Environment

The Two-Way
6:05 pm
Thu May 23, 2013

Descending Into The Mariana Trench: James Cameron's Odyssey

James Cameron traveled to the bottom of the Mariana Trench last year — a depth of nearly seven miles.
Courtesy of Mark Thiessen/National Geographic

Originally published on Fri May 24, 2013 8:44 am

At nearly seven miles below the water's surface, the Mariana Trench is the deepest spot in Earth's oceans. And the site north of Guam is where director and explorer James Cameron recently fulfilled a longtime goal of reaching the bottom in a manned craft.

For the dive, Cameron designed a 24-foot submersible vehicle, the Deepsea Challenger — "this kind of long, green torpedo that moves vertically through the water," as he tells All Things Considered's Melissa Block. Cameron was able to watch his descent, he says, through a window that was about 9-1/2 inches thick.

Read more
It's All Politics
4:38 am
Thu May 23, 2013

Obama Group's Climate Push Puts President Under Scrutiny

President Obama speaks at Ellicott Dredges in Baltimore on May 17. The trip followed a visit by the company's president to Capitol Hill to testify in support of the Keystone XL pipeline. The White House says Obama's speech had nothing to do with Keystone, but environmental groups have been frustrated with his stance on the issue.
Mandel Ngan AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri May 24, 2013 12:54 pm

Organizing for Action — a group that formed out of President Obama's re-election campaign — has posted five tweets in the past week about climate change using the @BarackObama Twitter account.

Read more
The Salt
5:44 pm
Wed May 22, 2013

Could African Crops Be Improved With Private Biotech Data?

The baobob fruit is one of the 100 traditional African food crops that a group of scientists want to learn more about to improve nutrition.
Alexander Joe AFP/Getty Images

"I'm shocked by the optimism here," Howard Yana-Shapiro, the chief agricultural officer for Mars Inc. said Tuesday to the audience of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs' Global Food Security Symposium in Washington, D.C.

Seated there before him were some of the leaders from the wealthiest international organizations and multinational companies of the fight to end hunger. And Shapiro told them they weren't even close.

Read more
The Salt
10:00 am
Wed May 22, 2013

How Genomics Solved The Mystery Of Ireland's Great Famine

This illustration from 1846 shows a starving boy and girl raking the ground for potatoes during the Irish Potato Famine, which began in the 1840s.
Hulton Archive Getty Images

Originally published on Wed May 22, 2013 10:52 am

An international group of plant pathologists has solved a historical mystery behind Ireland's Great Famine.

Sure, scientists have known for a while that a funguslike organism called Phytophthora infestans was responsible for the potato blight that plagued Ireland starting in the 1840s. But there are many different strains of the pathogen that cause the disease, and scientists have finally discovered the one that triggered the Great Famine.

Read more
The Two-Way
5:43 pm
Tue May 21, 2013

Storm Chasers Seek Thrills, But Also Chance To Warn Others

A tornado moves past homes in Moore, Okla. on Monday.
Alonzo Adams AP

Originally published on Tue May 21, 2013 6:33 pm

When disaster strikes, our natural instinct is to take cover and seek shelter. But in severe weather, especially the type that breeds tornadoes like we saw in Oklahoma and parts of the Midwest this week, there are those who ride toward the storm.

Read more
The Salt
5:18 pm
Tue May 21, 2013

African Cities Test The Limits Of Living With Livestock

Sheep graze in the street last year in Cairo.
Gianluigi Guercia AFP/Getty Images

Raising chickens has become so fashionable among some urban Americans that there's now a market for chicken diapers, as we reported this month.

Read more
The Salt
4:01 pm
Tue May 21, 2013

Vertical 'Pinkhouses:' The Future Of Urban Farming?

This "pinkhouse" at Caliber Biotherapeutics in Bryan, Texas, grows 2.2 million plants under the glow of blue and red LEDs.
Courtesy of Caliber Therapeutics

Originally published on Thu May 23, 2013 5:58 pm

The idea of vertical farming is all the rage right now. Architects and engineers have come up with spectacular concepts for lofty buildings that could function as urban food centers of the future.

Read more
The Two-Way
6:39 pm
Mon May 20, 2013

Measuring The Power Of Deadly Tornadoes

John Warner surveys the damage near a friend's mobile home in the Steelman Estates Mobile Home Park, destroyed in Sunday's tornado, near Shawnee, Okla., on Monday.
Sue Ogrocki AP

Originally published on Tue May 21, 2013 4:59 am

Damaging tornadoes ripped through Oklahoma on Sunday and Monday, causing widespread damage that is still being assessed, and additional severe weather is expected.

Read more
Energy
5:06 am
Mon May 20, 2013

Calif. Law To Require Ships To Cut Pollution

Originally published on Mon May 20, 2013 5:28 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Two ports, the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, handle almost half of all of the consumer goods being shipped into the United States. Together, these two ports are also the single largest polluter in Southern California, a region famous for its smog.

NPR's Kirk Siegler reports on a new California law that will soon require some of the largest diesel-guzzling ships to kill their engines and plug in to shore power at the docks.

Read more
Around the Nation
4:42 pm
Sat May 18, 2013

Impossible Choice Faces America's First 'Climate Refugees'

The 350 residents of Newtok, Alaska, will soon be the country's first "climate refugees." The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says the village is likely to be underwater in just four years.
Richard Sprenger The Guardian

Originally published on Sun May 19, 2013 5:59 am

Climate change is a stark reality in America's northernmost state. Nearly 90 percent of native Alaskan villages are on the coast, where dramatic erosion and floods have become a part of daily life.

Perched on the Ninglick River on the west coast of the state, the tiny town of Newtok may be the state's most vulnerable village. About 350 people live there, nearly all of them Yupik Eskimos. But the Ninglick is rapidly rising due to ice melt, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says the highest point in the town — a school — could be underwater by 2017.

Read more
Environment
5:18 am
Sat May 18, 2013

Not Your Grandpa's RV: This Roving Lab Tracks Air Pollution

Ira Leifer, next to an RV he has outfitted with methane sensors and other equipment to sniff the air.
Richard Harris NPR

Originally published on Sat May 18, 2013 1:45 pm

If you're driving down the road someday and you come across a camper with a 50-foot periscope sticking up into the sky, you just might have crossed paths with Ira Leifer. His quirky vehicle is on a serious mission. It's sniffing the air for methane, a gas that contributes to global warming.

Leifer is an atmospheric scientist at the University of California, Santa Barbara. But you'll more often find him off campus, in a garage, next to a string of auto body shops near the airport.

Read more
Parallels
5:13 am
Sat May 18, 2013

Afghan Mineral Treasures Stay Buried, Hostages To Uncertainty

An Afghan worker helps excavate part of the mountaintop copper works above the ancient city at Mes Aynak in February. Afghanistan is believed to be sitting on massive mineral and metal deposits. But many obstacles have prevented large-scale mining from getting underway.
Matthew C. Rains MCT/Landov

Originally published on Sat May 18, 2013 7:23 am

For years, reports have suggested that Afghanistan is sitting on massive deposits of copper, gold, iron and rare earth minerals valued up to $3 trillion. This provides hope for a future economy that would not have to rely so heavily on foreign donations.

But with an uncertain political, regulatory and security environment, international investors are hesitant. And it could be many years before Afghanistan begins extracting its mineral wealth.

Read more
Environment
4:20 pm
Fri May 17, 2013

Scientists Agree On Climate Change, Why Doesn't The Public?

Originally published on Fri May 17, 2013 6:52 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block. Yesterday, President Obama sent out a tweet drawing attention to a study about climate change. The study found that scientists who say climate change is largely caused by human activities vastly outnumber the skeptics. NPR's Richard Harris has more on the study that caught the White House's attention.

Read more
TED Radio Hour
9:55 am
Fri May 17, 2013

When Is the Right Time To Give?

Mark Bezos at TED University in 2011.
James Duncan Davidson TED

Originally published on Mon December 16, 2013 5:26 pm

Part 1 of the TED Radio Hour episode Giving It Away.

About Mark Bezos' TEDTalk

Volunteer firefighter Mark Bezos tells a story of an act of heroism that didn't go quite as expected — but that taught him a big lesson: Don't wait to be a hero. Give now.

About Mark Bezos

Read more
TED Radio Hour
9:55 am
Fri May 17, 2013

How Can You Give A Community Better Health?

Ron Finley, renegade gardener, says food is both the problem and the solution.
James Duncan Davidson TED

Originally published on Fri December 20, 2013 9:37 am

Part 2 of the TED Radio Hour episode Giving It Away.

About Ron Finley's TEDTalk

Ron Finley plants vegetable gardens in South Central LA — in abandoned lots, traffic medians, along the curbs. Why? For fun, for defiance, for beauty and to offer some alternative to fast food in a community where "the drive-thrus are killing more people than the drive-bys."

About Ron Finley

Read more
Around the Nation
5:31 am
Fri May 17, 2013

Cape Cod Community To Vote On Status Of Wind Turbines

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Next week, voters in Falmouth, Massachusetts decide whether to spend $14 million to tear down two wind turbines - or turbines if you prefer. The Cape Cod town installed these turbines just three years ago in an effort to produce renewable energy and cut costs. Nearby residents says the turbines are a health hazard and that the only cure is to take them down.

Sean Corcoran of member station WCAI has more.

(SOUNDBITE OF WIND TURBINES)

Read more
Around the Nation
5:14 am
Fri May 17, 2013

First U.S. Company To Enter Export Market For Natural Gas

With supplies high and prices at historic lows, there's debate whether companies should be allowed to export the gas overseas for a higher price. Many energy companies have applied for government approval to ship liquefied natural gas worldwide. So far, only one company has gotten a license to do that in the past 30 years..

The Salt
1:15 pm
Thu May 16, 2013

How Trace Amounts Of Arsenic End Up In Grocery Store Meat

Roxarsone, a drug linked to elevated levels of inorganic arsenic in chicken meat, is no longer used in broiler chicken farming, producers say. But another arsenic-based drug is still used to raise turkeys.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri May 17, 2013 11:18 am

A study published online recently in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives documented slightly elevated levels of arsenic in samples of chicken purchased at grocery stores in 10 cities in the U.S.

So how did trace amounts of this toxin end up in supermarket poultry?

Read more
Research News
3:03 am
Thu May 16, 2013

Water Trapped For 1.5 Billion Years Could Hold Ancient Life

This map, from the United States Geological Survey, shows the age of bedrock in different regions of North America. Scientists found ancient water in bedrock north of Lake Superior. This region, colored red, was formed more than 2.5 billion years ago.
United States Geological Survey

Originally published on Thu May 16, 2013 9:25 am

Scientists have discovered water that has been trapped in rock for more than a billion years. The water might contain microbes that evolved independently from the surface world, and it's a finding that gives new hope to the search for life on other planets.

The water samples came from holes drilled by gold miners near the small town of Timmins, Ontario, about 350 miles north of Toronto. Deep in the Canadian bedrock, miners drill holes and collect samples. Sometimes they hit pay dirt; sometimes they hit water, which seeps out from tiny crevices in the rock.

Read more
Environment
4:06 pm
Wed May 15, 2013

Dam Removal Ushers In New Life In Washington State

Originally published on Thu May 16, 2013 6:59 am

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Two dams that block the migration of salmon are coming down in the largest dam removal in U.S. history. The dam sits on the Elwha River in the northwest corner of Washington state. They were built in the early 1900s to power nearby timber mills, but their power is no longer needed. From member station KUOW in Seattle, Ashley Ahearn reports that the removal is releasing a lot of debris but also creating new life.

Read more
The Salt
1:06 pm
Wed May 15, 2013

Go Fish (Somewhere Else): Warming Oceans Are Altering Catches

Crew members unload a catch of sockeye salmon at Craig, Alaska, in 2005. Researchers say fish are being found in new areas because of changing ocean temperatures.
Melissa Farlow National Geographic/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed May 15, 2013 7:39 pm

Climate change is gradually altering the fish that end up on ice in seafood counters around the world, according to a new study.

"The composition of the [global] fish catch includes more and more fish from the warmer areas, and cold-water fish are getting more rare, because the temperatures are increasing," says Daniel Pauly at the University of British Columbia, a co-author of the study.

Read more
The Two-Way
10:38 am
Wed May 15, 2013

Dirty Diapers Pile Up In Portland Recycling Bins: 'It's Not Pretty'

Portland recycling handlers say they've seen more diapers in recycling bins after the city switched to biweekly trash pickups. A file photo shows bags of diapers in a container at a California recycling facility.
David McNew Getty Images

Waste and recycling handlers in Portland, Ore., say they're seeing an unfortunate side effect of the city's reduction in garbage pickups: 120 pounds of dirty diapers a day, tucked into recycling bins.

Read more
Environment
4:56 pm
Tue May 14, 2013

'Ice Shove' Damages Some Manitoba Homes Beyond Repair

Originally published on Tue May 14, 2013 7:15 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

In northern lakefront vacation spots such as Ochre Beach, Manitoba and Lake Mille Lacs, Minnesota, ice happens even in May. But what happened this past weekend was like something out of a science fiction movie.

(SOUNDBITE OF WIND)

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

This is the sound from a video recorded as constant strong winds pushed huge sheets of ice off a lake and onto the shore. Fingers of ice creeped farther inland and farther. It's as if the ice is alive.

(SOUNDBITE OF ICE SHOVE)

Read more
Environment
3:16 pm
Tue May 14, 2013

With Rising Seas, America's Birthplace Could Disappear

Colonists built the original glass-blowing kiln in Jamestown, Va., at this beach for easy access to the sand. Now the site is just inches above the water level.
John W. Poole NPR

Originally published on Tue May 14, 2013 7:15 pm

By the end of the century, the birthplace of America may be underwater.

The first successful English colony in America was at Jamestown, Va., a swampy island in the Chesapeake Bay. The colony endured for almost a century, and remnants of the place still exist. You can go there and see the ruins. You can walk where Capt. John Smith and Pocahontas walked. But Jamestown is now threatened by rising sea levels that scientists say could submerge the island by century's end.

Read more
Africa
3:05 pm
Tue May 14, 2013

The Enemy Inside: Rhino's Protectors Sometimes Aid Poachers

Mike Watson (left), CEO of Kenya's Lewa Conservancy, and conservationist Ian Craig identify the carcass of a 4-year-old black rhino named Arthur, whom poachers had killed the night before. The well-armed, well-informed poachers very likely used night vision goggles and a silencer on an AK-47.
Gregory Warner NPR

Originally published on Tue May 14, 2013 8:19 pm

It says a lot about the state of the war against poachers in Africa that the Lewa Conservancy, a private sanctuary in Kenya with 12 percent of the country's rhinos, recently appointed a CEO who has never studied zoology or biology. Instead, Mike Watson is an ex-captain in the British army.

His training has already come in handy. Take, for instance, a visit to a crime scene earlier this year: a rhino carcass splayed out in the mud.

Read more
The Salt
10:59 am
Tue May 14, 2013

Maybe It's Time To Swap Burgers For Bugs, Says U.N.

A vendor sells edible insects at Talad Thai market on the outskirts of Bangkok. The most popular method of preparation is to deep-fry crickets in oil and then sprinkle them with lemongrass slivers and chilis.
NARONG SANGNAK EPA /Landov

Originally published on Thu May 16, 2013 5:49 pm

Yes, we talk a lot about eating bugs here at The Salt. We know, because some of you have complained about it.

Read more
Environment
10:45 am
Tue May 14, 2013

The Wallops and Assateague Islands Report #11

Robin Rothschild, host of "The Wallops and Assateague Islands Report" and Bill Yoast, the real life hero of "Remember the Titans".
Credit Delmarva Public Radio

A special program today- Robin chats with Bill Yoast, the real-life hero of the movie, Remember the Titans.

Read more
The Salt
3:27 am
Tue May 14, 2013

Michigan Apple Orchards Blossom After A Devastating Year

Apple Blossoms
Amy Irish-Brown

Originally published on Tue May 14, 2013 8:20 pm

Last year, almost the entire Michigan apple crop was lost because of 80-degree days in March and then some freezing April nights. This year, the apples are back, but everything always depends on the weather. The state was under a freeze warning Sunday night — a scary prospect if you're an apple grower and your trees have just come into bloom.

Read more
Parallels
3:05 pm
Mon May 13, 2013

Vietnam's Appetite For Rhino Horn Drives Poaching In Africa

A Vietnamese rhino horn user displays her horn, which was a gift from her well-to-do sister. Last year, rhino horn sold for up to $1,400 an ounce in Vietnam, about the price of gold these days.
Frank Langfitt NPR

Originally published on Tue May 14, 2013 5:42 pm

Africa is facing a growing epidemic: the slaughter of rhinos.

So far this year, South Africa has lost more than 290 rhinos — an average of at least two a day. That puts the country on track to set yet another record after poachers killed 668 rhinos in 2012.

Read more
The Salt
4:27 pm
Sun May 12, 2013

Is It Safe To Use Compost Made From Treated Human Waste?

Originally published on Wed May 15, 2013 11:46 am

Any gardener will tell you that compost is "black gold," essential to cultivating vigorous, flavorful crops. But it always feels like there's never enough, and its weight and bulk make it tough stuff to cart around.

I belong to a community garden in Washington, D.C., that can't get its hands on enough compost. So you can imagine my delight when I learned that the U.S. Composting Council was connecting community gardeners with free material from local facilities through its Million Tomato Compost Campaign.

Read more

Pages