Environment

The Two-Way
5:25 pm
Sat September 22, 2012

World Rhinocerous Day Pokes At A Serious Issue

Rhinos stand at a water hole in Mkomazi rhino sanctuary on in Mkomazi, Tanzania.
Chris Jackson Getty Images

Originally published on Mon September 24, 2012 1:39 pm

If you had a sudden urge to put a horn on your head, not use your knees and chew on some leaves, you may be catching the spirit of World Rhino Day. It's being celebrated all over the world with art shows, auctions, walk-a-thons and lectures with the theme of "Five Rhino Species Forever."

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The Two-Way
11:20 am
Sat September 22, 2012

Synchronized Flushing In Zimbabwe Is Not A New Olympic Sport

Originally published on Sat September 22, 2012 2:10 pm

Residents of Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, are engaging in a community-wide flushing of toilets today.

Is it a symbolic washing away of waste? A sign of protest? A commode "flash mob?"

None of the above.

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Science
6:36 pm
Fri September 21, 2012

Chimney Rock Becomes Newest National Monument

A large sandstone feature in southwestern Colorado, Chimney Rock became America's newest national monument on Friday.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Fri September 21, 2012 6:53 pm

President Obama named a new national monument on Friday: Chimney Rock in southwestern Colorado. With two sandstone spires soaring from a mesa, not only is Chimney Rock a spectacular place; it also provides a fascinating glimpse into the ancient people who lived in that region more than 1,000 years ago.

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Environment
1:45 pm
Fri September 21, 2012

The Ugly Truth About Food Waste In America

Originally published on Mon September 24, 2012 2:42 pm

Transcript

IRA FLATOW, HOST:

Up next, an entirely different kind of food problem. Recycling paper and plastic, as you know, is an effective way to save money and energy. So why not recycle all the uneaten food that goes to waste? And there is an awful lot of it. Forty percent of the food in the U.S. today goes uneaten, which means Americans are throwing out the equivalent of 165 billion - with a B - billion dollars worth of food each year. But that's not all. Food waste, as it decays in landfills, also produces methane, which is a potent greenhouse gas.

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Energy
1:40 pm
Fri September 21, 2012

Printing Solar Panels In The Backyard

Transcript

IRA FLATOW, HOST:

Up next, Flora Lichtman is here with our Video Pick of the Week. Hi, Flora.

FLORA LICHTMAN, BYLINE: Hi, Ira.

FLATOW: What's in store for us this week?

LICHTMAN: I pretty much geeked out this week.

FLATOW: You geeked...

(LAUGHTER)

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Science
5:13 pm
Wed September 19, 2012

Hungry Snakes Trap Guam In Spidery Web

Invasive brown tree snakes have gobbled up most of Guam's native forest birds. Without these avian predators to keep their numbers in check, the island's spider population has exploded.
Isaac Chellman Rice University

Originally published on Wed September 19, 2012 8:09 pm

The Pacific Island of Guam is experiencing a population explosion — of spiders.

There are more spiders there now than anyone can remember. To get a sense of how weird the situation is, I started out in Maryland. On my front porch, overlooking the Severn River.

At 6:30 in the morning on a cool fall day, I find two spider webs in a matter of five minutes. But if I were on the island of Guam, I might find 70 or 80 spider webs in five minutes.

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Science
4:16 pm
Mon September 17, 2012

What Drove Early Man Across Globe? Climate Change

An artist's re-creation of the first human migration to North America from across the Bering Sea.
DEA Picture Library De Agostini/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon September 17, 2012 6:39 pm

Anthropologists believe early humans evolved in Africa and then moved out from there in successive waves. However, what drove their migrations has been a matter of conjecture.

One new explanation is climate change.

Anthropologist Anders Erikkson of Cambridge University in England says the first few hardy humans who left Africa might've gone earlier but couldn't. Northeastern Africa — the only route to Asia and beyond — was literally a no man's land.

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The Salt
3:44 pm
Mon September 17, 2012

Shriveled Mich. Apple Harvest Means Fewer Jobs, Tough Year Ahead

A lonely Michigan apple.
Noah Adams NPR

Originally published on Tue September 18, 2012 2:42 pm

An apple a day might keep the doctor away, but what do you do when there are no apples? It's a question western Michigan's apple growers are dealing with this season after strange weather earlier in the year decimated the state's apple cultivation.

Michigan is the third-largest apple producer in the U.S. after New York and Washington, but the state's apples will soon be in short supply. Now in the middle of harvest season, growers are picking only 10 percent to 15 percent of their normal crop.

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Energy
1:55 pm
Fri September 14, 2012

Wind Power Plentiful, Study Says

Transcript

IRA FLATOW, HOST:

This is SCIENCE FRIDAY, I'm Ira Flatow. How much of the world's energy needs could be met by wind power alone? Energy analysts are always quick to point out that the wind doesn't blow all the time, but it turns out that if you look worldwide, and you look up at the sky and not just at ground level, there's a lot of wind available, and that wind carries a lot of energy.

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NPR Story
1:49 pm
Fri September 14, 2012

Field Trip To A Fungi Foray

Originally published on Fri September 14, 2012 2:10 pm

What happens at the Northeast Mycological Federation Foray? "Mushrooms only," according to attendee Gary Lincoff, an instructor at the New York Botanical Garden and author of The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mushrooms. Science Friday stopped by the conference for mushroom talk, mushroom crafts, mushroom eats and a mushroom hunt.

Africa
1:56 pm
Thu September 13, 2012

Gorillas And Guerrillas Share The Troubled Congo

Patrick Karabaranga, a warden at the Virunga National Park, plays with an orphaned mountain gorilla at the park headquarters in Rumangabo, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, on July 17. The Virunga park is home to about 200 mountain gorillas, approximately a quarter of the world's population.
Phil Moore AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu September 13, 2012 11:19 pm

When crossing from Uganda into Congo at the shabby border town of Bunagana, I encountered a broadly smiling man in a black leather jacket named Hamid Kashaisha.

He asked if I wanted to see the gorillas. I replied that it's guerrillas — with guns, that is — that I wanted to see: the M23 rebels who, for the past two months, had occupied a piece of real estate in eastern Congo larger than Delaware.

That was no deterrence to the pitchman.

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Environment
5:18 am
Wed September 12, 2012

Arctic Ice At Lowest Level In Decades

Originally published on Wed September 12, 2012 9:28 pm

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne.

Here's some troubling news. Ice covering the Arctic Ocean has melted more dramatically this year than ever before. This year's loss of ice has exceeded the previous record by an area the size of Texas. NPR's Richard Harris reports.

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Science
5:52 pm
Tue September 11, 2012

'Astonishing' Arctic Ice Melt Sets New Record

Norman Kuring NASA/GSFC/Suomi

Originally published on Tue September 11, 2012 9:57 pm

Arctic sea ice has melted dramatically this summer, smashing the previous record. The Arctic has warmed dramatically compared with the rest of the planet, and scientists say that's what's driving this loss of ice.

To be sure, ice on the Arctic Ocean always melts in the summer. Historically, about half of it is gone by mid-September. But this year, three-fourths of the ice has melted away, setting a dramatic new benchmark.

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Environment
4:52 pm
Tue September 11, 2012

Officials Combat Big Stink In Southern California

Originally published on Tue September 11, 2012 9:57 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Here are some descriptions of a foul smell that has stunk its way across a huge stretch of Southern California.

PAT STEVENS: Rotting fish, sewage, you know.

JOYCE THATCHER: It smells exactly like somebody's septic system overflowed.

SEAN NEALON: Like an old banana under the seat for, like, a week, and it just turns all black and gooey and, like, something's rotting.

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The Salt
3:48 pm
Tue September 11, 2012

How Oregon's Prized Pinot Noir Grapes Will Take The Heat Of Climate Change

Pinot noir grapes are notoriously finicky about the weather, and climate change has winemakers in Oregon thinking about the future.
Greg Wahl-Stephens AP

Originally published on Wed September 19, 2012 4:08 pm

Some grapes like it hot.

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NPR Story
1:29 pm
Tue September 11, 2012

Arctic Sea Ice Melt Sets Record

Originally published on Tue September 11, 2012 2:46 pm

Transcript

NEAL CONAN, HOST:

Every summer, some of the ice that covers the Arctic Ocean melts. Come mid-September, it begins to refreeze. Scientists began to monitor this cycle in the late 1970s, and this year, they saw less ice than ever before - a lot less ice. NPR science correspondent Richard Harris joins us here in Studio 3A. Richard, nice to have you on the program.

RICHARD HARRIS, BYLINE: Always a pleasure, Neal.

CONAN: And how big is this change?

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Shots - Health Blog
3:09 pm
Mon September 10, 2012

When Heat Kills: Global Warming As Public Health Threat

A man stands in a fountain in Washington Square Park on July 18, in New York City. Temperatures were expected in the upper 90's during another heat wave in the city.
Mario Tama Getty Images

Originally published on Thu September 13, 2012 11:26 am

The current poster child for global warming is a polar bear, sitting on a melting iceberg. Some health officials argue the symbol should, instead, be a child.

That's because emerging science shows that people respond more favorably to warnings about climate change when it's portrayed as a health issue rather than as an environmental problem.

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Energy
1:59 pm
Fri September 7, 2012

Oregon Power Project Needs The Motion Of The Ocean

Transcript

IRA FLATOW, HOST:

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NPR Story
5:24 am
Thu September 6, 2012

European Central Bank To Meet On Interest Rates

Originally published on Thu September 6, 2012 10:17 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

When the European Central Bank holds its monthly meeting today, investors around the world will be watching nervously to see what the bank's head, Mario Draghi, says about interest rates. Draghi was recently quoted as saying he would do whatever it takes to keep Europe's debt crisis from growing out of control, and that could go beyond just cutting borrowing rates.

As NPR's Jim Zarroli reports, any European Central Bank plan to use its resources to prop up Europe's weaker economies will face strong opposition from the Germans.

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Around the Nation
5:24 am
Thu September 6, 2012

Nesting Loons Help Researchers Track Toxins

Originally published on Thu September 6, 2012 10:17 am

Scientists have found that the aquatic birds are good indicators of toxins in the environment. That's why researchers have taken to the waters of western Maine for what's believed to be the longest-running loon monitoring study in North America.

Asia
1:15 pm
Wed September 5, 2012

Vanishing Vultures A Grave Matter For India's Parsis

This image shows a Parsi Tower of Silence, circa 1955, near Mumbai, India. The bodies of the dead are left here to be disposed of by vultures.
Alice Schalek Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed September 5, 2012 7:42 pm

For any religion, keeping up traditions in the modern world can be a challenge. The Parsi community in India, however, faces a unique obstacle.

Parsis, who came to India from Persia (Iran) a thousand years ago with their Zoroastrian faith, have gone to great lengths to maintain their unique funeral rituals. But they've had to make a few adjustments to keep up with the times and to not upset the neighbors.

Parsi funerals begin in a way familiar to many faiths: prayers are chanted and mourners pay last respects.

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Krulwich Wonders...
8:27 am
Wed September 5, 2012

What's With Frosty? Why Isn't He Showing Up On Time?

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Wed September 5, 2012 8:57 am

Check out this graph of America's "Growing Season" — it measures the number of continuous days and nights when it never gets below 32 degrees. You could call this our "frost-free" time of year. In many places, the frost-free season begins in the spring and ends somewhere in October.

As you can see, over the 20th century, it's been staying frost-free longer...and longer...and longer...

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Environment
3:19 am
Tue September 4, 2012

As Temps Rise, Cities Combat 'Heat Island' Effect

An art installation of a melting fan sits on display in a subway station Thursday, June 9, 2011, in Atlanta.
David Goldman AP

Originally published on Tue September 4, 2012 5:10 pm

More than 20,000 high-temperature records have been broken so far this year in the United States. And the heat is especially bad in cities, which are heating up about twice as fast as the rest of the planet.

High temperatures increase the risk of everything from asthma to allergies, and can even be deadly. But a researcher in Atlanta also sees this urban heat wave as an opportunity to do something about our warming planet.

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Around the Nation
4:34 pm
Thu August 30, 2012

Despite Drought, Some Corn Farmers Reap Bounty

Grimes Sweetcorn worker Paulette Vandyke waits to sell fresh corn in Grimes, Iowa. The drought has pushed the price of corn per bushel up nearly 40 percent in the past two months.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Thu August 30, 2012 8:18 pm

For every farmer who is hurting this year during the drought, others are benefiting. Many fields in the South, Northwest and Upper Midwest are producing bountiful corn crops. And because the drought has pushed prices to record highs, farmers who have corn to sell expect a terrific payday.

"The corn has actually really, really taken off all the way through season. It's grown fast. It's been accelerated. The corn looks really good now," says John Scott, whose family farm in Sargeant, Minn., is just bursting with corn.

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Around the Nation
3:15 am
Thu August 30, 2012

In Drought, Should Corn Be Food Or Fuel?

Drought has taken a toll on corn this year, and as a result, a growing number of ethanol plants have closed.
Saul Loeb AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu August 30, 2012 5:56 am

Standing outside the Central Minnesota Ethanol Co-Op in Little Falls, Minn., there's not a lot going on. The pungent smell of fermentation that typically hangs in the air here is absent. And trucks piled high with corn are nowhere to be seen.

They're idled in part because of high corn prices. And it's unclear when that will change.

"Most of the industry is just breaking even in terms of profitability or actually running at slightly negative margins," says Geoff Cooper, vice president of research and analysis at the Renewable Fuels Association.

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Shots - Health Blog
6:24 pm
Wed August 29, 2012

Mysterious New 'Heartland Virus' Discovered In Missouri

Two men from northwestern Missouri became ill after tick bites infected them with a previously unknown virus.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Fri August 31, 2012 9:42 am

Two Missouri farmers have been infected with a brand-new tick-borne virus that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is calling the Heartland virus.

The men recovered but suffered serious illness that required hospital care and weeks of convalescence. Symptoms included fever, severe fatigue, headache and nausea. Their platelet counts plummeted, but even though platelets are necessary for blood clotting, the men didn't suffer abnormal bleeding.

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Around the Nation
4:57 pm
Wed August 29, 2012

Seals' Comeback Spells Trouble to Mass. Coast

Seals swim among the docked boats at Chatham's fish pier, waiting for a free meal.
Curt Nickisch for NPR

Originally published on Wed August 29, 2012 8:25 pm

Before the Marine Mammal Protection Act was passed 40 years ago, early New Englanders had nearly hunted seals to death. They wanted them for their furs and to keep them from eating cod. Massachusetts even paid bounties on seals: $5 per nose.

The act has helped gray seals and harbor seals recolonize New England waters, but fishermen off the coast of Cape Cod say they have become a nuisance.

There's No Such Thing As A Free Lunch

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Around the Nation
3:42 pm
Wed August 29, 2012

Isaac's Size, Speed Help It Pack A Heavyweight Punch

People walk in the storm surge from Hurricane Isaac along Lake Pontchartrain in New Orleans. Isaac was later downgraded to a tropical storm as it continued to grind its way through the Gulf Coast, dropping torrential rain and generating dangerous storm surges.
Gerald Herbert AP

Originally published on Fri October 26, 2012 12:28 pm

Isaac might not be in the same league as Hurricane Katrina seven years ago, but the latest storm to batter Louisiana's Gulf Coast is punching above its weight class in more ways than one, scientists say.

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Shots - Health Blog
3:00 pm
Wed August 29, 2012

With West Nile On The Rise, We Answer Your Questions

A Beechcraft airplane sprays insecticide over Dallas early Monday morning to curb the spread of West Nile virus.
LM Otero AP

Originally published on Fri August 31, 2012 9:45 am

This year is on track to be the worst ever for West Nile virus in the United States. Here are the latest numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • 1,590 reported cases, nearly 500 more than a week ago for a rise of 44 percent.
  • 889 cases, or 56 percent, involve severe neurological disease.
  • 66 deaths, compared to 41 last week.
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Business
6:43 am
Wed August 29, 2012

White House Unveils New Fuel-Efficiency Standards

Originally published on Thu August 30, 2012 4:04 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

President Obama's administration has adopted new fuel efficiency standards for cars and light trucks. They're expected to nearly double fuel efficiency and slash greenhouse gas emissions.

NPR's Elizabeth Shogren reports the new requirements are a rare example of industry agreeing to tough environmental regulations.

ELIZABETH SHOGREN, BYLINE: The new standards were the result of many months of negotiation between the Obama administration, the state of California, the auto industry and environmental groups.

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