Environment

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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Under The Label: Sustainable Seafood
2:38 pm
Mon February 11, 2013

Is Sustainable-Labeled Seafood Really Sustainable?

Capt. Art Gaeten holds a blue shark that was caught during a research trip in Nova Scotia. Scientists are studying the impact of swordfish fishing methods on the shark population.
Dean Casavechia for NPR

Originally published on Wed February 13, 2013 1:19 pm

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

Rebecca Weel pushes a baby stroller with her 18-month-old up to the seafood case at Whole Foods, near ground zero in New York. As she peers at shiny fillets of salmon, halibut and Chilean sea bass labeled "certified sustainable," Weel believes that if she purchases this seafood, she will help protect the world's oceans from overfishing.

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Energy
5:36 am
Mon February 11, 2013

U.S. Natural Gas Exports Stirs Debate

Originally published on Mon February 11, 2013 11:41 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Now, tomorrow President Obama delivers his State of the Union address, and may well discuss energy, as he did four years ago. But energy analyst Sarah Ladislaw says a daunting goal is getting trickier.

SARAH LADISLAW: This administration did not come in with small plans for energy markets or for energy policy. Their big plan was to try and de-carbonize the energy sector.

INSKEEP: Reduce carbon emissions by relying less on coal, oil and gas.

LADISLAW: Primarily done for the purpose of battling climate change.

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Environment
5:03 am
Sun February 10, 2013

Is The Earth Cooking Up A Super Volcano?

Plosky Tolbachnik volcano erupts in Russia's Far Eastern Kamchatka Peninsula on Jan. 6, 2013. It's not a so-called "super volcano," but every million years or so scientists say the Earth burps up volcanoes that can erupt for thousands of years.
Alexander Petrov AP

Originally published on Sun February 10, 2013 8:38 am

Every few million years or so, the Earth burps up a gargantuan volcano.

These aren't like volcanoes in our lifetimes; these "super volcanoes" can erupt continuously for thousands of years. While they might be rare, you'd best look out when one hits.

The ash and volcanic gases from these volcanoes can wipe out most living things over large parts of the planet. Michael Thorne, a seismologist at the University of Utah, has some clues about what causes these big eruptions.

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Around the Nation
4:57 pm
Fri February 8, 2013

Growing University Highlights Connecticut's Water Woes

The expanding University of Connecticut is looking at the Farmington River as a water source, but some say recent weather fluctuation paints an uncertain picture for the river.
Neena Satija WNPR

Originally published on Fri February 8, 2013 11:03 pm

Lack of water supply isn't just an issue in hot spots like Texas, Colorado and the Mississippi; it has also become a problem in the Northeast, where rivers are drying out in the summers and infrastructure developments are competing more for resources.

One of the area's biggest public universities, the University of Connecticut, needs more water. But plans to obtain it are generating controversy in a region where the availability of water is becoming more and more unpredictable.

The Water Source

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Technology
1:16 pm
Fri February 8, 2013

Automakers Drive Towards Hydrogen Cars

Toyota and BMW have formed an alliance to work on fuel cell cars. So have Daimler, Ford, and Nissan, with hopes of having cars on the road by 2017. But why now, and what obstacles still stand in the way? Jennifer Kurtz discusses the current state of hydrogen fuel technology.

The Salt
5:33 pm
Thu February 7, 2013

Animal Magnetism: How Salmon Find Their Way Back Home

Bright red sockeye salmon swim up the Fraser River to the stream where they were hatched.
Current Biology, Putman et al.

Originally published on Fri February 8, 2013 2:50 pm

Before they end up filleted and sautéed on your dinner plate, salmon lead some pretty extraordinary, globe-trotting lives.

After hatching in a freshwater stream, young salmon make a break for the ocean, where they hang out for years, covering thousands of miles before deciding its time to settle down and lay eggs in their natal stream.

So how do these fish find their way back to their home river?

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Politics
6:39 am
Thu February 7, 2013

Obama Picks REI Ceo Jewell To Head Interior

Originally published on Thu February 7, 2013 3:07 pm

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And I'm David Greene.

Let's meet the woman who may be the nation's next Secretary of the Interior. President Barack Obama has named Sally Jewell to the post. She still needs to be confirmed by the Senate. Jewell does not have a background in government or politics. She's CEO of the outdoor gear company REI. Supporters say her love of the outdoors goes much deeper than that. And they say she has a savvy social conscience.

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Planet Money
3:34 am
Thu February 7, 2013

'Give Me The Money Or I'll Shoot The Trees'

Pay up, or the bird gets it. (A hoatzin perches on a branch in Yasuni National Park.)
Pablo Cozzaglio AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu February 7, 2013 3:07 pm

Ecuador's Yasuni National Park is one of the most diverse ecosystems on Earth. But there's a complication: The park sits on top of the equivalent of millions of barrels of oil.

This creates a dilemma.

Ecuador prides itself on being pro-environment. Its constitution gives nature special rights. But Ecuador is a relatively poor country that could desperately use the money from the oil.

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Around the Nation
6:12 pm
Wed February 6, 2013

Questions Sprout Up Over Razed California Wildlife Reserve

The Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Reserve after the land was stripped by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Several advocates, including elected leaders, are protesting the move.
Courtesy of Mathew Tekulsky

Originally published on Wed February 6, 2013 7:23 pm

Just a stone's throw from two of Los Angeles' busiest freeways lies the Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Reserve, a unique spot in an urban jungle.

The northern portion of the reserve is adorned with 30-foot-tall cottonwood trees, spots of coyote bush and other plants. Native plants cover 50 percent of the nature spot, says Kris Ohlenkamp with the San Fernando Valley Audubon Society.

"On the other side it was significantly more than that," he says.

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U.S.
3:59 pm
Wed February 6, 2013

As Drought Intensifies, 2 States Dig In Over Water War

Harlan County Lake, the Republican River's main reservoir in Nebraska, dropped 10 feet during the summer drought and hasn't recovered.
Grant Gerlock

Originally published on Wed February 6, 2013 7:28 pm

Epic water battles are the stuff of history and legend, especially in the West. And as a severe drought drags on in the Midwest, a water war is being waged over a river that irrigates agriculture in Colorado, Nebraska and Kansas.

It's that last border crossing where this water war is under way. Kansas has gone to the Supreme Court to argue that Nebraska uses too much water from the Republican River, and that there's not enough left for Kansas farmers.

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Politics
6:26 am
Tue February 5, 2013

Obama Speech Expected To Flesh Out Climate Proposals

Originally published on Tue February 5, 2013 1:47 pm

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

President Obama delivers his State of Union address a week from today. That speech is expected to expand on proposals the president put forth at his inauguration. One surprise in his inaugural address was a call to do more on climate change - that after a campaign that mostly ignored concerns about the environment. NPR's Ari Shapiro looks at what environmental groups are expecting now.

ARI SHAPIRO, BYLINE: President Obama's inaugural address spent a full eight sentences on climate, more than any other subject.

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Business
6:25 pm
Mon February 4, 2013

How One Company Reinvented The Hand Dryer

Craig McCarl dips Xlerator covers two at a time into a chrome bath. He has worked for Excel Dryer in East Longmeadow, Mass., for 31 years.
Andrea Hsu NPR

Originally published on Tue February 5, 2013 4:52 pm

There's a lot of talk in politics about the desirability of American manufacturing and "green" jobs. President Obama talks about both often, especially wind turbines and long-lasting batteries that are made on U.S. soil.

Robert Siegel, host of All Things Considered, recently visited a Massachusetts factory that makes a product that hits those same parameters. It's arguably a force for sustainability, nearly 40 Americans assemble it, and it's an interesting case study in innovation: the high-speed hand dryer.

'We Had A Product People Hated To Use'

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Energy
5:19 am
Mon February 4, 2013

Environmentalists Oppose Shipping Fracking Waste By Barge

Originally published on Mon February 4, 2013 12:09 pm

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

States like Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ohio have seen an increase in oil and gas drilling recently. And this process, hydraulic fracturing or fracking, has created a lot of something else: liquid waste. Now, one disposal company has come up with a controversial plan for transporting that waste, taking it off trucks and putting it, instead, on barges.

That proposal is triggering what has become yet another safety debate between the drilling industry and some environmentalists.

From Athens Ohio, Fred Kight has the story.

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World
3:34 am
Mon February 4, 2013

Tsunami Debris On Alaska's Shores Like 'Standing In Landfill'

Trash, much of it believed to be debris from the 2011 Japanese tsunami, litters the beach on Montague Island, Alaska, on Jan. 26.
Annie Feidt for NPR

Originally published on Wed February 6, 2013 10:51 am

Refrigerators, foam buoys and even ketchup bottles are piling up on Alaska's beaches. Almost two years after the devastating Japanese tsunami, its debris and rubbish are fouling the coastlines of many states — especially in Alaska.

At the state's Montague Island beach, the nearly 80 miles of rugged wilderness looks pristine from a helicopter a few thousand feet up. But when you descend, globs of foam come into view.

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Animals
3:13 pm
Sun February 3, 2013

Wood Stork's Endangered Status Is Up In The Air

A wood stork soars over its nest in Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary near Fort Myers, Fla., in 2008, as baby wood storks wait in their nest for an adult to bring food.
Peter Andrew Bosch MCT /Landov

Originally published on Sun February 3, 2013 6:16 pm

The last few years have been especially tough in South Florida for wading birds such as egrets, herons, ibises and wood storks that feed and nest in the region's wetlands.

The problem is there are fewer wetlands, and the last few years have been dry, reducing water levels in critical areas.

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Author Interviews
2:36 pm
Sat February 2, 2013

The Inconvenient Truth About Polar Bears

A polar bear looks up as the sound of the camera catches his ear on the edge of the Hudson Bay, outside Churchill, Manitoba, Canada.
Paul J. Richards AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sat February 2, 2013 6:41 pm

In 2008, reports of polar bears' inevitable march toward extinction gripped headlines. Stories of thinning Arctic ice and even polar bear cannibalism combined to make these predators into a powerful symbol in the debate about climate change.

The headlines caught Zac Unger's attention, and he decided to write a book about the bears.

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Environment
1:03 pm
Fri February 1, 2013

Are We Losing The Race Against Climate Change?

Originally published on Fri February 1, 2013 1:46 pm

China burns nearly as much coal as the rest of the world combined--and has 300 more coal plants in the works. But China also leads the world in solar panel exports and wind farms, and has a national climate change policy in place. Is the U.S. falling behind on climate? Ira Flatow and guests discuss how the world is tackling global warming--with or without us--and what it might take to change the climate on Capitol Hill.

Environment
6:09 pm
Wed January 30, 2013

China's Insatiable Demand For Timber Destroys Cambodia's Forests

Originally published on Wed January 30, 2013 8:29 pm

Cambodia's forests are being destroyed at a dizzying pace, with much of the wood destined for China. Much of the logging is carried out illegally — and people who get in the way of the loggers face violence and in some cases death.

Krulwich Wonders...
2:11 pm
Wed January 30, 2013

Pale Blue Blobs Invade, Freeze, Then Vanish

Courtesy of Emmanuel Coupe Kalomiris

It's a lake, yes. But it's also a bomb. Those pale blue blobs, stacked like floating pancakes down at the bottom of this photograph? They're astonishingly beautiful, yes, but they can be dangerous.

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Superstorm Sandy: Before, During And Beyond
5:41 pm
Tue January 29, 2013

Sand After Sandy: Scientists Map Sea Floor For Sediment

Highly detailed sonar systems aboard the research vessel Pritchard gave researchers a clear view of the sediment on the seafloor off Long Island.
Courtesy of John Goff University Of Texas

Originally published on Mon February 4, 2013 2:29 pm

Congress has now agreed to give some $60 billion to states damaged by Hurricane Sandy. A lot will go to Long Island, one of the hardest hit areas. Besides damages to homes and businesses, its system of protective barrier islands and beaches were partially washed away.

Scientists are trying to find out where that sand and sediment went, and whether it can be used to rebuild Long Island's defenses.

In January. On a boat in Long Island Bay.

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Research News
3:38 am
Tue January 29, 2013

Bird, Plane, Bacteria? Microbes Thrive In Storm Clouds

The eye of Hurricane Earl in the Atlantic Ocean, seen from a NASA research aircraft on Aug. 30, 2010. This flight through the eyewall caught Earl just as it was intensifying from a Category 2 to a Category 4 hurricane. Researchers collected air samples on this flight from about 30,000 feet over both land and sea and close to 100 different species of bacteria.
Jane Peterson NASA

Originally published on Tue January 29, 2013 8:36 am

Microbes are known to be able to thrive in extreme environments, from inside fiery volcanoes to down on the bottom of the ocean. Now scientists have found a surprising number of them living in storm clouds tens of thousands of feet above the Earth. And those airborne microbes could play a role in global climate.

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It's All Politics
6:24 pm
Mon January 28, 2013

On Climate Change, Americans May Trust Politics Above Preachers

Pope Benedict XVI leads prayers on Nov. 27, 2011, in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican. The leader of the world's Roman Catholic Church called for a "responsible, credible and united response" to the problem of climate change. But in the U.S. at least, studies show the view even of religious Americans on climate change is much more likely to be shaped by their politics than their faith.
Vincenzo Pinto AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon January 28, 2013 7:27 pm

When President Obama during his inauguration speech made a case for tackling human-driven climate change, it felt like deja vu for many in the environmental community — including members of religious groups who have long looked to him for action.

After all, Obama made a similar pledge during his first inauguration address in 2009, and left-leaning and progressive faith-based organizations were among activist groups that pushed for quick congressional action on major climate legislation.

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Environment
5:09 pm
Mon January 28, 2013

The Silver Lining In Drought: 5 Upsides To Rain-Free Weather

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Mon January 28, 2013 6:23 pm

Drought is mostly seen as a bad thing — and for good reason. It dries up crops, destroys landscaping and stops ships from moving. But even the lack of rain clouds has a bright side.

Good For Grapes

Last summer it seemed like all Midwestern farmers were upset over the lack of rain. But not all of them were; those growing grapes were embracing the drought.

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Energy
5:52 am
Sun January 27, 2013

Focus On Fracking Diverts Attention From Horizontal Drilling

Opponents of fracking demonstrate during the Winter X Games 2012 in Aspen, Colo.
Doug Pensinger Getty Images

Originally published on Sun January 27, 2013 10:00 am

Mention the recent surge in oil and natural gas production in the U.S. and one word comes to mind for a lot of people: "fracking." Hydraulic fracturing is a controversial technique that uses water, sand and potentially hazardous chemicals to break up rock deep underground to release oil and natural gas.

But there's another technology that is just as responsible for drilling booms happening across the country: horizontal drilling.

Environmental Consequences

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Environment
5:23 pm
Fri January 25, 2013

In Arizona, Some Retirees Caught In Never-Ending Battle With Invasive Species

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

We go now to Arizona, a magnet for retirees, and for some the answer to the question how should I spend my spare time is this: How about swinging a pick axe in the desert? NPR's Ted Robbins sent this postcard from Ironwood Forest National Monument.

TED ROBBINS, BYLINE: This must be Gary Borax's idea of a good time because he keeps coming back.

GARY BORAX: I've probably been out here 30, 40 times over the years and nearly half of those buffel grass-related.

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Environment
1:03 pm
Fri January 25, 2013

Months After Sandy, Mucking And Gutting

On a recent day in the Rockaways, a neighborhood in Queens, N.Y., hazmat-suited volunteers far outnumber anyone else on the streets. They are "mucking and gutting" — stripping homes to the studs to remove mold. Many residents are concerned about the health effects of mold exposure, according to community organizer Peter Corless. Mycologist Joan Bennett has been sampling fungi in homes damaged by Sandy to determine which species are present.

Environment
1:03 pm
Fri January 25, 2013

Shoring Up The Nation's Crumbling Coastlines

Originally published on Mon January 28, 2013 11:20 am

Transcript

IRA FLATOW, HOST:

Hurricane Sandy battered the coastline here in New York and New Jersey. Take the city of Long Beach on Long Island. In 2006, the city council unanimously rejected a plan to construct 15-foot-high dunes on the beach there, saying that the 15-foot-high dunes would block ocean views, lower property values, affect surfers' waves.

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NPR Story
12:06 pm
Fri January 25, 2013

Cold Snap Shakes Up Winter Weather Outlook

Originally published on Fri January 25, 2013 1:03 pm

Unusual activity in the atmosphere over the Arctic Circle is triggering snow and frigid temperatures across Canada, the U.S. and parts of Europe. Climatologist Jeff Weber, of the University Corporation of Atmospheric Research, explains why this winter could pack a punch.

Politics
5:23 am
Wed January 23, 2013

Obama Wants To Build On Climate Accomplishments

Originally published on Wed January 23, 2013 8:13 am

President Obama vowed in this week's inaugural speech to address climate change. The comments recevied a chilly reception in Congress. There are, however, steps the administration can take on its own.

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