Environment

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.

Read more
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.

Read more
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?

Read more
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.

Read more
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.

Read more
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.

Read more
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.

Read more
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

Read more
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.

Read more
Environment
5:03 pm
Thu November 15, 2012

BP Oil Spill Has Lingering Effects In Gulf Coast

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

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

To understand what the environmental impact of the BP oil spill has been over the last two years, we turn now to Dr. Jim Cowan. He is a professor of oceanography and coastal science at Louisiana State University. Dr. Cowan, welcome to the program.

DR. JIM COWAN: Happy to be here.

CORNISH: So you've been out on the water examining the impacts of the spill since the early days. What were the sort of concerns at first and how has that changed over time?

Read more
Law
5:01 pm
Thu November 15, 2012

BP Agrees To Pay $4.5 Billion For Gulf Oil Spill

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

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block.

Read more
The Two-Way
3:44 pm
Thu November 15, 2012

Al Gore: Most Americans Still Agree Climate Change Is Getting Worse

Former Vice President Al Gore.
Jon Kalish NPR

Originally published on Sat November 17, 2012 7:04 pm

Climate change and the environment were not major topics of the presidential campaign. And on Wednesday, President Obama said that while he believes more needs to be done to address what's happening, he won't "ignore jobs and growth simply to address climate change."

Read more
Environment
3:31 pm
Thu November 15, 2012

Loophole Lets Toxic Oil Water Flow Over Indian Land

Dirty water from the oil wells flows through oil-caked pipes into a settling pit where trucks vacuum off the oil. A net covers the pit to keep out birds and other wildlife. Streams of this wastewater flow through the reservation and join natural creeks and rivers.
Elizabeth Shogren NPR

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

The air reeks so strongly of rotten eggs that tribal leader Wes Martel hesitates to get out of the car at an oil field on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming. He already has a headache from the fumes he smelled at another oil field.

Read more
Law
2:20 pm
Thu November 15, 2012

BP Reaches Plea Agreement Over Gulf Oil Spill

Originally published on Thu November 15, 2012 3:17 pm

Transcript

NEAL CONAN, HOST:

Read more
The Two-Way
7:49 am
Thu November 15, 2012

BP Pleads Guilty, Will Pay $4 Billion In Criminal Penalties For Gulf Oil Spill

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

Originally published on Thu November 15, 2012 6:32 pm

Update at 11:30 a.m. ET: Oil giant BP has agreed to plead guilty to criminal misconduct related to the 2010 Gulf Oil spill and will pay a record $4 billion in criminal penalties, the company just confirmed. And it will pay $525 million in civil penalties in a resolution with the Securities and Exchanges Commission. BP will make the payments over six years.

Read more
Europe
9:55 am
Wed November 14, 2012

In Berlin, A Boar Of A Story

Some 3,000 wild boars are estimated to roam Germany's capital. This 2008 picture provided by the Berlin Forestry Commission shows a sow and her offspring that decided to make their home outside an apartment building. Recently, a wild boar attacked and injured four people in a Berlin neighborhood.
Thorsten Wiehle Berlin Forestry Commission

Originally published on Wed November 21, 2012 10:29 am

"PIGS" are a hot topic in Germany's capital.

Attend any press briefing about how German Chancellor Angela Merkel is going to solve the European debt crisis, and you're likely to hear that acronym, which stands for "Portugal, Ireland (or Italy), Greece and Spain."

But recently, pigs of an altogether different variety made headlines in Berlin.

Read more
Environment
3:18 am
Wed November 14, 2012

A 'Green' Gold Rush? Calif. Firm Turns Trash To Gas

Energy Of The Future? California company Sierra Energy is testing out a reactor that turns garbage — like these wood chips, metal fragments and plastics — into synthetic gas that can then be turned into a low-carbon diesel fuel.
Christopher Joyce NPR

Originally published on Wed November 14, 2012 8:17 pm

Second of a two-part series. Read Part 1

California starts the ball rolling Wednesday on a controversial scheme to keep the planet from overheating. Businesses will have to get a permit if they emit greenhouse gases.

Some permits will be auctioned today; the rest are free. The big idea here is the state is putting a ceiling on emissions.

It's a gamble. And for this top-down climate plan to work, it has to usher in a greener, more efficient economy.

Read more
Environment
5:30 pm
Tue November 13, 2012

Calif. To Begin Rationing Greenhouse Gas Emissions

California begins a new plan to ration greenhouse gas emissions from large companies on Wednesday. Big companies must limit the greenhouse gases they emit and get permits for those emissions. Above, the Department of Water and Power San Fernando Valley Generating Station, in Sun Valley, Calif., in 2008.
David McNew Getty Images

Originally published on Tue November 13, 2012 6:18 pm

California begins a controversial experiment to curb climate change on Wednesday: The state will start rationing the amount of greenhouse gases companies can emit.

It's the most ambitious effort to control climate change in the country. Some say the plan will cost dearly; supporters say it's the route to a cleaner economy.

Here's how the climate deal works. Big companies must limit the greenhouse gases they emit — from smokestacks to tailpipes — and they have to get permits for those emissions. The clock starts Jan. 1.

Read more
Environment
2:01 pm
Mon November 12, 2012

Despite Risk, Many Residents Can't Resist The Water

Originally published on Thu November 15, 2012 9:43 am

Transcript

JACKI LYDEN, HOST:

This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Jacki Lyden, in Washington. Neal Conan is away. Come hell or high water, these days, it can feel like the same thing. More than half of Americans live within 50 miles of the coast, and still more live by rivers and lakes. What is this primal human pull to the water's edge?

Read more
Environment
3:23 am
Mon November 12, 2012

Weighing The Prospects Of The Keystone XL Pipeline

President Obama speaks at the southern site of the Keystone XL pipeline in May in Cushing, Okla. Obama is under pressure to make a decision on the future of the pipeline during his second term.
Tom Pennington Getty Images

Originally published on Tue November 13, 2012 10:17 am

Among the difficult decisions facing President Obama is whether to give the go-ahead for the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline, which would bring oil from Canada down to refineries in the Gulf of Mexico.

Environmentalists want it blocked. They are concerned about endangering the Nebraska sand hills, under which is the largest aquifer in the country. It provides drinking water and irrigation water for several states.

Read more
The Salt
3:31 pm
Fri November 9, 2012

Sky-High Vegetables: Vertical Farming Sprouts In Singapore

Mah Bow Tan, a member of Singapore's Parliament, inspects Chinese cabbage growing at the commercial vertical farm. Troughs of the veggies stack up to 30 feet in the greenhouse.
Courtesy of MNDsingapore.

Originally published on Fri November 9, 2012 3:44 pm

Singapore is taking local farming to the next level, literally, with the opening of its first commercial vertical farm.

Entrepreneur Jack Ng says he can produce five times as many vegetables as regular farming looking up instead of out. Half a ton of his Sky Greens bok choy and Chinese cabbages, grown inside 120 slender 30-foot towers, are already finding their way into Singapore's grocery stores.

Read more
NPR Story
12:02 pm
Fri November 9, 2012

Climate Change Takes Flight in New Novel

Originally published on Fri May 31, 2013 9:53 am

Transcript

FLORA LICHTMAN, HOST:

Here's a big, giant question for you: Why do we believe what we believe? And how is it that two people can look at the exact same set of circumstances and see two completely different things? That philosophical question is at the center of a new book where, to put it another way, one person's beautiful miracle is another person's ecological crisis.

Read more
NPR Story
12:02 pm
Fri November 9, 2012

Hurricane Sandy Claims Thousands of NYU Lab Mice

Originally published on Fri November 9, 2012 1:03 pm

Transcript

FLORA LICHTMAN, HOST:

This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm Flora Lichtman, filling in for Ira Flatow this week. Last week, when Hurricane Sandy sent a surge of salty water into cities and towns up and down the East Coast, among the casualties were thousands of research subjects: lab mice. A building at New York University's Medical Center flooded, and thousands of mice and rats that were being used to study cancer, heart disease and all kinds of other medical disorders died.

Read more
NPR Story
12:02 pm
Fri November 9, 2012

Scientists Solve Mystery of Earth's Shifting Poles

Originally published on Fri November 9, 2012 1:03 pm

Did you know that Earth's solid exterior can move around over its core, causing the planet's poles to wander back and forth? Adam Maloof, associate professor of geosciences at Princeton University, discusses the consequences of these shifts, and what may be causing them.

Environment
4:54 pm
Wed November 7, 2012

Can Dumping Iron Into The Sea Fight Climate Change?

John Disney (second from left) looks over the underwater probe used in his company's ocean fertilization project, at a news conference in Vancouver, British Columbia, in October.
Andy Clark Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Wed November 7, 2012 5:50 pm

Environmental officials in Canada are investigating what some have called a "rogue climate change experiment." Over the summer, a native village on the coast of British Columbia dumped more than 100 tons of iron sulfate into the ocean. The idea was to cause a bloom of plankton, which would then capture greenhouse gases.

That's the theory, anyway. The reality is a bit more complicated.

Read more
Superstorm Sandy: Before, During And Beyond
5:08 pm
Tue November 6, 2012

Protection From The Sea Is Possible, But Expensive

Residents of the Colonial Place neighborhood watch as heavy rain from Hurricane Sandy floods the Lafayette River in Norfolk, Va., on Oct. 28.
Rich-Joseph Facun Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Wed November 7, 2012 9:14 am

While New York City and other places along the Northeast coast are still recovering from Superstorm Sandy, they're also looking ahead to how they can prevent flooding in the future, when sea level rise will make the problem worse. They may be able to take some lessons from coastal Norfolk, Va., which is far ahead of most cities when it comes to flood protection.

Read more
Superstorm Sandy: Before, During And Beyond
3:19 am
Tue November 6, 2012

Norfolk, Va., Puts Flooding Survival Plan To The Test

Motorists drive through standing water at an intersection flooded from the remnants of Tropical Storm Ida in the Ocean View area of Norfolk, Va., in November 2009.
Steve Helber AP

Originally published on Tue November 6, 2012 12:18 pm

Superstorm Sandy got officials in New York and New Jersey talking about how to prevent flooding in a time of global warming and sea level rise.

But the place on the East Coast that's most vulnerable to flooding is several hundred miles south, around Norfolk, Va. — and Norfolk has already spent many years studying how to survive the rising waters.

Scientists say what Norfolk has learned is especially important in light of new research showing that the coastline from North Carolina to Boston will experience even more sea level rise than other areas.

Read more
Around the Nation
1:00 pm
Mon November 5, 2012

Sandy Recovery Effort Faces A New Storm

Originally published on Mon November 5, 2012 2:08 pm

Transcript

NEAL CONAN, HOST:

This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. Since this time last week, parts of the Northeast have been transformed. The lights are back on in many areas, the floodwaters retreated, most public transportation is up and running, and most New York City schools reopened this morning. But wreckage still blocks streets, hundreds of thousands still lack power, gas is still short in North Jersey and on Long Island.

Read more
The Picture Show
6:20 pm
Fri November 2, 2012

Interactive: Slide To See Before And After Sandy

Interactive images show the New Jersey coast before and after Hurricane Sandy.
NOAA

Originally published on Mon November 19, 2012 3:50 pm

There's been no shortage of before-and-after imagery portraying the coast in Sandy's wake. One of the more impressive ways to see the storm's impact is by exploring this map assembled by NOAA (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration).

We took a few screen grabs of the destruction around Seaside Heights, N.J., to create these sliding previews — but you can see much more if you zoom in on NOAA's interactive map.

Read more
NPR Story
12:27 pm
Fri November 2, 2012

As Storm Recovery Continues, Looking To The Future

Originally published on Fri November 2, 2012 1:45 pm

Communities along the East Coast are reeling from the impact of Hurricane Sandy, dealing with electric outages, flooded streets, damaged sewage plants and fractured transportation lines. Can cities rebuild stronger, more resilient infrastructure to weather the storms of the future?

Pages