Environment

Environment
4:16 pm
Wed July 18, 2012

Drought In Danger Of Beaching Mississippi Barges

Originally published on Wed July 18, 2012 7:30 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And now we turn to the Mississippi River. The drought has brought parts of the Mississippi to near record low water levels. Those shallow conditions pose difficulties for barge traffic on the river and we turn now to Mark Mestemacher who is co-owner of Ceres Barge Line. It's based in East St. Louis. Welcome to the program.

MARK MESTEMACHER: Thank you.

SIEGEL: And how low is the river in East St. Louis?

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Environment
2:03 pm
Wed July 18, 2012

Around The World, Cities Plan For Extreme Weather

Originally published on Wed July 18, 2012 2:21 pm

From record-breaking temperatures to long droughts, extreme weather events are on the rise. Many meteorologists and climatologists say it's only going to get worse. Many cities are putting plans in place to prepare for a range of costly and deadly weather disasters.

Science
2:01 am
Tue July 17, 2012

With Funding Gone, Last Undersea Lab Could Surface

Researchers Sylvia Earle (left) and Mark Patterson are trying to raise funds to save the Aquarius Reef Base.
Greg Allen NPR

Originally published on Wed July 18, 2012 12:25 pm

While you're enjoying your coffee this morning, half a dozen scientists are already at work. They're not sitting at desks, however, but a few miles off the Florida Keys, 60 feet down on the ocean bottom.

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Environment
5:37 pm
Sun July 15, 2012

From Coal To Gas: The Potential Risks And Rewards

Oil field workers drill into the Gypsum Hills near Medicine Lodge, Kan. Hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," to coax out oil and gas has led to a natural gas boom, but some remain concerned of the potential environmental impact.
Orlin Wagner AP

Originally published on Mon July 16, 2012 8:58 am

This past week, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released a report linking climate change to some of the extreme weather events of 2011, like the devastating drought in Texas and record high temperatures in Britain.

None of this bodes well for the future, but there is a glimmer of hope. It turns out that U.S. carbon emissions are down nearly 8 percent since 2006.

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Energy
5:20 pm
Sat July 14, 2012

Miners Weather The Slow Burn Of Coal's Demise

Equipment for transporting and housing coal sits idle in Cowen, W.Va. Since the natural gas boom, several mines in Webster County have either slowed or shut down operation, laying off hundreds of workers.
Guy Raz NPR

Originally published on Sat July 14, 2012 8:21 pm

At some point today, you will probably flip on a light switch. That simple action connects you to the oldest and most plentiful source of American electricity: coal.

Since the early 1880s — when Edison and Tesla pioneered the distribution of electrical power into our homes — most of that power has come from the process of burning coal.

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Author Interviews
4:31 pm
Sat July 14, 2012

'Sunny Chernobyl': Beauty In A Haze Of Pollution

Garbage litters the banks of India's holy Yamuna River on World Water Day 2010. For decades, the Yamuna has been dying a slow death from pollution. According to Blackwell, even its most ardent defenders refer to it as a "sewage drain."
Manan Vatsyayana AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sun July 15, 2012 4:04 am

In some of the dirtiest places on Earth, author and environmentalist Andrew Blackwell found some beauty. His book, Visit Sunny Chernobyl, tours the deforestation of the Amazon, the oil sand mines in Canada and the world's most polluted city, located in China.

Blackwell says his ode to polluted locales is a bid for re-engagement with places people have shrunk away from in disgust.

Radioactive To Its Core

His first stop was the site of the world's worst nuclear disaster, Chernobyl.

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All Tech Considered
6:26 pm
Fri July 13, 2012

Apple's Change Of Heart On Green Certification

Attendees of Apple's 2012 World Wide Developers Conference look at the new MacBook Pro with Retina display.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Fri July 13, 2012 10:24 pm

It's not often that one of the world's biggest companies says, "We goofed."

But in a surprising turn of events Friday, Apple admitted it made a mistake in pulling out of an environmental rating system for computers and other electronics. The company said it would rejoin the so-called EPEAT certification system, placing all 39 of its originally certified products back on the list. The company is also requesting certification for more products, including its new MacBook Pro model.

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Environment
1:19 pm
Fri July 13, 2012

Climate Change Ups Odds Of Heat Waves, Drought

Reporting in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, researchers write that extreme heat waves, such as the one last year in Texas, are 20 times more likely today than they were in the 1960s. NOAA climatologist Tom Peterson discusses what future climate change may bring.

Intelligence Squared U.S.
5:48 pm
Thu July 12, 2012

The Natural Gas Boom: Doing More Harm Than Good?

An expert panel debates the pros and cons of the natural gas boom during an Intelligence Squared U.S. debate at the Aspen Ideas Festival in Colorado.
Michael Alvarez

Originally published on Tue July 17, 2012 5:00 pm

  • Listen To The Full Audio Of The Debate
  • Listen To The Broadcast Version Of The Debate

The United States is in the midst of a natural gas boom — about 200,000 gas wells have been drilled in the past decade. The boom has been fueled by the use of hydraulic fracturing — or fracking — which involves pumping a mixture of water and chemicals into the ground to get access to the gas.

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NPR Story
1:56 pm
Thu July 12, 2012

Finding Common Ground In Environmental Debates

Originally published on Thu July 12, 2012 4:51 pm

Conversations about the environment can often be polarizing. Jonathan Foley, director of the University of Minnesota's Institute on the Environment, says that rather than rehash the same old debates, environmental issues need to be reframed.

Around the Nation
3:05 am
Thu July 12, 2012

Waste Not, Want Not: Town To Tap Sewers For Energy

Brainerd Public Utilities' Scott Sjolund at a sewer site. Sewers around the city were monitored to gauge the amount of potential energy flowing through the system.
Conrad Wilson for NPR

Originally published on Thu July 12, 2012 12:21 pm

Most Americans use electricity, gas or oil to heat and cool their homes. But the small city of Brainerd, Minn., is turning to something a bit less conventional: the sewer.

As it turns out, a sewer — the place where a city's hot showers, dishwashing water and organic matter end up — is a pretty warm place. That heat can generate energy — meaning a city's sewer system can hold tremendous potential for heating and cooling.

It's just that unexpected energy source that Brainerd hopes to exploit.

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Science
4:45 am
Wed July 11, 2012

Researchers Take Stock Of 2011 Weather

Originally published on Wed July 11, 2012 6:30 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Across America people are sweltering through extreme heat this year, continuing a long-term trend of rising temperatures. Inevitably, many are wondering if the scorching heat is due to global warming. Scientists are expected to dig into the data and grapple with that in the months to come. They've already taken a stab at a possible connection with last year's extreme weather events, like the blistering drought in Texas. NPR's Richard Harris reports.

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Around the Nation
2:07 pm
Tue July 10, 2012

Intense Heat Has Lasting Impact Across U.S.

Originally published on Tue July 10, 2012 3:10 pm

Transcript

NEAL CONAN, HOST:

This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. Heat in the summertime is usually not news, but this year is more than a little out of the ordinary. The first six months of 2012 is already on the books as the warmest half-year on record according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

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Environment
5:46 pm
Mon July 9, 2012

Rising Shale Water Complicates Fracking Debate

A water tank truck is seen on the main street in Waynesburg, Pa., on April 13. Scientists say naturally polluted water can rise to the surface of the Marcellus Shale; that finding suggests that frack water could seep out, too.
Mladen Antonov AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon July 9, 2012 6:47 pm

The nation's boom in natural gas production has come with a cost: The technique used to get much of the gas out of the ground, called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has contaminated drinking water. But how often and where this contamination is taking place is a matter of much debate and litigation.

Now, a new study has found natural pathways of contamination — but that doesn't mean the drilling industry is off the hook.

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Science
10:51 am
Mon July 9, 2012

Tell the World Your Big Idea With NPR's 'What's Your Big Idea?' Video Contest

NPR

Originally published on Sun August 19, 2012 3:22 pm

I have a simple question for you: Do you have a good idea? Something that could change the world?

Enter your big idea in NPR's "What's Your Big Idea?" video contest from July 9 to Aug. 12, 2012, and you could win the chance to get advice on making your big idea a reality from a big name in science and technology. And even if you don't win that grand prize, we'll showcase your video on NPR's YouTube channel and on Facebook.

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Environment
4:45 pm
Sat July 7, 2012

Parts Of U.S. Still Gripping With Record Heat

Originally published on Sat July 7, 2012 5:24 pm

The heat is continuing to shatter records across the Midwest. Indiana is among the states being smothered by triple-digit temperatures and excessive heat warnings are in effect, but still many Hoosiers have to work out in the dangerous conditions. Sara Wittmeyer from member station WFIU reports on how people are coping during the heat wave and when they might see some relief.

The Picture Show
6:10 am
Sat July 7, 2012

Portraits: Texas Ranchers Remember An Epic Drought

Eugene "Boob" Kelton, 80, is an Upton County rancher and brother of writer Elmer Kelton.
Michael O'Brien

"Between 1950 and 1960," according to NPR's John Burnett, Texas "lost nearly 100,000 farms and ranches," and rural residents who had made up more than a third of the population dwindled to just a quarter of the population.

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U.S.
6:08 am
Sat July 7, 2012

How One Drought Changed Texas Agriculture Forever

Siblings Charles Hagood and Nancy Hagood Nunns grew up in Junction, Texas, in the 1950s. Charles says the drought drove ranchers to find other types of work.
Michael O'Brien Michael O'Brien

Originally published on Wed November 6, 2013 3:40 pm

In Texas, there is still the drought against which all other droughts are measured: the seven-year dry spell in the 1950s. It was so devastating that agriculture losses exceeded those of the Dust Bowl years, and so momentous that it kicked off the modern era of water planning in Texas.

From 1950 to 1957, the sky dried up and the rain refused to fall. Every day, Texans scanned the pale-blue heavens for rainclouds, but year after year they never came.

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Books
1:38 pm
Fri July 6, 2012

SciFri Book Club Talks Silent Spring

Transcript

IRA FLATOW, HOST:

I hope you're having your cup of coffee, your beverage of choice, maybe a little snack, sitting in your comfy reading or driving chair, settled in now because the first meeting of the SCIENCE FRIDAY Book Club is about to go underway. And for our first book, we have chosen the Rachel Carson classic "Silent Spring."

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Research News
3:25 am
Fri July 6, 2012

Dead Reefs Can Come Back To Life, Study Says

Coral polyps feed in the plankton-rich waters by Santa Catalina, Panama. A new study of coral reefs off the Pacific coast of Panama shows that dead coral reefs may be able to recover from rising ocean temperatures and other environmental disasters.
laszlo-photo Flickr

Originally published on Fri July 6, 2012 12:10 pm

Coral reefs may be able to recover from disaster, according to a study that provides a bit of reassurance about the future of these endangered ecosystems.

Coral reefs around the world are at risk as the ocean's temperature continues to rise. Those trends could kill not only coral but also the fish and other species that depend on the reefs. Those reefs are important for people as well.

'Shocking' Reef History

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Around the Nation
5:06 pm
Thu July 5, 2012

When Does A Tree Go From Decorative To Dangerous?

Originally published on Thu July 5, 2012 6:23 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Let's face it. When we call someplace a tree-lined street in a leafy suburb, the implication is not that its residents live among deadly hazards. The intent is generally flattering. We like trees - you know, radio shows are hosted by fools like me, but only God can make a tree - except when 70-mile-per-hour winds blow through your neighborhood, as they did in many neighborhoods around Washington, D.C. last Friday.

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Energy
5:06 pm
Thu July 5, 2012

Report: Fukushima Disaster Was A Man-Made Crisis

Originally published on Thu July 5, 2012 6:23 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Japan's Fukushima nuclear crisis was a man-made catastrophe that could have been prevented. That's the conclusion of an investigative commission set up by Japan's parliament and released today. The disaster spread radioactive material over a wide area. It also forced thousands of Japanese from their homes and led Japan to shut down almost all of its nuclear reactors.

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Around the Nation
11:46 am
Thu July 5, 2012

Land-Grant Universities And Future Of Agriculture

Originally published on Tue July 10, 2012 3:55 pm

Transcript

NEAL CONAN, HOST:

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Environment
4:10 pm
Wed July 4, 2012

Climate Change Buoying Wildfires Across Country

Intense weather including storms, droughts and wildfires has racked America recently. Are they symptoms of climate change or is it just a hot summer? Robert Siegel talks to Kevin Trenberth, a climate scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado.

Environment
5:13 pm
Sat June 30, 2012

The Trickiness Of Tracking Severe Weather

Originally published on Sat June 30, 2012 5:56 pm

Weekends on All Things Considered guest host Laura Sullivan talks with Heidi Cullen, chief climatologist at Climate Central, a non-profit science journalism organization in Princeton, New Jersey. They discuss wildfires and extreme heat in the Midwest this week and how these climate conditions are tracked by Earth-observing satellites.

NPR Story
1:23 pm
Fri June 29, 2012

Bidding Farewell to Lonesome George

Transcript

IRA FLATOW, HOST:

This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm Ira Flatow. It's not often that people pay tribute, even eulogize, an animal, unless it's a famous film star like Lassie or maybe Trigger. But this week, they are remembering Lonesome George, the famous giant Galapagos tortoise thought to be over 100 years old and the last known member of his subspecies.

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NPR Story
1:23 pm
Fri June 29, 2012

A Tale Of Two Coastlines, Skirted By Swelling Seas

Transcript

IRA FLATOW, HOST:

When it comes to climate change, you've heard of melting icecaps and rising sea levels, but just how high will the sea levels rise in 20, 30 or 100 years? Will it be enough to notice the difference? New research now says the oceans will swallow up more and more of our coastline, rising not just inches but feet according to two new reports released by the National Research Council and the U.S. Geological Survey.

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NPR Story
1:23 pm
Fri June 29, 2012

Meet The Energy-Saving Gadgets Of The Future

Transcript

IRA FLATOW, HOST:

This is SCIENCE FRIDAY; I'm Ira Flatow. Imagine walking through Times Square, and every step you take it converted into a tiny electric current by the special pavement underfoot. Now multiply by the third of a million people who walk through Times Square on any given day. Wow, it could be a pretty awesome source of renewable energy, right, perhaps enough to power all those neon lights and flashing billboards.

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The Salt
3:03 am
Wed June 27, 2012

A Nation Of Meat Eaters: See How It All Adds Up

Only Luxembourgers eat more meat per person than Americans.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Thu June 28, 2012 9:59 am

As Allison Aubrey and Dan Charles reported today on Morning Edition, meat has more of an impact on the environment than any other food we eat. That's because livestock require so much more food, water, land, and energy than plants to raise and transport. (Listen to the audio above for their conversation with Morning Edition's Linda Wertheimer.)

Take a look here at what goes into just one quarter-pound of hamburger meat.

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NPR Story
1:37 pm
Tue June 26, 2012

Colum McCann Links Communities With Storytelling

Originally published on Tue June 26, 2012 2:16 pm

When Colum McCann came to the U.S. from Ireland in the early 1980s, he set out on a cross-country bicycle trip to get to know his new country and its stories. He's spent the years since telling those tales through prose. With his project, Story Swap, he's helping diverse communities better understand each other by sharing their own stories.

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