Environment

Environment
6:54 am
Sat December 8, 2012

Saving Ancient Trees With Clones

Originally published on Sat December 8, 2012 7:38 am

Weekend Edition Saturday host Scott Simon talks with David Milarch of the Archangel Ancient Tree Archive about their project to plant clones of ancients tree on the Oregon coast.

Environment
5:17 pm
Fri December 7, 2012

At Doha Climate Talks, Modest Results At Best

Delegates attend the last day of the U.N. climate talks in Doha, Qatar, on Friday. U.N. climate negotiators locked horns on the final day of talks in Doha to halt the march of global warming, deeply divided on extending the greenhouse gas-curbing Kyoto Protocol and funding for poor countries.
Karim Jaafar AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri December 7, 2012 11:50 pm

United Nations climate talks ran into overtime on Friday night, as diplomats pressed for whatever small advantage they could achieve.

As usual, the talks, which are being held in Doha, Qatar, involve closely interwoven issues. They include the usual wrangling over money, as well as early efforts in a multiyear process that is supposed to result in a new climate treaty.

Part of that involves finding a graceful way to phase out the Kyoto treaty, which has not proved to be a successful strategy for dealing with a warming planet.

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NPR Story
12:00 pm
Fri December 7, 2012

Blue Whale Barrel Roll Caught On Camera

Transcript

FLORA LICHTMAN, BYLINE: We're ending this hour into the sea, Ira. Could you tell?

IRA FLATOW, HOST:

Ooh, yeah. I like it.

LICHTMAN: The noise you're hearing comes from a blue whale; that's an animal that can reach 90 feet in length, which is longer than a tennis court. Biologist...

JEREMY GOLDBOGEN: Hands down, these are largest animals of all time. And so one of the questions we're interested in is how do they sustain such an extreme body mass and why don't we see anything bigger than a blue whale?

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NPR Story
12:00 pm
Fri December 7, 2012

(for scifri) Unlocking A Lake's Bacterial Secrets, Beneath 20 Meters Of Ice

Originally published on Fri December 7, 2012 1:03 pm

What does life truly need to survive? Writing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Alison Murray and colleagues describe a community of unusual bacteria that survive under 20 meters of ice in the dark, salty, sub-freezing waters of Lake Vida, Antarctica.

Environment
4:55 am
Fri December 7, 2012

World Bank Issues Alarming Climate Report

Originally published on Fri December 7, 2012 7:20 am

Countries attending U.N. climate talks were not able to come up with any major agreements on reducing carbon emissions and slowing global warming. This comes after the World Bank issued a report predicting global temperatures could rise by 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century — possibly sooner if current promises to curb emission are not kept. Renee Montagne talks about this with World Bank President Jim Yong Kim.

Environment
4:47 pm
Wed December 5, 2012

In Arid West, Cheatgrass Turns Fires Into Infernos

The Constantina Fire burning in Long Valley, Calif., in 2010, very likely started in cheatgrass.
Courtesy of Nolan Preece

Originally published on Wed December 5, 2012 6:36 pm

Cheatgrass is about as Western as cowboy boots and sagebrush. It grows in yellowish clumps, about knee high to a horse, and likes arid land.

One thing cheatgrass does is burn — in fact, more easily than anyone realized. That's the conclusion from a new study that says cheatgrass is making Western wildfires worse.

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The Picture Show
4:11 pm
Wed December 5, 2012

New NASA Images Show The Earth's Electric Light Show

Northern Africa
Suomi NPP Satellite NASA Earth Observatory

Originally published on Thu December 6, 2012 9:44 am

"The night is nowhere as dark as we might think."

That's the word from Mitch Goldberg, program scientist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association's Joint Polar Satellite System. Together with NASA, scientists have unveiled a new composite, cloud-free image of our planet at night.

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Krulwich Wonders...
11:47 am
Tue December 4, 2012

New Superhero, 3,200 Years Old, Turns Air Into Wood Superfast

Robert Krulwich NPR

This is for you, Martina Navratilova, for you, Nolan Ryan, for you, Methuselah, for you, Jimmy Carter, and for all of you reading this if you're on the "wrong" side of 50 but still pumping. This week, we've got ourselves a role model, a poster boy for robust old age.

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All Tech Considered
5:58 am
Sun December 2, 2012

The Sight Of Road Kill Makes A Pretty, Data-Rich Picture

When wildlife ecologist Danielle Garneau finds roadkill, she uploads data about it onto her smartphone.
Sarah Harris NCPR

Originally published on Mon December 3, 2012 4:26 pm

Wildlife ecologist Danielle Garneau is making a habit of tracking down roadkill. She actually seeks it out, hunting for clues about larger ecological trends. Garneau records it all on a free smartphone app, EpiCollect.

Standing by the side of the road in upstate New York, phone in hand, Garneau peers down at a dead, bloody and smelly skunk.

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NPR Story
1:58 pm
Fri November 30, 2012

Glacier Photographer James Balog on 'Chasing Ice'

Originally published on Fri November 30, 2012 4:15 pm

Photographer James Balog on Climate Change and 'Chasing Ice' — In the new documentary "Chasing Ice," photographer James Balog attempts to capture how the world's glaciers are being affected by climate change. As the film debuts across the country, Balog discusses the project, and what needs to be done to save Earth's shrinking glaciers.

Krulwich Wonders...
8:11 am
Fri November 30, 2012

Cornstalks Everywhere But Nothing Else, Not Even A Bee

David Liittschwager

Originally published on Fri November 30, 2012 11:19 am

We'll start in a cornfield — we'll call it an Iowa cornfield in late summer — on a beautiful day. The corn is high. The air is shimmering. There's just one thing missing — and it's a big thing...

...a very big thing, but I won't tell you what, not yet.

Instead, let's take a detour. We'll be back to the cornfield in a minute, but just to make things interesting, I'm going to leap halfway around the world to a public park near Cape Town, South Africa, where you will notice a cube, a metal cube, lying there in the grass.

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Science
5:11 pm
Thu November 29, 2012

Greenland, Antarctic Ice Is Melting Faster

An iceberg that likely calved from Jakobshavn Isbrae, the fastest glacier in western Greenland.
Ian Joughin Science/AAAS

Originally published on Thu November 29, 2012 5:44 pm

Superstorm Sandy sparked a lot of interest in rising sea levels when it swept across the Northeast last month and flooded parts of the coast. Over the next century, more water — and higher sea levels — could come from melting ice in Greenland and Antarctica. How much has been unclear.

But now scientists have developed a much clearer view of how quickly that ice has been melting over the past two decades. And that will help researchers forecast the rate of sea-level rise in the years to come.

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Environment
4:57 pm
Thu November 29, 2012

Water Levels Dangerously Low On Mississippi River

Originally published on Thu November 29, 2012 5:37 pm

Mississippi River water levels are reaching near-record lows. Sections of the middle Mississippi River may become obstructed in December by rock outcrops in southern Illinois. The Army Corps of Engineers plan to remove the rock pinnacles in February, but river navigation industry leaders say that's not soon enough.

Business
4:57 pm
Thu November 29, 2012

Lower Water Levels Dry Up Business On Great Lakes

Originally published on Thu November 29, 2012 5:37 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

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The Salt
12:33 pm
Thu November 29, 2012

Quinoa Craze Inspires North America To Start Growing Its Own

The seeds of this goosefoot plant are known as quinoa, a superfood now in high demand and grown almost exclusively in South America. But some growers think they have the formula to grow it up north.
Janet Matanguihan courtesy Kevin Murphy

The explosion in world popularity of quinoa in the past six years has quadrupled prices at retail outlets. But for all the demand from upscale grocery stores in America to keep their bulk bins filled with the ancient grain-like seed, almost no farmers outside of the arid mountains and coastal valleys of Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Chile grow it.

But plant breeders and scientists who study the biology and economics of quinoa say that is about to change.

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Business
7:43 am
Thu November 29, 2012

Contract Ban, Civil Litigation Add To BP's Woes

Originally published on Thu November 29, 2012 9:18 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm David Greene.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne.

The multinational oil firm BP is being taken to account for the massive 2010 spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Yesterday, the Obama administration banned BP from any new contacts with the federal government, citing, quote, "a lack of business integrity" related to the spill - that after BP admitted criminal wrongdoing in its recent settlement with the U.S. Justice Department.

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The Two-Way
12:37 pm
Wed November 28, 2012

EPA Temporarily Halts New Federal Contracts For BP

The Deepwater Horizon oil rig burned on April 21, 2010.
U.S. Coast Guard Getty Images

Citing a "lack of business integrity," the Environmental Protection Agency announced it was temporarily suspending the oil giant BP from entering into new contracts with the federal government.

In a press release, the EPA said BP demonstrated the lack of integrity during the Deepwater Horizon "blowout, explosion, oil spill and response." This kind of suspension, the EPA explained, is "standard practice when a responsibility question is raised by action in a criminal case."

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Shots - Health News
5:02 am
Tue November 27, 2012

To Fight Tick-Borne Disease, Someone Has To Catch Ticks

Last year, Tom Mather caught 15,000 deer ticks in the woods of southern Rhode Island. "People really need to become tick literate," the University of Rhode Island researcher says.
Brian Mullen for NPR

Originally published on Tue November 27, 2012 12:35 pm

Most people try to avoid ticks. But not Tom Mather.

The University of Rhode Island researcher goes out of his way to find them.

He looks for deer ticks — poppy seed-sized skin burrowers — in the woods of southern Rhode Island. These are the teeny-tiny carriers of Lyme disease, an illness that can lead to symptoms ranging from nasty rashes to memory loss.

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U.S.
5:16 am
Mon November 26, 2012

Overrun By Otters, Illinois Reinstates Trapping Season

Originally published on Mon November 26, 2012 9:44 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Just over a couple of decades ago, there were fewer than 100 otters remaining in the state of Illinois. Today, there are at least 15,000. They're furry and cute and a nuisance to some, often called the raccoons of Illinois waterways. What's wrong with raccoons? Anyway. So for the first time in almost 90 years, Illinois has reinstated otter trapping season. We called Bob Bluett, a biologist with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

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NPR Story
2:07 pm
Fri November 23, 2012

NPR: The Ugly Truth About Food Waste in America

Originally published on Tue November 27, 2012 8:17 am

Transcript

IRA FLATOW, HOST:

Up next, some food for thought as you chomp your Thanksgiving leftovers. Recycling paper and plastic, as you know, is an effective way to save money and energy. So why not recycle all the uneaten food that goes to waste? And there is an awful lot of it. Forty percent of the food in the U.S. today goes uneaten, which means Americans are throwing out the equivalent of $165 billion worth of food each year. But that's not all. Food waste, as it decays in landfills, also produces methane, which is a potent greenhouse gas.

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Science
4:35 am
Fri November 23, 2012

Can Shellfish Adapt to More Acidic Water?

Originally published on Fri November 23, 2012 1:53 pm

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

The shellfish industry on the West Coast has had a bumpy few years and increasingly, it is pointing to climate change as the cause. Scientists believe the oceans are becoming more acidic as they absorb the increasing amounts of carbon dioxide in the air, and they are not sure if oysters and other shellfish will be able to adapt to this change. Lauren Sommer, from member station KQED, has this report.

LAUREN SOMMER, BYLINE: Terry Sawyer does a brisk business in oysters.

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Environment
3:18 am
Fri November 23, 2012

An Arbor Embolism? Why Trees Die In Drought

A forest near Trieste, Italy, is largely dead owing to drought stress during the summer of 2012.
Andrea Nardini Nature

Originally published on Fri November 23, 2012 1:53 pm

Scientists who study forests say they've discovered something disturbing about the way prolonged drought affects trees.

It has to do with the way trees drink. They don't do it the way we do — they suck water up from the ground all the way to their leaves, through a bundle of channels in a part of the trunk called the xylem. The bundles are like blood vessels.

When drought dries out the soil, a tree has to suck harder. And that can actually be dangerous, because sucking harder increases the risk of drawing air bubbles into the tree's plumbing.

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Environment
3:42 pm
Thu November 22, 2012

'Erin Brockovich' Town Faces New Threat

Hinkley, Calif., may soon become a ghost town as residents move away from contaminated water.
Gloria Hillard for NPR

Originally published on Thu November 22, 2012 5:20 pm

Hinkley, Calif., is the small town that battled toxic groundwater and inspired the 2000 film Erin Brockovich. Now residents say they are experiencing a sequel to their story.

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The Picture Show
7:03 am
Thu November 22, 2012

In Search Of Sunrise: A Photographer Heads To Farm School

Images from Erik Jacob's series on Farm School.
Courtesy of Erik Jacobs

A few months ago I received a bar of handmade soap in the mail from photographer Erik Jacobs. It came with a note saying he was leaving photojournalism to attend The Farm School, and the soap, made by him and his wife, was a way of wishing his clients farewell. I emailed him immediately.

I had a million questions about farm school. What was it? Why was he going? How could he give up photojournalism?

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The Salt
3:33 am
Wed November 21, 2012

Why Greek Yogurt Makers Want Whey To Go Away

Most of the gleaming steel tanks outside Fage's yogurt factory hold milk. One, however, holds the yogurt byproduct whey.
Dan Charles NPR

Originally published on Mon November 26, 2012 1:45 pm

A few months ago, I let you in on a little secret about Greek yogurt. Not all of this extra-thick, protein-rich yogurt is made the old-style way, by straining liquid out of it it. Some companies are creating that rich taste by adding thickeners, such as powdered protein and starch.

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Superstorm Sandy: Before, During And Beyond
4:53 pm
Tue November 20, 2012

Thousands Of Trees Gone, Ripped Out By Sandy

Ken Chaya created a map that charts every single tree in New York's Central Park. He stands next to one of the thousands of trees uprooted by Sandy.
Margot Adler NPR

Originally published on Tue November 20, 2012 6:14 pm

New York City lost almost 10,000 trees from the winds of Superstorm Sandy and the nor'easter that followed. That's far more trees lost in the city than in any other storm for which tree damage was recorded.

Walking through Central Park, Ken Chaya peers past a stone arch, observing the damage and uprooting of about 800 trees. He knows more about the park's trees than just about anybody else; he created a map that charts every single one of the roughly 20,000 trees.

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The Salt
2:40 pm
Tue November 20, 2012

Coconut Conservationist Seeks Pacific Islands For Fun And Palm Preservation

The diversity of coconut trees like these planted along the beach in the northern Philippines is in danger, but a French scientist has a plan.
Jay Directo AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed November 28, 2012 8:59 am

French adventurer-scientist Roland Bourdeix has a grand, almost surreal, vision for how to preserve a thousand or more genetic varieties of coconut trees. Imagine, as he does, turning dozens or hundreds of remote Pacific islands into coconut sanctuaries. Each island would contain just a few varieties of these trees. No others would be allowed, because the whole point of this exercise is to prevent uncontrolled mixing of genes from different varieties.

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Environment
4:49 am
Mon November 19, 2012

Sandy Stirs Up Superfund Site In New Jersey

Originally published on Tue November 20, 2012 10:38 am

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

As the Northeast states take stock of the destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy, a new concern is coming into focus. New York and New Jersey have dozens of superfund sites close to the shore. Some of these toxic zones were flooded by Sandy's storm surge.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Ilya Marritz, of member station WNYC, reports that in New Jersey's largest city there are worries that toxic chemicals may have been swept into people's homes.

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Krulwich Wonders...
5:28 am
Sat November 17, 2012

The Big Apple's Mayor Makes A Very Scary Video

YouTube

Originally published on Sat November 17, 2012 10:15 am

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Superstorm Sandy: Before, During And Beyond
5:30 pm
Thu November 15, 2012

In Sandy's Wake, A Reshaped Coastline

Sandy punched a hole in the barrier island that holds the affluent borough of Mantoloking, N.J., temporarily splitting the community in two. The storm also destroyed several multimillion-dollar homes and erased the island's protective system of dunes.
Doug Mills AP

Originally published on Fri November 16, 2012 11:55 am

New Jersey's most affluent community, Mantoloking, sits on a narrow barrier island 30 miles north of Long Beach. As Sandy approached, most of the residents fled inland. But Edwin C. O'Malley and his father, Edwin J. O'Malley Jr., hunkered down in their 130-year-old house.

They tied a boat to their porch and then watched the storm surge break over the dunes and flood the streets.

"Overnight that night, lying in bed, I could actually hear waves hitting the side of the house — which obviously made it more difficult to get to sleep," the younger O'Malley says.

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