Environment

Environment
3:16 am
Fri May 10, 2013

College Divestment Campaigns Creating Passionate Environmentalists

Students associated with the group Brown Divest Coal protested in front of the Brown University president's office during a rally May 3. The group is demanding that the university stop investing in certain oil and coal companies.
Courtesy of Brown Divest Coal

Originally published on Fri May 10, 2013 11:04 am

At about 300 colleges across the country, young activists worried about climate change are borrowing a strategy that students successfully used in decades past. In the 1980s, students enraged about South Africa's racist Apartheid regime got their schools to drop stocks in companies that did business with that government. In the 1990s, students pressured their schools to divest Big Tobacco.

This time, the student activists are targeting a mainstay of the economy: large oil and coal companies.

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The Salt
5:11 pm
Thu May 9, 2013

Big Ag Agrees to Conserve Cropland, But At What Cost?

Peanut plants grow on a Halifax, N.C., farm that received federal subsidies in 2011.
Robert Willett MCT /Landov

Taxpayers help subsidize crop insurance premiums for farmers to the tune of about $9 billion dollars, a figure that's growing each year. These policies protect farmers from major losses, and help support their income even if there's no loss of crops.

And in return? Well, environmentalists argue that farmers who receive this financial support should be required to be good stewards of the land.

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Business
5:51 am
Thu May 9, 2013

Shell Digs Deep To Tap Into Lucrative Oil, Gas Reserves

Originally published on Thu May 9, 2013 5:56 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

One reason the world is not yet running out of oil and gas is that energy companies keep finding ways to extract those resources from more and more difficult places, including far under the ocean. Royal Dutch Shell announced plans, yesterday, for the world's deepest offshore floating oil and gas facility.

NPR's Debbie Elliott reports.

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The Salt
12:37 pm
Wed May 8, 2013

With Warming Climes, How Long Will A Bordeaux Be A Bordeaux?

A worker harvests cabernet sauvignon grapes at a vineyard near Bordeaux, France, in September.
Caroline Blumberg EPA/Landov

Originally published on Tue May 14, 2013 3:25 pm

Bordeauxs and Burgundys haven't changed much since the days when famous wine-lover Thomas Jefferson kept the cellars of his Parisian home well-stocked with both wines.

But now, some worry that the regional rules and traditions that have defined top winemaking regions like Champagne, Burgundy and Chianti for centuries could melt away as climate change takes effect.

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The Two-Way
7:03 am
Wed May 8, 2013

Head Of Environmental Division Is Leaving Justice Dept.

Assistant Attorney General Ignacia S. Moreno in September of 2011.
Jeff Chiu AP

Originally published on Wed May 8, 2013 11:38 am

Assistant U.S. Attorney General Ignacia Moreno, the point person at the Justice Department for prosecuting environmental crimes, says she will leave government service next month.

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The Salt
6:12 pm
Tue May 7, 2013

Bee Deaths May Have Reached A Crisis Point For Crops

A bee inspector checks on a frame of bees to assess the colony strength near Turlock, Calif., in February. More than 30 percent of America's bee colonies died off over the winter.
Gosia Wozniacka AP

Originally published on Tue May 7, 2013 10:56 pm

According to a new survey of America's beekeepers, almost a third of the country's honeybee colonies did not make it through the winter.

That's been the case, in fact, almost every year since the U.S. Department of Agriculture began this annual survey, six years ago.

Over the past six years, on average, 30 percent of all the honeybee colonies in the U.S. died off over the winter. The worst year was five years ago. Last year was the best: Just 22 percent of the colonies died.

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Environment
4:58 pm
Tue May 7, 2013

Filling In The Gap On Climate Education In Classrooms

Cy Maramangalam gives a presentation about climate change for the Alliance for Climate Education.
Courtesy of Alliance for Climate Education

Originally published on Wed May 8, 2013 2:50 pm

The auditorium at James Blake High School in Silver Spring, Md., is packed when Cy Maramangalam strolls onstage, sporting jeans and a shaved head.

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Technology
1:50 pm
Mon May 6, 2013

Unearthing History: How Technology Is Transforming Archaeology

Originally published on Mon May 6, 2013 2:40 pm

Transcript

NEAL CONAN, HOST:

Legend has it that the rainforest of Mosquitia hid La Ciudad Blanca, the White City. For centuries, explorers tried to find the fabled city in the jungle of Nicaragua and Honduras. Protected by white water, coral snakes, stinging plants and brutal topography, the White City remained an archeologist dream. But with a new application of recent technology, a documentary filmmaker, not an archeologist, found the White City.

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The Two-Way
5:33 pm
Sun May 5, 2013

The Threat To Indonesia's Biodiversity, Foretold In The 1800s

British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace was not only a key figure in developing the theory of evolution in the mid-19th century but also had the foresight to call for saving endangered species.

Wallace, who died 100 years ago this year, did his most important research in the rich biodiversity of Indonesia, and his plea for preservation is even more compelling than when he wrote it.

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Around the Nation
5:24 am
Sun May 5, 2013

A Splash Of 'Urban Ocean' On A Southern California Cruise

A cruise run by the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, Calif., exposes guests to the "urban ocean" in the country's biggest shipping terminal.
Kirk Siegler NPR

Originally published on Sun May 5, 2013 6:41 pm

A cruise run by the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, Calif., sounds like a picturesque summer outing. But the Urban Ocean boat cruise highlights the juxtaposition of a powerful port with a fragile ecosystem: You're just as likely to see trash as you are to see marine life.

In front of the aquarium, school kids are running around, eager to go inside and pet the sharks and see the penguins. There's also a marina, where a small passenger boat called the Cristina shoves off from sunny Shoreline Aquatic Park.

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The Two-Way
4:05 pm
Sat May 4, 2013

To Silence Discontent, Chinese Officials Alter Workweek

Protesters demonstrate against plans for a factory to produce paraxylene, a toxic chemical used to make fabrics, in China's Yunnan province on Saturday. In nearby Chengdu, planned protests were thwarted.
STR AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sun May 5, 2013 6:03 am

How do you prevent protests in China? Move the weekend.

That's the Orwellian step taken by local authorities in the southwestern city of Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province. May 4 is a sensitive date commemorating an influential student movement in 1919. It's especially potent in Chengdu, where it marks the fifth anniversary of a protest against the construction of a $6 billion crude oil refinery and petrochemical facility in Pengzhou, 25 miles away.

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The Salt
4:19 pm
Fri May 3, 2013

Unraveling The Mystery Of A Rice Revolution

Rice farmers in Indonesia plant rice seedlings using the "system of rice intensification."
Courtesy of SRI International Network and Resources Center

Originally published on Fri May 3, 2013 5:02 pm

It's a captivating story: A global rice-growing revolution that started with a Jesuit priest in Madagascar, far from any recognized center of agricultural innovation. Every so often, it surfaces in the popular media — most recently in The Guardian, which earlier this year described farmers in one corner of India hauling in gigantic rice harvests without resorting to pesticides or genetic modification.

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The Two-Way
2:55 pm
Fri May 3, 2013

NASA: Warming Climate Likely Means More Floods, Droughts

Flash floods followed heavy rains in northern India in September.
AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon May 6, 2013 12:53 pm

The Earth's wettest regions are likely to get wetter while the most arid will get drier due to warming of the atmosphere caused by increased levels of carbon dioxide, according to a new NASA analysis of more than a dozen climate models.

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NPR Story
10:49 am
Fri May 3, 2013

Living Inside the Box

Transcript

IRA FLATOW, HOST:

Here with us now is Flora Lichtman, our correspondent and managing editor for video. Flora, welcome.

FLORA LICHTMAN, BYLINE: Hi.

FLATOW: What wonderful stuff do you have for us this week?

LICHTMAN: Well, from the less practical or the no practical application to the very practical in this week's Video Pick.

FLATOW: Ooh.

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NPR Story
10:49 am
Fri May 3, 2013

17-Year Cicadas Primed To Emerge

This spring the massive "Brood II" batch of 17-year cicadas is expected to emerge from the ground in backyards and parks all along the Eastern U.S. The insects will mate, lay eggs, and start the cycle all over again. Cicada expert John Cooley explains the unusual biology and evolution of periodical cicadas.

Author Interviews
3:51 pm
Thu May 2, 2013

Ethical Fashion: Is The Tragedy In Bangladesh A Final Straw?

Casual clothing detail fashion background made in the USA
iStockPhoto.com

Originally published on Thu May 2, 2013 4:05 pm

A garment factory that manufactures products for international clothing companies collapsed outside of Dhaka, Bangladesh, last month, killing more than 400 workers and injuring scores of others. It came on the heels of a fire at another factory in November 2012; that incident killed 112 workers.

Factories like these in Bangladesh pump out what author Elizabeth Cline calls "fast fashion," or clothes made on the cheap by big chains such as H&M, Zara, Esprit, Lee, Wrangler, Nike, J.C. Penney and Wal-Mart.

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The Salt
3:42 pm
Thu May 2, 2013

Can Salmon Farming Be Sustainable? Maybe, If You Head Inland

These sockeye salmon were raised at a land-based fish farm in Langley, British Columbia.
Courtesy Willowfield Enterprises

Originally published on Thu May 2, 2013 6:43 pm

Is salmon farming ever sustainable?

For years, many marine biologists have argued that the floating, open-ocean net pens that produce billions of pounds of salmon per year also generate pollution, disease and parasites.

In some places in western Canada, the open-ocean salmon farming industry has been blamed for the collapse of wild salmon populations in the early 2000s — though other research has challenged that claim.

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The Salt
11:32 am
Thu May 2, 2013

Grocery Home Delivery May Be Greener Than Schlepping To The Store

Amazon Fresh delivery man Tim Wilkie totes food to a house on Mercer Island, Wash.
Joe Nicholson AP

Originally published on Mon May 6, 2013 10:20 am

Home grocery delivery sounds like a frill for people too lazy to schlep to the store. But having food delivered can be more environmentally friendly than driving to the store, researchers say.

Having groceries delivered can cut carbon dioxide emissions by at least half, compared to driving to the store, according to a new study. That's because the delivery truck offers the equivalent of a "shared ride" for the food.

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The Salt
6:29 pm
Wed May 1, 2013

Who Paid For Last Summer's Drought? You Did

Corn plants dry in a drought-stricken farm field near Fritchton, Ind., last summer.
Scott Olson Getty Images

Originally published on Wed May 1, 2013 7:10 pm

Say the words "crop insurance" and most people start to yawn. For years, few nonfarmers knew much about these government-subsidized insurance policies, and even fewer found any fault with them. After all, who could criticize a safety net for farmers that saves them from getting wiped out by floods or drought?

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Shots - Health News
4:20 pm
Tue April 30, 2013

How Doctors Would Know If Syrians Were Hit With Nerve Gas

Doctors at a hospital in Aleppo, Syria, treat a boy injured in what the government said was a chemical weapons attack on March 19. Syria's government and rebels accused each other of firing a rocket loaded with chemical agents outside of Aleppo.
George Ourfalian Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Wed May 1, 2013 12:02 pm

President Obama affirmed Tuesday that there's evidence Syrians have been attacked with chemical weapons — in particular, nerve gas.

But that's not the same as proof positive.

"We don't know how they were used, when they were used, who used them," Obama said. "We don't have a chain of custody that establishes what exactly happened."

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Environment
9:23 am
Tue April 30, 2013

The Wallops and Assateague Islands Report #10

NASA Robotics Alliance
Credit http://robotics.nasa.gov/

Guest: Amy Davis, Program Manager for the NASA Robotics Alliance Project at Wallops Island.

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Environment
3:04 am
Tue April 30, 2013

He Helped Discover Evolution, And Then Became Extinct

Poacher-turned-conservationist Karamoy Maramis, who works at Bogani Nani Wartabone National Park in Sulawesi, holds a maleo, a bird that exists in nature only on the Indonesian island.
Rebecca Davis NPR

Originally published on Mon May 6, 2013 3:27 pm

Ask most folks who came up with the theory of evolution, and they'll tell you it was Charles Darwin.

In fact, Alfred Russel Wallace, another British naturalist, was a co-discoverer of the theory — though Darwin has gotten most of the credit. Wallace died 100 years ago this year.

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The Two-Way
4:40 pm
Mon April 29, 2013

Europe Bans Pesticides In Move To Protect Honey Bees

Beekeepers demonstrate at the EU headquarters in Brussels Monday, as lawmakers vote on whether to ban pesticides blamed for killing bees.
Georges Gobet AFP/Getty Images

Three popular pesticides will soon be illegal in the European Union, where officials hope the change helps restore populations of honey bees, vital to crop production, to healthy levels. The new ban will be enacted in December.

"I pledge to do my utmost to ensure that our bees, which are so vital to our ecosystem and contribute over €22 billion ($28.8 billion) annually to European agriculture, are protected," said EU Health and Consumer Commissioner Tonio Borg.

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NPR Story
10:21 am
Fri April 26, 2013

Great Salt Lake Is No 'Dead Sea'

Transcript

IRA FLATOW, HOST:

This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm Ira Flatow. We're broadcasting today from the Grand Theatre at Salt Lake Community College. And, of course, just up the road from Salt Lake City is the city's namesake, the Great Salt Lake. Parts of it are 10 times saltier than the ocean. But this is no Dead Sea. It's teeming with microbes which can turn the water bubblegum pink.

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The Salt
2:57 am
Fri April 26, 2013

Exploring Coffee's Past To Rescue Its Future

Eduardo Somarriba is a researcher at the Center for Tropical Agricultural Research and Education in Turrialba, Costa Rica.
Dan Charles NPR

Originally published on Thu January 9, 2014 3:47 pm

At the Center for Tropical Agricultural Research and Education (CATIE) in Turrialba, Costa Rica, you can touch the history of coffee — and also, if the optimists have their way, part of its future.

Here, spread across 25 acres, are coffee trees that take you back to coffee's origins.

"The story starts in Africa, no? East Africa," says Eduardo Somarriba, a researcher at CATIE, as we walk through long rows of small coffee trees.

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Energy
6:25 pm
Wed April 24, 2013

Tar Sands Pipelines Should Be Held To Different Standards, EPA Says

An oil sheen appears along the shore of the Kalamazoo River in August 2012. In July 2010, more than 800,000 gallons of tar sands oil entered Talmadge Creek and flowed into the Kalamazoo River, a Lake Michigan tributary. Heavy rains caused the river to overtop existing dams and carried oil 30 miles downstream.
John W. Poole NPR

Originally published on Thu April 25, 2013 4:57 pm

Up until now, pipelines that carry tar sands oil have been treated just like pipelines that carry any other oil. But the Environmental Protection Agency now says that should change. That's because when tar sands oil spills, it can be next to impossible to clean up.

The agency made this argument in its evaluation of the State Department's environmental review of the Keystone XL pipeline project, which, if approved, would carry heavy crude from Alberta, Canada, to refineries in the United States.

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The Two-Way
3:11 pm
Wed April 24, 2013

1960s Satellite Images Add To Evidence Of Shrinking Sea Ice

An artist's rendering of the Nimbus 1.
NASA

Originally published on Thu April 25, 2013 7:30 am

Scientists have digitized and analyzed imagery taken by one of the first U.S. weather satellites to create a montage showing the extent of polar sea ice in 1964 so they can compare it to more recent satellite photos.

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The Salt
3:25 am
Wed April 24, 2013

For Corn, Fickle Weather Makes For Uncertain Yields

By this time last year, 26 percent of the country's corn crop was already planted. A wet, cold spring means that only 4 percent is in the ground right now.
Seth Perlman AP

Originally published on Wed April 24, 2013 9:06 am

Last year's drought wreaked havoc on farmers' fields in much of the Midwest, cutting crop yields and forcing livestock producers to cull their herds. This spring, the rain that farmers needed so badly in 2012 has finally returned. But maybe too much, and at the wrong time.

It's almost the end of April, which is prime time to plant corn. But farmers need a break in the rain so they can get this year's crops in the ground and try to lock in good yields at harvest.

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The Salt
3:20 am
Wed April 24, 2013

Coffee For A Cause: What Do Those Feel-Good Labels Deliver?

Luis Fernando Vasquez has been a coffee farmer in the central valley of Costa Rica his entire life.
Dan Charles NPR

Originally published on Thu January 9, 2014 3:50 pm

What does it take to find guilt-free coffee?

Much of our coffee comes from places where the environment is endangered and workers earn very little — sometimes, just a few dollars for a whole day's work. Coffee farmers have helped cut down tropical forests, and most of them use pesticides.

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The Salt
2:58 pm
Tue April 23, 2013

Want To Forage In Your City? There's A Map For That

Falling Fruit tells you where you can pick peaches and other foods free for the taking around the world.
istockphoto.com

Originally published on Wed April 24, 2013 11:25 am

If you really love your peaches and want to shake a tree, there's a map to help you find one. That goes for veggies, nuts, berries and hundreds of other edible plant species, too.

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