Environment

NPR Story
5:07 am
Tue June 24, 2014

Latest Climate Change Report Paints Dire Picture For Business

Former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson says he hopes a new study can influence the business community by applying the science of risk management.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Tue June 24, 2014 2:38 pm

The U.S. economy faces great risks from climate change, according to a new study that focuses on the current and future effects of climate change on everything from jobs, to crop yields, to energy production.

Though the study presents no new climate science, it paints a dire picture of the business and economic effects if action isn't taken, including crop yields that fall by more than 70 percent in the Midwest and billions of dollars' worth of property literally underwater on the East Coast.

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Environment
3:27 am
Tue June 24, 2014

As Sea Levels Rise, Norfolk Is Sinking And Planning

The naval base at Norfolk has had to build two levels to its docks to accommodate rising sea levels. The water level has risen about 1 1/2 feet since 1920.
Yuki Noguchi NPR

Originally published on Tue June 24, 2014 11:25 am

From the water's edge in Norfolk, Va., the U.S. naval base spans the whole horizon. Aircraft carriers, supply centers, barracks and admirals' homes fill a vast expanse.

But Ray Toll, a retired naval oceanographer, says the "majority of [the naval base], if not all of it" is at risk of flooding "because it's so low and it's flat."

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Around the Nation
5:07 am
Mon June 23, 2014

Baltimore's Water Wheel Keeps On Turning, Pulling In Tons Of Trash

Since the water wheel began churning in May, it has removed 40 tons of trash from Baltimore's Inner Harbor.
Clearwater Mills LLC

Originally published on Fri July 11, 2014 2:31 pm

Baltimore's Inner Harbor is a city landmark teeming with tourists, restaurants and — until recently — floating trash.

John Kellett used to walk by Pier 6 every day on his way to work at the Baltimore Maritime Museum on the Inner Harbor. He'd notice the trash floating in the water and hear tourists call the harbor disgusting — and it bugged him.

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Energy
4:43 pm
Fri June 20, 2014

Ohio Rolls Back Renewable Energy Standards

Originally published on Fri June 20, 2014 7:08 pm

Many states around the U.S. have adopted policies that encourage the development of renewable energy. Lately, though, there's been a major push nationwide for states to repeal those policies. As Ohio Public Radio's Andy Chow reports, Ohio appears to be the first state to temporarily halt some of their standards for utilities.

The Salt
12:19 pm
Fri June 20, 2014

Going Against The Grain: FDA Threatens Brewers' Feed For Farmers

Although the FDA seems to have backed off, farmers and brewers are still nervous about the FDA's rule, which will be proposed again at the end of summer.
Shelly Pope/KQED

Originally published on Fri June 20, 2014 4:57 pm

Want to infuriate the entire brewing industry? Start poking around its trash.

That's what the Food and Drug Administration discovered when it threatened to dramatically affect how breweries use their spent grain.

Last fall, the FDA proposed a new rule: Facilities producing feed for animals should be subject to regulations similar to those in food manufacturing. Any facility producing animal feed would be required to produce a written plan to identify and minimize contamination.

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The Salt
5:23 pm
Wed June 18, 2014

Eating Broccoli May Give Harmful Chemicals The Boot

Researchers say eating broccoli sprouts could help protect against the harmful effects of air pollution.
Julie Gibbons/Flickr

Originally published on Mon June 23, 2014 11:14 am

We get a little suspicious when we hear the claims that it's possible to get rid of the gunk that accumulates in our cells by doing a cleanse with "clean" foods.

But what if some foods actually do help detox the body?

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The Salt
12:15 pm
Wed June 18, 2014

Goats In The City? Making A Case For Detroit's Munching Mowers

Leonard Pollara, of Idyll Farms, with some of the goats housed in the Brightmoor neighborhood of Detroit.
Max Ortiz Courtesy of The Detroit News

Originally published on Fri June 20, 2014 5:14 pm

As more urban folk strive to produce their own food, gardens both large and small are popping up everywhere. And while it's not unheard of for city dwellers to keep bees and even chickens, only a brave few have been willing to try their hand at goats.

Like hedge fund manager Mark Spitznagel, who recently tried to revitalize Detroit's Brightmoor neighborhood with a herd of 18 baby goats.

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Science
3:25 am
Wed June 18, 2014

Is Collecting Animals For Science A Noble Mission Or A Threat?

DNA from these crab plovers, collected in Djibouti, Africa, should help scientists figure out how the unusual species fits into the family tree, says the Smithsonian's Helen James.
Maggie Starbard NPR

Originally published on Wed June 18, 2014 8:29 am

Behind the scenes at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, there's a vast, warehouse-like room that's filled with metal cabinets painted a drab institutional green. Inside the cabinets are more than a half-million birds — and these birds are not drab. Their colorful feathers make them seem to almost glow.

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Environment
6:15 pm
Tue June 17, 2014

Plastics Don't Disappear, But They Do End Up In Seabirds' Bellies

Plastic floats ashore in Jakarta, Indonesia.
Bay Ismoyo AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue June 17, 2014 8:33 pm

The vast majority of debris in the ocean — about 75 percent of it — is made of plastic. It can consist of anything from plastic bottles to packaging materials, but whatever form it takes, it doesn't go away easily.

While plastic may break down into smaller and smaller pieces, some as small as grains of sand, these pieces are never truly biodegradable. The plastic bits, some small enough that they're called microplastics, threaten marine life like fish and birds, explains Richard Thompson, a professor of marine biology at Plymouth University in the U.K.

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Environment
4:06 pm
Tue June 17, 2014

White House Plans To Mark Off World's Largest Ocean Sanctuary

Originally published on Tue June 17, 2014 8:33 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, BYLINE: This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel. President Obama is once again exercising his executive authority for an environmental cause. Today he announced plans to create the world's largest marine preserve. His proposal came in a video shown at the State Department's "Our Ocean" conference. The White House says it will seek input from fisherman, scientists, and other experts before setting boundaries for the preserve. NPR's Michele Kelemen has our story.

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Environment
5:26 am
Mon June 16, 2014

Kerry Gathers World Players To Focus On Protecting Oceans

Originally published on Mon June 16, 2014 9:45 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Government officials, scientists and business leaders from more than 80 countries are gathering at the State Department today and tomorrow. They're there to figure out ways to protect the world's oceans and commercial fisheries. Secretary of State John Kerry says this is an issue he's been working on for a long time, as NPR's Michele Kelemen reports.

MICHELE KELEMEN, BYLINE: When Secretary Kerry talks about his hopes for this conference he reaches back deep into his childhood in Massachusetts.

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Business
5:12 am
Thu June 12, 2014

Study: Climate Change Is A Growing Threat To Corn Production

Originally published on Mon June 30, 2014 9:38 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And from food to fuel, corn is a major pillar of the U.S. economy. It's the country's biggest crop. One-third of all U.S. cropland is dedicated to corn. A new study says climate change and unsustainable irrigation practices are a long-term threat to U.S. corn production. The study calls on farmers, governments and businesses to cooperate to head off those negative effects. NPR's John Ydstie has more.

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The Salt
3:09 am
Thu June 12, 2014

Fight Over Calif. Oyster Company Splits Chefs And Land Defenders

The Drakes Bay Oyster Farm caters to local residents and restaurants. But unless its lease is renewed, its days are numbered.
Richard Gonzales NPR

Originally published on Thu June 12, 2014 4:38 pm

Drive just an hour and a half north of San Francisco, and you're in Drakes Estero, named for the first English explorer to lay claim to California.

This near-pristine, wind-whipped marine wilderness is a federally protected home for large beds of eelgrass, the base of the marine food chain. The estuary hosts the largest colony of harbor seals on the West Coast, and tens of thousands of resident and migratory birds.

It's also home to the Drakes Bay Oyster Co.

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The Salt
4:42 pm
Wed June 11, 2014

Can You Call Yourself An Environmentalist And Still Eat Meat?

There's little consensus in the debate on how meat consumption fits into environmentalism.
Jit Lim iStockphoto

Originally published on Mon June 16, 2014 4:28 pm

Earlier this week, we told you about a school backed by director James Cameron and his wife, Suzy Amis Cameron, that may become the first vegan school in the U.S.

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NPR Story
5:25 am
Wed June 11, 2014

Rules Force Washington To Cut Emissions More Than Other States

Originally published on Wed June 11, 2014 7:46 am

The Environmental Protection Agency has announced strict new carbon emissions regulations. Washington state has the largest reduction target — about 72 percent overall.

The Two-Way
10:59 am
Tue June 10, 2014

With Concern For Environment, Illinois Bans Microbeads

Researcher Sherri Mason looks for microbeads in a water sample from Lake Michigan.
Cheryl Corley

Originally published on Tue June 10, 2014 1:27 pm

Illinois became the first state in the union to ban microbeads, the tiny bits of plastic found in consumer products like skin exfoliants and soap.

As NPR's Cheryl Corley reports, environmentalists say that when microbeads wash down the drain, they're usually missed by filtration systems, which means they become food to fish and other wildlife.

Cheryl filed this report for our Newscast unit:

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Around the Nation
3:47 am
Tue June 10, 2014

How Coal Industry Jobs Coexist With Rising Sea Levels In Virginia

Rough surf pounds a fishing pier as Tropical Storm Hanna passes through Virginia Beach, Va., in 2008. Virginia is dependent on coal mining but it also faces routine flooding from rising sea levels.
Steve Helber AP

Originally published on Tue June 10, 2014 9:49 am

Skip Stiles stands on the edge of a small inlet known as the Hague, near downtown Norfolk, Va. The Chrysler Museum of Art is nearby, as are dozens of stately homes, all threatened by the water.

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Law
6:20 pm
Mon June 9, 2014

Supreme Court Rules Against Homeowners In Superfund Case

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday that a federal law seeking to improve accountability for environmental spills and pollution can be circumvented by certain kinds of state laws.

The federal Superfund law supersedes state statutes of limitations. Instead the federal law dictates that lawsuits alleging environmental injury need only be filed when individuals either first learn or should have learned that they have been harmed. But what the court gave with one hand, it took away with the other, ruling that rare state statutes of another sort can limit lawsuits in a different way.

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The Salt
5:41 pm
Fri June 6, 2014

Doughnut Day Downer: Palm Oil In Pastries Drives Deforestation

Doughnuts at a Krispy Kreme store in Washington, D.C. An environmental coalition says leading doughnut companies like Krispy Kreme source palm oil from suppliers who are clear-cutting rain forests and destroying wildlife habitat.
Meredith Rizzo NPR

Originally published on Fri June 6, 2014 7:29 pm

On National Doughnut Day, it's hard to imagine how our love of doughnuts might be contributing to deforestation halfway around the globe.

But here's the connection: You know that oily smudge left on your fingers after you polish off a doughnut? That's not just sugar. It's also palm oil.

The major doughnut retailers — from Dunkin' Donuts to Tim Hortons and Krispy Kreme — fry their sweet treats in palm oil, or in blends of oil that include palm oil.

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The Salt
12:27 pm
Fri June 6, 2014

Can Farmed Fish Feed The World Without Destroying The Environment?

Carp are collected at a breeding farm near the Belarus village of Ozerny in November 2013. Researchers say there's a lot the aquaculture industry can do to be more efficient.
Viktor Drachev AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue June 10, 2014 8:19 am

We Americans love our fried shrimp, our sushi and our fish sticks. And a lot of other people around the world count on fish as a critical part of their diet, too. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, fish now accounts for almost 17 percent of the world's intake of protein — in some coastal and island countries it's as high as 70 percent.

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TED Radio Hour
9:34 am
Fri June 6, 2014

How Do You Make New York's Mean Streets A Little Nicer?

"When you build it they will come — we've seen quadrupling of bike commuting in New York City since 2000" — Janette Sadik-Khan
Ryan Lash TED

Part 4 of the TED Radio Hour episode Getting There.

About Janette Sadik-Khan's TEDTalk

Former New York City Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan says cities can tackle the challenges of tomorrow by completely re-imagining our streets today.

About Janette Sadik-Khan

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TED Radio Hour
9:34 am
Fri June 6, 2014

If We Want to Live In Cities, Will We Have To Share Cars?

"If you live in a city and don't need a car to get to work, you're crazy to be owning one" — Robin Chase
Robert Leslie TED

Part 3 of the TED Radio Hour episode Getting There.

About Robin Chase's TEDTalk

Zipcar co-founder Robin Chase makes the case for car-sharing as the solution to global gridlock.

About Robin Chase

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TED Radio Hour
9:34 am
Fri June 6, 2014

How Does Henry Ford's Great-Grandson Envision The Future?

"This is the kind of technology that will merge millions of individual vehicles into a single system" — Bill Ford
James Duncan Davidson TED

Part 2 of the TED Radio Hour episode Getting There.

About Bill Ford's TEDTalk

Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford describes how we can create a green future of smart roads and smart cars.

About Bill Ford

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TED Radio Hour
9:34 am
Fri June 6, 2014

Can The Sun Fuel A Flight Around The World?

"People will tell you it's impossible, and that's exactly why we try to do it" — Bertrand Piccard
James Duncan Davidson TED

Part 1 of the TED Radio Hour episode Getting There.

About Bertrand Piccard's TEDTalk

Explorer Bertrand Piccard explains why he's aiming to carry out an unprecedented mission: to circle the planet in a solar-powered airplane.

About Bertrand Piccard

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The Two-Way
3:34 pm
Thu June 5, 2014

Wall Of Ice Surrounding Fukushima Will Contain Radioactive Water

Members of a local government council check an outlet of a so-called groundwater bypass system as they inspect the crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Station earlier this week.
Kyodo/Landov

Originally published on Thu June 5, 2014 4:56 pm

Earlier this week, workers in Japan began constructing an underground "ice wall" around the melted-down nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant. The wall is designed to stop hundreds of tons of radioactive groundwater from leaking into the nearby Pacific Ocean.

Building a subterranean wall of ice sounds a little crazy. NPR's Geoff Brumfiel, who's been covering the story, says it is a little crazy — but not as far-fetched as it sounds.

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The Salt
11:54 am
Thu June 5, 2014

At 'Pestaurant,' Grasshopper Burgers Win Over Eaters Who Say 'Yuck'

A Grasshopper Burger topped with Mexican spice mealworms.
Maggie Starbard NPR

Originally published on Tue June 10, 2014 8:17 am

If you're a scientist and you work for a pest control company, you're used to thinking about bugs as the enemy you're trained to kill.

Now try putting one in your mouth.

It took some mental rearranging for Nancy Troyano, an entomologist for Ehrlich Pest Control. But on Wednesday she did it for the first time in her life.

"I'm used to looking at grasshoppers under a microscope," Troyano tells The Salt. "I know what their internal organs and the spines on their legs look like, so I was kind of thinking about them."

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Asia
5:16 am
Thu June 5, 2014

Ice Wall May Stop Radioactive Leak At Japanese Nuclear Plant

Originally published on Thu June 5, 2014 4:02 pm

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Earlier this week, workers in Japan began construction of an underground ice wall around the melted-down nuclear reactors at Fukushima. It is hard to even say that sentence without feeling like you're relating some science fiction tale. But it's true. The ice wall is designed to stop hundreds of tons of radioactive groundwater from leaking into the nearby Pacific Ocean. NPR's Geoff Brumfiel has been covering this story for a long time. Welcome back to the program.

GEOFF BRUMFIEL, BYLINE: Thank you, nice to be here.

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Around the Nation
5:04 pm
Wed June 4, 2014

An Underwater Race To Transplant Miami's Rare Corals

Close-up of a star coral rescued by Coral Morphologic from a reef in Miami's shipping channel.
Courtesy of Coral Morphologic

Originally published on Wed June 4, 2014 7:18 pm

A lab just off Florida's Miami River has become the base for an unusual lifesaving operation.

A group of scientists there is on an urgent mission to save as many corals as it can before the marine creatures are destroyed as part of an underwater excavation of Miami's shipping channel. The channel — set to be dredged and deepened on Saturday — is home to a thriving coral reef.

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Business
4:08 pm
Wed June 4, 2014

New Pollution Rules Leave Utilities Frustrated, As Details Remain Up In Air

Originally published on Wed June 4, 2014 7:18 pm

The Obama administration has proposed rules for limiting greenhouse gases, but many of the details must still be set by states, leaving utilities unsure about specifics they'll be expected to achieve.

The Salt
12:40 pm
Wed June 4, 2014

Hydroponic Tomatoes May One Day Be Tastier Than Ones Grown Outside

Hydroponic tomatoes are now just as tasty as tomatoes grown outside in perfect summer conditions, scientists say.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Wed June 4, 2014 12:42 pm

Peak tomato season — July through September here on the East Coast — is almost upon us, and the anticipation is palpable. Before we know it, those super sweet, juicy fruits, grown outdoors under the hot sun, will be back in abundance.

We tend to fetishize summer tomatoes, especially heirloom varieties like Brandywine and Cherokee Purple, and regard them as the pinnacle of tomato flavor.

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