Environment

Science
5:13 pm
Tue September 9, 2014

U.S. Gets Middling Marks On 2014 'State Of Birds' Report Card

"The State of the Birds" 2014 report found that red knots (above) and other shorebirds are among the most threatened groups in the U.S. More than half of U.S. shorebird species are on the report's Watch List β€” species that are currently endangered or at risk.
Gerrit Vyn The Smithsonian Institution

Originally published on Wed September 10, 2014 11:30 am

All is not well with the nation's birds. The most comprehensive study ever of birds in America is out today, and it says many populations are in steep decline, even as others are doing well.

The report, called "The State of the Birds," comes from the federal government, universities and conservation groups β€” 23 organizations that have spent years examining bird populations, as well as habitats where the various species live.

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Environment
3:33 am
Tue September 9, 2014

More Than Half Of U.S. Bird Species Threatened By Climate Change

A Baltimore oriole perches near apple blossoms in Mendota Heights, Minn.
Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Originally published on Tue September 9, 2014 8:33 am

People in Maryland love their Baltimore orioles β€” so much so that their Major League Baseball team bears the name of the migrating bird. Yet, by 2080, there may not be any orioles left in Maryland. They migrate each year and, according to a new report, could soon be forced to nest well north of the Mid-Atlantic state.

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The Salt
5:35 pm
Mon September 8, 2014

Could Great Lakes Fisheries Be Revived Through Fish Farms?

Opponents of Michigan fish farms say there is no room for them in the lakes because of sport fishing and other recreational activities.
sfgamchick/Flickr

Originally published on Mon September 8, 2014 7:20 pm

Even though Michigan is surrounded by more than 20 percent of the world's freshwater, fish farming is largely unheard of there.

But this summer, the aquaculture industry took a step forward. And that has touched off a debate over the appropriateness of fish farming on the Great Lakes.

There's only one company now in Michigan that raises fish for restaurants and grocery stores in large volumes. It's a family business, run by Dan Vogler, on a few acres near Harrietta, Mich., population 143.

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The Two-Way
10:12 am
Sun September 7, 2014

U.S. Pacific Blue Whales Seen Rebounding Close To Historic Levels

Off the coast of Southern California, a crowd watches a blue whale rise to the surface earlier this summer. A new study says the population of blue whales off the West Coast is close to historic levels.
Nick Ut AP

Originally published on Sun September 7, 2014 11:16 pm

Decades after the threat of extinction led to them being protected from whalers, there are now about 2,200 blue whales off the West Coast, according to a new study. That's roughly 97 percent of historical levels, say researchers at the University of Washington who call their findings a conservation success story.

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Environment
8:00 am
Sun September 7, 2014

For Lack Of Mississippi Silt, The Gulf Is Losing Coastal Land

Originally published on Sun September 7, 2014 10:20 am

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

Law
4:36 pm
Thu September 4, 2014

Federal Judge Decides BP Acted With Gross Negligence In Gulf Oil Spill

Originally published on Thu September 4, 2014 6:51 pm

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

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The Salt
6:16 pm
Wed September 3, 2014

Perdue Says Its Hatching Chicks Are Off Antibiotics

Chicks in the Perdue hatchery in Salisbury, Md. The company says an increasing number of its chickens are now raised using "no antibiotics, ever."
Dan Charles NPR

Originally published on Tue September 9, 2014 2:42 pm

Perdue Farms says it has ditched the common practice of injecting antibiotics into eggs that are just about to hatch. And public health advocates are cheering. They've been campaigning against the widespread use of antibiotics in agriculture, arguing that it's adding to the plague of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

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The Two-Way
4:44 pm
Tue September 2, 2014

New U.S. Rules Protect Giant Bluefin Tuna

Originally published on Tue September 2, 2014 6:32 pm

In an effort to reduce the number of giant bluefin tuna killed by fishing fleets, the U.S. is putting out new rules about commercial fishing in the Gulf of Mexico and parts of the western Atlantic. The rules have special protections for giant bluefin β€” fish that have grown to 81 inches or more.

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The Salt
5:55 am
Sun August 31, 2014

The Salmon Cannon: Easier Than Shooting Fish Out Of A Barrel

Across Washington State, hydroelectric dams are blocking salmon as they migrate to their spawning grounds. Enter the salmon cannon.
Ingrid Taylar Flickr

Originally published on Sun August 31, 2014 6:40 pm

Ever since rivers have been dammed, destroying the migration routes of salmon, humans have worked to create ways to help the fish return to their spawning grounds. We've built ladders and elevators; we've carried them by hand and transported them in trucks. Even helicopters have been used to fly fish upstream.

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Politics
4:07 pm
Fri August 29, 2014

Climate Policy Takes The Stage In Florida Governor's Race

Originally published on Fri August 29, 2014 8:40 pm

Florida is getting ready for an unusual governor's race. Like incumbent Rick Scott, a Republican, Charlie Crist is running for a second term as governor. In his first term, Crist was also a Republican.

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The Two-Way
9:09 am
Fri August 29, 2014

Volcanoes In Iceland, Papua New Guinea Keep Residents On Edge

Smoke billows from Mount Tavurvur after an eruption in Kokopo, east New Britain, Papua New Guinea, on Friday. The eruption has caused some nearby residents to be evacuated and some flights to be rerouted.
Jason Tassell AP

Originally published on Fri August 29, 2014 1:05 pm

Two volcanoes half a world apart are causing havoc today: Several flights have been diverted around an eruption in Papua New Guinea, and authorities in Iceland briefly put aviation on highest alert (again) owing to a temperamental Mount Bardarbunga, which has been rumbling for the past week.

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Business
3:38 am
Fri August 29, 2014

As BP Pays For Oil Spill Impact, Some People Aren't Seeing The Cash

Patrick Roy's company, Coastal Rental Equipment, used to rent these large pumps to offshore divers who work for oil and natural gas drillers. After the BP oil spill, when the government introduced a moratorium on drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, the Patterson, La., business suffered losses and eventually shut down.
Jeff Brady NPR

Originally published on Mon September 1, 2014 7:55 am

BP's 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico disrupted business all along the coastline. Through the end of July, the oil giant paid more than $13 billion to compensate people, businesses and communities affected. The company is disputing some of those claims in court battles that could drag on for years.

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Shots - Health News
3:29 am
Fri August 29, 2014

Rats! New York City Tries To Drain Rodent 'Reservoirs'

New Yorkers can take city-run classes to learn how to make their homes and businesses less attractive to these guys.
Ludovic Bertron Flickr

Originally published on Fri August 29, 2014 8:00 am

New York City is launching the latest salvo in its never-ending war on rats.

City officials are ramping up efforts to teach regular New Yorkers how to make their streets, businesses and gardens less hospitable to rodents β€” in other words, to see their neighborhood the way a health inspector would.

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Science
4:27 pm
Thu August 28, 2014

Night Of The Cemetery Bats

Big brown bats like this one are relatively common in urban areas, sometimes roosting in buildings. Contrary to popular belief, bats rarely carry rabies and are not rodents. They belong to the order Chiroptera, which means "hand-wing."
Courtesy of Robert Marquis

Originally published on Thu August 28, 2014 7:28 pm

I've visited St. Louis' Bellefontaine cemetery before, but never at night.

It's really dark. The looming trees are black against the sky, where a half-moon is just barely visible behind some clouds.

I can see eerie lights and strange, shadowy figures moving among the gravestones.

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NPR Story
5:02 am
Thu August 28, 2014

Colossal Dam Removal Project Frees Washington's Elwa River

Originally published on Thu August 28, 2014 7:20 am

Copyright 2014 Puget Sound Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.kuow.org.

Transcript

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Science
3:46 am
Thu August 28, 2014

An Icy Solution To The Mystery Of The Slithering Stones

The cavity in this rock will carry the GPS instrument package and its battery pack across the desert.
Richard Norris

Originally published on Thu August 28, 2014 9:46 am

A century ago, miners working in California's Death Valley reported seeing boulders on the desert floor with long trails behind them β€” as if the stones had been pushed across the sand. But despite 60 years of trying, no one ever saw what moved them.

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Science
4:09 pm
Wed August 27, 2014

There's A Big Leak In America's Water Tower

Joe Giersch, an ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, studies stoneflies that live only in the melt from glaciers and snowpack in the northern Rockies.
Clint Muhlfeld USGS

Originally published on Wed August 27, 2014 7:29 pm

The northern arm of the Rocky Mountains is sometimes called "the crown of the continent," and its jewels are glaciers and snowfields that irrigate large parts of North America during spring thaw.

But the region is getting warmer, even faster than the rest of the world. Scientists now say warming is scrambling the complex relationship between water and nature and could threaten some species with extinction as well as bring hardship to ranchers and farmers already suffering from prolonged drought.

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Business
3:30 am
Wed August 27, 2014

Driven By Climate Change, Cotton Buyers Look For Alternatives

Unifi makes Repreve, a thread that comes from plastic waste bottles and leftover polyester scraps, at its Yadkinville, N.C., facility.
Courtesy of Unifi

Originally published on Wed August 27, 2014 11:32 pm

VF Corp. is one of the biggest clothing companies you might not have heard of. But its brands include Lee and Wrangler jeans, Timberland shoes and The North Face, and it also makes uniforms for police and major league sports teams.

It's also a large purchaser of cotton. "We buy roughly 1 percent of the cotton available in the world," says Letitia Webster, VF's senior director of sustainability. Her job is to both reduce the company's greenhouse gas footprint and reduce its risks from climate change.

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The Salt
3:40 am
Tue August 26, 2014

The 'Greening' Of Florida Citrus Means Less Green In Growers' Pockets

An orange showing signs of "citrus greening" this spring in Fort Pierce, Fla.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

Originally published on Tue August 26, 2014 3:42 pm

Orange juice has been an important part of breakfast tables since the 1950s, after development of frozen orange juice concentrate made it both convenient and affordable. Back in the 1960s and '70s, TV spokeswoman Anita Bryant even told Americans that "breakfast without orange juice is like a day without sunshine."

But today, sales are the lowest they've been in decades.

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The Salt
3:29 am
Mon August 25, 2014

Grocers Lead Kids To Produce Aisle With Junk Food-Style Marketing

A kids healthy snacks display at Giant Eagle.
Courtesy of Giant Eagle

Originally published on Fri August 29, 2014 4:09 pm

Despite all the cheerleading for healthy eating, Americans still eat only about 1 serving of fruit per day, on average. And our veggie consumption, according to an analysis from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, falls short, too.

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The Two-Way
9:12 am
Sun August 24, 2014

Iceland Lowers Volcano Warning

A view of a road closure to the Vattnajokull glacier, the site of the Bardarbunga volcano under the Dyngjujokull ice cap in Iceland, on Sunday. Scientists had worried that the volcano might spew steam and ash, but say now that it appears to have quieted.
Vilhelm Gunnarsson/ Fretabladid EPA/Landov

Originally published on Sun August 24, 2014 12:28 pm

Iceland is lowering the threat level on its Bardarbunga volcano. As we reported on Saturday, the warning had been raised to its highest level β€” red. Now, scientists in the island nation have ratcheted it down to orange.

Reuters reports:

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Shots - Health News
3:32 pm
Fri August 22, 2014

California Trees Nailed As The Source Of Mystery Infections

A false-color electron microscope image of the fungus Cryptococcus gatii, which can cause fatal illnesses in humans. The yellow areas are spores.
Microbial Pathogenesis/Duke University

Originally published on Fri August 22, 2014 5:45 pm

A fungus called Cryptococcus gattii can cause life-threatening infections, especially in people with compromised immune systems. One-third of AIDS-related deaths are thought to be caused by the fungus.

But though people in Southern California have been getting sick from C. gatti for years, nobody knew how.

Eucalyptus trees were a prime suspect, since they harbor the fungus in Australia. But even though eucalyptus trees grow like crazy in Southern California, the fungus hasn't been found on eucalyptus there.

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Around the Nation
4:56 am
Fri August 22, 2014

Pesticides Used On Florida's Mosquitoes May Harm Butterflies

Originally published on Fri August 22, 2014 7:53 am

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

Transcript

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The Salt
12:48 pm
Thu August 21, 2014

California Drought Has Wild Salmon Competing With Almonds For Water

A young Chinook salmon, called a smolt, near Vallejo, Calif., on April 24, 2014. North Coast tribes and environmentalists fear that the smolts and Chinooks may not survive this year's low river flows and warm water.
Rich Pedroncelli AP

Originally published on Mon August 25, 2014 3:55 pm

The ongoing California drought has pitted wild salmon against farmers in a fight for water. While growers of almonds, one of the state's biggest and most lucrative crops, enjoy booming production and skyrocketing sales to China, the fish, it seems, might be left high and dry this summerβ€”and maybe even dead.

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Around the Nation
4:13 pm
Wed August 20, 2014

EPA Wades Into Water Fight With Farmers

Originally published on Wed August 20, 2014 8:30 pm

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

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The Salt
2:57 pm
Wed August 20, 2014

Why Vegetables Get Freakish In The Land Of The Midnight Sun

Giant Cabbage Weigh-Off 2013 winners (with placards, left to right): Scott Rob (92.1 pounds), Keevan Dinkel (92.3 pounds) and Brian Shunskis (77.4 pounds). The growers are joined by the cabbage fairies, a group of women who for 15 years have volunteered at the cabbage competition.
Clark James Mishler Courtesy of Alaska State Fair

Originally published on Tue August 26, 2014 10:09 am

Everything in Alaska is a little bit bigger β€” even the produce. A 138-pound cabbage, 65-pound cantaloupe and 35-pound broccoli are just a few of the monsters that have sprung forth from Alaska's soil in recent years.

At the annual Alaska State Fair, which opens Thursday in Palmer, the public will have the chance to gawk at giants like these as they're weighed for competition.

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Environment
5:15 pm
Mon August 18, 2014

One Year After Calif. Rim Fire, Debate Simmers Over Forest Recovery

Maria Benech of the U.S. Forest Service surveys a severely burned patch of forest. Almost 40 percent of the burned area looks similar.
Lauren Sommer KQED

Originally published on Mon August 18, 2014 7:40 pm

Eric Knapp breaks apart a burned pine cone, looking for seeds β€” in his line of work this is considered a clue.

"Going into an area after a fire, you almost feel like CSI, you know, sleuthing," Knapp says.

He is standing in a part of the Stanislaus National Forest that was severely burned by the Rim Fire. Knapp, an ecologist with the U.S. Forest Service, is studying how forests recover.

"It's completely dead," he says. "These trees won't be coming back to life."

A lot of the forest was charred like this.

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Animals
4:16 pm
Mon August 18, 2014

Often On The Move, Restless Elephants Are Tough To Count β€” And Keep Safe

Originally published on Mon August 18, 2014 6:18 pm

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

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Energy
4:16 pm
Mon August 18, 2014

Oklahoma Wind Power Companies Run Into Headwinds

A wind-powered water pump and a wind-driven electricity turbine share a field near the town of Calumet in western Oklahoma.
Joe Wertz NPR

Originally published on Tue August 19, 2014 6:57 am

Oklahoma is the nation's fourth-largest generator of wind energy. But wind developers in the northeast corner of the state, where the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve lies, are up against stiff opposition from an unlikely pair of allies: environmentalists and oil interests.

Bob Hamilton, director of the Nature Conservancy's Tallgrass Prairie Preserve, has been fighting to block construction of a 68-turbine wind farm.

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Science
1:11 pm
Mon August 18, 2014

Elephant Slaughter, African Slavery And America's Pianos

Louis E. Pratt, master ivory cutter for Pratt, Read & Co., shows off eight ivory tusks, April 1, 1955.
Courtesy of Deep River Historical Society

Originally published on Tue August 19, 2014 7:35 am

The illegal trade in ivory from African elephants has tripled in the past 15 years, to the extent that biologists fear for the creatures' future existence.

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