Environment

The Two-Way
3:14 pm
Tue May 20, 2014

Global Temperatures Tied Record High Last Month

Worldwide temperatures were once again above normal last month, tying the record for the hottest April set back in 2010.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Tuesday said the average global temperature for land and sea was 56.7 degrees Fahrenheit, which is 1.39 degrees warmer than the 20th century average.

"The last below-average April was April 1976, and the last average or below-average temperature for any month was February 1985," according to NOAA.

Read more
Environment
5:00 pm
Sun May 18, 2014

Fighting Bugs With Bugs: Hatching A Solution For Troubled Trees

The invasive Asian citrus psyllid can carry citrus greening disease, which kills trees within a few years of infection.
Mike Lewis Center for Invasive Species Research, UC Riverside

Originally published on Tue May 20, 2014 3:11 pm

We all know about the drought in California, but farmers there have more to worry about than a lack of water.

There's also the looming threat of Asian citrus psyllid (ACP), an invasive pest that flies from tree to tree, feeding on tender leaves. By itself, the psyllid is not particularly harmful, but it can carry citrus greening disease, which kills trees within a few years of infection. There is no cure.

Read more
Krulwich Wonders...
5:27 am
Sun May 18, 2014

Intriguing Lime-Green Blobs Appear In The Andes Mountains. Are They Alive?

Courtesy of Terrace Lodge

Originally published on Mon May 19, 2014 10:09 am

Oops.

Someone dropped lime sherbet on the desert — and it's melting. Who's going to clean this up?

Nobody. Because this — believe it or not — is a plant. It may look like a glob of goo, but it's not at all gooey. It's solid to the touch — so solid that a man can lie on top of it and not sink in, not even a little.

Read more
History
1:06 pm
Sat May 17, 2014

150 Years Old, Arlington Cemetery Is Running Out Of Room

A flag-covered casket is taken to the burial site at the Arlington National Cemetery in March 2014. The cemetery has been filling up, despite expansions.
Alex Brandon AP

Originally published on Sat May 17, 2014 2:02 pm

A century and a half ago in May 1864, the federal government had a problem. As the Civil War produced causalities at a rapid and brutal pace, the cemeteries in the Washington, D.C., area were filling up.

After scouting possible options for a new cemetery, preference was made for the vast estate of George Washington Custis Lee, the son of Robert E. Lee. The land was on high ground, better to protect against flooding that might resurface the buried, and it had a picturesque view of the capital.

Read more
Around the Nation
4:01 pm
Fri May 16, 2014

What's To Blame For California's Early Fire Season?

Originally published on Fri May 16, 2014 8:00 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

These fires herald what promises to be an especially busy and dangerous fire season in California. The entire state is in a condition of extreme drought. Couple that with high temperatures and strong Santa Ana winds and you wind up with what we're seeing now: spinning columns of fierce flame called firenados(ph). I'm joined now by California's secretary for natural resources, John Laird. Welcome to the program, Mr. Laird.

JOHN LAIRD: It's a pleasure to be with you.

Read more
The Salt
5:28 pm
Thu May 15, 2014

Organic Produce Is A Tough Sell In The Gaza Strip

Rami al-Naffar is the clerk at a small organic produce shop in Gaza City.
Emily Harris/NPR

Outside a small organic produce shop in Gaza City, a large sidewalk placard reads "Good Earth" in Arabic in big red letters, followed by "Organic produce, free of chemical fertilizers and pesticides." The same message is on the shop's awning.

But "people don't notice the signs, they come in and ask, 'Why these [high] prices?,' " says Rami al-Naffar, the clerk here.

Read more
The Two-Way
4:52 pm
Wed May 14, 2014

Tropical Storms Hitting Peak Strength Nearer Poles, Study Says

A NOAA image taken by the Japan Meteorological Agency in September shows Typhoon Usagi. A new study says that such tropical cyclones are reaching peak intensity farther away from the equator.
NOAA/JMA AP

Originally published on Wed May 14, 2014 5:29 pm

Tropical storms are migrating out of the tropics, reaching their peak intensity in higher latitudes, where larger populations are concentrated, a new NOAA-led study published in the journal Nature says.

Read more
Environment
4:25 pm
Wed May 14, 2014

Out There On The Ice: An Intimate View Of The Melting Antarctic Sheet

Originally published on Fri May 16, 2014 1:00 pm

Two groups of scientists have reported that the melting of the giant West Antarctica Ice Sheet appears to be unstoppable. Oceans could rise several feet in the coming centuries because of its melting. Glaciologist Sridhar Anandakrishnan has devoted his scientific life to those Antarctic glaciers, studying them for nearly three decades, and he comments on the recent news.

The Salt
5:10 pm
Tue May 13, 2014

Gardeners' Gems: Designer Crops That Will Wow The Neighbors

The nearly translucent Glass Gem Corn looks more like a work of art than a vegetable.
Greg Schoen Native Seeds

Originally published on Fri May 16, 2014 2:40 pm

To the home gardener who says "been there, done that" to the heirloom green bean, the French breakfast radish or the Brandywine tomato, take heart.

Nurseries and seed companies are competing to bring you the most colorful and flavorful designer edibles they can come up with. They travel the world looking for the next in-vogue plant for the home horticulturist. Every few years they introduce these new chic varieties in their catalogs and websites.

Read more
The Two-Way
9:37 am
Tue May 13, 2014

Book News: Each Page Of 'A Drinkable Book' Kills Bacteria In Drinking Water

Each page of the new "Drinkable Book" from the organization WaterisLife can be used to treat water for bacteria.
WaterisLife

Originally published on Tue May 13, 2014 10:25 am

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

Read more
The Two-Way
5:19 pm
Mon May 12, 2014

Melting Of Antarctic Ice Sheet Might Be Unstoppable

Originally published on Mon May 12, 2014 6:31 pm

Scientists have long worried about climate change-induced melting of the huge West Antarctic Ice Sheet. Now they say that not only is the disintegration of the ice already underway, but that it's likely unstoppable.

That means that in the coming centuries, global sea levels will rise by anywhere from 4 to 12 feet. As NPR's Nell Greenfieldboyce reports, that's a larger increase than the United Nations expert panel noted last year. But it would occur over a longer time frame — centuries instead of decades.

Read more
Environment
4:02 pm
Mon May 12, 2014

'Past The Point Of No Return:' An Antarctic Ice Sheet's Slow Collapse

Originally published on Tue May 13, 2014 10:04 am

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Antarctica is covered with the biggest mass of ice on earth. The part of the ice sheath that's over West Antarctica is thought to be especially vulnerable to climate change. Scientists now say a slow collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet is both underway and irreversible. And as NPR's Nell Greenfieldboyce reports, this could eventually raise sea levels more than 10 feet.

NELL GREENFIELDBOYCE, BYLINE: For decades, scientists have worried about the West Antarctic ice sheet.

Read more
Environment
4:11 pm
Fri May 9, 2014

Ahead Of Wildfire Season, Scientists Study What Fuels Fires

A lab technician lighting a fire in a wind tunnel at a fire lab in Riverside, Calif.
Sean Nealon University of California, Riverside

Originally published on Sat May 10, 2014 7:00 pm

As fire managers in the drought-stricken Southwest gear up for another long and expensive wildfire season, federal fire scientists are trying to better understand the physics behind what makes blazes spread.

Read more
Science
3:34 am
Fri May 9, 2014

Former Commando Turns Conservationist To Save Elephants Of Dzanga Bai

Kalron and his team have set up video cameras that transmit real-time images of the bai via satellite.
Courtesy of Maisha Consulting

Originally published on Mon May 12, 2014 3:26 pm

In the spring of 2013, poachers looking for elephant ivory took advantage of the chaos of a civil war raging in the Central African Republic, and massacred 26 rare forest elephants at a special place called the "Dzanga bai."

Read more
Krulwich Wonders...
2:17 pm
Thu May 8, 2014

A Question Of Biggitude: What's The Largest Creature On Earth?

J. Zapell USDA

Originally published on Fri May 9, 2014 10:59 am

What's the biggest living thing on Earth? I can think of two. I'm not sure which is biggest, but neither of them is a blue whale. These are weirder. Much, much weirder.

One is a tree. The other eats trees.

This is the tree.

Read more
The Salt
6:13 am
Thu May 8, 2014

Less Nutritious Grains May Be In Our Future

Wheat fields like this one could yield wheat with less zinc and iron in the future if they are exposed to higher levels of CO2, according to the journal Nature.
Zaharov Evgeniy iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Mon May 12, 2014 9:26 am

In the future, Earth's atmosphere is likely to include a whole lot more carbon dioxide. And many have been puzzling over what that may mean for the future of food crops. Now, scientists are reporting that some of the world's most important crops contain fewer crucial nutrients when they grow in such an environment.

Read more
Law
2:17 am
Thu May 8, 2014

Legendary D.C. Law Firm To Pay Chevron In Ecuador Pollution Case

Originally published on Thu May 8, 2014 9:04 am

A long-running legal battle between a legendary Washington law and lobbying firm and a major oil company has been settled.

D.C.-based Patton Boggs has agreed to pay Chevron $15 million to settle a case that centers on pollution from drilling activity in the rainforests of Ecuador.

The case has gone on for more than four years, and the stakes were enormous for the two powerhouses.

Read more
Environment
6:04 pm
Wed May 7, 2014

When Colleges Ditch Coal Investments, It's Barely A Drop In The Bucket

Some universities have stopped investing in coal companies, but many others don't see the point. An aerial view of the Coal Hollow Mine in Utah in 2012.
Ethan Miller Getty Images

Originally published on Tue June 10, 2014 9:59 am

If the students at Stanford University believe they sent the coal industry a strong message this week, they should think again. The school's decision to eliminate coal from its portfolio did not send shock waves through the industry. In fact, representatives say it will have no financial impact on the industry at all. Nor will it curb the growing demand around the world for coal-generated electricity.

Read more
Environment
5:11 pm
Wed May 7, 2014

Stanford Dumps Its Holdings In Coal, With Climate In Mind

Originally published on Tue June 10, 2014 9:59 am

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Read more
The Two-Way
11:16 am
Wed May 7, 2014

Stanford University Says No To Coal Investments

Stanford University's trustees says the school will rid itself of any investments it has made in coal-producing companies. A 2013 file photo shows coal being loaded onto a truck at a mine near Decker, Montana.
Matthew Brown AP

Originally published on Wed May 7, 2014 11:24 am

Stanford's trustees say the school will no longer invest in companies that mine coal, joining about a dozen other colleges that have taken the step. The decision cited alternate energy sources that emit less greenhouse gases.

Stanford will liquidate any current holdings in coal-producing companies, the school says. Of the schools that have divested, it's by far the largest.

"Stanford wouldn't say how much it currently invests in coal companies," NPR's Elizabeth Shogren reports. "Its total endowment was just shy of $19 billion last year."

Read more
Politics
5:06 am
Wed May 7, 2014

Obama Sounds Alarm Bell On Climate Change. Is Anyone Listening?

Originally published on Wed May 7, 2014 8:47 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And I'm Steve Inskeep. Everybody makes conversation about the weather. And today that includes President Obama. He's appearing on three network TV shows to discuss a new government report on climate change. It's on a day when the president also visits Arkansas to survey the damage from last week's tornadoes.

Read more
Environment
5:34 pm
Tue May 6, 2014

White House Report Says Climate Change Is Here And Now

Originally published on Tue May 6, 2014 9:04 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Climate change is not a future problem for faraway places; it's affecting Americans now. This comes from a U.S. government report out today. NPR's Elizabeth Shogren says it also shows that choices people make now will have big ramifications for future generations.

ELIZABETH SHOGREN, BYLINE: The National Climate Assessment is the government's take on the latest science about climate change. This is the third one and its message is clear.

Read more
Environment
5:34 pm
Tue May 6, 2014

Report: Climate Change Creates Public Health Costs

Originally published on Tue May 6, 2014 11:01 pm

Melissa Block speaks with Brian Stone, director of the Urban Climate Lab at Georgia Institute of Technology, about the public health effects of climate change.

Environment
5:34 pm
Tue May 6, 2014

Despite Warnings On Warming, Public Response Remains Lukewarm

Originally published on Tue May 6, 2014 11:35 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

It's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel.

Here's a warning about global climate change: Humanity's influence on the global climate will grow in the coming century. Increasingly, there will be significant climate-related changes that will affect each one of us. We must begin now to consider our responses, as the actions taken today will affect the quality of life for us and future generations.

Read more
The Two-Way
3:33 pm
Tue May 6, 2014

Scientists Help Galapagos Finches Get Rid Of A Nasty Nest Pest

A Darwin finch in the Galapagos. The subfamily that is unique to the islands has been threatened by an invasive parasite that first appeared in 1997.
Education Images UIG via Getty Images

Originally published on Tue May 6, 2014 6:52 pm

The diminutive Galapagos finches had a problem: The larvae of a parasitic nest fly were killing off their hatchlings.

A scientist, with the help of crowdfunding, had a solution: offer the birds insecticide-laced nest-building material.

It worked.

Read more
Environment
3:35 am
Tue May 6, 2014

Drought-Stricken Texas Town Turns To Toilets For Water

After three years of drought, the water has receded from a dock at Lake Arrowhead State Park near Wichita Falls, Texas.
Larry W. Smith EPA /Landov

Originally published on Tue May 6, 2014 1:07 pm

The city of Wichita Falls, Texas, may soon become the first in the country where half of the drinking water comes directly from wastewater.

Yes, that includes water from toilets.

The plan to recycle the water became necessary after three years of extreme drought, which has also imposed some harsh restrictions on Wichita Falls residents, says Mayor Glenn Barham.

Read more
Environment
3:31 am
Tue May 6, 2014

Monterey Bay An 'Ocean Buffet Open For Business' This Spring

Three humpback whales surge upward, gulping the silvery anchovies that have been in abundance in Monterey Bay this spring.
Kate Spencer Fast Raft Nature Tours

Originally published on Tue May 6, 2014 10:34 am

Monterey Bay on California's central coast rests atop one of the largest underwater canyons in the world. It's deeper than the Grand Canyon, making it possible for lots of ocean life — including humpback whales, orcas, dolphins and sea lions — to be seen extremely close to shore. That is, given the right circumstances. Lately, the right circumstances have converged, and there's more marine and wildlife in the bay than anyone's seen in recent memory.

Read more
The Two-Way
8:44 pm
Mon May 5, 2014

USGS: Okla. At Increased Risk Of 'Damaging Quake'

A map showing seismic activity in Oklahoma since 1970.
United States Geological Survey

Originally published on Tue May 6, 2014 4:55 pm

The U.S. Geological Survey says the number of earthquakes in Oklahoma has gone up dramatically in recent months and that the surge in seismic activity has increased the danger of a damaging quake in the central part of the state.

The USGS and Oklahoma Geological Survey issued a joint statement on Friday, citing a dramatic spike in magnitude-3.0 temblors, especially since October 2013.

Read more
Business
4:53 pm
Sun May 4, 2014

Climate Change Warming Up Business In The Arctic

Originally published on Sun May 4, 2014 6:19 pm

Transcript

ARUN RATH, HOST:

And if you're just joining us, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR West. I'm Arun Rath. Climate change is melting polar ice at an alarming rate. While this terrifies many people, especially those living near sea level, some businesses are seeing an opportunity, a big opportunity. According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center, the year-round ice cover in the Arctic is now half the size it was in the 1980s. And previously inaccessible natural resources are now there for the taking.

Read more
The Salt
7:18 am
Sat May 3, 2014

Organic Farming Factions Spat Over Synthetic Substances

The National Organic Standards Board voted to no longer allow farmers to use the antibiotic streptomycin on organic apple and pear trees.
Jeff Haynes AFP/Getty Images

Here in the news biz, we rely on thumbnail descriptions, sparing you the details. We'll tell you, for instance, that organic farmers aren't allowed to use synthetic pesticides and factory-made fertilizer.

In general, that's true. But there's also a long list of pesky exceptions to the rule. And this week, a battle erupted over those exceptions: the synthetic or factory-made substances that organic farmers are still allowed to use because the farmers say they couldn't survive without them.

Read more

Pages