Environment

The Salt
5:48 pm
Mon February 23, 2015

Acidifying Waters Are Endangering Your Oysters And Mussels

Crew members pull an oyster dredge in Tangier Sound of the Chesapeake Bay near Deal Island, Md., in 2013. A study found that the Chesapeake Bay shellfishery is a "hot zone" for ocean acidification.
Patrick Semansky AP

Bad news for bivalves comes this week from scientists studying ocean acidification.

Ocean water in parts of the world is changing. Its chemistry is very slowly becoming more acidic, like lemon juice, and less alkaline, a la baking soda.

The change so far is small — you wouldn't notice if you swam in the ocean or even drank it (not recommended, in any case). But numerous scientific studies show that it could get worse. One reason is that as humans produce more carbon dioxide, a lot is absorbed into the oceans. That makes the water more acidic.

Read more
The Salt
1:48 pm
Mon February 23, 2015

Freight Farms: How Boston Gets Local Greens, Even When Buried In Snow

Freight Farms are shipping containers modified to grow stacks of hydroponic plants and vegetables — anywhere, 365 days a year.
Courtesy of Freight Farms

The United States imports more than $100 billion of food every year from farms across the globe, often in the big metal shipping containers you see on cargo ships. Now, entrepreneurs are using those shipping containers to grow local produce.

"Freight Farms" are shipping containers modified to grow stacks of hydroponic plants and vegetables. It's a new way for small-scale farmers to grow crops year-round in a computer-controlled environment, even in the middle of the city.

Read more
Environment
8:01 am
Sun February 22, 2015

Parks Service Surveys The Environment's Accoustical Health

Originally published on Sun February 22, 2015 12:36 pm

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

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Over the past decade, The National Park Service has placed hundreds of microphones around the country. These are some of the sounds those mics captured.

(SOUNDBITE OF WILDERNESS)

Read more
TED Radio Hour
9:20 am
Fri February 20, 2015

How Can We Explain The Mystery Of Consciousness?

"Understanding consciousness is a real key, I think, both to understanding the universe and to understanding ourselves." - David Chalmers
James Duncan Davidson TED

Originally published on Fri February 20, 2015 7:35 pm

Part 5 of the TED Radio Hour episode The Unknown Brain

About David Chalmers' TED Talk

Philosopher David Chalmers asks why humans have a sense of self, a constantly running movie full of sensation and internal chatter. He offers two ideas about the nature of consciousness.

About David Chalmers

Read more
13.7: Cosmos And Culture
11:06 am
Thu February 19, 2015

Can You Hear Nature's Sounds?

iStockphoto

Last week, South Florida's nature came alive for me as much through sound as through sight: the flapping of wings as a great blue heron soared up over a river; the plashing of water when an alligator slipped off the riverbank to swim away; the huffing of a manatee taking a breath at the water's surface before she slowly sank again to the river bottom to munch grass.

Read more
Around the Nation
5:20 am
Wed February 18, 2015

W.Va. Train Derailment Raises Safety Questions About Newer Tankers

Originally published on Wed February 18, 2015 7:24 am

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

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Read more
Joe's Big Idea
4:00 pm
Mon February 16, 2015

Climate Scientist Tries Arts To Stir Hearts Regarding Earth's Fate

Robert Davies (standing) and the quartet during a performance of "The Crossroads Project." Musicians include (left to right) Robert Waters, Rebecca McFaul, Anne Francis Bayless and Bradley Ottesen.
Andrew McCallister Courtesy of The Crossroads Project

Originally published on Tue February 17, 2015 12:45 pm

Read more
Science
7:26 am
Sun February 15, 2015

Navy Funds A Small Robot Army To Study The Arctic

To put their probes into the Arctic Ice, researchers hitched a ride on a South Korean icebreaker.
Courtesy of Craig M. Lee/University of Washington

Originally published on Sun February 15, 2015 12:49 pm

Earlier this month the U.S. Navy's research office rented out a conference center in Washington, D.C., to show off some of its hottest new technology.

On display was an electromagnetic gun, and drones that could swarm around an enemy ship. But it wasn't all James Bond-style gadgets.

Read more
Environment
7:23 am
Sat February 14, 2015

Buried Boston Copes With Piles Of Snow

Originally published on Sat February 14, 2015 12:22 pm

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

Science
4:39 pm
Thu February 12, 2015

8 Million Tons Of Plastic Clutter Our Seas

A fisherman collects water on a beach littered with trash at an ecological reserve south of Manila in 2013.
Francis R. Malasig EPA/Landov

Originally published on Fri February 20, 2015 3:13 pm

Plastic is one of those inventions that transformed the world. It's light, durable and you can make lots of things with it.

But it's also transforming Earth's oceans — and not in a good way. A lot of plastic ends up there. Scientists are just now getting a handle on how much plastic has gone to sea.

Up until now, estimates have been very rough. It's hard to measure waste in the oceans; after all, salt water covers 70 percent of the planet.

But another way to figure out what's out there is to measure how much debris is coming off the land.

Read more
Environment
5:19 am
Thu February 12, 2015

Keystone XL Pipeline Would Transport 'Dirty Energy'

Originally published on Fri February 13, 2015 1:54 pm

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

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

The years' long debate over the Keystone XL pipeline arrived at an important moment yesterday. Congress gave final approval for the project after a vote in the House.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

Read more
The Two-Way
11:20 am
Tue February 10, 2015

Scientific Pros Weigh The Cons Of Messing With Earth's Thermostat

The eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines in 1991 spewed almost 20 million tons of sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere, causing worldwide temperatures to drop half a degree on average.
Arlan Naeg AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri February 20, 2015 3:20 pm

Before anyone tries to cool the Earth with technologies that could counteract global warming, there needs to be a lot more research into the benefits and risks. That's the conclusion announced Tuesday by a scientific panel convened by the prestigious National Research Council to assess "climate geoengineering" — deliberate attempts to alter the global climate.

Geoengineering has been seen as the potential last-ditch option to stave off the worst effects of climate change, given that agreements to reduce greenhouse gas emissions have been slow in coming.

Read more
All Tech Considered
5:40 pm
Mon February 9, 2015

Shake, Rattle And Toll: Berkeley's Bells Play Sounds Of Earth

In a project called "Natural Frequencies," the bells in the Campanile on the University of California, Berkeley campus were recently programmed to play a score composed in real time by the seismic shifts taking place along the Hayward fault.
Eric Risberg AP

Originally published on Tue February 10, 2015 8:04 am

Read more
The Two-Way
2:59 pm
Sun February 8, 2015

16 Years After Its Inception, 'GoreSat' Set For Launch ... Soon

A Falcon 9 SpaceX rocket stands ready for a sunset launch from complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Cape Canaveral, Fla., on Sunday. It will be carrying aloft the DSCOVR satellite.
John Raoux AP

Originally published on Sun February 8, 2015 6:36 pm

Update 6:10 p.m. ET Launch Scrubbed

At t-minus 2 minutes and 26 seconds to launch, the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket was scrubbed due to an issue with the system used to track the rocket. The team will review the issue and calculate the next available launch window in order to reschedule.

Our original post continues below:

Read more
Environment
10:08 am
Sat February 7, 2015

Climate Change Puts Alaska's Sled Dog Races On Thin Ice

The sun sets over a swath of black spruce forest blanketed by a thin layer of snow in Alaska's interior. Unseasonably warm weather has Alaskans worried about the impact of climate change on dog sledding.
Emily Schwing NPR

Originally published on Sat February 7, 2015 4:20 pm

For more than 30 years, the 1,000-mile Yukon Quest International Sled Dog race, which begins Saturday, has followed the Yukon River between Whitehorse, Canada, and Fairbanks, Alaska.

A little open water along the Yukon Quest trail is nothing new, but in recent years, long unfrozen stretches of the Yukon River have shaken even the toughest mushers.

Last year, musher Hank DeBruin of Ontario had stopped along the Yukon River to rest his dog team in the middle of the night, when the ice started to break up.

Read more
Animals
7:56 am
Sat February 7, 2015

Birders Predict Another Snowy Owl 'Irruption'

Originally published on Sat February 7, 2015 11:46 am

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

The Salt
4:38 pm
Fri February 6, 2015

For Rockfish, A Tale Of Recovery, Hidden On Menus

A school of vermilion rockfish. After being depleted decades ago by overfishing, rockfish — a genus of more than 100 tasty species — have made a remarkable comeback.
Donna Schroeder From 'Probably More Than You Want to Know About the Fishes of the Pacific Coast'/Courtesy Milton Love

Originally published on Fri February 6, 2015 7:59 pm

For West Coast commercial fishermen and seafood lovers, there is reason to cheer. Rockfish, a genus of more than 100 tasty species depleted decades ago by excessive fishing, have rebounded from extreme low numbers in the 1990s.

It's a conservation and fishery management success story that chefs, distributors and sustainable seafood advocates want the world to hear.

The rub? It's hard to communicate this success if purveyors continue to misidentify the fish, as many do.

Read more
World
4:35 pm
Thu February 5, 2015

Observers Flock To Erupting Reunion Volcano

Originally published on Fri February 13, 2015 6:40 pm



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

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Read more
The Salt
5:04 am
Thu February 5, 2015

Gotcha: Satellites Help Strip Seafood Pirates Of Their Booty

Fish on ice in Palau Misa Island, Indonesia. Thanks to satellite data, John Amos of SkyTruth can track fishing activity near the Pacific island nation from his office in West Virginia.
Randy Olson National Geographic/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu February 5, 2015 10:17 am

Most of the seafood Americans eat comes from abroad. And a lot of that is caught illegally — by vessels that ignore catch limits, or that fish in areas off-limits to fishing.

No one knows how much of it is illegal, because the oceans are too big to patrol. Or at least, they were. Now environmental groups have harnessed satellite technology to watch pirate fishing vessels from space — and they've already caught some of them.

Read more
Environment
6:21 am
Wed February 4, 2015

Hard To Clean Up Wastewater Spills From Oil Wells Into N.D. Stream

Originally published on Wed February 4, 2015 7:40 am

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

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Read more
Energy
5:12 am
Wed February 4, 2015

Keystone XL Pipeline Benefits U.S. And Canada, Alberta Premier Says

Originally published on Wed February 4, 2015 7:40 am

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

Fine Art
3:38 am
Wed February 4, 2015

Beautiful Bird Exhibit Spotted At Smithsonian

Courtesy of the artist and Gallery Wendi Norris Smithsonian American Art Museum

Originally published on Wed February 4, 2015 11:22 am

It's been a cold winter in Washington, D.C., but over at the Smithsonian's American Art Museum, there's a flutter of exotic real and imaginary birds, created by 12 contemporary artists, in an exhibit called "The Singing and the Silence: Birds in Contemporary Art."

Read more
Environment
6:28 pm
Tue February 3, 2015

EPA Push For Massive Munitions Burn Ignites Opposition In Louisiana

Melissa Downer and her family moved to Camp Minden, La., 11 years ago and live on three acres. The mother of three young daughters says they'll move if the M6 is burned in the open air.
Kate Archer Kent Red River Radio

Originally published on Fri February 6, 2015 8:17 pm

Explosions used to be no big deal for residents of sleepy rural towns in north Louisiana's piney woods near the Arkansas border. Blasts meant jobs.

The Army's Camp Minden was the site of a former ammunition factory built during World War II. The factory closed in the 1990s. Still, the place is littered with millions of pounds of leftover artillery waste.

The stuff in question is called M6, a toxic propellant in grenades and artillery rounds. The Army doesn't use it anymore, and tons of M6 are stored in bunkers at Camp Minden.

Read more
The Salt
1:37 pm
Tue February 3, 2015

How Fish Could Change What It Means For Food To Be Organic

At Troutdale Farm in Missouri, farmhand Vince Orcutt pulls out rainbow trout ready to harvest.
Kristofor Husted/Harvest Public Media

Originally published on Tue February 3, 2015 2:58 pm

When it comes to organic certification, food producers must follow strict guidelines.

For an organic steak, for instance, the cow it came from has to be raised on organic feed, and the feed mix can't be produced with pesticides, chemical fertilizers or genetic engineering.

Now, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is considering a set of rules for organic farmed fish. Several consumer groups, though, say the recommended rules don't go far enough to meet the strict standards of other organic foods.

Read more
The Salt
5:04 am
Mon February 2, 2015

Here's How To End Iowa's Great Nitrate Fight

A cereal rye cover crop grows (at left) in a field where corn was recently harvested. Cover crops can capture nutrients such as nitrate and prevent them from polluting nearby streams.
Courtesy of Paul Jasa/University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Originally published on Mon February 2, 2015 1:09 pm

Three weeks ago, Sara Carlson was driving to her job in Ames, Iowa, when she turned on the radio and heard me talking about nitrates in Iowa's water.

"And I was like, 'I really hope he nails this,' " she says.

This topic is Carlson's specialty. She works with a group called Practical Farmers of Iowa. These farmers are devoted to farming in ways that protect the environment.

Read more
Environment
5:40 pm
Sun February 1, 2015

It's Not All Bad News For Earth's Oceans

Originally published on Thu February 5, 2015 12:53 am

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

Transcript

ARUN RATH, HOST:

A recent report on the health of the oceans includes some welcome good news. Ocean habitats seem to be in pretty good shape, at least compared to things on land. Douglas McCauley is an ecologist at UC Santa Barbara and a lead author of the study.

Read more
Environment
11:39 am
Sun February 1, 2015

The Ice Is Talking. We Just Have To Listen

Giant chunks of ice break away from the Hans Glacier in Svalbard, Norway, in 2013.
Courtesy Oskar Glowacki

Originally published on Thu February 12, 2015 8:14 am

If a glacier cracks and nobody hears it, does it still make a sound?

"Oh, they moan and they groan," says Grant Deane, a researcher at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. "They crackle and rumble and fizz, and they have all kinds of amazing sounds that they make."

Deane is one of the authors of a new study that interprets the acoustics of glacial melting.

Read more
The Two-Way
5:26 pm
Thu January 29, 2015

Scientists, General Public Have Divergent Views On Science, Report Says

Genetically modified rice plants are shown in a lab in 2006. A new report from Pew Research shows a wide gap between perceptions of safety of GM foods between scientists and the general public.
Rich Pedroncelli AP

Originally published on Thu January 29, 2015 6:20 pm

U.S. adults see various science-related topics much differently than do America's top scientists, with the two groups expressing widely divergent views on the safety of genetically modified foods, climate change, human evolution, the use of animals in research and vaccines, according to a new report published by Pew Research Center.

Read more
The Salt
4:56 pm
Thu January 29, 2015

Food Industry Drags Its Heels On Recyclable And Compostable Packaging

Environmental groups cited Wendy's as "Poor" in the area of packaging sustainability. One reason is that the chain still uses black plastic bowls, which cannot be recycled.
Lynne Sladky AP

Originally published on Thu January 29, 2015 6:46 pm

Let's face it: We are people who consume many of our meals on the go. That means we're not eating on real plates or bowls but out of plastic containers and paper boxes. And perhaps daily, we drink our coffees and sodas out of plastic or plastic-lined paper cups.

Read more
The Two-Way
1:21 pm
Thu January 29, 2015

Senate OKs Keystone XL Pipeline, Setting Up Fight With Obama

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., prepares to speak to the media Thursday before the Senate voted to approve the Keystone XL pipeline.
Jim Lo Scalzo EPA /Landov

Originally published on Thu January 29, 2015 5:10 pm

Updated at 5:04 p.m. ET

The Senate in a bipartisan 62-to-36 vote approved Thursday the Keystone XL pipeline project, setting up a faceoff with the White House, which has threatened a presidential veto.

Nine Democrats joined 53 Republicans to pass the measure, which now must be reconciled with a version passed last month by the House. The Senate vote is also not enough to override a presidential veto.

Read more

Pages