Environment

Bidding Farewell to Lonesome George

Jun 29, 2012

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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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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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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.

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.

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

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block.

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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.

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.

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.

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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