Environment

Now, it's no surprise that Neanderthals didn't brush their teeth. Nor did they go to the dentist.

That means bits of food and the microbes in their mouths just stayed stuck to their teeth. While not so good for dental hygiene, these dental plaques are a great resource for scientists interested in understanding more about Neanderthal diet and lifestyle.

At least a dozen wildfires burning in Colorado, Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma and Florida have charred more than 1,700 square miles and remain largely uncontained.

Rachel Hubbard of member station KOSU in Oklahoma City, Okla., reported at least six people have died in the wildfires:

Giving Power To Women In Ghana

Mar 8, 2017

Evelyn Sewodey, 25, used to sell fried yams in her village of Tanyigbe, a job that really wasn't going anywhere. Two years ago she heard about a new free program that taught electrical and solar energy skills to disadvantaged young women (and a few men as well).

She didn't really think she'd be interested in electrical engineering. Nonetheless, she went to an open house at the Lady Volta Vocational Center for Electricity and Solar Power in Ho, around 7 miles from her home.

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Some cancer patients and survivors showed up outside the Salisbury office of Representative Andy Harris (R-Md).

Their message: Any changes in the Affordable Care Act must maintain adequate and affordable coverage.

The Salisbury Daily Times reports that the group chanted, ”Keep us covered. Don’t cut our lifeline.”

Of special concern was keeping the provision that would not allow insurance companies to discriminate on the basis of a pre-existing condition.

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A federal judge has denied a request by the Standing Rock Sioux and Cheyenne River tribes to halt construction of the final piece of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

According to two new World Health Organization reports, about 1.7 million children under the age of 5 die each year because of environmental hazards. It's the first such estimate of the child death toll from environmental causes.

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A new company is doing more than just monitoring electricity use.

It's making tracking your electrical data fun.

Steve Reed of San Diego says he signed up for free with OhmConnect. He was eager to see how much his family could cut back on electricity at times when there is a high demand for it in the area.

Soon, he got a text prompting him to lower use for an hour — from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. the next day.

The way environmentalist Craig Cox sees it, streams and rivers across much of the country are suffering from the side effects of growing our food. Yet the people responsible for that pollution, America's farmers, are fighting any hint of regulation to prevent it.

"The leading problems are driven by fertilizer and manure runoff from farm operations," says Cox, who is the Environmental Working Group's top expert on agriculture.

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The Environmental Protection Agency is beginning life under a new boss who sued them again and again. Scott Pruitt has made a few public statements now, and they've offered a few clues to his priorities.

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Last summer Felicia Keesing returned from a long trip and found that her home in upstate New York had been subjected to an invasion.

"There was evidence of mice everywhere. They had completely taken over," says Keesing, an ecologist at Bard College.

It was a plague of mice. And it had landed right in Keesing's kitchen.

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What comes to mind when I say the words Chicago winter? An icy wind, perhaps, maybe the frozen lake. How about snow piled high in the streets?

Scott Pruitt, the new head of the Environmental Protection Agency, has sued the agency more than a dozen times. What does that mean for the future of the EPA and for environmental protections in the US?

As the attorney general of Oklahoma, Pruitt chaired an organization of Republican attorneys general who opposed many EPA rules and regulations. Perhaps most famously, Pruitt led a group of states and companies in the continuing court fight against the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan — a plan crafted by the agency he now runs.

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The Senate confirmed former Texas Governor Rick Perry as Secretary of Energy yesterday. At his swearing-in, Perry described what Donald Trump told him before offering him the job.

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In all his 50 years, Georges Kouamé Koffi has eaten chocolate once. "Someone gave me a piece to try," says the cocoa farmer. "It was lovely." Chocolate bars are on sale at a store in his city of San Pedro, in southwestern Ivory Coast. "But they are too expensive for us," he says.

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The U.S. is producing less air pollution, but smog levels are still rising in the western U.S. because of pollutants released in Asian countries that then drift over the Pacific Ocean. Researchers say their findings show the importance of a global approach to preserving air quality.

"Scientists found Asian air pollution contributed as much as 65 percent of an increase in Western ozone in recent years," NPR's Rob Schmitz reports from Shanghai. "China and India, where many consumer products are manufactured, are the worst offenders."

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry is now the 14th U.S. Secretary of Energy, despite having once pledged to eliminate the Department of Energy.

Or at least, he tried to pledge to eliminate the department — including once when he couldn't think of its name.

Perry was confirmed Thursday by the Senate in a 62-37 vote.

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President Trump this week ordered a review of an Obama-era environmental rule that would have protected streams and wetlands. And in his speech to Congress, President Trump made clear he wants to target other measures.

Remember those pictures of parched lawns and bone-dry unplanted fields when it seemed that Californians could only pray for rain and snow?

Now thanks to one of the wettest winters on record, scientists say that the snowpack along the Sierra Nevada mountain range is a whopping 185 percent of average. And that's important because the runoff from the Sierra snowpack provides one-third of all of California's water.

When Marlene Fowler wakes up in the northern Arizona town of Kaibeto, she can see a yellow-green haze on the horizon. But Fowler's not worried about the pollution. It's her husband's job at the Navajo Generating Station that has her on edge.

"Even though they say the pollution is all this and that, it's been there years," she says.

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Spring is here, sort of.

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UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: That is the warmest temperature we've ever had in the month of February...

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Those gas-powered leaf blowers, hedge trimmers and mowers you hear in your neighborhood aren't just annoying — they make a lot of pollution, too.

In California, they're about to pass cars as the worst air polluters, spewing out formaldehyde, benzene and particulate matter. According to Michael Benjamin at the California Air Resources Board, in just three years' time, the biggest single ozone polluter in the state is going to be all this gardening equipment.

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President Trump has ordered a review of the Waters of the U.S. rule. It's an Obama-era regulation that says which waters the federal government can protect. As NPR's Nathan Rott reports, undoing the rule would be a long and difficult process.

Updated 5:35 p.m. ET

The Trump administration is moving to roll back an environmental rule intended to define which small bodies of water are subject to federal authority under the Clean Water Act.

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