Environment

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Californians are in shock that after five years of too little water, the problem now is too much.

All eyes in California have been on Oroville Dam, where a broken spillway forced major evacuations. But the damage from winter storms has gone beyond the dam in the northern part of the state. Downstream, rivers are running high and levees have been breaching.

Beyond tax proposals from the Trump administration and the House GOP leadership, there's a long-shot idea that's received recent attention — a carbon tax. Simply put, that means setting a price on carbon to encourage energy efficiency and limit the impact of climate change.

When it comes to climate change, we often think of the cars we drive and the energy we use in our homes and offices. They are, after all, some of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. But what about the toast you ate for breakfast this morning?

A new study published Monday in Nature Plants breaks down the environmental cost of producing a loaf of bread, from wheat field to bakery. It finds that the bulk of the associated greenhouse gas emissions come from just one of the many steps that go into making that loaf: farming.

Wildfires can start when lightning strikes or when someone fails to put out a campfire. New research shows that people start a lot more fires than lightning does — so much so that people are drastically altering wildfire in America.

Fire ecologist Melissa Forder says about 60 percent of fires in national parks are caused by humans: "intentionally set fires, buildings burning and spreading into the forest, smoking, equipment malfunctions and campfires."

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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

A group of conservative elder statesman has proposed an ambitious carbon dividend plan that could entice bipartisan support, pay families $2,000 a month and cut greenhouse gas emissions more than Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan.

Why It's Been So Warm On The East Coast

Feb 26, 2017

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LOURDES GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

This is something that listeners on the East Coast know firsthand. This past week felt less like February and more like the Fourth of July. Temperatures were in the mid-70s here in Washington, D.C.

GRACE SUR: Kind of feels like California.

In the Wilmington neighborhood of Los Angeles, residential streets dead end at oil refineries. Diesel trucks crawl through, carrying containers from nearby ports. Longtime resident Magali Sanchez Hall says the pollution from all that has taken a toll, right on the street where she lives.

"The people that live here, the mother died of cancer," she says, pointing to a modest one-story home. "The people that live here, three people died of cancer."

On Thursday morning, law enforcement entered the Oceti Sakowin camp to do a final sweep before officially shutting it down, ending a months-long protest against the completion of the nearby Dakota Access Pipeline.

The Oceti Sakowin camp was the largest of several temporary camps on the northern edge of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota. Protesters have been living on this land for months, in support of members of the Standing Rock Sioux.

For nearly a century, people have reported mysterious epidemics of permanent paralysis in rural regions of Africa. In 1990, Hans Rosling a Swedish epidemiologist and pop-star statistician, who died of pancreatic cancer earlier this month, linked the malady to cyanide in the staple crop, cassava.

Scientists around the United States are getting ready to do an unprecedented experiment: They plan to march en masse in Washington, D.C., and other cities on April 22, to take a stand for the importance of public policies based on science.

Some researchers predict that this March for Science will release much needed energy and enthusiasm at a time when science is under threat; others worry it will damage science's reputation as an unbiased seeker of truth.

Local law enforcement officers have arrested some people who chose not to evacuate federal land near part of the Dakota Access Pipeline north of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. Most protesters had left earlier. At dusk, police moved back, and said they would not enter the camp at that time.

Flooding in San Jose, Calif., has prompted the evacuation of at least 14,000 residents.

The mandatory evacuation orders began overnight, and will remain in effect for at least another day, reports Peter Jon Shuler of member station KQED.

"Flooding along Coyote Creek came after a series of heavy rainstorms combined with water rushing down the spillway of nearby Anderson Reservoir, which is now filled to capacity," he says. "Emergency crews had to rescue more than 250 people from their homes by boat."

The Dakota Access Pipeline's route takes it over four states and nearly 1,200 miles, from the Bakken oil fields in northwestern North Dakota through South Dakota, Iowa and down to a terminal in Illinois.

But one Missouri River crossing just north of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota has become the focal point of a fight over how the pipeline's route was analyzed and approved by the federal government.

For Michael Childers, ice makes getting around a little easier.

When it's thick enough, the ice on Lake Superior creates a makeshift road between Bayfield, Wis., and Madeline Island, the small resort island where Childers and about 250 others live year-round.

But for the second year in a row, warmer winters have made it necessary for the ferries that usually don't operate during winter to continue to run.

An "atmospheric river" is a colorful term for a sinuous plume of moisture that travels up from the tropics — a single plume can carry more water than the Mississippi River at its mouth. But new research shows that atmospheric rivers are also among the most damaging weather systems around.

The atmospheric rivers that soaked California this winter did some good — they ended an epic drought in the state.

Sitting inside a glass-encased cockpit, two men fiddle with joysticks controlling giant claws outside. They look like they're playing at a vending machine at a mall, where you try to grasp a stuffed animal. But these are engineers. The claws they're manipulating are as big as houses, and they're sifting through hundreds of tons of garbage thrown away by the world's largest consumer class.

Copyright 2017 Classical New England. To see more, visit Classical New England.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

On the day before President Trump's inauguration, the outgoing Obama administration passed a last-minute directive banning the use of lead ammunition and fishing sinkers on federal land.

Recently, the deteriorating health of a bald eagle showed the effects of lead poisoning. Obama's regulation is intended to protect wildlife from exactly that.

But hunters are hoping Trump will soon overturn it.

Last week, an officer from the Pennsylvania Game Commission brought a bald eagle to the Carbon County Environmental Education Center in northeastern Pennsylvania.

Polar bears aren't the only beloved Arctic animal threatened by climate change. Scientists believe reindeer are at risk as a warming world makes their main winter food source disappear.

But reindeer on one Alaskan island are surprising researchers.

And that surprise doesn't just come from the fact that the reindeer are hard to spot.

On St. Paul Island, Lauren Divine of the EcoSystem Conservation Office was not having luck seeing a herd of 400 reindeer, even on this treeless island with tundra as far as the eye can see.

Living by the ocean might sound nice, but in the era of climate change, it's a risky proposition.

As sea levels rise, coastal residents are faced with tough choices: try to fortify their homes, move to higher ground or just pull up roots and leave.

Homeowners in Nahant, Mass., are grappling with these wrenching questions. The community lies on a rocky crescent moon of land in the Atlantic Ocean just north of Boston.

For its entire history, it has been at the mercy of the ocean.

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Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt has been confirmed as the next administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, an agency Pruitt has long criticized.

The Senate approved Pruitt on a 52-46 vote Friday afternoon, with two Democrats — Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota — voting for his nomination. Republican Susan Collins of Maine voted no.

It's been a long week. Take a moment — or even a minute! — to watch something beautiful.

Since going over capacity last week, the water level in the Oroville Dam has dropped, but it's still at a higher level for this time of year than the previous 16 years.

On Jan. 25, President Trump signed an executive order instructing construction to begin on a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Environmentalists and civil rights activists say the proposed wall on the southern border with Mexico is a threat to the environmental rights of the people who live on both sides of the border.

The Environmental Protection Agency has a pretty simple mission in principle: to protect human health and the environment. It's a popular purpose too. Nearly three out of four U.S. adults believe the country "should do whatever it takes to protect the environment," according to a 2016 survey by the Pew Research Center.

Political support for the EPA, though, is less effusive.

The economy in southwestern Pennsylvania has been hit twice, once by the collapse of big mining and steel employers, and again by the environmental destruction that accompanied those industries.

It's a part of the country that voted heavily for Donald Trump.

Ashley Funk grew up an hour outside Pittsburgh. The area feels kind of left behind with buildings named after mining companies and polluted ponds turned fluorescent, alarming colors.

Wind power is the largest source of renewable energy in the United States. But a broad swath of the country has had no large, commercial wind farms — until now. A new one with 104 towers is up and running near Elizabeth City, N.C., where it spans 22,000 acres.

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