Environment

Environment
5:11 pm
Wed January 16, 2013

Could Some Midwest Land Support New Biofuel Refineries?

Vegetation like the kind growing here at Michigan State University's Kellogg Biological Station could one day be used to feed small biofuel refineries spread throughout the Midwest.
J.E.Doll Michigan State University

Originally published on Fri January 18, 2013 7:16 am

Millions of acres of marginal farmland in the Midwest — land that isn't in good enough condition to grow crops — could be used to produce liquid fuels made from plant material, according to a study in Nature. And those biofuels could, in theory, provide about 25 percent of the advanced biofuels required by a 2007 federal law.

But there are many ifs and buts about this study — and, in fact, about the future of advanced biofuels.

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Krulwich Wonders...
1:58 pm
Wed January 16, 2013

A Mysterious Patch Of Light Shows Up In The North Dakota Dark

Suomi NPP Satellite/NASA Earth Observatory

Originally published on Thu January 17, 2013 1:57 pm

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The Picture Show
11:20 am
Wed January 16, 2013

The Long Tail Of A Hurricane

From the project "Paradise Has Relocated" by Sandy Carson.
Courtesy of Sandy Carson

The House just approved a $50 billion assistance package to victims of Hurricane Sandy — months after the storm wrecked much of the East Coast — although the Senate is yet to vote. Securing relief funds after natural disasters has traditionally been noncontroversial, but with the recent deficit debates, this has been an unusual struggle.

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The Two-Way
1:24 pm
Tue January 15, 2013

Beijing's Pollution, Seen From Space In Before And After Photos

NASA Earth Observatory

Originally published on Wed January 16, 2013 6:54 am

We wrote earlier this week on the stifling pollution in Beijing that's being called "airpocalypse." According to an air monitoring station located at the U.S. Embassy there, particulate pollution was literally off the charts — with readings well into the 700s on a 0-500 scale.

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Environment
1:49 pm
Mon January 14, 2013

Florida's Python Problem: Snakes Reshape The Everglades

Originally published on Mon January 14, 2013 4:01 pm

Transcript

CELESTE HEADLEE, HOST:

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Environment
5:53 pm
Sat January 12, 2013

From Corn Belt To Main Street: The Drought's Far-Reaching Grasp

The sun shines above a farm near White City, Kan., in November.
Orlin Wagner AP

Originally published on Sat January 12, 2013 7:37 pm

The U.S. had its hottest year on record last year. That heat, combined with the relatively dry winter that came before, has brought a historic drought.

From forest fires and low crop yields, to infrastructure and recreation, the drought has been costly, with early estimates putting the cost at between $50 billion and $80 billion.

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Environment
1:03 pm
Fri January 11, 2013

How E-Waste Is Becoming a Big, Global Problem

According to the EPA, more than 2.5 million tons of electronic waste, or e-waste, is produced each year in the U.S. Derek Markham, a contributing writer for Treehugger.com, discusses the global impacts, and why you should think twice before discarding your old cell phone.

Opinion
3:55 am
Fri January 11, 2013

The True Weight Of Water

Craig Childs walks in the desert surrounding the Colorado River delta.
Courtesy of Craig Childs

Originally published on Fri January 11, 2013 8:35 am

Part of the nation's physical landscape is changing. Nature writer and commentator Craig Childs has been watching the dramatic transformation of a mighty river that is running dry.

Small porpoises once swam in the brackish estuaries of the Colorado River delta. Jaguars stalked the river channels and marshes. It's not like that any more, though. The Colorado River no longer reaches the sea in Northern Mexico. It hasn't since 1983.

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The Salt
3:34 am
Fri January 11, 2013

This Butter Sculpture Could Power A Farm For 3 Days

A 1,000-pound butter sculpture is unveiled at the 97th Pennsylvania Farm Show in Harrisburg last week.
Bradley C. Bower AP

Originally published on Fri January 11, 2013 9:49 pm

For more than a week, it was the belle of the ball, the butter with no better: a giant 1,000-pound dairy sculpture that occupied the place of honor at the annual Farm Show in Harrisburg, Pa.

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The Picture Show
11:30 am
Wed January 9, 2013

Under Construction: The World's Largest Thermal Solar Plant

The three solar fields and their respective towers. October 2012.
Jamey Stillings

Originally published on Thu January 10, 2013 4:48 pm

According to photographer Jamey Stillings, the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System (ISEGS) will be the "world's largest concentrated solar thermal power plant" when complete at the end of this year. That's if we want to get all technical.

In plain terms: There's a huge solar plant under construction in the middle of the Mojave Desert, and Stillings has been documenting the process since the very beginning. Did you know this was happening? I didn't.

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NPR Story
4:32 pm
Tue January 8, 2013

2012 Smashes Record For Hottest Year In The Lower 48

Originally published on Tue January 8, 2013 6:37 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block.

It's official, federal scientists say 2012 was the hottest year on record for the Lower 48 States. In fact, the average shattered the previous record set in 1998.

Here's NPR science correspondent Richard Harris.

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Energy
2:38 am
Tue January 8, 2013

Drilling Rig's Thick Hull Helps Prevent Oil Spill

Originally published on Tue January 8, 2013 6:06 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

The Shell oil drilling rig that ran aground off Alaska last week is now anchored in a quiet harbor so divers can assess the damage. Wildlife officials say they have seen no evidence of a spill from the vessel, which was carrying tanks of diesel fuel. But the accident does raise questions about Shell's plans to drill for oil in the remote and fragile ecosystem of the Arctic.

NPR's Richard Harris reports.

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The Two-Way
12:13 pm
Mon January 7, 2013

Kulluk Drilling Rig Being Towed To Shelter In Alaska

The 266-feet-wide Kulluk oil rig, seen here as it sat aground last Thursday, is being towed 30 miles to the north.
Kulluk Response

Originally published on Mon January 7, 2013 1:06 pm

The Kulluk, the Shell oil-drilling rig that washed aground last weekend, is afloat and being towed to shelter on Kodiak Island in the Gulf of Alaska. The craft began its 30-mile trip late Sunday night. Examinations of the vessel have not found any signs of a leak.

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Around the Nation
11:24 am
Mon January 7, 2013

'Black Gold Boom' Brings New Life To North Dakota

Men hard at work in oil-booming North Dakota.
Todd Melby

Originally published on Mon January 7, 2013 1:58 pm

Jobs may be scarce around the United States, but not in western North Dakota. A massive oil boom in Williston and the surrounding area is transforming the landscape and culture of this once-tranquil region.

Producer Todd Melby, who has been covering the boom for public media, composed an interactive documentary with radio stories and videos called "Rough Ride: The Oil Patch Tour." This guided tour through the oil patches illustrates the growth of oil fields over time.

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Business
5:55 pm
Sun January 6, 2013

iPads, China: Twin Threats To Wisconsin's Paper Industry

The Nekoosa Paper Mill was established in 1883. Its mill in Nekoosa, Wis., sits on the banks of the Wisconsin River, and is now owned by a Canadian paper company.
Mike De Sisti Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Originally published on Tue January 8, 2013 8:11 pm

Deep in the Northwoods of Wisconsin, lumberjacks still cry "timber," just not as often as they once did. Across the state, milling lumber into good paper, the kind called "knowledge" grade for books, has employed thousands for more than a century, and created a distinct culture.

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The Two-Way
5:12 am
Sat January 5, 2013

Big Quake Off Southern Alaska Coast Causes Tsunami

Originally published on Sat January 5, 2013 2:12 pm

An earthquake with a magnitude of 7.5 hit off the coast of southeastern Alaska just before midnight local time Friday, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The USGS initially reported the event as a magnitude 7.7 quake.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says sea level readings indicate the quake caused a tsunami. "It may have been destructive along coasts near the earthquake epicenter," a NOAA report said.

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The Salt
2:52 pm
Fri January 4, 2013

Dumpster Diver TV: Austrians Cook Up Food Waste Reality Show

The Austrians behind Waste Cooking want to show the culinary possibilities of food that ends up in the trash.
Courtesy Wastecooking.com

Originally published on Tue January 8, 2013 9:43 am

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The Picture Show
12:05 pm
Fri January 4, 2013

'Why We Are Here': Capturing The Spirit Of Mobile, Ala.

Roy Hyde, Fairhope.
Courtesy of Alex Harris

In 1991, photographer Alex Harris was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in general nonfiction for his book River of Traps, written with William deBuys. It told the story, in words and pictures, of an old-time New Mexican villager. Harris didn't win.

Instead, the prize went to evolutionary biologist E.O. Wilson for The Ants.

"It took me 20 years to get over that defeat," said Harris.

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Energy
4:41 am
Fri January 4, 2013

Budget Deal Provides Tax Brakes For Green Energy

Ruben Fragoso checks out appliances at Best Buy in Miami in April 2010, when Florida residents were taking advantage of a federally funded discount for Energy Star-rated appliances. Legislation just passed by Congress as part of the fiscal-cliff deal includes tax breaks for energy-efficient appliances.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

Originally published on Fri January 4, 2013 12:27 pm

Whether you're a homeowner who bought an energy-saving refrigerator last year or a company hoping to build a wind farm, the tax package Congress just approved may give you a reason to cheer.

"It's got something in there, a Christmas gift if you will, for almost everyone — American homeowners, workers who commute via transit, and manufacturers of efficient equipment like clothes washers, dryers, refrigerators," says Kateri Callahan, president of the Alliance to Save Energy.

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Science
3:28 am
Fri January 4, 2013

From Canada To Latin America, The Christmas Bird Count Is On

From left, bird-watchers John Williamson, Donna Quinn, Bruce Hill and Frances Raskin try to spot as many different species as possible during this season's bird count in Loudoun County, Va.
Veronique LaCapra NPR

Originally published on Fri January 4, 2013 8:46 am

Every year at around this time, tens of thousands of people take part in a kind of bird-watching marathon. From Canada to Latin America and throughout the United States, participants will get up in the middle of the night. Some brave frigid winter temperatures, and many do whatever else it takes to count as many birds as they can in 24 hours.

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The Two-Way
3:19 pm
Thu January 3, 2013

Transocean To Pay $1.4 Billion In Gulf Oil Spill Settlement

The Transocean Discoverer Enterprise drill ship collects oil from the site of the Deepwater Horizon oil well as workers try to stem the flow of the spill in the Gulf of Mexico, June 12, 2010.
Saul Loeb AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu January 3, 2013 6:10 pm

Transocean, the owner of the Deepwater Horizon rig where 11 men died in April 2010, has agreed to pay $1.4 billion in criminal and civil penalties to resolve Justice Department allegations over its role in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

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Krulwich Wonders...
11:38 am
Wed January 2, 2013

Grrr, Said The Grylloblattid. I'm Not Leaving. Not Yet.

Robert Krulwich NPR

Originally published on Wed January 2, 2013 5:01 pm

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Environment
4:49 pm
Tue January 1, 2013

Shell Faces New Questions After Rig Runs Aground

Originally published on Tue January 8, 2013 2:19 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

A massive deep-sea oil rig is still aground in shallow water near Kodiak Island in Alaska. The rig was being towed from its offshore drilling site in the Arctic to its winter harbor in Seattle when it broke loose in a fierce storm. It ran aground last night. Officials say the rig appears to be stable, and it does not leak any of its 150,000 gallons of diesel, lube oil or hydraulic fluids aboard.

But as NPR's Howard Berkes reports, there continues to be concern about potential environmental damage.

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The Two-Way
10:59 am
Tue January 1, 2013

Oil Drilling Rig Runs Aground In Gulf Of Alaska

Waves crash over the Kulluk oil rig, which washed aground on Sitkalidak Island, Alaska. Officials say aircraft have not spotted any signs of a fuel leak from the rig, which reportedly does not contain crude oil.
PA3 Jon Klingenberg Coast Guard

Originally published on Wed January 2, 2013 6:44 am

An oil drilling rig holding more than 150,000 gallons of diesel, lubricating oil, and hydraulic fluid has run aground near Kodiak Island in the Gulf of Alaska, after it was being towed during a storm. The crew was evacuated before the rig was incapacitated.

"The rig ran aground in a storm, with waves up to 35 feet and wind to 70 miles per hour," reports Jeff Brady, on NPR's Newscast. The Shell Oil rig is "about 250 miles south of Anchorage," Jeff says.

Update at 6:13 p.m. ET. No Sign of a Leak.

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Environment
3:29 am
Mon December 31, 2012

A Busy And Head-Scratching 2012 Hurricane Season

This satellite image from Oct. 28 shows Hurricane Sandy in the Atlantic Ocean before making landfall.
NASA via Getty Images

Originally published on Mon December 31, 2012 5:46 am

Superstorm Sandy is what most people will remember from the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season. But Sandy was just one of 10 hurricanes this year — a hurricane season that was both busy and strange.

Late summer is when the hurricane season usually gets busy. But Greg Jenkins, a professor of atmospheric science at Howard University, says this year was different.

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Environment
5:32 pm
Sun December 30, 2012

2013: A Tipping Year For Climate Change?

Cracks form in the bed of a dried lake in Waterloo, Neb. The drought withered crops and dried out lakes across the nation's midsection in 2012.
Nati Harnik AP

Originally published on Sun December 30, 2012 5:55 pm

This year's extreme weather was one for the record books; 2012 is slated to be the hottest summer on record.

The worst drought in 50 years struck the South and Midwest, devastating the U.S. agriculture industry. Deadly floods and superstorms paralyzed the northeast and other parts of the country.

While the public is in shock by extreme weather events that have taken place, environmentalist Bill McKibben and other members of the science community say it is a result of climate change.

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Shots - Health News
7:42 am
Sat December 29, 2012

As Biodiversity Declines, Tropical Diseases Thrive

Mosquitoes like this one can carry the virus that causes dengue fever, which may become a bigger problem in some regions as biodiversity is lost.
James Gathany CDC Public Health Image Library

Originally published on Mon December 31, 2012 9:24 am

Global health advocates often argue that the tropical diseases that plague many countries, such as malaria and dengue, can be conquered simply with more money for health care – namely medicines and vaccines.

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U.S.
4:18 pm
Fri December 28, 2012

Is It Morally Wrong For U.S. To Export Coal?

Originally published on Fri December 28, 2012 5:06 pm

The Seattle area is seeing widespread, well-organized opposition to an export industry: coal. Thousands of people have turned out to express their disgust with a plan to build export terminals on Puget Sound to ship American coal to Asia. Opponents cite noise, traffic delays, coal dust and global warming.

The Picture Show
3:32 pm
Fri December 28, 2012

This Milk Production Was Brought To You By A Robot

Photographer Freya Najade journeys into the weird sci-fi world of Europe's agricultural production. In one cow-milking facility she visited, "two people are needed to milk twice a day 300 cows," she writes.
Freya Najade

We all have an inkling of how our food is grown these days, but increasingly we don't really know what it looks like. You'd probably recognize a tomato plant or a cornfield — but these photos offer a perspective that a lot of us haven't seen.

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Environment
6:37 am
Fri December 28, 2012

Administrator Lisa Jackson To Leave EPA

Originally published on Fri December 28, 2012 3:32 pm

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Also last month, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency joked to an environmental law conference: Everyone who wants my job, stand up. Yesterday, Lisa Jackson turned serious and made it official: She's leaving the EPA next month.

As NPR's Selena Simmons-Duffin reports, there are mixed feelings about Jackson's departure.

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