Environment

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And we are continuing our special coverage of the storm in Houston by talking to the mayor of Houston, Sylvester Turner. He's with us on the line now. Mr. Mayor, thank you so much for speaking with us.

SYLVESTER TURNER: Thank you for having me.

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Houston Weather Forecast Update

Aug 27, 2017

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As we said earlier, Harvey has been downgraded from hurricane to tropical storm, but the rain is still falling and causing lots of problems, as we've been hearing. Joining us now is Eric Berger. He is a meteorologist of Space City Weather. Eric, thanks so much for joining us.

Assessing Houston-Area Damage

Aug 27, 2017

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So as all this continues, a big question will be what to do with all the people who are being displaced by floodwaters. We're joined now by NPR's Debbie Elliott. She's in Beaumont, Texas, which is east of Houston. Debbie, thanks so much for joining us.

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We return to our main story, the catastrophic flooding in Texas, where rains from Tropical Storm Harvey are pouring down. We've reached Andrew Schneider, reporter with Houston Public Media. He's trapped in a building in Houston. Andrew, welcome.

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Hurricane Harvey left a lot of damage — not only along the Texas coastal towns where it made landfall Friday, but also in communities like Sienna Plantation, in Missouri City, about 20 miles south of Houston.

"It's true when they tell you that it sounds like a freight train coming through," Linda Varnado says, "because that's what it is ... and it's a sound that I don't want to hear ever again."

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One Last Hike Of Summer

Aug 26, 2017

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Summer's winding to an end. Children are headed back to school. But there's still time for a weekend escape. Let's go for a hike - ouch, my bunions - in New York's Adirondack Mountains with North Country Public Radio's Brian Mann.

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Cambodia needs energy. Almost half of this Southeast Asian country is without electricity. Work will soon be completed on the country's largest hydropower project to date, the Sesan 2 dam, on the Sesan River, a tributary of the Mekong River near the border with Laos.

The dam is an $800 million joint Chinese-Cambodian venture from a company called Hydro Power Lower Sesan 2 Co. Ltd. When it's finished, two nearby villages, Srekor and Kbal Romeas, will be underwater.

In Northern Colorado, there are growing concerns in neighborhoods and communities about oil and gas wells sitting too close to their homes and schools. Last Spring, the danger became clearer when a home exploded in Firestone, Colo., killing two people, after a small pipeline connected to a well began leaking odorless gas into the basement.

Part 2 of the TED Radio Hour episode Hardwired.

About Moshe Szyf's TED Talk

Many think genetic makeup is fixed from the moment we're born. But Moshe Szyf says this understanding is incomplete because our experiences and environment have the power to change our basic biology.

About Moshe Szyf

Part 1 of the TED Radio Hour episode Hardwired.

About Robert Sapolsky's TED Talk

Neuroscientist Robert Sapolsky says nearly all aspects of human behavior are explained by biology: from developments millions of years in the past to microscopic reactions happening in the present.

About Robert Sapolsky

Part 4 of the TED Radio Hour episode Hardwired.

About Brian Little's TED Talk

Are you introverted or extroverted? It depends. When it comes to personality, psychologist Brian Little says we can actually act against our biology — especially if we pursue a "core life project."

About Brian Little

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Twenty-five years ago today, we were monitoring one of the strongest hurricanes to ever make landfall in the U.S.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

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As Kevin Sullivan slowly rumbles his pickup truck across his 60-acre farm near the Connecticut-Massachusetts border, he leans in and asks: "What's farmland?"

"You picture [a] cow," says Sullivan. Perhaps "Farmer Joe, like me." Maybe you think about my tomatoes and peppers, he adds.

But now, Sullivan and other New England farmers are turning their farms into sources of another kind of commodity – electricity. They are allowing utility companies to set up solar panels on their land, and in the process making some much-needed extra money.

The U.S. power grid could become less reliable if too much electricity comes from renewable energy and natural gas, according to a study from the Department of Energy.

But not everyone is buying it. Environmentalists suspect the Trump administration is just trying to prop up an ailing coal industry.

Energy Secretary Rick Perry called for the study in the spring. The report doesn't say there is a grid reliability problem now — only that one could develop if more coal and nuclear power plants shut down.

Instead of enforcing limits on fishing, wildlife officials in Washington state are doing just the opposite – they're asking the public to catch as many fish as they can, regardless of size. Atlantic salmon, that is.

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OK. It's August, so here's a safe bet.

GREG SPOTTS: Well, I suspect that if you live on an asphalt street in Oklahoma, in the summer afternoon, it's pretty darn hot on your street.

A decades-long effort to clean up the Chesapeake Bay, the nation's largest estuary, is showing signs of success. But scientists now say progress could be hindered by a hydroelectric dam, located on the Susquehanna River in northern Maryland.

The Conowingo Dam has been holding back pollution for nearly a century, but recent research shows it has filled up with sediment faster than expected.

"It's now at a point where it's essentially, effectively full," says Bill Ball, director of the Chesapeake Research Consortium. "The capacity's been reached."

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