Environment

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.

Health
5:01 pm
Mon February 25, 2013

Increased Humidity From Climate Change Could Make It Harder To Tolerate Summers

Originally published on Mon February 25, 2013 7:23 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Now, a story about heat, the sweaty, miserable kind. Heat plus humidity. Working outdoors or playing sports on a hot, muggy day can be dangerous, even deadly. And as the climate continues to warm, being outside will become even more challenging. Those are the findings of a new study in the journal Nature Climate Change.

NPR's Richard Harris tells us more.

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Law
5:01 pm
Mon February 25, 2013

Civil Trial Against BP Seeks To Place Blame For Gulf Oil Spill

Originally published on Mon February 25, 2013 7:23 pm

The long-awaited BP trial opened Monday in New Orleans. The oil giant is in court to determine how much it should pay because of the massive 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Audie Cornish talks to Jeff Brady.

Law
5:55 am
Mon February 25, 2013

Trial Against BP To Begin Over 2010 Rig Explosion

Originally published on Mon February 25, 2013 9:11 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. Good morning. I'm Steve Inskeep.

The worst environmental disaster in American history is the subject of a trial that is beginning today. It's a big and complicated civil lawsuit stemming from the 2010 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico - and, of course, the spill that followed that.

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The Two-Way
2:40 pm
Fri February 22, 2013

Aquarium Dumping Linked To Giant Tahoe Goldfish

You're going to need a bigger fishbowl.

Scientists searching for invasive species in Lake Tahoe scooped up a bright orange goldfish measuring nearly a foot and a half long and weighing more than 4 pounds, according to the website Live Science. (You can see it here.)

Environmental scientist Sudeep Chandra says a survey has uncovered a "nice corner" of the lake where about 15 other giant goldfish were living, apparently after being dumped there by aquarium owners.

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The Salt
1:42 pm
Fri February 22, 2013

Despite Lingering Drought, USDA Predicts A Flood Of Grain

Originally published on Fri February 22, 2013 2:51 pm

Economists at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, gazing into their crystal ball, see American farmers planting and harvesting huge amounts of corn, soybeans, and wheat this year. They're predicting a record harvest of corn: 14 billion bushels, up nearly 40 percent over last year's drought-crippled level.

With supply up, prices will fall. The USDA thinks that the price of the average bushel of corn could fall by a third. And soybean production and price are expected to follow a similar track.

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NPR Story
11:22 am
Fri February 22, 2013

How Wood Smoke is Dirtying Alaska's Air

Originally published on Fri February 22, 2013 1:03 pm

In Fairbanks, Alaska, residents are using wood stoves to heat their homes during the frigid winter months. But, smoke created by these wood burners is contributing to some of the worst air pollution in the country. Cathy Cahill discusses air quality in the Last Frontier.

The Two-Way
11:54 am
Thu February 21, 2013

Want To Be In The Dark? Death Valley Is Among 20 Recommended Places

The Racetrack area in Death Valley National Park, which boasts one of the darkest night skies in the U.S.
Dan Duriscoe National Park Service

Originally published on Thu February 21, 2013 12:29 pm

Hearing that the International Dark Sky Association has declared that Death Valley National Park is now the world's largest "international dark sky park" sent us in search of other places that the organization recommends if you really like "star-filled nights."

The association, which tries to "call attention to the hazards of light pollution," has recognized:

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The Salt
5:15 pm
Wed February 20, 2013

Smaller But Better? Organic Tomatoes May Pack More Nutritional Punch

Originally published on Thu February 21, 2013 2:05 pm

A new study published in the journal PLOS ONE finds that tomatoes grown on organic farms were about 40 percent smaller than conventionally grown tomatoes. The upside? They pack more of a nutritional punch. The researchers found the organic tomatoes had significantly higher levels of vitamin C, sugar and lycopene.

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The Picture Show
11:49 am
Wed February 20, 2013

Earth As Art: 'How Did Nature Do That?'

Carnegie Lake, Australia, 1999 Carnegie Lake in Western Australia fills with water only during periods of significant rainfall. In dry years, it is reduced to a muddy marsh. Flooded areas appear dark blue or black, vegetation appears in shades of dark and light green, and sands, soils and minerals appear in a variety of colors.
NASA

Originally published on Wed February 20, 2013 1:04 pm

Satellites are powerful tools. They beam our TV signals, phone calls and data around the planet. They help us spy, they track storms, they power the GPS signals in our cars and on our phones. But they also send back striking, totally disarming images of planet Earth.

This set of images is all about showing off the "beauty of the Earth," says Lawrence Friedl, the director of NASA's Applied Sciences Program and the editor of a project called Earth as Art. "We want people to look at these images and say, 'How did nature do that?' "

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Around the Nation
4:09 pm
Tue February 19, 2013

Cold War Bunker Network Repurposed For 21st Century Threats

WBT radio's bomb shelter in Charlotte, N.C., part of a government-funded emergency communications network, as it looked in 1963.
Courtesy of Jerry Dowd

Originally published on Tue February 19, 2013 6:42 pm

There's an underground bunker at a radio station in Charlotte, N.C., where time has stopped. Built decades ago to provide safety and vital communications in the event of a nuclear attack, it's now a perfectly preserved relic of Cold War fear that's gained new relevance.

The secret bunker is part of the office lore that old-timers at WBT Radio whisper to the newbies. That's how radio host Mike Collins learned of it back in the 1980s.

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The Two-Way
12:10 pm
Tue February 19, 2013

Judge OKs Transocean's $1 Billion Civil Settlement Over Gulf Oil Spill

A federal judge in New Orleans has approved a $1 billion civil settlement over its role in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill where 11 men died in April of 2010, the AP reports.

As we reported back in January, federal authorities blamed Transocean "for acting negligently when the rig's crew proceeded with maneuvers to the deep-sea well in the face of clear danger signals that oil and natural gas were flowing."

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The Salt
10:58 am
Tue February 19, 2013

Pictures Don't Lie: Corn And Soybeans Are Conquering U.S. Grasslands

A corn field is shrouded in mist at sunrise in rural Springfield, Neb.
Nati Harnik AP

Originally published on Tue February 19, 2013 1:56 pm

For years, I've been hearing stories about the changing agricultural landscape of the northern plains. Grasslands are disappearing, farmers told me. They're being replaced by fields of corn and soybeans.

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Environment
3:14 am
Tue February 19, 2013

Forecasting Climate With A Chance Of Backlash

Jim Gandy, chief meteorologist for WLTX, in Columbia, S.C.
Brian Dressler Courtesy of WLTX

Originally published on Tue February 19, 2013 5:31 pm

When it comes to climate change, Americans place great trust in their local TV weathercaster, which has led climate experts to see huge potential for public education.

The only problem? Polls show most weather presenters don't know much about climate science, and many who do are fearful of talking about something so polarizing.

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Environment
5:37 am
Mon February 18, 2013

Protesters Call On Obama To Reject Keystone XL Pipeline

Dr. J. William Hirzy, a chemistry professor at American Universiy, rests outside the rally route with a graph he uses to teach his students about the relationship between atmospheric carbon dioxide and global temperature.
Daniel M.N. Turner NPR

Originally published on Wed February 20, 2013 4:33 pm

Tens of thousands of protesters turned out on the National Mall Sunday to encourage President Obama to make good on his commitment to act on climate change.

In his Inaugural address from outside the U.S. Capitol, the president said: "We will respond to the threat of climate change knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations."

Just a few weeks later, next to the Washington Monument, Paul Birkeland was one of a couple dozen people holding a long white tube above their heads.

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The Salt
3:02 pm
Sun February 17, 2013

Should You Be Worried About Your Meat's Phosphorus Footprint?

A tractor spreads fertilizer at a dairy farm in Morrinsville, New Zealand.
Sandra Mu Getty Images

Originally published on Tue February 19, 2013 10:36 am

If you've ever played around with one of those carbon or water footprint calculators, you probably know that meat production demands a lot from the environment — a lot of oil, water and land. (Check out the infographic we did on what goes into a hamburger last year for Meat Week.)

But have you thought about your meat's phosphorus footprint? Probably not.

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The Two-Way
10:45 am
Sat February 16, 2013

Nuclear Waste Seeping From Container In Hazardous Wash. State Facility

Workers at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation near Richland, Wash., in 2010.
Shannon Dininny AP

Originally published on Sat February 16, 2013 1:24 pm

They thought they'd managed this problem a few years ago. But Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee got a disturbing call Friday from Energy Secretary Steven Chu: Nuclear waste is leaking out of a tank in one of the most contaminated nuclear waste sites in the U.S.

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Superstorm Sandy: Before, During And Beyond
4:18 pm
Fri February 15, 2013

After Sandy, Not All Sand Dunes Are Created Equal

Daniel Riscoe, Jenna Hart, Anthony Chau and Caroline Lloyd (all students from the Peddie School in Hightstown, N.J.) carry donated Christmas trees across Island Beach.
Adam Cole NPR

Originally published on Fri February 15, 2013 5:04 pm

When Superstorm Sandy hit Island Beach State Park — one of the last remnants of New Jersey's barrier island ecosystem — it flattened the dunes, pushing all that sand hundreds of feet inland.

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Shots - Health News
1:27 pm
Fri February 15, 2013

Don't Count On Extra Weight To Help You In Old Age

Extra weight is no defense against aging, says a demographer who argues that the apparent benefits from being overweight are a mirage.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Tue February 19, 2013 9:47 am

Wouldn't it be great, considering how many of us are overweight, if carrying a few extra pounds meant we'd live longer?

A recent analysis of nearly 100 published studies involving almost 3 million people found, surprisingly, that being a little overweight was associated with a lower risk of death than having a normal weight or being obese.

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Business
6:12 am
Fri February 15, 2013

Federal Charges Filed In Ohio Dumping Case

Originally published on Fri February 15, 2013 8:39 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

In Youngstown, Ohio, the owner of an oil and natural gas drilling company has been charged with a violating the Federal Clean Water Act. He's accused of dumping tens of thousands of gallons of drilling waste water into a storm sewer that eventually runs into a local river.

From member station WKSU, M.L. Schultze has more.

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The Salt
1:39 pm
Thu February 14, 2013

When Resistance Is Futile: Bring In The Robots To Pull Superweeds

An illustration imagines what a weed-seeking robot could look like, armed with different tools to attack different problem plants.
Courtesy Steve Young

Originally published on Thu February 14, 2013 2:08 pm

A future without weeds would be a kind of farmer utopia, but currently, herbicide-resistant "superweeds" are part of today's reality. Some researchers, though, are looking for a solution that seems ripped from science fiction: weed-seeking robots.

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The Salt
12:33 pm
Wed February 13, 2013

Marine Stewardship Council Responds To NPR Series On Sustainable Seafood

Swordfish from Canada feature a label from the Marine Stewardship Council at a Whole Foods in Washington, D.C.
Margot Williams NPR

Originally published on Wed February 13, 2013 2:32 pm

Earlier this week, NPR aired a three-part investigation of the Marine Stewardship Council on Morning Edition and All Things Considered.

As Daniel Zwerdling and Margot Williams reported, the MSC certifies seafood that is supposed to be good for the environment. But some environmental groups argue that the label is misleading, and that as more retailers promise to sell only sustainable-labeled seafood, the program is certifying fisheries that don't deserve it.

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All Tech Considered
3:09 pm
Tue February 12, 2013

This App Uses The Power Of You To Report The Weather

This map shows data reported by users of the mPING app during Friday's blizzard in the Northeast.
The PING Project

Originally published on Mon February 25, 2013 1:19 pm

If you love to talk about the weather — or want to help collect information about it — a new smartphone app may be for you.

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The Salt
1:52 pm
Tue February 12, 2013

Most Americans Eager To Buy Seafood That's 'Sustainable'

Swordfish from Canada are marked with a label from the Marine Stewardship Council at a Whole Foods in Washington, D.C. The MSC says its label means the fish were caught by a sustainable fishery, but critics says it's not always so clear.
Margot Williams NPR

Originally published on Tue February 12, 2013 2:31 pm

This week, our colleagues Daniel Zwerdling and Margot Williams with NPR's investigations unit have a terrific three-part series on the Marine Stewardship Council. As they report, the MSC's labels tell consumers which seafood is supposed to be good or bad for the environment.

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The Salt
8:37 am
Tue February 12, 2013

Why Russia Is Saying 'Nyet' To U.S. Meat Imports

A man buys meat at a butcher's stand in Moscow's Dorogomilovsky market in 2011. On Monday, Russia began blocking U.S. meat imports until those imports are ractopamine-free.
Natalia Kolesnikova AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu February 14, 2013 1:36 pm

Chances are, you've never heard of ractopamine. But as of Monday, U.S. meat exports to Russia — worth $500 million dollars a year — have been suspended, all because of this obscure chemical.

Russian officials say American meat products won't be allowed into their country unless the meat is certified free of ractopamine.

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Under The Label: Sustainable Seafood
7:35 pm
Mon February 11, 2013

For A Florida Fishery, 'Sustainable' Success After Complex Process

Dennis Roseman, left, and Jamie Manganello pull in a swordfish off the coast of Florida. The Day Boat Seafood company went through a complicated process to become certified as a sustainable fishery by the Marine Stewardship Council.
Chip Litherland for NPR

Originally published on Mon February 25, 2013 1:19 pm

Part three of a three-part series by Daniel Zwerdling and Margot Williams.

The long, clunky-looking fishing boat pulls up to Day Boat Seafood's dock near Fort Pierce, Fla., after 10 days out in the Atlantic. The crew lowers a thick rope into the hold, and begins hoisting 300-pound swordfish off their bed of ice and onto a slippery metal scale.

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Under The Label: Sustainable Seafood
6:42 pm
Mon February 11, 2013

Conditions Allow For More Sustainable-Labeled Seafood

A sockeye salmon that was caught from the research vessel Miss Delta off the coast of Vancouver is examined. The MSC has certified the fish as "sustainable" even though there is concern from scientists and environmentalists.
Brett Beadle for NPR

Originally published on Wed February 13, 2013 1:24 pm

Part two of a three-part series by Daniel Zwerdling and Margot Williams.

Next time you walk up to the seafood counter, look for products labeled with a blue fish, a check mark, and the words "Certified Sustainable Seafood MSC." Then ask yourself, "What does this label mean?"

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The Salt
4:30 pm
Mon February 11, 2013

Pig Manure Reveals More Reason To Worry About Antibiotics

Pigs at a farm in Beijing peer out at visitors. Half of all the pigs in the world live in China.
Ng Han Guan AP

Originally published on Wed February 13, 2013 2:52 pm

There's a global campaign to force meat producers to rein in their use of antibiotics on pigs, chickens and cattle. European countries, especially Denmark and the Netherlands, have taken the lead. The U.S. is moving, haltingly, toward similar restrictions.

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