Environment

Animals
1:07 pm
Sat November 1, 2014

In Texas, The World's Biggest Bat Colony Is Saved From City Sprawl

The Bracken Bat Cave outside San Antonio is home to millions of bats. Here, a few of them emerge from the colony in 2011.
Eric Gay AP

Originally published on Mon November 3, 2014 3:39 pm

Down a narrow gravel drive and a short walk past cactus and scrub cedars outside San Antonio is a gaping, dark cave mouth, 60 feet wide, nestled at the bottom of a steep hill.

This is the Bracken Bat Cave. Each night at 7:30, millions of bats spiral out of the deep cave and streak off toward the darkening Southern sky.

Thanks to a $20 million deal signed Friday by San Antonio, conservation groups and a local developer, the night sky around the cave will stay dark, and the mother and baby bats inside will have a buffer between them and the hazards of city sprawl.

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The Two-Way
7:49 am
Fri October 31, 2014

Lava Flow In Hawaii Spares Homes, But Threatens To Cut Off Community

Lava near the leading edge of the flow oozes over a concrete slab and toward a tangerine tree before solidifying near the town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii earlier this week.
U.S. Geological Survey AP

Originally published on Fri October 31, 2014 11:30 am

Officials in Hawaii are sending National Guard troops to the town of Pahoa on the Big Island, where a lava flow is creeping toward a main road, threatening to cut off the community.

Hawaii County Civil Defense Director Darryl Oliveira said 83 troops have been sent to the town of fewer than 1,000 to help provide security. They are to aid in a road block and with other safety issues, The Associated Press says.

"These are local troops, people from the community. They'll be here working to take care of their family and friends," Oliveira said.

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Environment
4:42 pm
Thu October 30, 2014

Saving The Amazon Will Take More Than Stopping Loggers

Originally published on Thu October 30, 2014 6:27 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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The Salt
12:04 pm
Thu October 30, 2014

Apps Aim To Guide You On 'Sustainable Food' (Whatever That Means)

Confused about all the different sustainability ratings out there? The simplest option may be to shop at your local farmer's market.
iStockphoto

If you're reading The Salt, it probably comes as no surprise to you that consumers increasingly want to make food choices based on not just their health, but their ethics. A growing number of groups are coming up with technological solutions to help them.

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Environment
7:33 pm
Tue October 28, 2014

Commercial supply rocket explodes at liftoff

 

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — An unmanned commercial supply ship bound for the International Space Station exploded moments after liftoff Tuesday evening, with debris falling in flames over the launch site.

No injuries were reported following the first catastrophic launch in NASA's commercial spaceflight effort.

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The Salt
6:01 pm
Tue October 28, 2014

Who Should Pay To Fix The World's Salt-Damaged Soils?

Farms outside Baghdad as seen from a U.S. Army Blackhawk helicopter. Much of Iraq's soil has a high salt content because of flooding and poor drainage.
Jim Gordon U.S. Army Corps of Engineers/Flickr

Imagine losing about 5,000 acres, or 15 average-sized farms in Iowa, every day. That's how much productive farmland has succumbed to salt damage in the last 20 or so years, according to a paper published Tuesday by a group of international researchers. And, they say, all that degraded land is costing farmers $27.3 billion a year.

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Parallels
2:55 pm
Tue October 28, 2014

As Great Barrier Reef Ails, Australia Scrambles To Save It

These scuba divers are among the 2 million tourists who visit the Great Barrier Reef each year. They contribute about $5.6 billion to Australia's economy, according to the Queensland government.
Steve Dorsey for NPR

Originally published on Tue October 28, 2014 7:37 pm

The Great Barrier Reef has long been in trouble. One Australian government report in 2012 estimated the reef had lost more than half its coral since 1985.

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The Salt
11:49 am
Thu October 23, 2014

Why California's Drought-Stressed Fruit May Be Better For You

These pomegranates are about an inch smaller than the typical size, but they're packed with antioxidants.
Courtesy of Tiziana Centofanti

Originally published on Mon October 27, 2014 1:36 pm

California's severe drought is putting stress on everyone these days: the residents whose wells are running dry; the farmers forced to experiment with growing their produce with much less water; and of course, the thirsty fruits and vegetables themselves.

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Environment
5:26 pm
Wed October 22, 2014

Coping In A Drier World: California's Drought Survival Strategy

The San Luis Reservoir in central California is the largest "off-channel" reservoir in the U.S. It is currently at less than 30 percent of its normal capacity.
Kirk Siegler NPR

Originally published on Wed October 22, 2014 7:44 pm

The past few years have been California's driest on record. Forecasters predict that punishing droughts like the current one could become the new norm.

The state uses water rationing and a 90-year-old water distribution system to cope until the rains come. The system is a huge network of dams, canals and pipes that move water from the places it rains and snows to places it typically doesn't, like farms and cities.

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Environment
4:02 pm
Mon October 20, 2014

Why Are The Great Lakes On The Rise?

Originally published on Mon October 20, 2014 6:03 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Around the Nation
5:33 am
Sun October 19, 2014

The Kissimmee: A River Re-Curved

The restoration's goal is to put as much of the Kissimmee as possible back to the way it was. This photo shows the river after restoration.
Courtesy the South Florida Water Management District

Originally published on Mon October 20, 2014 3:18 pm

It sounds almost superhuman to try straighten a river and then recarve the curves.

That's what federal and state officials did to the Kissimmee River in Central Florida. They straightened the river in the 1960s into a canal to drain swampland and make way for the state's explosive growth. It worked — and it created an ecological disaster. So officials decided to restore the river's slow-flowing, meandering path.

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Business
9:27 am
Fri October 17, 2014

Predictions Of 'Peak Oil' Production Prove Slippery

Workers drill for oil in the Bakken shale formation outside Watford City, N.D., an area experiencing an oil boom.
Andrew Burton Getty Images

Originally published on Sat October 18, 2014 12:52 pm

The dustiest portion of my home library includes the 1980s books — about how Japan's economy would dominate the world.

And then there are the 1990s books — about how the Y2K computer glitch would end the modern era.

Go up one more shelf for the late 2000s books — about oil "peaking." The authors claimed global oil production was reaching a peak and would soon decline, causing economic chaos.

The titles include Peak Oil and the Second Great Depression, Peak Oil Survival and When Oil Peaked.

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The Salt
4:24 pm
Thu October 16, 2014

Do We Need A New 'Environmental Impact' Label For Beef?

Researchers say there's plenty the beef industry can do to use less land and water and emit fewer greenhouse gas emissions. But producers may need to charge a premium to make those changes.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Mon October 20, 2014 4:49 pm

If you've got decisions to make at the meat counter (or at a burger joint) and want to do right by the environment, you have a couple of options.

You could skip the beef entirely, which is what some environmental groups say you should do. Or you could go for meat with a "grass-fed" or "organic" label.

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The Salt
7:01 pm
Wed October 15, 2014

New GMOs Get A Regulatory Green Light, With A Hint Of Yellow

Corn farmer Jerry McCulley sprays the weedkiller glyphosate across his cornfield in Auburn, Ill., in 2010. An increasing number of weeds have now evolved resistance to the chemical.
Seth Perlman AP

Government regulators have approved a new generation of genetically engineered corn and soybeans. They're the latest weapon in an arms race between farmers and weeds, and the government's green light is provoking angry opposition from environmentalists.

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Around the Nation
5:05 am
Wed October 15, 2014

Santa Cruz Enforces California's Toughest Drought Restrictions

Originally published on Wed October 15, 2014 2:18 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Santa Cruz, California now faces the toughest water restrictions in all of that giant state. It's in response to California's four-year drought. NPR's Richard Gonzales reports.

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Around the Nation
5:27 am
Tue October 14, 2014

How Too Many Trees Contribute To California's Drought

Originally published on Tue October 14, 2014 8:00 am

Copyright 2014 KQED Public Media. To see more, visit http://www.kqed.org.

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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Environment
4:58 pm
Sat October 11, 2014

The Tricky Nature Of Putting Science On Trial

Originally published on Sat October 11, 2014 6:33 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ARUN RATH, HOST:

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Environment
9:59 am
Sat October 11, 2014

Millennials: We Help The Earth But Don't Call Us Environmentalists

Millennials seem to prioritize the environment, but may want to dissociate from the "treehugger" baggage of the term "environmentalist."
Getty Images

Originally published on Tue October 14, 2014 8:10 pm

This story is part of the New Boom series on millennials in America.

Young people have been the life blood of the environmental movement for decades. There could be trouble on the horizon though, and it all comes down to semantics.

To explain, it's helpful to use the example of Lisa Curtis, a 26-year-old from Oakland, California.

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The Salt
7:03 am
Sat October 11, 2014

SXSW Eco, Hub Of Environmental And Foodie Fervor

SXSW Eco attendees at the welcome dinner at Springdale Farms in East Austin on Oct. 6.
Nicole Burton for SXSW Eco

Originally published on Wed October 15, 2014 1:24 pm

At the annual SXSW Eco, a conference in Austin, Texas, you'll find a lot of serious discussion of the rapid decline of the Earth's ecosystems.

But like the famed music, film and interactive parent festival, SXSW, this event is also about networking. That means parties. Lots of them. People shake off formalities easily here, and the young, casual, tech-oriented crowd takes full advantage of Austin's tantalizing buffet of food trucks, bars and music.

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Around the Nation
4:53 am
Fri October 10, 2014

Miami Uses Pumps To Battle Flooding From Sea Level Rise

Originally published on Fri October 10, 2014 8:05 am

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

A couple times a year, the gravitational pull of the moon and sun produce so-called king tides. Climate change is raising sea levels, which means these big tides are becoming a problem. NPR's Greg Allen reports from Miami Beach.

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Science
6:13 pm
Wed October 8, 2014

Climate Change Worsens Coastal Flooding From High Tides

Cindy Minnix waits for a bus in a flooded street on Oct. 18, 2012, in Miami Beach. A changing climate is making floods related to high tides more frequent, scientists say.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

Originally published on Thu October 9, 2014 9:58 am

A wave of high tides is expected to hit much of the East Coast this week. These special tides — king tides — occur a few times a year when the moon's orbit brings it close to the Earth.

But scientists say that lately, even normal tides throughout the year are pushing water higher up onto land. And that's causing headaches for people who live along coastlines.

As Bob Dylan might have put it, the tides, they are a changin'.

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The Salt
5:24 pm
Wed October 8, 2014

Love Pine Nuts? Then Protect Pine Forests

Originally published on Wed October 8, 2014 8:15 pm

A colleague accosted me at the coffee machine the other day with an urgent question. "Why are pine nuts so expensive?"

I promised to find out. And I did. But along the way, I discovered something remarkable about pine nuts.

They connect us to a world of remote villages and vast forests, ancient foraging traditions that are facing modern threats.

Pine nuts don't generally come from orchards, or fields, or plantations. They come from pine forests. (And pine nuts are expensive because most of these areas are so remote.)

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The Two-Way
3:36 am
Wed October 8, 2014

Protests Disrupt Telescope Groundbreaking In Hawaii

Originally published on Wed October 8, 2014 3:40 am

Promising to be one of the world's largest telescopes, Thirty Meter will be built to help scientists study the universe from a distance of about 13 billion light years. Astronomers chose Mauna Kea on the Big Island of Hawaii because the elevation of 14,000 feet was ideal for observation.

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Goats and Soda
5:51 pm
Tue October 7, 2014

So A Global Economist Walks Into A Comedy Club ...

Yoram Bauman jokes about "hyperinflation in hell" and on earth. Case in point: the Zimbabwe hundred-trillion-dollar note.
Lejia Lombardi Courtesy of Inter-American Development Bank

Originally published on Wed October 8, 2014 8:49 am

Sitting in the empty auditorium, 10 minutes before Yoram Bauman's set begins, I start feeling bad. Low turnout is hard on a stand-up comedian, but what was he expecting for a comedy gig at 6 p.m. on a Monday ... at the Inter-American Development Bank, of all places?

When the event coordinator comes in to make an announcement to the six of us in the audience, I worry she's going to cancel the event.

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Science
5:02 am
Thu October 2, 2014

Soil Doctors Hit Pay Dirt In Manhattan's Central Park

The Bronx may be up and the Battery down, but Central Park is where an amazing wealth of different sorts of microbes play.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu October 2, 2014 9:14 am

Manhattan's Central Park is surrounded by one of the densest cities on the planet. It's green enough, yet hardly the first place most people would think of as biologically rich.

But a team of scientists got a big surprise when they recently started digging there.

They were 10 soil ecologists — aka dirt doctors. Kelly Ramirez from Colorado State University was among them. "We met on the steps of the natural history museum at 7 a.m. with our collection gear, coolers and sunblock," she recalls.

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Science
5:07 pm
Wed October 1, 2014

When Can A Big Storm Or Drought Be Blamed On Climate Change?

Melbourne visitors and residents took to the waters of Australia's St. Kilda Beach in January 2013 to escape a fierce heat wave.
Scott Barbour Getty Images

Originally published on Wed October 1, 2014 8:52 pm

Nowadays, when there's a killer heat wave or serious drought somewhere, people wonder: Is this climate change at work? It's a question scientists have struggled with for years. And now there's a new field of research that's providing some answers. It's called "attribution science" — a set of principles that allow scientists to determine when it's a change in climate that's altering weather events ... and when it isn't.

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The Two-Way
9:01 am
Wed October 1, 2014

Death Toll From Japanese Volcano Rises

Japan Self-Defense Force (JSDF) soldiers and firefighters conduct rescue operations near the peak of Mount Ontake on Wednesday.
KYODO Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Wed October 1, 2014 12:50 pm

Updated at 12:50 p.m. ET

The number of dead from a volcanic eruption in Japan has climbed to nearly 50 after more victims were recovered from Mt. Ontake, which unexpectedly spewed toxic gas last week as people hiked near the 10,000-foot summit.

The Japan Times says:

"Precarious conditions at the summit have made the search an on-off effort, and other bodies may still be undiscovered.

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Around the Nation
5:10 am
Wed October 1, 2014

California Enacts Ban On Single-Use Plastic Bags

Originally published on Wed October 1, 2014 8:01 am

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Now to California where a new law will ban single-use, plastic bags at grocery and convenience stores. It's the first state to do it, and plastic bag manufacturers are not happy. NPR's Sam Sanders reports.

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The Two-Way
3:07 pm
Tue September 30, 2014

Ban On Single-Use Plastic Bags Is Enacted In California

California Gov. Jerry Brown has signed the nation's first statewide ban on single-use plastic bags. Here, mixed plastic items are seen at a recycling plant in Vernon, Calif., earlier this year.
Reed Saxon AP

Originally published on Tue September 30, 2014 4:23 pm

Gov. Jerry Brown has signed SB 270, the first statewide ban on single-use plastic bags in the U.S.

"This bill is a step in the right direction — it reduces the torrent of plastic polluting our beaches, parks and even the vast ocean itself," Brown said. "We're the first to ban these bags, and we won't be the last."

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The Two-Way
12:57 pm
Tue September 30, 2014

Aral Sea's Eastern Basin Has Dried Out, NASA Photos Show

Images from August 2000 (left) and August 2014 (right) show the drop in water levels in the Aral Sea.
NASA

Originally published on Tue September 30, 2014 2:07 pm

"For the first time in modern history, the eastern basin of the South Aral Sea has completely dried."

That's the word from NASA, which has released images showing the progressive decline of the water levels in the Aral Sea, which straddles the border between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan in Central Asia. The space agency captured the striking photographs via its Terra satellite.

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