Environment

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

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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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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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.

Around the Nation
5:18 pm
Mon June 25, 2012

Tropical Storm Debby Saturates Florida

Originally published on Tue June 26, 2012 5:27 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.

For days, heavy rain from Tropical Storm Debby have lashed Florida. High waves have pounded the coast, tornadoes have roared across the state. Some communities are flooded out. Meteorologists think Debby is weakening.

But as Scott Finn of member station WUSF reports the storm doesn't have to be strong to do a lot of damage.

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NPR Story
1:56 pm
Mon June 25, 2012

Researchers Offer First-Hand Views On Climate Change

Originally published on Mon June 25, 2012 2:28 pm

As the climate changes, scientists are documenting measurable shifts in the natural world — from a tremendous loss in Arctic sea ice and an increase in extreme weather like drought, floods and heatwaves, to the migration of plants and animals to new latitudes.

NPR Story
1:56 pm
Mon June 25, 2012

Seeking The Micro, Scientists Find The Big Picture

Originally published on Mon June 25, 2012 2:22 pm

E.O Wilson and Sylvia Earle see the through very different lenses. Wilson started with his eyes to the ground, following ants as they lead him to the study of biodiversity and human nature. Earle dove into the Gulf of Mexico to focus on aquatic plants. That underwater view ultimately led her to study the relationship between degrading seas and life everywhere.

Animals
1:56 pm
Mon June 25, 2012

Reviving Extinct Species May Not Be Science Fiction

Originally published on Mon June 25, 2012 2:26 pm

Transcript

NEAL CONAN, HOST:

This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan.

Wander through one of this country's fine museums of natural history and you'll see animals you'll never see in a zoo: the wooly mammoth, the dodo bird, animals extinct for centuries. But for Stewart Brand extinct doesn't mean gone forever. He's working on a new project, "Revive and Restore," to de-extinct animals we never thought we'd see alive.

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Environment
3:00 am
Mon June 25, 2012

Alaska Glacier Studied For Clues On Water Supply

Researchers measure the Eklutna glacier in Alaska to see how long the water it provides will last. The glacier supplies Anchorage with both drinking water and hydro power.
Annie Feidt for NPR

Originally published on Mon June 25, 2012 1:37 pm

Anchorage is one of the few North American cities that depend on a glacier for most of their drinking water. The Eklutna glacier also provides some of the city's electricity, through hydro power. So a team of researchers is working to answer a very important question: How long will the glacier's water supply last?

To get that answer, those researchers have to shovel a lot of snow. "It gets to be the consistency of really strong Styrofoam once you get down, maybe six or eight feet," glaciologist Louis Sass says as he flings pristine snow out of a growing hole in the glacier.

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Science
6:22 am
Sat June 23, 2012

Rio+20 Summit Sustains Little More Than Sentiment

U.N. General Assembly President Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, Brazil's Secretary of the Conference Luis Figueiredo Machado and Rio+20 Secretary General Sha Zukang attend the closing ceremony of the Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro on Friday.
Andre Penner AP

Originally published on Sat June 23, 2012 11:15 pm

The Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development was the biggest United Nations conference ever, but it may be one of the biggest duds. It produced no major agreements — just a vaguely worded declaration that has been widely derided.

More than 45,000 people registered for the event in Rio de Janeiro, but diplomats couldn't even agree about the meeting's objective until 2:45 a.m. on Tuesday, just before heads of state and other high-level delegates started arriving in Rio.

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Energy
6:22 pm
Tue June 19, 2012

Shell Faces Pushback As Alaska Drilling Nears

Shell says it hopes to never need to use its new 300-foot-long, $100 million oil recovery ship named Nanuq for anything other than drills and training.
Richard Harris NPR

Originally published on Tue June 19, 2012 6:59 pm

The federal government could soon give the final go-ahead for Royal Dutch Shell to begin drilling for oil in the Arctic Ocean. Shell has spent $4 billion since 2007 to prepare for this work, and is hoping to tap into vast new deposits of oil.

But the plan to drill exploratory wells is controversial — opposed by environmental groups and some indigenous people as well.

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Environment
5:20 pm
Tue June 19, 2012

As Tsunami Debris Crosses Pacific, Dangers Emerge

A nearly 70-foot dock that was torn loose from a fishing port in northern Japan by last year's tsunami washed ashore on Agate Beach in Oregon. Marine scientists have found potentially invasive species among the 100 tons of marine life that traveled aboard the dock.
Oregon Department of Parks and Recreation AP

Originally published on Tue June 19, 2012 6:59 pm

Beaches on the West Coast are getting a regular dose of debris from the 2011 tsunami in Japan. The first few items were curiosities — a boat here, a soccer ball there — but as the litter accumulates, officials such as Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire have acknowledged the scale of the problem.

"We are in for a steady dribble of tsunami debris over the next few years, so any response by us must be well-planned — and it will be," she said.

Beyond the obvious problem of litter, officials are on the lookout for hidden dangers.

Debris 'Everywhere'

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The Salt
2:17 pm
Tue June 19, 2012

Why You Shouldn't Panic About Pesticide In Produce

Apples made the top of the list for produce containing pesticide residue, but how much is unsafe?
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Tue June 19, 2012 3:37 pm

The Environmental Working Group, a non-profit health advocacy organization, says you should be concerned about pesticide residues in fruits and vegetables, but not so concerned that you stop eating these foods.

That's the mixed message delivered in the eighth edition of EWG's annual Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce released today.

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Energy
3:15 am
Tue June 19, 2012

Rio Environment Meeting Focuses On 'Energy For All'

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon speaks during a news conference on June 7 at the United Nations headquarters in New York City. Ban wants to focus on making energy available to the poorest populations of the world.
Andrew Burton Getty Images

Originally published on Tue June 19, 2012 9:48 am

Diplomats and activists from around the world are meeting in Rio de Janeiro this week to talk about how the planet's growing population can live better lives without damaging the environment. The Rio+20 meeting marks the 20th anniversary of the United Nations Earth Summit in Rio, a watershed meeting to address topics as diverse as climate change and biodiversity.

At this follow-up meeting, delegates hope to highlight an issue that was almost absent from the Earth Summit: making energy available to everyone in the world.

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Animals
5:03 pm
Mon June 18, 2012

Massive N.M. Fire Threatens Endangered Fish

Originally published on Mon June 18, 2012 5:22 pm

Ash and charred debris from the largest wildfire in New Mexico's history are threatening the survival of the Gila trout. Biologists are trying to save the fish by using electroshock to temporarily stun the trout and re-locate it to a hatchery. The trout is an endangered species that can be found only in four streams within the Gila Wilderness. Melissa Blocks talks to Jim Brooks, Project Leader of the New Mexico Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office, about his team's efforts to save the trout.

Arts & Life
4:03 pm
Sun June 17, 2012

Chanticleer: A Botanical Distraction From Daily Life

Chanticleer is a historical estate and garden in Wayne, Pa., part of the old Main Line ring of estates around Philadelphia.
Courtesy of the Lyden family

Originally published on Fri April 5, 2013 3:19 pm

Ever wanted to just disappear into a secret garden of earthly delights, of twists and turns of evocative ruin, exuberant tropics, the Zen of a Japanese teahouse?

Consider Chanticleer, in Wayne, Pa. It's part of the old Main Line ring of estates around Philadelphia. In fact, right across the street from the garden is the former home of Helen Hope Montgomery Scott, the heiress portrayed by Katherine Hepburn in Philadelphia Story.

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Interviews
1:44 pm
Fri June 15, 2012

Desktop Diaries: Sylvia Earle

A moray eel, a flock of geese and a shrunken head are just a few of the things found in and around Her Deepness' office. Earle, an explorer-in-residence at the National Geographic, has desks all over the country. A few months ago we stopped by her Oakland home-base for the next installment in our Desktop Diaries series.

TED Radio Hour
9:50 am
Fri June 15, 2012

Is Density Our Destiny?

"Cities are the place where change happens. Not just for individuals, but for whole societies." — Stewart Brand
Robert Leslie TED

Originally published on Fri June 15, 2012 10:02 am

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Humans
4:07 am
Fri June 15, 2012

Famous Cave Paintings Might Not Be From Humans

The Panel of Hands in the Cave of El Castillo in Spain. New dating methods suggest the paintings could have been drawn by Neanderthals, not humans, as previously thought.
Pedro Saura AAAS/Science

Originally published on Thu March 27, 2014 9:33 am

The famous paintings on the walls of caves in Europe mark the beginning of figurative art and a great leap forward for human culture.

But now a novel method of determining the age of some of those cave paintings questions their provenance. Not that they're fakes — only that it might not have been modern humans who made them.

The first European cave paintings are thought to have been made over 30,000 years ago. Most depict animals and hunters. Some of the eeriest are stencils of human hands, apparently made by blowing a spray of pigment over a hand held up to a wall.

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The Picture Show
3:29 pm
Thu June 14, 2012

The Motivating Mantra Of 'Why Not?'

Giant Non-Tabular (wedge) Iceberg, Weddell Sea, Antarctica, 2005
Camille Seaman

Originally published on Fri June 15, 2012 1:25 pm

For a long time, Camille Seaman's mantra was: "Why not?"

Why not give up a seat on a flight in exchange for a voucher? Why not use that voucher to check out Alaska? Why not walk out on that thin ice? What's the worst that could happen?

"I think sometimes ignorance allows you a bravery and courage," she says on the phone, "where if you had known, you would never do it."

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Environment
5:15 pm
Wed June 13, 2012

Climate Change May Spark More Wildfires In Future

Originally published on Wed June 13, 2012 7:32 pm

A new study shows that in coming years, the frequency of wildfires will increase because of climate change. Audie Cornish talks to Max Moritz, lead author of the study at University of California-Berkeley.

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