Environment

Around the Nation
4:53 am
Sat August 9, 2014

New Mexico's Northern Landscape Gets A New Burst Of Color

Thanks to unusually heavy monsoon rains, mesa land east of Ghost Ranch in New Mexico has erupted into vibrant green life — an unusual sight in this region.
courtesy Harvey Day

Originally published on Sat August 9, 2014 11:40 am

Much of the American West is suffering from extreme drought this year. California is running out of water and wildfires have raged through Washington, Oregon and Idaho. But there is a bright spot out West — or, rather, a green spot. In New Mexico, unusually heavy late-summer rains have transformed the landscape.

It's a remarkable sight. The high desert is normally the color of baked pie crust; now, it's emerald.

Kirt Kempter, a geologist who lives in Santa Fe, says this transformation is far from ordinary.

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The Salt
5:36 pm
Fri August 8, 2014

Lake Erie's Toxic Bloom Has Ohio Farmers On The Defensive

Paul Herringshaw says farmers like him have been taking steps to reduce crop runoff for years.
Sarah Jane Tribble WCPN

Originally published on Fri August 8, 2014 7:15 pm

A giant algae bloom is still making the waters in the western part of Lake Erie look like a thick, green pea soup. Toxins in that muck seeped into the water supply of Toledo, Ohio, last weekend, forcing officials to ban nearly half a million people from using tap water. A big cause of the algae proliferation isn't a mystery — it's crop runoff. And local farmers are on the defensive.

Six miles from Lake Erie is Ron Schimming's 400-acre soybean and corn farm.

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Environment
5:21 pm
Fri August 8, 2014

If A Water Main Isn't Broke, Don't Fix It (For 300 Years?)

The UCLA campus was flooded last week after a 30-inch water main broke. The city of Los Angeles is on a 300-year replacement plan for its water system.
Mike Meadows AP

Originally published on Sun August 10, 2014 6:22 pm

Most of us don't really give it a second thought: We turn on the tap, pour a glass of water and drink it down. But the U.S. has experienced a number of water-related problems this year, from the toxic algae bloom on Lake Erie to a massive water main break in Los Angeles that spilled 20 million gallons of water, and a chemical spill into West Virginia's Elk River that fouled the drinking water supply.

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Environment
4:35 pm
Fri August 8, 2014

Lake Erie's Toxin-Fueled Bloom Has Ohio Famers On The Defensive

Originally published on Fri August 8, 2014 5:21 pm

A recent water crisis cast a light on fertilizers used by farmers in the region of Toledo, Ohio. Phosphorous in the fertilizer flows into Lake Erie and feeds an algal bloom, which contaminated the city's water supply. WCPN's Sarah Jane Tribble speaks to farmers about the long-term problem of pollution in Lake Erie.

The Two-Way
2:26 pm
Fri August 8, 2014

Iselle Lashes Hawaii's Big Island As Threat From Julio Fades

Spectators line the coast Thursday to watch surfers riding large swells generated by Iselle in Pohoiki, on the big island of Hawaii.
Bruce Omori EPA/LANDOV

Hurricane Iselle weakened into a tropical storm before it barreled ashore on the big island of Hawaii early Friday and raked the archipelago with strong winds and heavy rains, Hawaii Public Radio's Bill Dorman reports. It's the first such storm to hit the state in 22 years.

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The Salt
7:06 pm
Wed August 6, 2014

Mass. To Make Big Food Wasters Lose The Landfill

The Massachusetts Water Resources Agency will begin accepting food waste at its Deer Island anaerobic digester near Boston to produce biogas in 2014.
Rachel Schowalter/Massachusetts Clean Energy Center/Flickr

Originally published on Wed August 13, 2014 3:50 pm

Sure, there's plenty you can do with leftovers: foist them on your office mates or turn them into casserole.

But if you're a big food waste generator like a hospital or a supermarket, your scraps usually go to the landfill to rot.

In Massachusetts, that's about to change, as the state prepares to implement the most ambitious commercial food waste ban in the U.S.

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The Two-Way
9:46 am
Wed August 6, 2014

Hawaii, Which Almost Never Has Hurricanes, Is Getting Ready For 2

Hurricanes Iselle and Julio approach Hawaii on Wednesday.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Originally published on Wed August 6, 2014 11:30 am

Hawaii is preparing for two major storms this week, beginning with Hurricane Iselle, which is expected to weaken to a tropical storm by the time it arrives on Thursday. Hurricane Julio is expected to hit Saturday, again after weakening into a tropical storm.

Hawaii Public Radio's Bill Dorman tells our Newscast unit that residents and tourists are getting ready for the heavy rains, rough seas and 60 mph winds expected from the storms:

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NPR Story
5:08 am
Tue August 5, 2014

Phosphorous Fed Algae Bloom Threatened Toledo's Tap Water

Originally published on Tue August 5, 2014 10:47 am

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

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Environment
4:53 pm
Mon August 4, 2014

What Has Lake Erie So Sick?

Originally published on Mon August 4, 2014 7:09 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

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It's All Politics
3:29 am
Mon August 4, 2014

As Ballot Deadline Looms, A Muddied Debate Over Colo. Fracking

Just off Interstate Highway 25, Drill Rig 1548 of Encana Natural Gas stands near homes in the town of Frederick in Weld County, Colorado.
milehightraveler iStockPhoto

Originally published on Mon August 4, 2014 11:13 am

"Hello. Are you registered to vote in Colorado?"

It's a refrain many in the state have grown to loathe this summer — heard outside their favorite grocery store or shopping mall as signature gatherers race toward an Aug. 4 deadline to put four energy-related measures on the November ballot.

With two of those measures backed by environmentalists, and the other two by industry-supported groups, all of the energy talk is leading to confusion among potential voters.

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The Salt
10:52 am
Sun August 3, 2014

Taste For Rare, Wild Pangolin Is Driving The Mammal To Extinction

A government official releases a rescued baby pangolin into the Sumatran forest in July 2012 after Indonesian police intercepted 85 endangered pangolins.
AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon August 25, 2014 12:09 pm

Traditional Chinese medicine holds that the scales of a pangolin, a small ant-eating mammal, are "cool" and "salty." Eating those scales, the TCM thinking goes, may help expel wind, reduce swelling and boost lactation. But pangolin scales also seem to induce something far less beneficial: rapacity.

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Around the Nation
9:22 am
Sun August 3, 2014

As Wildfires Burn Through Funds, Washington Seeks New Way To Pay

Originally published on Mon August 25, 2014 12:06 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ARUN RATH, HOST:

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The Salt
5:55 am
Sun August 3, 2014

The Gift Of Graft: New York Artist's Tree To Grow 40 Kinds Of Fruit

Sam Van Aken's grafted fruit trees are still quite young, but this artist rendering shows what he expects the "Tree of 40 Fruit" to look like in springtime in a few years.
Courtesy of Sam Van Aken

Originally published on Mon August 25, 2014 11:59 am

It sounds like something out of Dr. Seuss, but artist Sam Van Aken is developing a tree that blooms in pink, fuchsia, purple and red in the spring — and that is capable of bearing 40 different kinds of fruit.

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Krulwich Wonders...
7:03 am
Sat August 2, 2014

Guess Who's Been Waiting In The Lobby For A Hundred Million Years?

Tanaka/Flickr

Originally published on Mon August 25, 2014 11:22 am

Sometimes the quiet ones surprise us.

Take moss — those fuzzy green pads you see on the sides of old trees, or hanging onto rocks. Who notices moss? It's just ... there, doing whatever it does — so slowly, so terribly slowly, that nobody bothers to think about it. Moss creeps up tree bark, sits quietly on crevasses in rocks. Moss is an old, old life form, one of the earliest plants to attach to land around 450 million years ago. It's very patient, very modest — but when you look closely, you discover it has super powers.

Pow! Crunch! Zap!

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Business
5:00 am
Fri August 1, 2014

Tensions Stir At EPA Hearings On New Emission Rules

Some 5,000 union members, led by the United Mine Workers of America, march outside the William S. Moorhead Federal Building on Thursday in Pittsburgh. The city hosted two days of public hearings by the Environmental Protection Agency on stricter pollution rules for coal-burning power plants.
Gene J. Puskar AP

Originally published on Fri August 1, 2014 7:14 am

The coal industry made its presence known in Pittsburgh this week for public hearings on President Obama's controversial plan to address climate change. A key element is rules the Environmental Protection Agency proposed in June. They would cut greenhouse gas emissions — chiefly carbon dioxide — from existing power plants. The national goal is 30 percent by 2030, based on 2005 levels.

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The Salt
4:21 pm
Thu July 31, 2014

Should We Return The Nutrients In Our Pee Back To The Farm?

More than 170 volunteers in the Brattleboro, Vt., area have contributed urine to the Rich Earth Institute field trials.
Mike Earley/Courtesy of Rich Earth Institute

Originally published on Tue August 5, 2014 12:35 pm

Let me guess how you feel about your urine: Get that smelly stuff away from me as fast as possible?

A small group of environmentalists in Vermont isn't as squeamish. Instead of flushing their pee down the drain, they're collecting it with special toilets that separate No. 1 and No. 2.

Then they're pooling the urine of the 170 volunteers in the pilot project (a quart or so, per person, daily) and eventually giving it to a farmer, who's putting it on her hay fields in place of synthetic fertilizer. The goal is to collect 6,000 gallons this year.

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U.S.
6:33 am
Thu July 31, 2014

Is Fracking To Blame For Increase In Quakes In Oklahoma?

Originally published on Thu July 31, 2014 8:12 am

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

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NPR Story
5:07 am
Thu July 31, 2014

Groundwater Is Drying Up Fast Under Western States, Study Finds

Originally published on Thu July 31, 2014 8:12 am

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Another battle is brewing over water in the West that could put farmers against city and suburb dwellers.

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

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Books
8:04 am
Wed July 30, 2014

Pop-Up Books Make Environmental Science Easy-Peasy For Kids

Originally published on Wed July 30, 2014 4:34 pm

For the average school kid, weighty, wonky topics like conservation, climate change and the circular economy might sound off-putting, if not downright dull. Yet Christiane Dorion has sold millions of children's books about these very concepts.

The trick? She never mentions them. "You can teach anything to children if you pitch it at the right level and use the right words," said the U.K.-based author.

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The Salt
6:49 am
Wed July 30, 2014

Farming The Bluefin Tuna, Tiger Of The Ocean, Is Not Without A Price

Yonathan Zohar, Jorge Gomezjurado and Odi Zmora check on bluefin tuna larvae in tanks at the University of Maryland Baltimore County's Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology.
Courtesy of Yonathan Zohar

Originally published on Wed July 30, 2014 3:21 pm

In a windowless laboratory in downtown Baltimore, some tiny, translucent fish larvae are swimming about in glass-walled tanks.

They are infant bluefin tuna. Scientists in this laboratory are trying to grasp what they call the holy grail of aquaculture: raising this powerful fish, so prized by sushi lovers, entirely in captivity. But the effort is fraught with challenges.

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The Salt
5:13 pm
Tue July 29, 2014

Want To Reduce Your Carbon Footprint? Choose Mackerel Over Shrimp

A fisherman pulls a basket filled with anchovies aboard a fishing boat off of Peru's northern port of Chimbote, in 2012. Peru is the world's top fishmeal exporter, producing about a third of worldwide supply.
Enrique Castro-Mendivil Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Thu July 31, 2014 4:05 pm

Small fatty fish like mackerel, herring, sardines and anchovies are high in omega-3s, vitamin D and low on the food chain.

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The Salt
2:53 pm
Tue July 29, 2014

Widely Used Insecticides Are Leaching Into Midwest Rivers

The U.S. Geological Survey found that neonicotinoids are leaching into streams and rivers in the Midwest, including the Missouri River, shown here in Leavenworth, Kan.
Dean Bergmann iStockphoto

Originally published on Tue July 29, 2014 4:42 pm

A class of insecticides called neonicotinoids, which are used on a lot of big corn and soybean fields, has been getting a pretty bad rap lately.

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The Two-Way
8:48 am
Tue July 29, 2014

White House Says Delayed Action On Climate Change Could Cost Billions

Originally published on Tue July 29, 2014 11:04 am

In a report issued Tuesday, the White House warned that the cost of inaction when it comes to climate change outweighs the cost of implementing more-stringent regulations on greenhouse gas emissions.

Here's how Time boils down the White House's argument:

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Environment
5:05 pm
Mon July 28, 2014

This Albino Redwood Tree Isn't Dead — But It Came Close

Originally published on Mon July 28, 2014 7:40 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

And now a story about an extremely rare albino tree. If you pass it on the street, it might look dead. It's not dead. It was almost killed. But now it's going to survive thanks, in part, to this guy.

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Krulwich Wonders...
12:19 pm
Mon July 28, 2014

Where The Birds Are Is Not Where You'd Think

Robert Krulwich/NPR

Originally published on Mon July 28, 2014 7:33 pm

This is a trick question. Where would you expect to find the greatest variety of birds?

Downtown, in a city?

Or far, far from downtown — in the fields, forests, mountains, where people are scarce?

Or in the suburbs? In backyards, lawns, parking lots and playing fields?

Not the city, right?

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Goats and Soda
9:20 am
Mon July 28, 2014

How Protecting Wildlife Helps Stop Child Labor And Slavery

A child grabs sleep after a long day of labor in a struggling West African fishery.
Courtesy of Jessica Pociask, WANT Expeditions

Originally published on Mon July 28, 2014 5:45 pm

When scientists talk about the destruction of rain forests or the acidification of oceans, we often hear about the tragic loss of plants and animals.

But ecologists at the University of California, Berkeley say there's also a human tragedy that frequently goes unnoticed: As fish and fauna are wiped out, more children around the world are forced to work, and more people are forced into indentured servitude, scientists wrote Thursday in the journal Science.

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The Salt
5:00 am
Mon July 28, 2014

Rust Devastates Guatemala's Prime Coffee Crop And Its Farmers

A worker dries coffee beans at a coffee plantation in Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala, in February 2013.
Moises Castillo AP

Originally published on Mon July 28, 2014 3:23 pm

Outside the northern Guatemalan town of Olopa, near the Honduran border, farmer Edwin Fernando Diaz Viera stands in the middle of his tiny coffee field. He says it was his lifelong dream to own a farm here. The area is renowned for producing some of the world's richest arabica, the smooth-tasting beans beloved by specialty coffee brewers.

"My farm was beautiful; it was big," he says.

But then, a plant fungus called coffee rust, or roya in Spanish, hit his crop.

"Coffee rust appeared and wiped out everything," he says.

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Science
5:00 am
Mon July 28, 2014

Shifts In Habitat May Threaten Ruddy Shorebird's Survival

Guided by biologists, volunteers briefly catch, band and release some of Delaware's visiting red knots each spring to monitor the health of the species.
Maggie Starbard NPR

Originally published on Tue July 29, 2014 12:01 pm

An intrepid bird called the red knot migrates from the southern tip of South America to the Arctic and back every year. But changes in climate along its route are putting this ultramarathoner at risk.

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NPR Story
8:35 am
Sat July 26, 2014

If All The Ice Melts, What Happens To Hockey?

Originally published on Sat July 26, 2014 1:32 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

The Salt
5:30 pm
Thu July 24, 2014

The Weird, Underappreciated World Of Plastic Packaging

Food companies spend a lot of time and resources coming up with the perfect plastic packaging to keep their products fresh.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri July 25, 2014 3:51 pm

Like it or not, plastic packaging has become an ingrained part of the food system.

While it's clearly wasteful to buy salad, sandwiches and chips encased in plastic and then promptly throw that plastic away, we take for granted how it keeps so much of what we eat fresh and portable.

And behind many of those packages that allow us to eat on the go or savor perishable cookies or fish imported from the other side of the globe is a whole lot of science and innovation.

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