Originally published on Tue April 22, 2014 7:11 pm
On Earth Day 2014, it wasn't easy being green in the Republican Party. Just ask Rob Sisson, president of ConservAmerica.
ConservAmerica is a membership organization created in 1995 to keep the environmental spirit of GOP President Theodore Roosevelt alive in his party. Back then, the group was known as Republicans for Environmental Protection.
Many commercial fishermen in Florida faced a tough decision 20 years ago: retire or find another way to make a living. That reality set in after voters passed a constitutional amendment intended to prevent overfishing. It banned the use of gill nets in state waters. Gill nets are large nets that are suspended vertically in the water. NPR's Greg Allen went to an island where former fishermen have found new careers since the ban.
Originally published on Mon April 21, 2014 1:36 pm
In a surprising discovery, scientists have found evidence of a tundra landscape in Greenland that's millions of years old. The revelation goes against widely held ideas about how some glaciers work, and it suggests that at least parts of Greenland's ice sheet had survived periods of global warming intact.
Jonathan Henderson of New Orleans-based Gulf Restoration Network is flying Louisiana's coast looking for oil. As usual, he's found some.
"I just noticed something out of the corner of my eye that looks like a sheen that had some form to it," he says. "We're going to go take a closer look and see if there's a rainbow sheen."
It's a target-rich environment for Henderson, because more than 54,000 wells were planted in and off this coast — part of the 300,000 wells in the state. They're connected by thousands of miles of pipelines, all vulnerable to leaks.
The Keystone XL pipeline remains a major point of contention within the Democratic Party, as green voters pull President Obama one direction and pro-energy senators and labor unions pull the other. It looks as though the "comment period" for the project will be extended, delaying a decision past the November elections.
The State Department is giving federal agencies more time to review the Keystone XL Pipeline project. The additional time was given "based on the uncertainty created" by an ongoing legal battle in Nebraska, according to a State Department statement.
At a recent rally in Fresno County, Calif., farmers in plaid shirts stood side by side with migrant farmworkers in ball caps, holding signs that read "sin agua, no futuro" and "no water, no food." Fresno is the top agriculture-producing county in the U.S., with more than $6 billion in annual sales.
Protesters argued that farms could go out of business without more water, and there would be mass layoffs. That rhetoric may be familiar, but the two groups' alliance is decidedly unusual.
Recent storms in California haven't been enough to save the state from a serious drought. And now, the rainy season is winding down. Scientists are trying to understand why some storms unload lots of rain and snow in California and others don't. As Lauren Sommer reports from member station KQED in San Francisco, there could be a link to dust storms thousands of miles away.
LAUREN SOMMER, BYLINE: The sky over the Pacific Ocean is looking pretty ominous - big dark gray clouds in the distance.
Still, it's tough being a lesser prairie chicken these days. This type of grouse once spanned an enormous area, though now they survive mainly in pockets of Oklahoma and Kansas. Their numbers are plummeting; in 2012, the population dropped by half.
But after they were recently listed as a threatened species by the U.S. government, complaints of federal overreach and lawsuits have followed.
Originally published on Mon April 14, 2014 1:28 pm
From plant factories fueled by the magenta glow of blue and red LED lights, to the 30-foot tall Ferris wheel for plants in Singapore, we've shown you the design possibilities for growing vegetables up instead of out.
There's some new, pristine real estate on the remote Japanese island of Nishino-shima.
Volcanic activity has merged the tiny island with a new neighbor that started to form late last year, creating a single landmass, NASA satellite imagery shows. The island is now a bit more than a half-mile across.
A landslide last month northeast of Seattle destroyed dozens of homes and killed at least 33 people. Now the small rural community of Oso on the edge of the Cascade Mountains is moving from search and rescue into clean-up mode. Officials are just beginning to assess the environmental and public health risks in the area.
Ashley Ahearn, from member station KUOW in Seattle, visited the site and has more.
Why hasn't fish farming taken off in the United States?
It's certainly not for lack of demand for the fish. Slowly but surely, seafood that's grown in aquaculture is taking over the seafood section at your supermarket, and the vast majority is imported. The shrimp and tilapia typically come from warm-water ponds in southeast Asia and Latin America. Farmed salmon come from big net pens in the coastal waters of Norway or Chile.
This week, the federal government announced a record-breaking $5 billion settlement in a remarkable environmental case. The toxic legacy of the company involved, Kerr-McGee, stretches back 85 years and includes scores of sites across the country.
Kerr-McGee ran uranium mines in the Navajo Nation, wood-treating businesses across the Midwest and East Coast, and a perchlorate plant on a tributary of Lake Mead, the nation's largest reservoir — and it was messy.
This, I would think, should be self-evident: Generally speaking, big creatures eat smaller creatures that, in turn, eat even smaller creatures, like this ...
And just as obviously, one would expect the food chain to be pyramid-shaped: a few big creatures at the top eating more middle-sized creatures in the middle, that eat many, many, many little creatures at the bottom, like so:
Millions of gallons of water used to flow every day from the Rocky Mountains to the Gulf of California. Now, the Colorado River ends at Morelos Dam on the U.S.-Mexico border. Below it, one of North America's largest wetlands is dry.
Karl Flessa, a geoscientist at the University of Arizona, began researching the damage two decades ago. Then he started asking how much water it would take to bring back some of the habitats.
For lovers of fatty tuna belly, canned albacore and swordfish kebabs, here's a question: Would you be willing to give them up for several years so that you could eat them perhaps for the rest of your life?
If a new proposal to ban fishing on the open ocean were to fly, that's essentially what we might be faced with. It's an idea that might help restore the populations of several rapidly disappearing fish – like tuna, swordfish and marlin — that we, and future generations, might like to continue to have as a food source.
A federal criminal investigation is focusing on Duke Energy and a North Carolina state environmental agency. A couple of months ago, as you may recall, a storm water pipe ruptured and poured as much as 39,000 tons of potentially toxic carbon byproduct into the Dan River in North Carolina.
North Carolina Public Radio's Jeff Tiberii reports.
Whale lovers scored a major victory today. For almost two decades, Japanese whalers have been killing whales in the Antarctic Ocean. The Japanese government claimed it was all for scientific, not commercial, purposes. NPR's Elizabeth Shogren reports that today, an international court rejected that claim and said the whaling must stop.
A group of independent researchers has found that the chemical crude MCHM is still present in some West Virginia homes. That's the coal-cleaning chemical that spilled into the Elk River back in January out of a storage tank operated by the company Freedom Industries. The spill contaminated drinking water for hundreds of thousands of people. The research group was formed by West Virginia's governor after public pressure.
Dave Mistich of West Virginia Public Broadcasting reports on the research group's latest findings.
Originally published on Sat March 29, 2014 3:31 am
Washington state, with its many steep slopes, streams and rivers and some of the heaviest annual rainfall in the country, is a mudslide waiting to happen. Add in soil erosion from logging, as was reportedly the case near the community of Oso before last week's tragedy, and the probability of such an event increases.