Beyond the Headlines

Feb 27, 2016

In this week’s trip beyond the headlines, Peter Dykstra tells host Steve Curwood about unexpected health effects linked to breathing Beijing’s dirty air and how exposure to a toxin in the sea ruined this year’s Dungeness crab season. It also poisoned California’s seabirds years ago, inspiring a famous Alfred Hitchcock film. Traveling back in environmental politics, they consider how ignorance related to environmental contamination of food contributed to the Salem witchhunt. (published February 26, 2016)

Drought and African Wildlife

Feb 27, 2016

This year's El Niño that’s causing extreme droughts in parts of the world is causing skyrocketing food prices in southern Africa. But nature has also used drought through the ages to adjust the balances among prey and predators. Bobby Bascomb reports from Johannesburg, South Africa. . (published February 26, 2016)

Living on Earth: February 26, 2016

Feb 27, 2016

El Niño Brings Hunger Emergency / Drought and African Wildlife / U.S. Climate-Changing Emissions Drastically Underestimated / Proposed Rules to Curb Methane Leaks / BirdNote: Early Bird Gets the Nesting Site / Beyond the Headlines / Fungal Diseases Surge, Threatening Species Around the World / Microbes Fight Fungal Disease in Frogs

El Niño Brings Hunger Emergency

Feb 27, 2016

Drought associated with El Niño is hammering subsistence farmers in Asia, Latin America and much of Africa, and creating a hunger emergency for 60 million people. Host Steve Curwood speaks with Nahuel Arenas of Oxfam America about the unfolding humanitarian crisis. (published February 26, 2016)

A major global assessment of pollinators is raising concerns about the future of the planet's food supply.

A U.N.-sponsored report drawing on about 3,000 scientific papers concludes that about 40 percent of invertebrate pollinator species (such as bees and butterflies) are facing extinction. Vertebrate pollinators (such as bats and birds) are somewhat better off by comparison — 16 percent are threatened with extinction, "with a trend towards more extinctions," the researchers say.

Meat has a greater impact on the environment than pretty much any other food we eat. As The Salt has reported, billions of cows, pigs, sheep and poultry we raise as livestock guzzle massive quantities of water and generate at least 10 percent of the total greenhouse gases attributed to human activity.

But scientists say we've been slow to acknowledge yet another side effect of our taste for meat: nitrogen pollution.

Author Isaac Asimov once wrote, "The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but, 'That's funny ... ' "

Good scientists search for the significance of surprises, coincidences and mistakes. With a little curiosity and perseverance, they can turn unexpected incidents into new insights.

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



Death Valley, Calif., one of the hottest places in the world, is in bloom with more than 20 species of colorful desert wildflowers.

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



Here's an update on the destruction of the Amazon rain forest. Things did not look good last fall when an NPR team, including Lourdes Garcia-Navarro, had a look around.


A new study suggests that sea levels are rising at an unprecedented rate and that the problem will continue well into this century.

"Sea level rise in the 20th century was truly extraordinary by historical standards," says Bob Kopp, an associate professor of Earth and planetary sciences at Rutgers University, and who is lead author on the study, which appears in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Should You Leave Your Lights On At Night? It Depends

Feb 23, 2016

You're about to go to bed. You flip off the light switch. It's pitch dark. As you stumble your way through the living room, you glance at your neighbor's house where light is peeking through the windows.

You stop in your tracks and wonder: Would a burglar choose to break into your dark house or your neighbor's brightly lit house?

Scouring through online forums will give you two contradictory answers: Leave your lights on, and burglars will think someone is home; turn your lights off, then burglars won't be able to see what they're doing.

Amid low gas prices and a stronger economy, Americans are driving more than ever before, with new federal government figures showing traffic volumes are at an all-time high.

However, there is a downside to this resurgence of driving: increased traffic congestion and pollution.

New data from the Federal Highway Administration show that Americans drove a record 3.15 trillion vehicle miles last year — that's the equivalent of traveling from Earth to Pluto and back 337 times.

Copyright 2016 Wyoming Public Radio Network. To see more, visit Wyoming Public Radio Network.


You might expect the middle of the Pacific Ocean to be a pretty quiet place, especially a thousand feet down. But it turns out that huge parts of the ocean are humming.

Scientists have puzzled over the source of the sound for several years. Now, a marine biologist reporting Monday at a meeting of ocean scientists in New Orleans says she thinks her team may have figured it out.

Some $25 billion is headed to the five Gulf states that were devastated in the 2010 BP oil disaster. Just a fraction of the government fines and court settlements have been paid — but not all of it will end up repairing the damaged ecosystem.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says last month was the warmest January on record. That sets off alarm bells for climate scientists, but for the average person living in a northern climate, it might not sound so bad.

That's what many people are saying these days in Russia, where the expected icy winter has failed to materialize this year – to widespread joy. Of course, any climate scientist will tell you that an unusually warm month — or even a whole warm winter — doesn't mean much. It's the long-term trend that counts.

Wolf Species Have "Howling Dialects"

Feb 20, 2016

Members of the wolf family howl, some like coyotes in shorter varied bursts, others like the European grey wolf in a long tonal call. Now, University of Cambridge researchers have found that different types of howls and their preference for use are identifiable as a dialects. Study author Arik Kershenbaum speaks with host Steve Curwood about the finding and how this could be used for management of wolves. (published February 19, 2016)

Living on Earth: February 19, 2016

Feb 20, 2016

Obama Calls For New Oil Tax / Beyond the Headlines / Converting the Economy to Renewable Energy Without Big Batteries / Race and Reclaiming a Refuge / BirdNote: The Feathers that Carry Water / Killing Wolves in British Columbia / What a Wolf's Howl Says / Wolf Species Have "Howling Dialects"

Beyond the Headlines

Feb 20, 2016

In this week’s trip beyond the headlines, Peter Dykstra tells host Steve Curwood about Aliso Canyon’s large greenhouse gas leaks and North Carolina’s odd concern over future waste from solar panels, before reflecting on the Boss Hog investigative project on North Carolina’s hog waste problem. (published February 19, 2016)

Race and Reclaiming a Refuge

Feb 20, 2016

In 1979, a group of unarmed black protesters briefly occupied Georgia’s Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge in an effort to rebuild a community displaced decades earlier. Reporter Joseph Rose of the Oregonian magazine tells host Steve Curwood how that occupation contrasts with the recent standoff involving white ranchers in Oregon’s Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. (published February 19, 2016)

What a Wolf's Howl Says

Feb 20, 2016

When a wolf howls in Yellowstone’s snowy landscape, a howling chorus responds. But in the spring, the wolves grow quieter as they raise pups. Now researchers understand how wolf calls change with the seasons, and hope to answer the tougher question of what the howls actually mean. The park’s reporter-in-residence, Jennifer Jerrett, has the story. (published February 19, 2016)

Florida Bay Relapse Threatens Ecosystem

Feb 20, 2016
Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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



Honey, Who Shrank The Alligators?

Feb 19, 2016

In the Florida Everglades, the alligators are in trouble.

The reptiles are scrawny, weighing 80 percent of what they should. The alligators grow more slowly, reproduce less and die younger. Researchers are trying to figure out why this iconic species is in decline — and what it means for the Everglades.

When people talk about Florida's Everglades, they often use superlatives: It's the largest protected wilderness east of the Mississippi River, and it's the biggest subtropical wetland in North America.

But it is also the site of a joint federal-state plan that is the largest ecosystem restoration effort ever attempted — one that is beginning to pay off after decades of work.

A leaking natural gas storage well on the outskirts of Los Angeles has been permanently sealed and shut down, after spewing methane into the atmosphere for months, California officials say.

What caused the collapse of Easter Island, widely believed to be the world's most isolated inhabited place, hundreds of years ago? The question is a matter of hot debate.

Copyright 2016 KUT-FM. To see more, visit KUT-FM.