Environment

Environment
4:34 pm
Thu March 14, 2013

As His Home Melts Away, Teenager Sues Alaska

Nelson Kanuk, a senior at Mt. Edgecumbe High School, is one of six Alaskan youth suing the state, asking it to pay more attention to climate change.
Ed Ronco for NPR

Originally published on Thu March 14, 2013 6:49 pm

Nelson Kanuk's house is built on a melting tundra. In a year or two, it could be gone.

So the 18-year-old Yup'ik Eskimo is suing the state of Alaska, arguing the state needs to take more action on climate change.

"The river that runs in front of my house is called the Kugkaktlik River, and it means 'the middle one' in the Yup'ik language," Kanuk says.

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The Two-Way
12:33 pm
Thu March 14, 2013

Monarch Butterfy Population Falls To Record Low, Mexican Scientists Say

Monarch butterflies in December 2008 at the Sierra del Chincua sanctuary in Angangueo, in the Mexican state of Michoacan.
Mario Vazquez AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu March 14, 2013 2:47 pm

Monarch butterflies that once covered 50 square acres of forest during their summer layover in central Mexico now occupy fewer than 3 acres, according to the latest census.

The numbers of the orange-and-black butterflies have crashed in the two decades since scientists began making a rough count of them, according to Mexico's National Commission of Natural Protected Areas.

At a news conference Wednesday, the commission said the count was down 59 percent from December 2011 levels, when the insects filled 7.14 acres of fir trees in central Mexico.

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Europe
1:59 pm
Wed March 13, 2013

German Prince Plans To Put Bison Back In The Wild

European bison, or wisents, keep a safe distance from human visitors to their enclosure on the property of Prince Richard of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg in Germany's densely populated state of North Rhine-Westphalia.
Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson NPR

Originally published on Mon April 1, 2013 5:17 pm

A small herd of European bison will soon be released in Germany's most densely populated state, the first time in nearly three centuries that these bison — known as wisents — will roam freely in Western Europe.

The project is the brainchild of Prince Richard of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg. He owns more than 30,000 acres, much of it covered in Norwegian spruce and beech trees in North Rhine-Westphalia.

For the 78-year-old logging magnate, the planned April release of the bull, five cows and two calves will fulfill a decade-old dream.

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The Salt
6:24 pm
Tue March 12, 2013

Can Dunkin' Donuts Really Turn Its Palm Oil Green?

Dunkin' Donuts plans to go green by committing to purchasing all of its palm oil from sustainable sources.
Andrew Huff/via Flickr

Originally published on Tue March 12, 2013 7:13 pm

Dunkin' Donuts is changing its recipes — though you may not notice much difference the next time you bite into a cruller. In response to pressure from one of New York's top elected officials, the company recently announced that it will set a goal of using only 100 percent sustainable palm oil in making its donuts.

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Environment
2:25 pm
Tue March 12, 2013

The President, The Pipeline And Environmental Politics

Originally published on Tue March 12, 2013 4:29 pm

Transcript

NEAL CONAN, HOST:

Sometime soon, President Obama will make a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline, the controversial project that would carry oil from the tar sands of Canada to refineries along the U.S. Gulf Coast. In his New York Times column over the weekend, Thomas Friedman wrote: I hope the president turns down the Keystone XL pipeline, but I don't think he will. If that's the way it happens, Friedman sees and opportunity for the president and for environmentalists, as well.

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Energy
2:03 pm
Tue March 12, 2013

As Natural Gas Creeps In, King Coal's Reign Fades

Originally published on Tue March 12, 2013 4:29 pm

Transcript

NEAL CONAN, HOST:

This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan, in Washington. In many parts of the country, coal has been king for many years, but that's changing. Ten years ago, coal fired half the U.S. electrical power plants. Now that's about a third and dropping. As coal companies switch to cheaper and cleaner natural gas, some coal companies in the east are closing mines and laying off workers.

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Environment
5:01 pm
Sun March 10, 2013

Remembering Aldo Leopold, Visionary Conservationist And Writer

Originally published on Wed March 13, 2013 10:13 am

"There are some who can live without wild things, and some who cannot. These essays are the delights and dilemmas of one who cannot. Like winds and sunsets, wild things were taken for granted until progress began to do away with them. Now, we face the question whether a still higher 'standard of living' is worth its cost in things natural, wild and free." — A Sand County Almanac

A Sand County Almanac, a collection of essays and observations, was written decades ago by Aldo Leopold, the father of the American conservation movement.

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Animals
4:43 pm
Fri March 8, 2013

Adult Prairie Dogs Dig Living In Mom's Burrow

John Hoogland of the University of Maryland's Center for Environmental Science holds up a female prairie dog to check for signs of pregnancy, nursing or injury.
Courtesy of Elaine Miller Bond

Originally published on Fri March 8, 2013 9:47 pm

Like many humans, most young animals approaching adulthood tend to leave their parents and siblings and strike out on their own. They want to avoid competing with relatives. They want to avoid incest. In certain species, they want to avoid nagging.

But a new paper published in Thursday's Science shows there's at least one species that bucks this trend. Prairie dogs, especially female prairie dogs, stay home. They tend to only leave their native territories when all of their relatives are gone.

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Author Interviews
1:59 pm
Fri March 8, 2013

Al Gore Envisions 'The Future'

Transcript

IRA FLATOW, HOST:

My next guest really needs almost no introduction. He's former vice president of the United States. He's one of the most well-known communicators of the risks of climate change. He shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for those efforts. I'm guessing a lot of you have read his book, "An Inconvenient Truth," or you've seen the movie.

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NPR Story
12:26 pm
Fri March 8, 2013

When The Earth Swallows

Originally published on Fri March 8, 2013 1:54 pm

Transcript

IRA FLATOW, HOST:

This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm Ira Flatow. By now I'm sure you've heard about the real-life nightmare of a Florida man named Jeff Bush. As he lay sleeping last week, a gaping hole opened beneath his home, swallowing him alive. His body was never found. The search has now been called off, and the sinkhole that devoured him is now his grave.

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NPR Story
10:01 am
Fri March 8, 2013

Peering Into Space

In this episode, TED speakers look up to the night sky and consider our relationship with what might out there.
TED

Originally published on Mon December 16, 2013 2:43 pm

Gazing up at the night sky is simultaneously humbling and utterly thrilling. This hour, we'll hear from TED speakers who share an infectious sense of wonder and curiosity about our place in the universe and what lies beyond our skies.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

TED Radio Hour
10:00 am
Fri March 8, 2013

Are We Alone In The Universe?

"We should search because it tells us how to collaborate our place in the cosmos." — Jill Tarter
TED / James Duncan Davidson

Originally published on Fri August 2, 2013 10:24 am

About Jill Tarter's TED Talk

The SETI Institute's Jill Tarter wants to accelerate our search for cosmic company. Using a growing array of radio telescopes, she and her team listen for patterns that may be a sign of intelligence elsewhere in the universe.

About Jill Tarter

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TED Radio Hour
10:00 am
Fri March 8, 2013

How Can We Defend Earth From Asteroids?

Phil Plait knows the secrets to avoiding a big asteroid catastrophe.
Courtesy of TED

Originally published on Fri August 2, 2013 10:24 am

Part 2 of the TED Radio Hour episode Peering Into Space.

About Phil Plait's TED Talk

What's six miles wide and can end civilization in an instant? An asteroid — and there are lots of them out there. With humor and great visuals, Phil Plait enthralls the TEDxBoulder audience with all the ways asteroids can kill, and what we must do to avoid them.

About Phil Plait

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Environment
2:23 am
Fri March 8, 2013

Past Century's Global Temperature Change Is Fastest On Record

Scientists say they have put together a record of global temperatures dating back to the end of the last ice age, about 11,000 years ago. This historical artwork of the last ice age was made by Swiss geologist and naturalist Oswald Heer.
Oswald Heer Science Source

Originally published on Fri March 8, 2013 10:40 pm

There's plenty of evidence that the climate has warmed up over the past century, and climate scientists know this has happened throughout the history of the planet. But they want to know more about how this warming is different.

Now a research team says it has some new answers. It has put together a record of global temperatures going back to the end of the last ice age — about 11,000 years ago — when mammoths and saber-tooth cats roamed the planet. The study confirms that what we're seeing now is unprecedented.

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The Two-Way
1:19 pm
Tue March 5, 2013

Cyclists Do Not Emit More Carbon Than Cars, State Legislator Admits

Washington State Rep. Ed Orcutt has apologized for saying "the act of riding a bike results in greater emissions of carbon dioxide from the rider," after an email with a bike shop owner sparked criticism. Here, a cyclist rides in Seattle last year.
Elaine Thompson AP

Days after angering cyclists with his contention that people who ride bikes don't help pay for roads — and stating that "the act of riding a bike results in greater emissions of carbon dioxide from the rider," Washington State Rep. Ed Orcutt has apologized for his words, and any confusion they created.

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The Two-Way
12:32 pm
Tue March 5, 2013

VW Introduces 'World's Most Efficient' Car At Geneva Motor Show

Two new Volkswagen hybrid XL1 model cars are displayed during a preview of Volkswagen ahead of the Geneva Car Show in Geneva.
Fabrice Coffrini AFP/Getty Images

At the Geneva Motor Show on Tuesday, Volkswagen introduced a futuristic-looking car that the company says is the "world's most efficient."

VW's XL1 is a two seater, plug-in, diesel hybrid that the company says gets 261 miles per gallon "with an all-electric driving range of a little over 30 miles," CNN reports.

CNN adds:

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The Two-Way
11:40 am
Tue March 5, 2013

Study Finds Climate Change To Open Arctic Sea Routes By 2050

An iceberg in or just outside the Ilulissat fjord, which likely calved from Jakobshavn Isbrae, the fastest glacier in western Greenland, in May 2012. Polar ice sheets are now melting three times faster than in the 1990s.
Ian Joughin AP

Originally published on Tue March 5, 2013 1:22 pm

Climate change will make commercial shipping possible from North America to Russia or Asia over the North Pole by the middle of the century, a new study says.

Two researchers at the University of California ran seven different climate models simulating two classes of vessels to see if they could make a relatively ice-free passage through the Arctic Ocean. In each case, the sea routes are sufficiently clear after 2049, they say.

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Environment
10:34 am
Tue March 5, 2013

The Wallops and Assateague Islands Report #5

Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge on Assateague Island, Virginia showing the Assateague Channel with the Assateague Light in the distance. Photograph taken in May 2008 from Maddox Boulevard facing south, showing the north side of the island.
Credit Leonard J. DeFrancisci / Wikipedia
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U.S.
5:17 pm
Mon March 4, 2013

Steamship Anchors A Community, But Its Days May Be Numbered

The nation's last coal-burning ferry, the SS Badger, sits on Lake Michigan in the port town of Ludington, Mich. The EPA permit that has long allowed the ship to dump coal ash into the lake is now under review.
Courtesy photo for NPR

Originally published on Mon March 4, 2013 5:50 pm

On the shores of Lake Michigan, the tiny town of Ludington, Mich., is home port to the last coal-fired ferry in the U.S. The SS Badger has been making trips across the lake to Manitowoc, Wis., during the good-weather months since 1953. And as it runs, the 411-foot ferry discharges coal ash slurry directly into the lake.

An Environmental Protection Agency permit allows the Badger to dump four tons of ash into the lake daily. But now, the agency has put the permit under review — and that means the Badger could stop sailing.

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Politics
5:17 pm
Mon March 4, 2013

Obama's Pick For EPA Head The Most Likely To Cause Controversy

Originally published on Mon March 4, 2013 5:34 pm

Gina McCarthy could find herself on the hot seat in the battle over global warming.

Environment
1:34 pm
Mon March 4, 2013

The Wallops and Assateague Islands Report #4

Guests: Amber Parker, Executive Director of the Marine Science Consortium


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Environment
1:23 pm
Mon March 4, 2013

The Wallops and Assateague Islands Report #3

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center's Wallops Flight Facility, located on Virginia's Eastern Shore, was established in 1945 by the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, as a center for aeronautic research.

Guest: Caroline Massey, Assistant Director for Management Operations, NASA Wallops Flight Facillity

Environment
1:17 pm
Mon March 4, 2013

The Wallops and Assateague Islands Report #2

Guest: Keith Kohler, NASA Public Relations Specialist

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Environment
1:11 pm
Mon March 4, 2013

Wallops and Assateague Islands Report #1

Guest: Amy Davis, Program Manager for the NASA Robotics Alliance Project

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Environment
12:52 am
Mon March 4, 2013

After Keystone Review, Environmentalists Vow To Continue Fight

Demonstrators carry a mock pipeline as they pass the White House to protest the Keystone Pipeline, in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 18, 2012.
Rod Lamkey Jr. The Washington Times /Landov

Originally published on Mon March 25, 2013 2:33 pm

Environmentalists have a hope.

If they can block the Keystone XL pipeline, they can keep Canada from developing more of its dirty tar sands oil. It takes a lot of energy to get it out of the ground and turn it into gasoline, so it has a bigger greenhouse gas footprint than conventional oil.

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Energy
4:32 pm
Fri March 1, 2013

Natural Gas Dethrones King Coal As Power Companies Look To Future

American Electric Power's natural gas-burning plant in Dresden, Ohio, is one of the energy company's new investments in alternatives to coal-burning plants.
Michael Williamson The Washington Post/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri March 1, 2013 8:01 pm

The way Americans get their electricity is changing. Coal is in decline. Natural gas is bursting out of the ground in record amounts. And the use of wind and solar energy is growing fast. All this is happening as power companies are trying to choose which kind of energy to bet on for the next several decades.

Until recently, half of these plants burned coal to make electricity. Now, that's down to about one-third. Since 2010, about 150 coal plants either have been retired or it's been announced they will be retired soon.

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The Salt
2:58 am
Fri March 1, 2013

Wild Bees Are Good For Crops, But Crops Are Bad For Bees

Wild bees, such as this Andrena bee visiting highbush blueberry flowers, play a key role in boosting crop yields.
Left photo by Rufus Isaac/AAAS; Right photo courtesy of Daniel M.N. Turner

Originally published on Tue March 5, 2013 12:13 pm

Some of the most healthful foods you can think of — blueberries, cranberries, apples, almonds and squash — would never get to your plate without the help of insects. No insects, no pollination. No pollination, no fruit.

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Around the Nation
2:28 pm
Thu February 28, 2013

After The Spill: The Environment And Economy Of The Gulf

Originally published on Thu February 28, 2013 2:30 pm

Transcript

NEAL CONAN, HOST:

This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. This week the federal government and Gulf Coast states took BP and its contractors to court seeking billions in civil damages for the disaster that began almost three years ago now, with the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig. Some call it the trial of the century.

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Environment
4:53 pm
Tue February 26, 2013

Scientists Discover 'Ghost Continent' Under Layers Of Rock In Indian Ocean

Originally published on Tue February 26, 2013 7:05 pm

Melissa Block speaks with Sid Perkins, a freelance writer specializing in earth sciences, about the recent discovery of a "lost microcontinent" submerged beneath the Indian Ocean.

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