Environment

The Salt
4:21 pm
Thu July 31, 2014

Should We Return The Nutrients In Our Pee Back To The Farm?

More than 170 volunteers in the Brattleboro, Vt., area have contributed urine to the Rich Earth Institute field trials.
Mike Earley/Courtesy of Rich Earth Institute

Originally published on Tue August 5, 2014 12:35 pm

Let me guess how you feel about your urine: Get that smelly stuff away from me as fast as possible?

A small group of environmentalists in Vermont isn't as squeamish. Instead of flushing their pee down the drain, they're collecting it with special toilets that separate No. 1 and No. 2.

Then they're pooling the urine of the 170 volunteers in the pilot project (a quart or so, per person, daily) and eventually giving it to a farmer, who's putting it on her hay fields in place of synthetic fertilizer. The goal is to collect 6,000 gallons this year.

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U.S.
6:33 am
Thu July 31, 2014

Is Fracking To Blame For Increase In Quakes In Oklahoma?

Originally published on Thu July 31, 2014 8:12 am

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

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

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NPR Story
5:07 am
Thu July 31, 2014

Groundwater Is Drying Up Fast Under Western States, Study Finds

Originally published on Thu July 31, 2014 8:12 am

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

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Another battle is brewing over water in the West that could put farmers against city and suburb dwellers.

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

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Books
8:04 am
Wed July 30, 2014

Pop-Up Books Make Environmental Science Easy-Peasy For Kids

Originally published on Wed July 30, 2014 4:34 pm

For the average school kid, weighty, wonky topics like conservation, climate change and the circular economy might sound off-putting, if not downright dull. Yet Christiane Dorion has sold millions of children's books about these very concepts.

The trick? She never mentions them. "You can teach anything to children if you pitch it at the right level and use the right words," said the U.K.-based author.

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The Salt
6:49 am
Wed July 30, 2014

Farming The Bluefin Tuna, Tiger Of The Ocean, Is Not Without A Price

Yonathan Zohar, Jorge Gomezjurado and Odi Zmora check on bluefin tuna larvae in tanks at the University of Maryland Baltimore County's Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology.
Courtesy of Yonathan Zohar

Originally published on Wed July 30, 2014 3:21 pm

In a windowless laboratory in downtown Baltimore, some tiny, translucent fish larvae are swimming about in glass-walled tanks.

They are infant bluefin tuna. Scientists in this laboratory are trying to grasp what they call the holy grail of aquaculture: raising this powerful fish, so prized by sushi lovers, entirely in captivity. But the effort is fraught with challenges.

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The Salt
5:13 pm
Tue July 29, 2014

Want To Reduce Your Carbon Footprint? Choose Mackerel Over Shrimp

A fisherman pulls a basket filled with anchovies aboard a fishing boat off of Peru's northern port of Chimbote, in 2012. Peru is the world's top fishmeal exporter, producing about a third of worldwide supply.
Enrique Castro-Mendivil Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Thu July 31, 2014 4:05 pm

Small fatty fish like mackerel, herring, sardines and anchovies are high in omega-3s, vitamin D and low on the food chain.

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The Salt
2:53 pm
Tue July 29, 2014

Widely Used Insecticides Are Leaching Into Midwest Rivers

The U.S. Geological Survey found that neonicotinoids are leaching into streams and rivers in the Midwest, including the Missouri River, shown here in Leavenworth, Kan.
Dean Bergmann iStockphoto

Originally published on Tue July 29, 2014 4:42 pm

A class of insecticides called neonicotinoids, which are used on a lot of big corn and soybean fields, has been getting a pretty bad rap lately.

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The Two-Way
8:48 am
Tue July 29, 2014

White House Says Delayed Action On Climate Change Could Cost Billions

Originally published on Tue July 29, 2014 11:04 am

In a report issued Tuesday, the White House warned that the cost of inaction when it comes to climate change outweighs the cost of implementing more-stringent regulations on greenhouse gas emissions.

Here's how Time boils down the White House's argument:

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Environment
5:05 pm
Mon July 28, 2014

This Albino Redwood Tree Isn't Dead — But It Came Close

Originally published on Mon July 28, 2014 7:40 pm

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

Transcript

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

And now a story about an extremely rare albino tree. If you pass it on the street, it might look dead. It's not dead. It was almost killed. But now it's going to survive thanks, in part, to this guy.

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Krulwich Wonders...
12:19 pm
Mon July 28, 2014

Where The Birds Are Is Not Where You'd Think

Robert Krulwich/NPR

Originally published on Mon July 28, 2014 7:33 pm

This is a trick question. Where would you expect to find the greatest variety of birds?

Downtown, in a city?

Or far, far from downtown — in the fields, forests, mountains, where people are scarce?

Or in the suburbs? In backyards, lawns, parking lots and playing fields?

Not the city, right?

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Goats and Soda
9:20 am
Mon July 28, 2014

How Protecting Wildlife Helps Stop Child Labor And Slavery

A child grabs sleep after a long day of labor in a struggling West African fishery.
Courtesy of Jessica Pociask, WANT Expeditions

Originally published on Mon July 28, 2014 5:45 pm

When scientists talk about the destruction of rain forests or the acidification of oceans, we often hear about the tragic loss of plants and animals.

But ecologists at the University of California, Berkeley say there's also a human tragedy that frequently goes unnoticed: As fish and fauna are wiped out, more children around the world are forced to work, and more people are forced into indentured servitude, scientists wrote Thursday in the journal Science.

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The Salt
5:00 am
Mon July 28, 2014

Rust Devastates Guatemala's Prime Coffee Crop And Its Farmers

A worker dries coffee beans at a coffee plantation in Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala, in February 2013.
Moises Castillo AP

Originally published on Mon July 28, 2014 3:23 pm

Outside the northern Guatemalan town of Olopa, near the Honduran border, farmer Edwin Fernando Diaz Viera stands in the middle of his tiny coffee field. He says it was his lifelong dream to own a farm here. The area is renowned for producing some of the world's richest arabica, the smooth-tasting beans beloved by specialty coffee brewers.

"My farm was beautiful; it was big," he says.

But then, a plant fungus called coffee rust, or roya in Spanish, hit his crop.

"Coffee rust appeared and wiped out everything," he says.

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Science
5:00 am
Mon July 28, 2014

Shifts In Habitat May Threaten Ruddy Shorebird's Survival

Guided by biologists, volunteers briefly catch, band and release some of Delaware's visiting red knots each spring to monitor the health of the species.
Maggie Starbard NPR

Originally published on Tue July 29, 2014 12:01 pm

An intrepid bird called the red knot migrates from the southern tip of South America to the Arctic and back every year. But changes in climate along its route are putting this ultramarathoner at risk.

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NPR Story
8:35 am
Sat July 26, 2014

If All The Ice Melts, What Happens To Hockey?

Originally published on Sat July 26, 2014 1:32 pm

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

The Salt
5:30 pm
Thu July 24, 2014

The Weird, Underappreciated World Of Plastic Packaging

Food companies spend a lot of time and resources coming up with the perfect plastic packaging to keep their products fresh.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri July 25, 2014 3:51 pm

Like it or not, plastic packaging has become an ingrained part of the food system.

While it's clearly wasteful to buy salad, sandwiches and chips encased in plastic and then promptly throw that plastic away, we take for granted how it keeps so much of what we eat fresh and portable.

And behind many of those packages that allow us to eat on the go or savor perishable cookies or fish imported from the other side of the globe is a whole lot of science and innovation.

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Energy
4:08 pm
Wed July 23, 2014

Nuclear Plant May Be In Hot Water Over Its Cooling System

Originally published on Wed July 23, 2014 10:36 pm

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

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

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Shots - Health News
2:32 pm
Wed July 23, 2014

Does Your Dog Feel Jealous, Or Is That A Purely Human Flaw?

Oh, I don't wanna share you with nothing else, I gotta have you to myself.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Wed July 30, 2014 10:47 am

When you kiss your husband, does your dog try to get your attention? And does that mean that your dog feels jealous? Threatened? Or are we just imagining that?

Many if not all dog owners are sure that their pets have feelings. And we've known for a while that animals exhibit behaviors that look like jealousy, guilt and shame. But it's hard to find out what animals are really feeling. And researchers say that understanding that could give us valuable insights into human emotions, too.

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Environment
6:51 pm
Tue July 22, 2014

Maine City Council Votes To Keep Tar Sands Out Of Its Port

The oil tanker HS Electra unloads oil from the North Sea at the Portland Pipe Line facility in South Portland, Maine, in 2013.
John Ewing Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

Originally published on Wed July 23, 2014 12:06 pm

South Portland, Maine, is known as the place where Liberty ships were built by tens of thousands of workers during World War II. Now, the city's waterfront is home to an oil terminal and the beginning of a 236-mile-long pipeline.

For more than 70 years, the Portland Montreal Pipeline Corp. has pumped crude oil up through the pipeline, across Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, to be refined in Montreal.

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The Two-Way
4:49 pm
Tue July 22, 2014

University Would Study Health Issues In Polluted New York Town

A view of the Tonawanda Coke plant in Tonawanda, N.Y., which was found to have emitted carcinogens at levels many times higher than the state's limit.
John W. Poole NPR

Originally published on Tue July 22, 2014 6:13 pm

Residents of an upstate New York town who've long associated their illnesses with the air they breathe may finally get some answers about the health effects of living next to a toxic polluter.

The town of Tonawanda lies in the shadow of Tonawanda Coke Corp., whose ovens heat coal into material used for the iron and steel industries, and release toxic chemicals into the air.

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Environment
4:45 am
Tue July 22, 2014

'Our Birds': Migratory Journeys Converge In Baltimore Gardens

Members of the Bird Ambassadors program painted and planted a broken canoe at a Baltimore charter school in November. The canoe was filled with species native to Maryland, providing food and habitat for local birds.
Susie Creamer Courtesy of Patterson Park Audubon Center

Originally published on Tue July 22, 2014 1:13 pm

A couple of times a month, a group of migrant women and their children gather to plant shrubs and flowers in Baltimore's expansive Patterson Park.

The gardens feed and shelter migratory birds as part of the Patterson Park Audubon Center's Bird Ambassadors program.

Neotropical birds like the black-throated blue warbler and the Baltimore oriole migrate from the East Coast down to places like Mexico and Central America for the winter, says Susie Creamer, director of urban education and conservation at the center.

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Around the Nation
7:00 pm
Sun July 20, 2014

Despite California's Drought, Taps Still Flowing In LA County

A sign over a highway in Glendale, Calif., warned motorists in February to save water in response to the state's severe drought. But a study released earlier this week showed residents in the southern coastal part of the state used more water this spring than they did last year.
Robyn Beck AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon July 21, 2014 11:52 am

This January, after the driest calendar year in California history, Gov. Jerry Brown declared a drought emergency. He called on residents to reduce their water intake by 20 percent.

But downtown Los Angeles doesn't look like a city devastated by the state's worst drought in decades. The city is green with landscaping, and fountains are running. People still water their lawns, wash their cars and fill their pools.

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Around the Nation
5:37 am
Fri July 18, 2014

Calif. Officials Debate How To Get Residents To Cut Water Use

Originally published on Fri July 18, 2014 8:00 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

In California, residents are being urged to conserve water as the state suffers from a historic drought. But a new report says the state's water use has actually gone up over the last year. California enacted statewide water restrictions this week. Those include fines of up to $500 a day. Now, to find out what actually gets people to cut their water use, NPR's Sam Sanders hit the streets of L.A.

SAM SANDERS, BYLINE: Rick Silva has just pulled up on a violator.

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The Two-Way
10:07 am
Thu July 17, 2014

Australia Repeals An Unpopular Tax On Carbon Emissions

An oil refinery is pictured in the southern Sydney suburb of Kurnell earlier this week. Australia's Senate voted on Thursday to scrap the country's carbon tax and plans for emissions trading — a major victory for conservative Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
Jason Reed Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Thu July 17, 2014 10:47 am

Australia became the first country in the world to repeal a carbon tax on the nation's worst greenhouse gas polluters, as Prime Minister Tony Abbott made good on a campaign promise to get rid of the unpopular law.

The Senate voted 39 to 32 to eliminate the tax enacted by the previous center-left government two years ago. The law imposed the equivalent of a $22.60 tax per metric ton of carbon dioxide emissions on about 350 of the nation's worst polluters.

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Environment
6:54 am
Thu July 17, 2014

Google Experiments With Mapping Climate Change

Originally published on Thu July 17, 2014 11:09 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Google is trying out one way of mapping climate change. It has outfitted a few of its Street View cars with special sensors to measure methane. WNYC's Robert Lewis road the streets of Manhattan to see how Google is mapping pollution across the country.

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The Two-Way
11:58 am
Wed July 16, 2014

A Huge New Crater Is Found In Siberia, And The Theories Fly

Aerial footage posted online shows a large crater in northern Siberia, in an area called "the end of the world."
YouTube

Originally published on Wed July 16, 2014 12:46 pm

The area of Russia is said to be called, ominously enough, the end of the world. And that's where researchers are headed this week, to investigate a large crater whose appearance reportedly caught scientists by surprise. The crater is estimated at 262 feet wide and is in the northern Siberian area of Yamal.

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The Two-Way
11:17 pm
Tue July 15, 2014

California Approves $500 Fines For Residential Water-Wasters

Sprinklers water a Sacramento, Calif. lawn Tuesday morning.
Rich Pedroncelli AP

Originally published on Wed July 16, 2014 11:15 am

Californians who waste water will have to pay up to $500 a day for their extravagance under new restrictions approved Tuesday by the State Water Resources Control Board.

The move comes after the board concluded that voluntary conservation measures have failed to achieve the 20 percent reduction in water use that Gov. Jerry Brown was hoping for, reports The Associated Press.

In fact, a survey by the board showed a 1 percent increase in water use in May compared to the same month a year ago.

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Business
6:30 am
Tue July 15, 2014

Coal-Burning Power Plant To Give New Life To Texas Oil Field

Originally published on Thu July 17, 2014 11:15 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

There is a coal-burning power plant outside of Houston that ranks among the nation's biggest emitters of carbon dioxide. With pressure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the plant is hoping to capture that CO2 and use it to boost energy production in an old oilfield. Houston Public Media's Andrew Schneider reports.

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Environment
5:43 am
Tue July 15, 2014

Underwater Meadows Might Serve As Antacid For Acid Seas

UC Santa Barbara's Jay Lunden and Andrew Brinkman, a summer intern for NOAA, prepare to deploy an instrument that measures temperature and salinity throughout the water column, and collects water samples.
Umihiko Hoshijima UCSB

Originally published on Mon August 11, 2014 8:14 am

The world's oceans are changing — chemically changing. As people put more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, the oceans absorb more of it, and that's making the water more acidic.

The effects are subtle in most places, but scientists say that if this continues, it could be a disaster for marine life.

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Goats and Soda
10:38 am
Mon July 14, 2014

Facing A Toxic Dump In South Africa, He Cleaned Up

Desmond D'Sa stands by the landfill he helped shut down in Durban.
Goldman Environmental Prize

Originally published on Mon July 14, 2014 3:07 pm

Desmond D'Sa helped shut down a toxic landfill.

The landfill was located in South Durban — an industrialized city teeming with petrochemical plants, paper mills and oil refineries. D'Sa and his family had been forcibly relocated to the area by the apartheid government in the 1970s, together with thousands of other Indian and black South Africans. The apartheid government was notorious for forcing nonwhite laborers to live in the industrial areas where they worked.

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Around the Nation
9:52 am
Sun July 13, 2014

Why A Texas City May Ban Fracking

Originally published on Sun July 13, 2014 1:12 pm

Transcript

ARUN RATH, HOST:

The town of Denton, Texas is embroiled in a debate over fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, to extract natural gas. Fracking has brought a steady stream of revenue to Denton for years, but this Tuesday, the Denton city council will consider banning fracking because of environmental concerns. For more, I spoke with Abrahm Lustgarten. He's an environmental reporter for ProPublica, and he explained what some residents of Denton are worried about.

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