Environment

Since President Trump announced his decision to pull out of the Paris climate accord, hundreds of U.S. mayors have said they're committed to significantly cutting their cities' carbon emissions. More than 30 cities, including Atlanta and San Diego, have declared 100 percent renewable energy goals in the coming decades.

But is that really possible?

The story of Aspen's path to 100 percent renewable electricity shows it's complicated.

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An appeals court in Washington, D.C., has blocked an attempt by the Environmental Protection Agency to delay Obama-era methane regulations, rejecting claims by the EPA that the oil and gas industry wasn't allowed to comment on the rules.

The agency could choose to rewrite the rules, but it overstepped in trying to delay them for years, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit decided.

Natural disasters in the United States may cause an increase in poverty and a widening economic gap between rich and poor, according to a new study published in Scientific American.

The magazine looks at events in the United States from 1920 to 2010 and finds that major natural disasters such as earthquakes, floods and hurricanes resulted on average in a 1-percentage-point increase in poverty in affected areas.

The world's best-known living physicist, Stephen Hawking, says that President Trump's decision to pull out of the Paris climate change accord could lead humanity to a tipping point, "turning the Earth into Venus."

The Cambridge professor and renowned cosmologist made the remarks in an interview with the BBC that aired Sunday.

"Drain the swamp" may be a popular political slogan, but it doesn't always work so well in nature.

Two years ago, near the end of California's devastating drought, Tom Moore stood on the banks of the depleted Kern River in Southern California and looked out at the slow-moving waters dejectedly.

"We call that a creek," he said of the mighty Kern.

Moore is the owner of Sierra South, a whitewater recreation company in Kernville, Calif. And with the drought, there wasn't much in the way of whitewater.

Oh, how things change.

Small cradles of chrysanthemums, illuminated by a single candle, flicker in the moonlight, bobbing along the fast-flowing Ganges River.

They are offerings. For hundreds of millions of Hindus around the world, the river is the goddess Ganga, or Mother Ganga, who descended to Earth from her home in the Milky Way.

Devotees murmur prayers and chant her praises in riverside cities along their ghats, the cement embankments that lead into the river.

Wild horses and cattle graze on the marshy banks of southern Spain's mighty Guadalquivir River.

From the mouth of this river, Christopher Columbus set off for the New World.

But since then, the river has gotten more salty. As fresh water is extracted for agriculture, drought — made more frequent by climate change — means less rainfall replaces it. Tides send salt water farther upriver.

Inside a cement building straddling part of the river, pumps suck 800 gallons out of the Guadalquivir per second — diverting it to irrigation canals.

Updated at 4:02 p.m. ET on Aug. 30: The Northern Cheyenne tribe, Sierra Club, Center for Biological Diversity and National Parks Conservation Association have filed their lawsuit against the secretary of the interior and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, among others. Read their full complaint here.

In the global debate over neonicotinoid pesticides, the company that makes most of them has relied on one primary argument to defend its product: The evidence that these chemicals, commonly called "neonics," are harmful to bees has been gathered in artificial conditions, force-feeding bees in the laboratory, rather than in the real world of farm fields.

Climate scientists agree that this century is getting much warmer and that such warming will likely bring economic pain to the U.S., but economists aren't sure how much. Now, a team of scientists and economists, writing in the upcoming issue of the journal Science, says it can at least tell which parts of the country are likely to suffer the most.

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Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper took an unusual path to politics. A former geologist and beer brewer, he’s now a leading voice on reviving local economies.

Generations have come and gone under its branches. Its leaves soaked up rays from the sun that shone on the American Colonies. But after an estimated 325 years of life, an oak tree in a residential neighborhood in Washington, D.C., has now fallen victim to time.

Dana Ju, whose young family had been the latest to play under the tree's broad canopy on Washington's Floral Street, says they're "very sad about the tree but feel very fortunate we were not inside our home when it fell."

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The height of the sex abuse crisis in the Catholic Church was almost 20 years ago, and here we are again today with a very high-profile charge.

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The air Americans breathe has been getting cleaner for decades.

But air pollution is still killing thousands in the U.S. every year, even at the levels allowed by the Environmental Protection Agency, according to a study out Wednesday.

Drive east from Washington and eventually you run smack into the middle of the Chesapeake Bay, the massive estuary that stretches from the mouth of the Susquehanna River at Maryland's northern tip and empties into the Atlantic 200 miles away near Norfolk, Va.

The Chesapeake is home to oysters, clams, and famous Maryland blue crab.

It's the largest estuary in the United States.

Seventy-one million. That's the number of bees Max Nikolaychuk tends in the rolling hills east of Fresno, Calif. Each is worth a fraction of a cent, but together, they make up a large part of his livelihood.

Nikolaychuk makes most of his money during almond pollination season, renting out the bees to California's almond orchards. This year, a thief stole four stacks of his hives.

"He knew about the bees, because he went through every bee colony I had and only took the good ones," he says. "But, you know, the bee yards — I don't have no security there, no fences."

The historic giant sequoia in Boise, Idaho, towers some 10 stories tall. At more than a century old, it also weighs a hefty 800,000 pounds and measures roughly 20 feet around at its base. Oh, and it had to move a few city blocks.

All of which raised a very good question: How the heck was that going to happen?

Ernest Littlebird put his grill out on the side of Route 39 in Lame Deer, Mont., under the shade of a tree and started grilling hamburgers.

"Come get a dollar burger," he says. "Good meal, you know, something to put in the belly at least."

Littlebird is an entrepreneur. This is his second year selling dollar hamburgers out of his minivan when he couldn't find other work. Jobs are scarce here on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation and so is money.

But Littlebird thinks they don't have to be.

In a major property rights decision, the U.S. Supreme Court has delivered a decisive victory to state and local governments and environmental groups.

By a 5-to-3 vote, the justices made it much harder for property owners to get compensation from the government when zoning regulations restrict the use of just part of landowners' property.

The type of siding or "cladding" used on the Grenfell Tower in London — and suspected of feeding the massive fire that killed dozens of residents — is not allowed on the exterior of tall buildings across most of the U.S.

But a few states and the District of Columbia have relaxed building codes in recent years and have started to permit the use of some cladding containing components that don't pass a fire test.

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On a typical block in Hong Kong, thousands of people live on top of each other. Pol Fàbrega thinks about all these people as he looks up at the towering high rises above the streets. And then he thinks about all that space above all these people.

"The square footage here is incredibly expensive," says Fàbrega, staring upwards. "But yet, if you look at Hong Kong from above, it's full of empty rooftops."

It is, he says, a big opportunity for growth.

In late May on the floor of a drilling rig on Alaska's northernmost edge, oil workers were dwarfed by giant pieces of machinery. They were slowly pushing pipe thousands of feet below the tundra to tap one of the biggest oil fields in North America: Prudhoe Bay.

Arkansas's pesticide regulators have stepped into the middle of an epic battle between weeds and chemicals, which has now morphed into a battle between farmers. Hundreds of farmers say their crops have been damaged by a weedkiller that was sprayed on neighboring fields. Today, the Arkansas Plant Board voted to impose an unprecedented ban on that chemical.

A live Asian carp — an invasive fish so threatening to local U.S. ecosystems that officials have struggled to keep it out of the Great Lakes — has been caught 9 miles from Lake Michigan, beyond a system of underwater electric barriers.

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