Environment

Eighty-five percent of the Great Bear Rainforest in British Columbia is now protected from logging, after decades of negotiations among environmental activists, the timber industry, First Nations, and the BC government. Temperate rainforests are one of the most rare ecosystems on Earth.Host Steve Curwood discusses how these groups came together with reporter Andrew MacLeod of the magazine The Tyee, who explains what’s been protected and what’s open for logging. (published February 5, 2016)

It's not simply Flint that has bad water. The Michigan city, which has grabbed headlines recently for its rampant water contamination, is joined in that dubious distinction by another town, much farther south: St. Joseph, La.

"It's just a given fact that at some point during the week, you're going to have brown or yellow water," says resident Garrett Boyte.

A major natural gas storage well in Southern California is still leaking, though less so than back in late October, when the giant gas leak was first reported. More than 5,000 families and two schools have been relocated since then, and the local utility that operates the facility is now facing several legal actions.

The leaking gas storage well near the Los Angeles neighborhood of Porter Ranch might be capped earlier than originally anticipated, a state official told residents on Thursday.

Wade Crowfoot, an adviser to California Gov. Jerry Brown, said the utility that owns the well is expected to begin the final phase of the fix on Monday, The Associated Press reports. The Southern California Gas Co. is currently drilling a relief well to intercept the leaking well — and once it reaches its destination, workers should be able to seal up the leak in about five days.

Florida is one of several U.S. states now reporting a few isolated cases of people infected with the Zika virus. In response, Florida's Gov. Rick Scott has declared a public health emergency in five counties in hopes of getting ahead of the virus's spread.

So far, just 12 cases of the mosquito-borne illness have been reported to health authorities in Florida, all of them among travelers who contracted the disease outside the U.S. But Scott figures it's only a matter of time before the virus starts showing up among mosquitoes in some regions of the state, too.

Morocco has officially turned on a massive solar power plant in the Sahara Desert, kicking off the first phase of a planned project to provide renewable energy to more than a million Moroccans.

The Noor I power plant is located near the town of Ouarzazate, on the edge of the Sahara. It's capable of generating up to 160 megawatts of power and covers thousands of acres of desert, making the first stage alone one of the world's biggest solar thermal power plants.

Oregon's New Site To Explore: Valhalla

Feb 4, 2016
Copyright 2016 Oregon Public Broadcasting. To see more, visit Oregon Public Broadcasting.

Unpaid Water Bills In Flint Could Hinder Repairs

Feb 4, 2016

High levels of lead in their drinking water have Flint, Mich., residents relying on cases of bottled water for just about everything. So it may come as no surprise that thousands of them have stopped paying their water bills.

Lynna Kaucheck of the not-for-profit group Food and Water Watch delivered 21,000 signatures to the Flint mayor's office last week calling for a moratorium on drinking water bills.

"All of this is a lot for people to handle, and enough is enough," she said. "Flint residents need relief."

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder is proposing that $30 million in state funds be used to help pay Flint residents' bills for the city's lead-tainted water.

This comes after a growing outcry from Flint residents about having to pay for water that isn't safe to drink. Residents have been relying on donated bottled water.

Michigan Radio's Kate Wells tells our Newscast unit how Snyder's proposal would work:

Scientists still can't predict an earthquake. The U.S. government, however, has a warning system in the works that it hopes could quickly send out a widespread alarm before most people feel a rumble — and save lives when seconds count.

The recently upgraded network of seismometers and computers, known as ShakeAlert, is advancing through the prototype-testing stage, Sally Jewell, secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior, said at a news conference Tuesday.

A landmark deal 10 years in the making will protect 9.1 millions acres of Canadian rain forest on the Pacific Coast of British Columbia.

The protected area in the Great Bear Rainforest is about half the size of Ireland.

Copyright 2016 Michigan Radio. To see more, visit Michigan Radio.

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

In Flint, Mich., families are using bottled water to do everything — from cooking to bathing.

The tap water is still unsafe to drink after government officials allowed corroded lead pipes to poison the water.

People in Flint have lots of questions for those officials. Perhaps the biggest is the one Hattie Collins has.

"When are you gonna fix it? And I mean fix it right," she says.

Praying for rain? You'll get (slightly) less when the moon is very high, a new study finds.

Scientists at the University of Washington say the moon's position impacts the amount of rainfall on Earth.

"As far as I know, this is the first study to convincingly connect the tidal force of the moon with rainfall," researcher Tsubasa Kohyama says in a press release from the university.

Flint and Environmental Racism

Jan 30, 2016

Prof. Robert Bullard, the “father of environmental justice”, says that the lead water disaster in Flint, Michigan is just the latest example in a long history of environmental injustice in the United States. Prof. Bullard, Dean of the School of Public Affairs at Texas Southern University, tells host Steve Curwood that the working class and communities of color like those of Flint are far more likely to be exposed to toxic substances like lead. (published January 29, 2016)

Beyond the Headlines

Jan 30, 2016

In this week’s trip beyond the headlines, Peter Dykstra tells host Steve Curwood that President Obama’s ambitious goal for electric vehicles has fallen short but a non-profit that tracks environmental crimes and accidents from the skies is a great success. Also, we mark the anniversary of the Ramsar Convention, an international agreement to protect wetlands. (published January 29, 2016)

Abandoned coal mines must be cleaned up for the health of the environment and regional waterways. But much of the funding for these projects comes from fees on new mines. Now with the slump in coal use, there’s less money to straighten up the toxic legacy of coal mining's past. The Allegheny Front's Reid Frazier reports. (published January 29, 2016)

BirdNote: Costa Rica's Morning Chorus

Jan 30, 2016

In Costa Rica, the vibrant colors of a winter sunrise are closely rivaled by the exuberance of its birdsong. BirdNote’s Mary McCann reports that while some of Costa Rica’s bird species hide from sight, their calls are highly distinguishable. (published January 29, 2016)

Zika’s Emergence in a Changing Climate

Jan 30, 2016

An emerging Zika epidemic and its association with a worrisome birth defect has pushed a formerly obscure infection into the spotlight. Along with other vector-borne diseases such as dengue and West Nile, climate change is probably accelerating the spread of Zika, as mosquitoes also spread to new areas. Dr. Kamran Khan, an infectious disease physician, tells host Steve Curwood about growing global public health concerns and how the virus might be controlled. (published January 29, 2016)

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Around the country, coal-fired power plants are racing to comply with new EPA rules to keep sulfur dioxide and mercury out of the air.

The Homer City Generating Station is one such facility. It rises like a cathedral out of a valley in Indiana County, an hour east of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. You can see its smokestacks and hourglass shaped cooling towers from miles around.

The construction project to install new pollution controls at Homer City is a huge and expensive project. Total cost is estimated at $750 million. What makes the project so costly?

Is There A Better Way To Be Buried?

Jan 29, 2016

Part 3 of the TED Radio Hour episode Rethinking Death

About Jae Rhim Lee's TED Talk

Can we commit our bodies to a cleaner, greener Earth, even after death? Jae Rhim Lee says it's possible by using a special burial suit seeded with pollution-gobbling mushrooms.

About Jae Rhim Lee

What Do You Want To Do Before You Die?

Jan 29, 2016

Part 1 of the TED Radio Hour episode Rethinking Death

About Candy Chang's TED Talk

Artist Candy Chang turned an abandoned house into a giant chalkboard with a provocative prompt: "Before I die I want to ____." Her neighbors' answers grew into a kind of monument to the aspirations of the community.

About Candy Chang

Happy times are here again at the gas pump. The price of oil keeps falling, and Americans are filling their tanks for less than $2 a gallon. The government says cheaper gasoline put an extra $100 billion into drivers' wallets last year alone.

That seems like it would be good for the economy. Turns out, it might not be.

"Is it possible that lower oil prices could actually hurt the U.S. economy?" asks Vipin Arora, an economist with the U.S. Energy Information Administration. "I think the answer could be yes."

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Copyright 2016 Michigan Radio. To see more, visit Michigan Radio.

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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