begins to patrol the Sacramento neighborhood, looking for signs of lawn watering.

RON CARPENTER: Up here it looks pretty shiny down here. Let's see what this is.

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Energy
4:58 pm
Tue June 24, 2014

In Wyoming, Going Deep To Draw Energy From Coal

Linc Energy has installed 44 monitoring wells at its proposed test site near Wright, Wyo., to establish baseline water quality.
Stephanie Joyce for NPR

Originally published on Wed June 25, 2014 9:42 am

The United States is the Saudi Arabia of coal. The only catch is that most coal is buried too deep for conventional mining.

In the tradition of fracking pioneers in the oil and gas industries, an Australian company working in Wyoming wants to use an unconventional technique to access that deep coal: burning it underground.

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Environment
4:15 pm
Tue June 24, 2014

Former Treasury Secretary Finds In Climate Change An Economic Threat

Originally published on Tue June 24, 2014 7:14 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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NPR Story
5:07 am
Tue June 24, 2014

Latest Climate Change Report Paints Dire Picture For Business

Former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson says he hopes a new study can influence the business community by applying the science of risk management.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Tue June 24, 2014 2:38 pm

The U.S. economy faces great risks from climate change, according to a new study that focuses on the current and future effects of climate change on everything from jobs, to crop yields, to energy production.

Though the study presents no new climate science, it paints a dire picture of the business and economic effects if action isn't taken, including crop yields that fall by more than 70 percent in the Midwest and billions of dollars' worth of property literally underwater on the East Coast.

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Environment
3:27 am
Tue June 24, 2014

As Sea Levels Rise, Norfolk Is Sinking And Planning

The naval base at Norfolk has had to build two levels to its docks to accommodate rising sea levels. The water level has risen about 1 1/2 feet since 1920.
Yuki Noguchi NPR

Originally published on Tue June 24, 2014 11:25 am

From the water's edge in Norfolk, Va., the U.S. naval base spans the whole horizon. Aircraft carriers, supply centers, barracks and admirals' homes fill a vast expanse.

But Ray Toll, a retired naval oceanographer, says the "majority of [the naval base], if not all of it" is at risk of flooding "because it's so low and it's flat."

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Around the Nation
5:07 am
Mon June 23, 2014

Baltimore's Water Wheel Keeps On Turning, Pulling In Tons Of Trash

Since the water wheel began churning in May, it has removed 40 tons of trash from Baltimore's Inner Harbor.
Clearwater Mills LLC

Originally published on Fri July 11, 2014 2:31 pm

Baltimore's Inner Harbor is a city landmark teeming with tourists, restaurants and — until recently — floating trash.

John Kellett used to walk by Pier 6 every day on his way to work at the Baltimore Maritime Museum on the Inner Harbor. He'd notice the trash floating in the water and hear tourists call the harbor disgusting — and it bugged him.

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Energy
4:43 pm
Fri June 20, 2014

Ohio Rolls Back Renewable Energy Standards

Originally published on Fri June 20, 2014 7:08 pm

Many states around the U.S. have adopted policies that encourage the development of renewable energy. Lately, though, there's been a major push nationwide for states to repeal those policies. As Ohio Public Radio's Andy Chow reports, Ohio appears to be the first state to temporarily halt some of their standards for utilities.

The Salt
12:19 pm
Fri June 20, 2014

Going Against The Grain: FDA Threatens Brewers' Feed For Farmers

Although the FDA seems to have backed off, farmers and brewers are still nervous about the FDA's rule, which will be proposed again at the end of summer.
Shelly Pope/KQED

Originally published on Fri June 20, 2014 4:57 pm

Want to infuriate the entire brewing industry? Start poking around its trash.

That's what the Food and Drug Administration discovered when it threatened to dramatically affect how breweries use their spent grain.

Last fall, the FDA proposed a new rule: Facilities producing feed for animals should be subject to regulations similar to those in food manufacturing. Any facility producing animal feed would be required to produce a written plan to identify and minimize contamination.

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The Salt
5:23 pm
Wed June 18, 2014

Eating Broccoli May Give Harmful Chemicals The Boot

Researchers say eating broccoli sprouts could help protect against the harmful effects of air pollution.
Julie Gibbons/Flickr

Originally published on Mon June 23, 2014 11:14 am

We get a little suspicious when we hear the claims that it's possible to get rid of the gunk that accumulates in our cells by doing a cleanse with "clean" foods.

But what if some foods actually do help detox the body?

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The Salt
12:15 pm
Wed June 18, 2014

Goats In The City? Making A Case For Detroit's Munching Mowers

Leonard Pollara, of Idyll Farms, with some of the goats housed in the Brightmoor neighborhood of Detroit.
Max Ortiz Courtesy of The Detroit News

Originally published on Fri June 20, 2014 5:14 pm

As more urban folk strive to produce their own food, gardens both large and small are popping up everywhere. And while it's not unheard of for city dwellers to keep bees and even chickens, only a brave few have been willing to try their hand at goats.

Like hedge fund manager Mark Spitznagel, who recently tried to revitalize Detroit's Brightmoor neighborhood with a herd of 18 baby goats.

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Science
3:25 am
Wed June 18, 2014

Is Collecting Animals For Science A Noble Mission Or A Threat?

DNA from these crab plovers, collected in Djibouti, Africa, should help scientists figure out how the unusual species fits into the family tree, says the Smithsonian's Helen James.
Maggie Starbard NPR

Originally published on Wed June 18, 2014 8:29 am

Behind the scenes at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, there's a vast, warehouse-like room that's filled with metal cabinets painted a drab institutional green. Inside the cabinets are more than a half-million birds — and these birds are not drab. Their colorful feathers make them seem to almost glow.

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Environment
6:15 pm
Tue June 17, 2014

Plastics Don't Disappear, But They Do End Up In Seabirds' Bellies

Plastic floats ashore in Jakarta, Indonesia.
Bay Ismoyo AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue June 17, 2014 8:33 pm

The vast majority of debris in the ocean — about 75 percent of it — is made of plastic. It can consist of anything from plastic bottles to packaging materials, but whatever form it takes, it doesn't go away easily.

While plastic may break down into smaller and smaller pieces, some as small as grains of sand, these pieces are never truly biodegradable. The plastic bits, some small enough that they're called microplastics, threaten marine life like fish and birds, explains Richard Thompson, a professor of marine biology at Plymouth University in the U.K.

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Environment
4:06 pm
Tue June 17, 2014

White House Plans To Mark Off World's Largest Ocean Sanctuary

Originally published on Tue June 17, 2014 8:33 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, BYLINE: This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel. President Obama is once again exercising his executive authority for an environmental cause. Today he announced plans to create the world's largest marine preserve. His proposal came in a video shown at the State Department's "Our Ocean" conference. The White House says it will seek input from fisherman, scientists, and other experts before setting boundaries for the preserve. NPR's Michele Kelemen has our story.

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Environment
5:26 am
Mon June 16, 2014

Kerry Gathers World Players To Focus On Protecting Oceans

Originally published on Mon June 16, 2014 9:45 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Government officials, scientists and business leaders from more than 80 countries are gathering at the State Department today and tomorrow. They're there to figure out ways to protect the world's oceans and commercial fisheries. Secretary of State John Kerry says this is an issue he's been working on for a long time, as NPR's Michele Kelemen reports.

MICHELE KELEMEN, BYLINE: When Secretary Kerry talks about his hopes for this conference he reaches back deep into his childhood in Massachusetts.

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Business
5:12 am
Thu June 12, 2014

Study: Climate Change Is A Growing Threat To Corn Production

Originally published on Mon June 30, 2014 9:38 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And from food to fuel, corn is a major pillar of the U.S. economy. It's the country's biggest crop. One-third of all U.S. cropland is dedicated to corn. A new study says climate change and unsustainable irrigation practices are a long-term threat to U.S. corn production. The study calls on farmers, governments and businesses to cooperate to head off those negative effects. NPR's John Ydstie has more.

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The Salt
3:09 am
Thu June 12, 2014

Fight Over Calif. Oyster Company Splits Chefs And Land Defenders

The Drakes Bay Oyster Farm caters to local residents and restaurants. But unless its lease is renewed, its days are numbered.
Richard Gonzales NPR

Originally published on Thu June 12, 2014 4:38 pm

Drive just an hour and a half north of San Francisco, and you're in Drakes Estero, named for the first English explorer to lay claim to California.

This near-pristine, wind-whipped marine wilderness is a federally protected home for large beds of eelgrass, the base of the marine food chain. The estuary hosts the largest colony of harbor seals on the West Coast, and tens of thousands of resident and migratory birds.

It's also home to the Drakes Bay Oyster Co.

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The Salt
4:42 pm
Wed June 11, 2014

Can You Call Yourself An Environmentalist And Still Eat Meat?

There's little consensus in the debate on how meat consumption fits into environmentalism.
Jit Lim iStockphoto

Originally published on Mon June 16, 2014 4:28 pm

Earlier this week, we told you about a school backed by director James Cameron and his wife, Suzy Amis Cameron, that may become the first vegan school in the U.S.

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NPR Story
5:25 am
Wed June 11, 2014

Rules Force Washington To Cut Emissions More Than Other States

Originally published on Wed June 11, 2014 7:46 am

The Environmental Protection Agency has announced strict new carbon emissions regulations. Washington state has the largest reduction target — about 72 percent overall.

The Two-Way
10:59 am
Tue June 10, 2014

With Concern For Environment, Illinois Bans Microbeads

Researcher Sherri Mason looks for microbeads in a water sample from Lake Michigan.
Cheryl Corley

Originally published on Tue June 10, 2014 1:27 pm

Illinois became the first state in the union to ban microbeads, the tiny bits of plastic found in consumer products like skin exfoliants and soap.

As NPR's Cheryl Corley reports, environmentalists say that when microbeads wash down the drain, they're usually missed by filtration systems, which means they become food to fish and other wildlife.

Cheryl filed this report for our Newscast unit:

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Around the Nation
3:47 am
Tue June 10, 2014

How Coal Industry Jobs Coexist With Rising Sea Levels In Virginia

Rough surf pounds a fishing pier as Tropical Storm Hanna passes through Virginia Beach, Va., in 2008. Virginia is dependent on coal mining but it also faces routine flooding from rising sea levels.
Steve Helber AP

Originally published on Tue June 10, 2014 9:49 am

Skip Stiles stands on the edge of a small inlet known as the Hague, near downtown Norfolk, Va. The Chrysler Museum of Art is nearby, as are dozens of stately homes, all threatened by the water.

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Law
6:20 pm
Mon June 9, 2014

Supreme Court Rules Against Homeowners In Superfund Case

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday that a federal law seeking to improve accountability for environmental spills and pollution can be circumvented by certain kinds of state laws.

The federal Superfund law supersedes state statutes of limitations. Instead the federal law dictates that lawsuits alleging environmental injury need only be filed when individuals either first learn or should have learned that they have been harmed. But what the court gave with one hand, it took away with the other, ruling that rare state statutes of another sort can limit lawsuits in a different way.

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The Salt
5:41 pm
Fri June 6, 2014

Doughnut Day Downer: Palm Oil In Pastries Drives Deforestation

Doughnuts at a Krispy Kreme store in Washington, D.C. An environmental coalition says leading doughnut companies like Krispy Kreme source palm oil from suppliers who are clear-cutting rain forests and destroying wildlife habitat.
Meredith Rizzo NPR

Originally published on Fri June 6, 2014 7:29 pm

On National Doughnut Day, it's hard to imagine how our love of doughnuts might be contributing to deforestation halfway around the globe.

But here's the connection: You know that oily smudge left on your fingers after you polish off a doughnut? That's not just sugar. It's also palm oil.

The major doughnut retailers — from Dunkin' Donuts to Tim Hortons and Krispy Kreme — fry their sweet treats in palm oil, or in blends of oil that include palm oil.

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The Salt
12:27 pm
Fri June 6, 2014

Can Farmed Fish Feed The World Without Destroying The Environment?

Carp are collected at a breeding farm near the Belarus village of Ozerny in November 2013. Researchers say there's a lot the aquaculture industry can do to be more efficient.
Viktor Drachev AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue June 10, 2014 8:19 am

We Americans love our fried shrimp, our sushi and our fish sticks. And a lot of other people around the world count on fish as a critical part of their diet, too. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, fish now accounts for almost 17 percent of the world's intake of protein — in some coastal and island countries it's as high as 70 percent.

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TED Radio Hour
9:34 am
Fri June 6, 2014

If We Want to Live In Cities, Will We Have To Share Cars?

"If you live in a city and don't need a car to get to work, you're crazy to be owning one" — Robin Chase
Robert Leslie TED

Part 3 of the TED Radio Hour episode Getting There.

About Robin Chase's TEDTalk

Zipcar co-founder Robin Chase makes the case for car-sharing as the solution to global gridlock.

About Robin Chase

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