Environment

According to two new World Health Organization reports, about 1.7 million children under the age of 5 die each year because of environmental hazards. It's the first such estimate of the child death toll from environmental causes.

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A new company is doing more than just monitoring electricity use.

It's making tracking your electrical data fun.

Steve Reed of San Diego says he signed up for free with OhmConnect. He was eager to see how much his family could cut back on electricity at times when there is a high demand for it in the area.

Soon, he got a text prompting him to lower use for an hour — from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. the next day.

The way environmentalist Craig Cox sees it, streams and rivers across much of the country are suffering from the side effects of growing our food. Yet the people responsible for that pollution, America's farmers, are fighting any hint of regulation to prevent it.

"The leading problems are driven by fertilizer and manure runoff from farm operations," says Cox, who is the Environmental Working Group's top expert on agriculture.

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Updated at 3:30 p.m. ET

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The Environmental Protection Agency is beginning life under a new boss who sued them again and again. Scott Pruitt has made a few public statements now, and they've offered a few clues to his priorities.

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Last summer Felicia Keesing returned from a long trip and found that her home in upstate New York had been subjected to an invasion.

"There was evidence of mice everywhere. They had completely taken over," says Keesing, an ecologist at Bard College.

It was a plague of mice. And it had landed right in Keesing's kitchen.

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What comes to mind when I say the words Chicago winter? An icy wind, perhaps, maybe the frozen lake. How about snow piled high in the streets?

Scott Pruitt, the new head of the Environmental Protection Agency, has sued the agency more than a dozen times. What does that mean for the future of the EPA and for environmental protections in the US?

As the attorney general of Oklahoma, Pruitt chaired an organization of Republican attorneys general who opposed many EPA rules and regulations. Perhaps most famously, Pruitt led a group of states and companies in the continuing court fight against the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan — a plan crafted by the agency he now runs.

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The Senate confirmed former Texas Governor Rick Perry as Secretary of Energy yesterday. At his swearing-in, Perry described what Donald Trump told him before offering him the job.

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In all his 50 years, Georges Kouamé Koffi has eaten chocolate once. "Someone gave me a piece to try," says the cocoa farmer. "It was lovely." Chocolate bars are on sale at a store in his city of San Pedro, in southwestern Ivory Coast. "But they are too expensive for us," he says.

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The U.S. is producing less air pollution, but smog levels are still rising in the western U.S. because of pollutants released in Asian countries that then drift over the Pacific Ocean. Researchers say their findings show the importance of a global approach to preserving air quality.

"Scientists found Asian air pollution contributed as much as 65 percent of an increase in Western ozone in recent years," NPR's Rob Schmitz reports from Shanghai. "China and India, where many consumer products are manufactured, are the worst offenders."

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry is now the 14th U.S. Secretary of Energy, despite having once pledged to eliminate the Department of Energy.

Or at least, he tried to pledge to eliminate the department — including once when he couldn't think of its name.

Perry was confirmed Thursday by the Senate in a 62-37 vote.

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President Trump this week ordered a review of an Obama-era environmental rule that would have protected streams and wetlands. And in his speech to Congress, President Trump made clear he wants to target other measures.

Remember those pictures of parched lawns and bone-dry unplanted fields when it seemed that Californians could only pray for rain and snow?

Now thanks to one of the wettest winters on record, scientists say that the snowpack along the Sierra Nevada mountain range is a whopping 185 percent of average. And that's important because the runoff from the Sierra snowpack provides one-third of all of California's water.

When Marlene Fowler wakes up in the northern Arizona town of Kaibeto, she can see a yellow-green haze on the horizon. But Fowler's not worried about the pollution. It's her husband's job at the Navajo Generating Station that has her on edge.

"Even though they say the pollution is all this and that, it's been there years," she says.

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Spring is here, sort of.

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UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: That is the warmest temperature we've ever had in the month of February...

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Those gas-powered leaf blowers, hedge trimmers and mowers you hear in your neighborhood aren't just annoying — they make a lot of pollution, too.

In California, they're about to pass cars as the worst air polluters, spewing out formaldehyde, benzene and particulate matter. According to Michael Benjamin at the California Air Resources Board, in just three years' time, the biggest single ozone polluter in the state is going to be all this gardening equipment.

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President Trump has ordered a review of the Waters of the U.S. rule. It's an Obama-era regulation that says which waters the federal government can protect. As NPR's Nathan Rott reports, undoing the rule would be a long and difficult process.

Updated 5:35 p.m. ET

The Trump administration is moving to roll back an environmental rule intended to define which small bodies of water are subject to federal authority under the Clean Water Act.

It started in late January. At my local grocery store in South London, salad seemed to be just a few pence pricier than usual. But I didn't think much of it.

Later that week, the same market had conspicuously run out of zucchini. I'm not particularly fond of it, but I lamented for the carb-conscious yuppies who depended — and subsisted — on spiralized zucchini spaghetti. How would they cope?

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Californians are in shock that after five years of too little water, the problem now is too much.

All eyes in California have been on Oroville Dam, where a broken spillway forced major evacuations. But the damage from winter storms has gone beyond the dam in the northern part of the state. Downstream, rivers are running high and levees have been breaching.

Beyond tax proposals from the Trump administration and the House GOP leadership, there's a long-shot idea that's received recent attention — a carbon tax. Simply put, that means setting a price on carbon to encourage energy efficiency and limit the impact of climate change.

When it comes to climate change, we often think of the cars we drive and the energy we use in our homes and offices. They are, after all, some of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. But what about the toast you ate for breakfast this morning?

A new study published Monday in Nature Plants breaks down the environmental cost of producing a loaf of bread, from wheat field to bakery. It finds that the bulk of the associated greenhouse gas emissions come from just one of the many steps that go into making that loaf: farming.

Wildfires can start when lightning strikes or when someone fails to put out a campfire. New research shows that people start a lot more fires than lightning does — so much so that people are drastically altering wildfire in America.

Fire ecologist Melissa Forder says about 60 percent of fires in national parks are caused by humans: "intentionally set fires, buildings burning and spreading into the forest, smoking, equipment malfunctions and campfires."

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