Environment

The Salt
5:30 pm
Thu July 24, 2014

The Weird, Underappreciated World Of Plastic Packaging

Food companies spend a lot of time and resources coming up with the perfect plastic packaging to keep their products fresh.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri July 25, 2014 3:51 pm

Like it or not, plastic packaging has become an ingrained part of the food system.

While it's clearly wasteful to buy salad, sandwiches and chips encased in plastic and then promptly throw that plastic away, we take for granted how it keeps so much of what we eat fresh and portable.

And behind many of those packages that allow us to eat on the go or savor perishable cookies or fish imported from the other side of the globe is a whole lot of science and innovation.

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Energy
4:08 pm
Wed July 23, 2014

Nuclear Plant May Be In Hot Water Over Its Cooling System

Originally published on Wed July 23, 2014 10:36 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

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Shots - Health News
2:32 pm
Wed July 23, 2014

Does Your Dog Feel Jealous, Or Is That A Purely Human Flaw?

Oh, I don't wanna share you with nothing else, I gotta have you to myself.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Wed July 30, 2014 10:47 am

When you kiss your husband, does your dog try to get your attention? And does that mean that your dog feels jealous? Threatened? Or are we just imagining that?

Many if not all dog owners are sure that their pets have feelings. And we've known for a while that animals exhibit behaviors that look like jealousy, guilt and shame. But it's hard to find out what animals are really feeling. And researchers say that understanding that could give us valuable insights into human emotions, too.

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Environment
6:51 pm
Tue July 22, 2014

Maine City Council Votes To Keep Tar Sands Out Of Its Port

The oil tanker HS Electra unloads oil from the North Sea at the Portland Pipe Line facility in South Portland, Maine, in 2013.
John Ewing Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

Originally published on Wed July 23, 2014 12:06 pm

South Portland, Maine, is known as the place where Liberty ships were built by tens of thousands of workers during World War II. Now, the city's waterfront is home to an oil terminal and the beginning of a 236-mile-long pipeline.

For more than 70 years, the Portland Montreal Pipeline Corp. has pumped crude oil up through the pipeline, across Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, to be refined in Montreal.

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The Two-Way
4:49 pm
Tue July 22, 2014

University Would Study Health Issues In Polluted New York Town

A view of the Tonawanda Coke plant in Tonawanda, N.Y., which was found to have emitted carcinogens at levels many times higher than the state's limit.
John W. Poole NPR

Originally published on Tue July 22, 2014 6:13 pm

Residents of an upstate New York town who've long associated their illnesses with the air they breathe may finally get some answers about the health effects of living next to a toxic polluter.

The town of Tonawanda lies in the shadow of Tonawanda Coke Corp., whose ovens heat coal into material used for the iron and steel industries, and release toxic chemicals into the air.

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Environment
4:45 am
Tue July 22, 2014

'Our Birds': Migratory Journeys Converge In Baltimore Gardens

Members of the Bird Ambassadors program painted and planted a broken canoe at a Baltimore charter school in November. The canoe was filled with species native to Maryland, providing food and habitat for local birds.
Susie Creamer Courtesy of Patterson Park Audubon Center

Originally published on Tue July 22, 2014 1:13 pm

A couple of times a month, a group of migrant women and their children gather to plant shrubs and flowers in Baltimore's expansive Patterson Park.

The gardens feed and shelter migratory birds as part of the Patterson Park Audubon Center's Bird Ambassadors program.

Neotropical birds like the black-throated blue warbler and the Baltimore oriole migrate from the East Coast down to places like Mexico and Central America for the winter, says Susie Creamer, director of urban education and conservation at the center.

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Around the Nation
7:00 pm
Sun July 20, 2014

Despite California's Drought, Taps Still Flowing In LA County

A sign over a highway in Glendale, Calif., warned motorists in February to save water in response to the state's severe drought. But a study released earlier this week showed residents in the southern coastal part of the state used more water this spring than they did last year.
Robyn Beck AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon July 21, 2014 11:52 am

This January, after the driest calendar year in California history, Gov. Jerry Brown declared a drought emergency. He called on residents to reduce their water intake by 20 percent.

But downtown Los Angeles doesn't look like a city devastated by the state's worst drought in decades. The city is green with landscaping, and fountains are running. People still water their lawns, wash their cars and fill their pools.

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Around the Nation
5:37 am
Fri July 18, 2014

Calif. Officials Debate How To Get Residents To Cut Water Use

Originally published on Fri July 18, 2014 8:00 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

In California, residents are being urged to conserve water as the state suffers from a historic drought. But a new report says the state's water use has actually gone up over the last year. California enacted statewide water restrictions this week. Those include fines of up to $500 a day. Now, to find out what actually gets people to cut their water use, NPR's Sam Sanders hit the streets of L.A.

SAM SANDERS, BYLINE: Rick Silva has just pulled up on a violator.

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The Two-Way
10:07 am
Thu July 17, 2014

Australia Repeals An Unpopular Tax On Carbon Emissions

An oil refinery is pictured in the southern Sydney suburb of Kurnell earlier this week. Australia's Senate voted on Thursday to scrap the country's carbon tax and plans for emissions trading — a major victory for conservative Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
Jason Reed Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Thu July 17, 2014 10:47 am

Australia became the first country in the world to repeal a carbon tax on the nation's worst greenhouse gas polluters, as Prime Minister Tony Abbott made good on a campaign promise to get rid of the unpopular law.

The Senate voted 39 to 32 to eliminate the tax enacted by the previous center-left government two years ago. The law imposed the equivalent of a $22.60 tax per metric ton of carbon dioxide emissions on about 350 of the nation's worst polluters.

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Environment
6:54 am
Thu July 17, 2014

Google Experiments With Mapping Climate Change

Originally published on Thu July 17, 2014 11:09 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Google is trying out one way of mapping climate change. It has outfitted a few of its Street View cars with special sensors to measure methane. WNYC's Robert Lewis road the streets of Manhattan to see how Google is mapping pollution across the country.

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The Two-Way
11:58 am
Wed July 16, 2014

A Huge New Crater Is Found In Siberia, And The Theories Fly

Aerial footage posted online shows a large crater in northern Siberia, in an area called "the end of the world."
YouTube

Originally published on Wed July 16, 2014 12:46 pm

The area of Russia is said to be called, ominously enough, the end of the world. And that's where researchers are headed this week, to investigate a large crater whose appearance reportedly caught scientists by surprise. The crater is estimated at 262 feet wide and is in the northern Siberian area of Yamal.

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The Two-Way
11:17 pm
Tue July 15, 2014

California Approves $500 Fines For Residential Water-Wasters

Sprinklers water a Sacramento, Calif. lawn Tuesday morning.
Rich Pedroncelli AP

Originally published on Wed July 16, 2014 11:15 am

Californians who waste water will have to pay up to $500 a day for their extravagance under new restrictions approved Tuesday by the State Water Resources Control Board.

The move comes after the board concluded that voluntary conservation measures have failed to achieve the 20 percent reduction in water use that Gov. Jerry Brown was hoping for, reports The Associated Press.

In fact, a survey by the board showed a 1 percent increase in water use in May compared to the same month a year ago.

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Business
6:30 am
Tue July 15, 2014

Coal-Burning Power Plant To Give New Life To Texas Oil Field

Originally published on Thu July 17, 2014 11:15 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

There is a coal-burning power plant outside of Houston that ranks among the nation's biggest emitters of carbon dioxide. With pressure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the plant is hoping to capture that CO2 and use it to boost energy production in an old oilfield. Houston Public Media's Andrew Schneider reports.

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Environment
5:43 am
Tue July 15, 2014

Underwater Meadows Might Serve As Antacid For Acid Seas

UC Santa Barbara's Jay Lunden and Andrew Brinkman, a summer intern for NOAA, prepare to deploy an instrument that measures temperature and salinity throughout the water column, and collects water samples.
Umihiko Hoshijima UCSB

Originally published on Tue July 15, 2014 7:56 pm

The world's oceans are changing — chemically changing. As people put more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, the oceans absorb more of it, and that's making the water more acidic.

The effects are subtle in most places, but scientists say that if this continues, it could be a disaster for marine life.

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Goats and Soda
10:38 am
Mon July 14, 2014

Facing A Toxic Dump In South Africa, He Cleaned Up

Desmond D'Sa stands by the landfill he helped shut down in Durban.
Goldman Environmental Prize

Originally published on Mon July 14, 2014 3:07 pm

Desmond D'Sa helped shut down a toxic landfill.

The landfill was located in South Durban — an industrialized city teeming with petrochemical plants, paper mills and oil refineries. D'Sa and his family had been forcibly relocated to the area by the apartheid government in the 1970s, together with thousands of other Indian and black South Africans. The apartheid government was notorious for forcing nonwhite laborers to live in the industrial areas where they worked.

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Around the Nation
9:52 am
Sun July 13, 2014

Why A Texas City May Ban Fracking

Originally published on Sun July 13, 2014 1:12 pm

Transcript

ARUN RATH, HOST:

The town of Denton, Texas is embroiled in a debate over fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, to extract natural gas. Fracking has brought a steady stream of revenue to Denton for years, but this Tuesday, the Denton city council will consider banning fracking because of environmental concerns. For more, I spoke with Abrahm Lustgarten. He's an environmental reporter for ProPublica, and he explained what some residents of Denton are worried about.

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Krulwich Wonders...
5:30 am
Sun July 13, 2014

The Most Astonishing Wave-Tracking Experiment Ever

Sean Gallup Getty Images

Originally published on Mon July 14, 2014 9:58 am

I'm standing on a beach and I see, a few hundred yards out, a mound of water heading right at me. It's not a wave, not yet, but a swollen patch of ocean, like the top of a moving beach ball, what sailors call a "swell." As it gets closer, its bottom hits the rising shore below, forcing the water up, then over, sending it tumbling onto the beach, a tongue of foam coming right up to my toes — and that's when I look down, as the wave melts into the sand and I say,

"Hi, I'm from New York. But what about you? Where are you from?"

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Environment
4:54 pm
Sat July 12, 2014

Well, I'll Be Un-Dammed: Colorado River (Briefly) Reached The Sea

Twelve hours after they had halted at the river's end, the team woke up to see that the previous night's small stream had become a river. Two weeks after this photo was taken, the leading edge of the water reached the estuary that was the river's final destination.
Courtesy Fred Phillips

Originally published on Sun July 13, 2014 11:20 am

For a few weeks this spring, the Colorado River flowed all the way to the sea for the first time in a half a century. And during that window of opportunity, writer Rowan Jacobsen took the paddleboarding trip of a lifetime.

The river starts in the Rocky Mountains, and for more than 1,400 miles, it wends its way south. Along the way it's dammed and diverted dozens of times, to cities and fields all over the American West. Tens of millions of people depend on the river as a water source.

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The Two-Way
3:11 pm
Fri July 11, 2014

WATCH: Giant Undulating Anchovy School

A massive school of anchovies off La Jolla, filmed on Tuesday.
Scripps Institution of Oceanography — UC San Diego

Originally published on Fri July 11, 2014 3:35 pm

It's the biggest aggregation of anchovies seen in near-shore waters in three decades, according to scientists at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego.

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All Tech Considered
4:54 pm
Wed July 9, 2014

A User-Friendly Gardening System For The Plant-Challenged

SproutsIO Inc. allows people to easily grow fresh produce inside a home or office. The system is a spinoff of research done at the MIT Media Lab.
SproutsIO Inc.

Originally published on Fri July 11, 2014 10:07 am

Don't have a green thumb but seeking the therapeutic nature of gardening? Want the convenience and satisfaction of growing your own produce at home? Not to worry: All you need is an electrical outlet, a flat surface and some water.

Meet SproutsIO Inc., a "plug-and-play" user-friendly microfarming appliance for people to easily grow fresh fruits and veggies inside their home or office.

Here's how it works:

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The Salt
2:37 pm
Wed July 9, 2014

Biologist Says Promoting Diversity Is Key To 'Keeping The Bees'

The decline of honeybees has been attributed to a variety of causes, from nasty parasites to the stress of being transported from state to state to feed on various crops in need of pollination.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Wed July 9, 2014 3:32 pm

Every year, more than half of the honeybee hives in the United States are taken to California to pollinate the state's almond crop.

Biologist Laurence Packer says this illustrates both our dependence on honeybees to pollinate many plants people rely on for food and the devastating decline in the domestic honeybee population in recent years.

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Science
4:13 pm
Tue July 8, 2014

Plants Know The Rhythm Of The Caterpillar's Creep

Originally published on Tue July 8, 2014 6:15 pm

According to new research, plants can actually hear the sounds of insects chewing. A University of Missouri study is the first work to report that plants can recognize the sound of a predator through the vibrations of their leaves. To learn more, Robert Siegel speaks with Heidi Appel, senior research scientist in the Bond Life Sciences Center at the University of Missouri.

Animals
7:55 am
Sun July 6, 2014

Study Shows Penguins Endangered By Waning Antarctic Ice

Originally published on Sun July 6, 2014 12:50 pm

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

You're listening to WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. A study published in the journal "Nature Climate Change" says, the population of Emperor penguins in Antarctica is in danger. Hal Caswell is a scientist emeritus at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. He co-authored the report. And he joins us from Amsterdam. Welcome.

HAL CASWELL: Thank you.

WERTHEIMER: You've been studying the Emperor penguin population in Antarctica. What's happening to them?

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Krulwich Wonders...
7:03 am
Sun July 6, 2014

Tell Me, Wave, Where Did You Come From? Who Made You?

Robert Krulwich NPR

Originally published on Mon July 7, 2014 12:27 pm

"I'm sitting next to a swimming pool and somebody dives in," says the great physicist Richard Feynman in a conversation recorded in 1983. Other people jump in as well.

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Parallels
3:33 am
Fri July 4, 2014

Damming The Mekong River: Economic Boon Or Environmental Mistake?

Nearly everyone fishes for a living on Laos' Don Sadam Island, near the site of the controversial Don Sahang dam. Locals and environmentalists alike are worried about the dam's effects on fish migration.
Michael Sullivan NPR

Originally published on Fri July 4, 2014 10:50 am

It's 9 a.m. and the Mekong River at this hour is still peaceful: just a few fishermen casting nets into a large pool below the area called Si Phan Don, or "4,000 islands."

It's a popular tourist destination in Laos, where Southeast Asia's most storied river splits into nearly a dozen channels before coming together again below the islands of Si Phan Don, for the journey to Cambodia, Vietnam and the South China Sea. Cambodia is on my left, Laos to the right.

Suddenly, my guide points and says, "There!"

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Environment
4:09 pm
Thu July 3, 2014

Study: Surge In Okla. Quakes Can Be Traced To Drilling Operations

Originally published on Thu July 3, 2014 6:26 pm

StateImpact Oklahoma's Joe Wertz reports on a new study that links a "swarm" of earthquakes to four specific, high-volume oil and gas industry disposal wells. It's one of several reports that show oil and gas activity could be causing a rise in earthquake activity.

Around the Nation
5:31 pm
Wed July 2, 2014

Florida County Goes To Court Over 'Acid Fracking' Near Everglades

Originally published on Wed July 2, 2014 7:20 pm

In southwest Florida, county officials are fighting the state over a new oil drilling process that's known by many different names: acidification, acidizing, acid stimulation and acid fracking.

Collier County has charged that state regulators have been lax in their oversight of the drilling, jeopardizing public health and the environment.

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Krulwich Wonders...
7:03 am
Wed July 2, 2014

Watch It Swallow An Entire Tree In Seconds

Research News
5:05 am
Wed July 2, 2014

Living 63 Feet Underwater Helps Cousteau Team Conduct Experiments

Originally published on Wed July 2, 2014 2:03 pm

Fabien Cousteau and a crew of scientists and explorers have spent the past 31 days underwater in the Aquarius Reef Base off the coast of Florida. David Greene talks to Cousteau about the experience.

Space
5:09 am
Tue July 1, 2014

Carbon Observatory To Monitor Greenhouse Gas From Space

Originally published on Tue July 1, 2014 6:32 am

NASA is preparing to launch a new satellite to observe carbon dioxide from space. The satellite could revolutionize our understanding of where this greenhouse gas comes from and where it goes.

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