Environment

Monarch Butterflies on the Rebound

Mar 5, 2016

As recently as the mid 1990s, a billion or more Monarch butterflies fluttered through US and Canadian meadows in the summer and headed to forests in central Mexico in the winter, but habitat loss, pesticides and climate change have endangered their population. Host Steve Curwood discusses a recent survey indicating a rebound in Monarchs with Tierra Curry, Senior Scientist with the Center for Biological Diversity, and learns what the US and Mexico are doing to ensure that the species continues to recover. (published March 4, 2016)

Monarch Butterflies Are On The Rebound

Mar 5, 2016
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India’s Solar Power Plans Hobbled by US

Mar 4, 2016

In response to a US complaint the World Trade Organization has found that some provisions in India’s National Solar Mission violate international trade rules. Friends of the Earth’s Sam Cossar-Gilbert tells host Steve Curwood how the ruling could undermine India’s pledges to cut global warming emissions under the Paris Climate Agreement and calls into question the extent of the US commitment to help developing nations fight climate change. (published March 4, 2016)

Pollinators In Trouble Worldwide

Mar 4, 2016

One out of every three bites of our food comes to us thanks to pollinators like bees, butterflies, and birds. But a new UN-sponsored report details the threats that pollinators are facing around the world, from pesticides to habitat destruction. One of the authors David Inouye, a biology professor from the University of Maryland, discusses the findings with host Steve Curwood. (published March 4, 2016)

Living on Earth: March 4, 2016

Mar 4, 2016

India’s Solar Power Plans Hobbled by US / Beyond the Headlines / Monarch Butterflies on the Rebound / Pollinators In Trouble Worldwide / The Great California Almond Pollination / Good Bacteria Could Save Amphibians / Sustainable Coffee Keeps the Planet in the Black

Beyond the Headlines

Mar 4, 2016

In this week’s trip beyond the headlines, Peter Dykstra tells host Steve Curwood about the indictment of three executives for the Fukushima Nuclear meltdown, America’s first climate change “refugees” from Louisiana and the shutdown of the last commercial whaling station in the US, 45 years ago. (published March 4, 2016)

Monarch Butterflies on the Rebound

Mar 4, 2016

As recently as the mid 1990s, a billion or more Monarch butterflies fluttered through US and Canadian meadows in the summer and headed to forests in central Mexico in the winter, but habitat loss, pesticides and climate change have endangered their population. Host Steve Curwood discusses a recent survey indicating a rebound in Monarchs with Tierra Curry, Senior Scientist with the Center for Biological Diversity, and learns what the US and Mexico are doing to ensure that the species continues to recover. (published March 4, 2016)

Anyone looking for a little peace and quiet on this Earth might think they'd find some at the bottom of the ocean. They'd be wrong. And so were researchers who didn't expect to hear much when they dropped a microphone 6 miles down into the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean.

For the past several years, a scientist in Brookings, S.D., has been engaged in an escalating struggle with his employer, the USDA's Agricultural Research Service. The scientist, Jonathan Lundgren, says that he has been persecuted because his research points out problems — including harm to bees — with a popular class of pesticides called neonicotinoids.

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

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

A few miles outside Glacier National Park in northwest Montana is land known as the Badger-Two Medicine, the ancestral home of the Blackfeet tribe.

But it's also the site of 18 oil and gas development leases, and an energy company is heading to federal court March 10 to fight for the right to drill there after decades of delay.

Blackfeet tribal historian John Murray doesn't want the drilling to begin.

Flint, Mich., isn't the only American city with a lead problem. Though the health crisis in Flint has highlighted the use of lead in water pipes, author David Rosner tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross that lead, which is a neurotoxin, can be found throughout the U.S. on walls, in soil and in the air.

"The problem with lead is that it's now really everywhere, and we've created a terribly toxic environment in all sorts of ways," he says.

Oregon's biggest power companies will have 14 years to wean themselves from coal, under a new bill approved by lawmakers Wednesday. The measure has the support of Gov. Kate Brown — and the state's two largest electric companies.

Several environmental groups have backed the bill, which calls for requiring large utilities to ensure that at least 50 percent of their power comes from renewable sources by 2040.

Backing a lower court's decision that extends a grace period for people displaced by a huge natural gas leak, an appeals court says Southern California Gas Co. should pay for temporary housing for an additional 30 days, rather than the eight-day period the company had planned.

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

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

If you've stopped for gas lately, you've probably noticed a price jump.

A week ago, the national average for a gallon of regular gas was around $1.70. Now it's about $1.80, according to GasBuddy.com, which tracks prices.

So rising gas prices must reflect shrinking oil supplies, right?

Nope.

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

Transcript

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

When a whooping crane stands up, you notice. At 5 feet in height, it's America's tallest bird. Its wingspan is more than 7 feet, its body snowy white, its wingtips jet black.

By the 1940s, the birds had nearly gone extinct. Biologists have worked hard to bring them back, by breeding whoopers in captivity and releasing them in the wild. There are now several small wild populations in the U.S.

A bright red tablecloth adds a pop of color to Ashara Manns' kitchen at her home in Flint, Mich.

The substitute teacher is at the stove, where she pours two bottles of water into a stockpot before dumping in big bags of mixed greens.

"Normally, I would rinse these with the running water, so hopefully they're still safe," Manns says.

Flint residents have been told not to drink or cook with the city's lead-tainted tap water, so Manns and her husband, Bennie, rely on bottled water to prepare their meals.

Chances are, you've never heard of flubendiamide. It's not among the most toxic insecticides, and it's not among the widely used chemicals, either. In recent years, it has been used on about a quarter of the nation's tobacco and 14 percent of almonds, peppers and watermelons.

Here's an exercise in deductive logic, with implications for our food supply.

Fact: Insects such as bees and butterflies are helpful, and sometimes essential, for producing much of our food, including a majority of our fruits, vegetables and nuts.

While a caffeinated workforce is generally a happy one, it may not be an efficient one — at least, not from a planetary point of view, according to the German city of Hamburg. As part of a wider effort to reduce waste and energy consumption, Hamburg has banned the use of coffee pods in government-run buildings, offices and institutions like schools and universities.

Finding success in science requires smarts, determination — and sometimes a bit of luck. NPR's Skunk Bear created the Golden Mole Award For Accidental Brilliance to celebrate that last part.

"I have taken a lot of pictures because I've been up here for a long time," NASA astronaut Scott Kelly said during a recent press conference from the International Space Station. "I've definitely taken some good ones and some memorable ones."

When he returns to Earth on Tuesday evening, Kelly will have spent 340 days aboard the ISS. While that's not quite a year, it's still a record for an American astronaut, and one of the longest-lasting spaceflights ever.

For decades massive, open-pit coal mines have been feeding the country's appetite for energy. Once coal companies are done with the land, they're supposed to restore it. But as America's coal industry declines, it may not have the funding to keep its cleanup promises.

Denmark is once again distinguishing itself in the race against food waste — this time, with a supermarket hawking items once destined for the trash bin.

Those items might include treats for a holiday that happened last week, a ripped box of cornflakes, plain white rice mislabeled as basmati, or anything nearing its expiration date. In other words, perfectly edible items that are nonetheless considered unfit for sale by the retailers and manufacturers who donate them.

Every winter, a small fleet of commercial fishing boats sets gillnets in the San Francisco Bay. Their target: Pacific herring, which enter the estuary in huge numbers to spawn and are easily caught by the millions. The fishermen fill their holds with herring just yards from the waterfront of downtown San Francisco, where many restaurants serve fresh, locally caught seafood.

The Zika virus is a health threat not just to Latin America, but also to parts of the U.S. It's already a problem in Puerto Rico where there are nearly 120 cases so far, including five pregnant women. That's a concern, because Zika may be involved in causing birth defects.

BirdNote: Early Bird Gets the Nesting Site

Feb 27, 2016

Competition for nesting sites is fierce as migrating birds return north for the summer months, but as BirdNote’s Michael Stein reports, clever bluebirds and the tree swallows beat the rush—staking their claim before others have a chance. (published February 26, 2016)

Microbes Fight Fungal Disease in Frogs

Feb 27, 2016

Fighting the fungal diseases that have killed millions of frogs and other amphibians is a top priority, and new research suggests natural soil bacteria might provide protection. UMass Boston biology professor Doug Woodhams tells Living on Earth’s Helen Palmer how they work. (published February 26, 2016)

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