Environment

Multiple destructive storm systems damaged property and killed at least 19 people over the weekend, and continued to batter much of the U.S. with rain, snow and wind today.

All 19 reported deaths were in the South, where apparent tornadoes ripped through towns over the weekend, damaging and destroying buildings in multiple states.

"Trailers are just flat, just laid on top of people," Debbie Van Brackel, a volunteer EMT in Adel, Ga., told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Sunday. "You need a bulldozer to pull it off. Trailers are upside down."

At Goats and Soda we're always watching the developing world.

A group of international photographers is doing the same thing — but from a drone's perspective.

We mined the website dronestagram (think Instagram for drone pics) for the most riveting drone photos of the developing world from the past year. Here are a few of the eye-catching images we came across and the stories behind them.

An island home

Isidro Baldenegro Lopez, a Mexican indigenous activist and subsistence farmer who led the fight to protect ancient forests from illegal logging in the northern Mexican state of Chihuahua, was slain on Sunday.

Baldenegro Lopez, a leader among the Tarahumara people, for years had led non-violent sit-ins and blockades in protest of logging in the Sierra Madre mountain region.

When former Texas Gov. Rick Perry faces the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources for his confirmation hearing on Thursday, his first test could be whether he remembers the name of the agency he's been picked to head.

When a solar company wants to test new technology, they bring their panels to the National Renewable Energy Lab near Denver. It's a place where federal scientists can measure how powerful and long-lasting solar panels are, so consumers know what they are buying.

"A lot of times maybe people don't even know how to evaluate new technologies appropriately. And so we have a lot of insight and knowledge into the market that can help with some of those decisions," lab engineer Chris Deline explained.

Scott Pruitt, Donald Trump's pick to head the Environmental Protection Agency, underscored the importance of federalism in U.S. environmental policy and regulation, and criticized the agency he's being tasked to run, at his confirmation hearing Wednesday.

The Oklahoma attorney general vowed to follow the "rule of law," if confirmed, and promised to "fairly and equitably enforce the rules and not pick winners and losers."

Scientists are trying to determine why a group of at least 95 false killer whales stranded themselves on a remote coast in Florida's Everglades National Park. At least 82 of the animals have died, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

"This is the largest mass stranding ever for this species in the United States," NOAA Marine Biologist Erin Fougères said, "And one of the largest mass strandings we've ever had in the southeast."

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Last year, global warming reached record high temperatures — and if that news feels like déjà vu, you're not going crazy.

The planet has now had three consecutive years of record-breaking heat.

A live stream of this confirmation hearing is available via C-SPAN.

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt has been among the most controversial picks for Donald Trump's Cabinet. In part, that's because the Environmental Protection Agency nominee has said things like this:

President-elect Donald Trump's pick to head the U.S. Department of Interior, Rep. Ryan Zinke, R-Mont., says he does not believe climate change is a hoax and promises to bring a Teddy Roosevelt-style approach to managing federal public lands.

Zinke made the comments at a confirmation hearing before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Tuesday. The congressman and decorated former Navy SEAL commander faced about four hours of questioning.

Copyright 2017 Montana Public Radio. To see more, visit Montana Public Radio.

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A group of scientists is gathering this week in the U.K. to discuss a slab of ice that's cracking in Antarctica. The crack could soon split off a frozen chunk the size of Delaware.

One glacier scientist, Heidi Sevestre, spent six weeks last year living on that giant slab of ice off the Antarctic Peninsula.

As seaweed continues to gain popularity for its nutritional benefits and culinary versatility, more people are skipping the dried stuff in the grocery store and going straight to the source: the ocean itself.

At low tide on West Coast beaches, foragers hop between rocks looking for bladderwrack, sea lettuce and Irish moss to take home with them. Sea vegetable foraging has become so common, in fact, that you can take a class to learn what to harvest and what to avoid.

Charts can seem dull. But not to data scientist Tariq Khokhar at the World Bank. When he looked through a year's worth of charts, graphs, maps and more, he was excited by the numbers.

For example, although the world's population has increased by 2 billion people since 1990, there are 1.1 billion fewer people living in extreme poverty, under $1.90 a day (highlighted in blue in the chart below). "I'm amazed at the progress," Khokhar says.

Nuclear power plants are typically hulking structures made using billions of dollars of concrete and steel. But one company thinks that by going smaller, they could actually make nuclear power more affordable.

How Do Trees Collaborate?

Jan 13, 2017

Part 1 of the TED Radio Hour episode Networks

About Suzanne Simard's TED Talk

Ecologist Suzanne Simard shares how she discovered that trees use underground fungi networks to communicate and share resources, uprooting the idea that nature constantly competes for survival.

About Suzanne Simard

Six years ago, Don Cameron, the general manager of Terranova Ranch, southwest of Fresno, Calif., did something that seemed kind of crazy.

He went out to a nearby river, which was running high because of recent rains, and he opened an irrigation gate. Water rushed down a canal and flooded hundreds of acres of vineyards — even though it was wintertime. The vineyards were quiet. Nothing was growing.

"We started in February, and we flooded grapes continuously, for the most part, until May," Cameron says.

A poem written by a Chinese surgeon lamenting the medical effects of smog, called "I Long to Be King," is going viral on Chinese social media. Told from the perspective of lung cancer, the poem takes an apocalyptic note:

Happiness after sorrow, rainbow after rain.

I faced surgery, radiotherapy, and chemotherapy,

But continued to chase my dream,

Some would have given up, but I will be the king.

The Environmental Protection Agency said Fiat Chrysler violated the Clean Air Act by allegedly installing and failing to disclose software in some 104,000 cars and trucks that alters emissions.

The automaker was required by law to disclose the software to regulators during the certification process but did not do so, the EPA announced Thursday. While the agency is still investigating the nature of these devices, it said the software results in increased emissions of nitrogen oxides.

A storm system that dumped precipitation on multiple states in the West appears to be easing, but rivers have yet to crest and many communities are still digging out from record snowfall.

It has spent some 175 years homeless, wandering many paths of taxonomy without a single branch to call its own. In the time since it was first described, this now-extinct, cone-shaped sea creature has known a number of presumed families — from mollusks to designations much more nebulous — but the tiny hyolith never quite fit in any of them.

Oklahoma lawmakers are staring into a budget hole that's nearly $900 million deep — and they might not be able to cut their way out of it. Legislators are considering tax increases to help fund state government, and one idea is gaining traction: hiking taxes on gasoline and diesel.

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Volkswagen has agreed to pay $4.3 billion to settle civil and criminal allegations over its diesel emissions cheating scheme involving some 590,000 vehicles in the U.S.

The company has also agreed to plead guilty to three criminal felony counts.

The tiny village of Newtok near Alaska's western coast has been sliding into the Ninglick River for years. As temperatures increase — faster there than in the rest of the U.S. — the frozen permafrost underneath Newtok is thawing. About 70 feet of land a year erode away, putting the village's colorful buildings, some on stilts, ever closer to the water's edge.

West Coast crab fishermen just ended an 11-day strike over a price dispute. But a more ominous and long-term threat to their livelihood may be on the horizon. A new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has found a link between warming ocean conditions and a dangerous neurotoxin that builds up in sea life: domoic acid.

Beijing is launching a new police force aimed at tackling its persistent smog problem.

This comes after a month of particularly severe air quality that left the capital and dozens of other Chinese cities blanketed in thick, brown smog.

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