Environment

Likes Long Walks On The Beach, Collecting ... Plastic?

Aug 1, 2012

After talking to artists Judith and Richard Lang I couldn't stop thinking about the plastic in my life. I looked around my kitchen — at the dish soap bottle, the food storage containers, my kiddo's toys — and realized this stuff might be around for a long, long time.

America's 'Most Polluted' Lake Finally Comes Clean

Jul 31, 2012

Onondaga Lake in Syracuse, N.Y., has often been called the most polluted lake in America. It was hammered by a one-two punch: raw and partially treated sewage from the city and its suburbs, and a century's worth of industrial dumping. But now the final stage in a $1 billion cleanup is about to begin.

Standing in his office amid stacks of reports, scientist Steve Effler glances at an old front-page headline of the Syracuse Herald-Journal: "Divers find goo in Onondaga Lake."

The next time you take a sip of your favorite wine, you might want to make your first toast to hornets. Or, more precisely, European hornets and paper wasps.

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This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm Ira Flatow.

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And I'm Flora Lichtman. In 2007, thousands of people in Mexico took to the streets, protesting the price of tortillas. In three months, the price of corn had gone up 400 percent. Why? According to my first guest, it all started with a spike in oil prices triggered by Hurricane Katrina. That led to increased demand for ethanol, and U.S. farmers who grow a lot of the corn that Mexicans eat planted less corn for eating and more corn to make ethanol.

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The drought is threatening a major event important to one small lake town. For more than 25 years, DePue, Illinois has hosted the American Powerboat Association's national championships. This year, officials discovered the water level in the lake was too low. And so, they embarked on an unusual effort to bring in more water.

Mike Moen of member station WNIJ reports.

(SOUNDBITE OF A MOTORBOAT)

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And I'm Linda Wertheimer.

In the Midwest, the drought is doing a number on the nation's biggest agricultural crop, corn. The USDA says half of the country's cornfields are in poor or very poor condition, and the short supply is driving up the price. Now, a fight between livestock farmers and ethanol producers over the high priced corn crop. Farmers say ethanol factories have an unfair advantage.

NPR's Dan Charles reports.

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A pair of NASA satellite images taken just four days apart tells a potentially worrying story of melting ice in the polar summer.

The first, snapped from orbit on July 8, shows about 40 percent of the Greenland ice sheet shaded in pink or red to illustrate probable or confirmed surface melting. The second photo, taken on July 12, shows nearly the entire land mass — 97 percent — blotched in a red hue.

Last week there were the pictures of an iceberg twice the size of Manhattan breaking off Greenland's Petermann Glacier.

Now there are NASA images showing that in four days earlier this month, "Greenland's surface ice cover melted over a larger area than at any time in more than 30 years of satellite observations."

The cool weather in London is good news for the Olympic athletes because their bodies won't need to put as much energy into cooling off.

But most of us aren't lucky enough to be headed to London, and we could use some help keeping cool.

When you get hot you sweat — but it's not enough to just sweat. To cool off, you need that sweat to evaporate. It's evaporation that drains the heat from your body.

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