Environment

Environment
6:36 pm
Sun September 29, 2013

Is Living With Extreme Wildfires The New Normal?

A house destroyed by a wildfire in Yarnell, Ariz. Experts say increasing expansion into wildfire-prone areas has created new challenges for firefighters unequipped to protect houses and structures.
Andy Tobin AP

Originally published on Mon September 30, 2013 5:02 pm

It has been a deadly year for the people who fight wildfires. In total, 32 people have lost their lives fighting fires in 2013; the highest number in nearly 20 years, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

Just one incident accounts for most of those deaths, the Yarnell Hill fire in Arizona. In June, the blaze blasted through a firefighting crew known as the Granite Mountain Hotshots; 19 of the 20 men died.

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Science
7:59 am
Sat September 28, 2013

The Fragile, Invisible Connections Of The Natural World

Originally published on Sat September 28, 2013 11:16 am

From the TED Radio Hour, writer and environmentalist George Monbiot tells the story of what happened when wolves were re-introduced to Yellowstone National Park after a 70-year absence.

Law
7:58 am
Sat September 28, 2013

BP Oil Spill Trial To Begin Second Phase

Originally published on Sat September 28, 2013 11:16 am

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Officials from BP, formerly British Petroleum, will be back in a New Orleans courtroom next week. It's part of a complex federal case that will ultimately determine responsibility in damages for the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history. And that's the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. NPR's Debbie Elliott's been following the trial and joins us. Deb, thanks for being with us.

DEBBIE ELLIOTT, BYLINE: Glad to be here.

SIMON: Remind us of what's at stake in this phase of the case.

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Environment
4:59 pm
Fri September 27, 2013

UN Climate Change Report: Sea Level, Air Temperature To Rise

Originally published on Fri September 27, 2013 5:17 pm

The United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change releases its latest assessment today. This is the fifth since 1990. The reports project the rate of global warming, sea level rise and other expected effects that result largely from our use of fossil fuels, which puts billions of additional tons of carbon dioxide into the air every year.

The Two-Way
1:45 pm
Fri September 27, 2013

Freighter Makes First-Of-Its-Kind Transit Of Northwest Passage

Originally published on Fri September 27, 2013 4:17 pm

A Danish shipping company announced Friday the first-ever voyage of a large commercial freighter through the Northwest Passage — a journey made possible by the disappearance of Arctic ice due to global warming.

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Environment
12:15 pm
Fri September 27, 2013

Saving Wild Places in the 'Anthropocene'

Transcript

IRA FLATOW, HOST:

We've been talking about the Stone Age but now we're living in what some scientists are calling the anthropocene. Maybe you've never heard of that word. It's a time where everything on the planet is touched by humans in some way, whether it's directly, like clear cutting forests or suppressing fires, or indirectly by the effects of climate change. Is this, as the environmentalist Bill McKibben wrote, oh, 20 years ago, is this the end of nature?

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Humans
12:11 pm
Fri September 27, 2013

Modern Humans Still Evolving, and Faster Than Ever

For those who think the forces of natural selection no longer apply to modern humans, paleoanthropologist John Hawks would urge you to reconsider. In recent times — that's 10 to 20 thousand years, for a paleoanthropologist — Hawks says we've picked up genetic variations in skin color, and other traits that allow us to break down starch and digest cheese.

TED Radio Hour
9:48 am
Fri September 27, 2013

Everything Is Connected

Every species has its own important role in maintaining nature's balance.
Thomas Barwick Getty Images

Originally published on Tue October 8, 2013 10:32 am

  • Listen to the Episode

"The more humble we are in the face of our experience with the natural world ... the more we're going to find a healthy coexistence with it." — Bernie Krause, bioacoustician

Every species plays a crucial role in our natural world. But when humans tinker with the equation, a chain reaction can cause entire ecosystems to break down. In this hour, TED speakers explain how everything is connected in nature, with some bold ideas about how we can restore the delicate balance and bring disappearing ecosystems back.

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TED Radio Hour
9:45 am
Fri September 27, 2013

What Lessons Came Out Of Biosphere 2?

Aerial view of Biosphere 2, where Jane Poynter lived for two years and 20 minutes.
Courtesy of Jane Poynter

Originally published on Fri February 7, 2014 1:50 pm

Part 2 of the TED Radio Hour episode "Everything Is Connected."

About Jane Poynter's TEDTalk

Sustainability consultant Jane Poynter tells her story of living two years and 20 minutes in Biosphere 2, a hermetically sealed environment in Arizona. The experience provoked her to explore how we might sustain life in the harshest of conditions.

About Jane Poynter

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TED Radio Hour
9:45 am
Fri September 27, 2013

Why Are Bees Disappearing?

"Bees are vital to the pollination and production of our fruits and vegetables ... unfortunately, they're all in trouble" — Marla Spivak
James Duncan Davidson TED

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 2:25 pm

Part 4 of the TED Radio Hour episode "Everything Is Connected."

About Marla Spivak's TEDTalk

Honeybees have thrived for 50 million years. So why have certain colonies started dying in droves in recent decades? Researcher Marla Spivak reveals four reasons with tragic consequences.

About Marla Spivak

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TED Radio Hour
9:45 am
Fri September 27, 2013

Can 'Rewilding' Restore Vanishing Ecosystems?

James Duncan Davidson TED

Originally published on Fri February 7, 2014 9:25 am

Part 1 of the TED Radio Hour episode "Everything Is Connected."

About George Monbiot's TEDTalk

Wolves were native to the Yellowstone National Park until hunting wiped them out. In 1995, when the wolves began to come back, something interesting happened: The rest of the park began to find a new, more healthful balance.

About George Monbiot

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TED Radio Hour
9:45 am
Fri September 27, 2013

What Listening To Nature Teaches Us About Changing Habitats

"In habitats that are pretty much untouched, the sound is organized and structured in such a way so that each critter establishes its own bandwidth" — Bernie Kraus
James Duncan Davidson TED

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 2:25 pm

Part 3 in the TED Radio Hour episode "Everything Is Connected."

About Bernie Krause's TEDTalk

Bernie Krause has been recording the wild — the wind in the trees, the chirping of birds — for 45 years. He has seen many environments radically altered by humans, sometimes even by practices thought to be environmentally safe.

About Bernie Krause

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The Two-Way
7:08 am
Fri September 27, 2013

It's Clear Humans Are Changing World's Climate, Panel Says

The Larsen B ice shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula, which is among the places where such ice has been breaking off.
Mariano Caravaca Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Fri September 27, 2013 10:56 am

Declaring that "human influence on the climate system is clear," a U.N.-assembled panel of scientists reported Friday that "it is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century."

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Environment
3:56 am
Fri September 27, 2013

U.N. Panel Report: Most Global Warming Is Caused By Humans

Originally published on Fri September 27, 2013 6:14 am

Scientists assembled by the United Nations sent out a renewed warning Friday that the planet is warming up and human beings are largely responsible. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has released a report that projects more warming air, melting ice and rising seas in this century.

Research News
3:06 am
Fri September 27, 2013

How Recycling Bias Affects What You Toss Where

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Fri September 27, 2013 6:07 am

During an experiment, marketing professor Remi Trudel noticed a pattern in what his volunteers were recycling versus throwing in the garbage. He then went through his colleagues' trash and recycling bins at Boston University for more data.

He found the same pattern, says NPR's Shankar Vedantam: "Whole sheets of paper typically went in the recycling, but paper fragments went in the trash."

Same type of paper, different shapes, different bins.

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Environment
5:59 pm
Thu September 26, 2013

Drought Forces New Mexico Ranchers to Better Manage the Land

Originally published on Thu September 26, 2013 7:19 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.

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Environment
3:42 am
Thu September 26, 2013

With Murky Water And Manatee Deaths, Lagoon Languishes

Biologists Laura Herren and Brian Lapointe bag red sea grass at Shorty's Pocket, a site in the Indian River lagoon. Manatees have died from eating the toxic macro algae.
Courtesy Brian Cousin FAU Harbor Branch

Originally published on Thu September 26, 2013 5:06 am

Something is wrong in Florida's Indian River Lagoon.

Over the past year, record numbers of dolphins, manatees and pelicans have turned up dead in the 150-mile-long estuary that runs along Florida's Atlantic Coast. Bouts of algal blooms have flourished in the waters. All the signs point to an ecosystem that is seriously out of balance. The crisis has mobilized scientists, residents and elected officials in Florida.

An Ailing Lagoon

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The Salt
10:48 am
Wed September 25, 2013

Rooftop Farming Is Getting Off The Ground

Stacey Kimmons and Audra Lewicki harvest lettuce at the Chicago Botanic Garden's 20,000-square-foot vegetable garden atop McCormick Place West in Chicago.
Courtesy of the Chicago Botanic Garden

Originally published on Fri September 27, 2013 3:03 pm

From vacant lots to vertical "pinkhouses," urban farmers are scouring cities for spaces to grow food. But their options vary widely from place to place.

While farmers in post-industrial cities like Detroit and Cleveland are claiming unused land for cultivation, in New York and Chicago, land comes at a high premium. That's why farmers there are increasingly eyeing spaces that they might not have to wrestle from developers: rooftops that are already green.

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Environment
3:43 am
Wed September 25, 2013

Wild Weather Tied To Unusual Jet Stream Activity

Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio NASA

Originally published on Wed September 25, 2013 6:25 am

There has been a lot of extreme weather in the Northern Hemisphere this year, including the recent torrential rains in Colorado, flooding in Europe, bitter cold in Florida and a heat wave in Alaska. And scientists say all of it is related to some odd behavior by the powerful air currents called the polar jet stream.

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The Salt
5:17 pm
Tue September 24, 2013

Global Love Of Bananas May Be Hurting Costa Rica's Crocodiles

A Costa Rican banana worker carries a stalk of freshly harvested fruit on a plantation in Costa Rica, where many of the bananas that Americans eat are grown.
Kent Gilbert AP

Originally published on Fri September 27, 2013 2:22 pm

Americans love bananas. Each year, we eat more bananas than any other fruit. But banana growers use a lot of pesticides — and those chemicals could be hurting wildlife. As a new study shows, the pesticides are ending up in the bodies of crocodiles living near banana farms in Costa Rica, where many of the bananas we eat are grown.

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Environment
4:01 am
Tue September 24, 2013

How Many Scientists Does It Take To Write A Climate Report?

An iceberg floats through the water in Ilulissat, Greenland, in July. Researchers are studying how climate change and melting glaciers will affect the rest of the world.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

Originally published on Tue September 24, 2013 10:53 am

Scientists and government representatives are meeting in Stockholm this week to produce the latest high-level review of climate change. It's thousands of pages of material, and if it's done right, it should harbor very few surprises.

That's because it's supposed to compile what scientists know — and what they don't — about climate change. And that's left some scientists to wonder whether these intensive reviews are still the best way to go.

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The Salt
6:09 pm
Mon September 23, 2013

Raising Tastier Sea Urchins For Foodies And The Environment

Sea urchins are considered a culinary delicacy, but supply can't keep up with demand.
Aizat Faiz Flickr

Originally published on Tue September 24, 2013 7:09 pm

Sea urchins are considered a culinary delicacy in many parts of the world, including Japan and the United States. The market for this "foie gras of the sea" is growing rapidly — so fast that supply can't keep up with demand.

But a scientist in Birmingham, Ala., says he's found a solution: He's built a sea urchin farm in his lab and has even developed a food for them to make them taste better. Now, he wants to take his tasty urchins out of his farm and into restaurants across the country.

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Science
5:03 pm
Sat September 21, 2013

Black Widow Spider Fan Gets Dangerously Close To His Subject

Nature writer Jackson Landers kept a black widow alive in a jar on his desk for months.
Courtesy Jackson Landers

Originally published on Sat September 21, 2013 8:07 pm

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The Two-Way
12:33 pm
Fri September 20, 2013

Powerful Typhoon Has Hong Kong In Its Sights

In this NASA image released Thursday, Typhoon Usagi is seen nearing Taiwan and the Philippines.
NASA Goddard MODIS Rapid Response Team

Originally published on Fri September 20, 2013 3:47 pm

Super-typhoon Usagi — the equivalent of a Category 5 hurricane with sustained winds of 150 mph — is expected to skirt the Philippines and Taiwan before slamming into the Chinese coast near Hong Kong over the weekend.

The storm is forecast to skirt the coast of Luzon in the northern Philippines on Friday and brush the southern tip of Taiwan on Saturday. Although it is expected to be downgraded in strength by the time it hits Hong Kong on Sunday evening, Typhoon Usagi could still do considerable damage.

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Environment
12:04 pm
Fri September 20, 2013

Why Climate Change Ups the Odds of Fires, Floods

Colorado's record-breaking flood was caused, in part, by a blocking pattern parked over western North America. That same pattern also led to extreme drought in the West, worsening California's Rim Fire. Rutgers atmospheric scientist Jennifer Francis talks about possible connections between climate change and severe events like these.

Animals
12:04 pm
Fri September 20, 2013

A Chronicle of a Whale's Life, Captured in Earwax

Transcript

JOHN DANKOSKY, HOST:

Now you've probably seen a cutaway section of a tree trunk, those rings inside? Well, they tell a story about the conditions the tree faced year after year. It turns out that whales contain a similar record inside their ears. Joining me now to talk about it are two researchers looking into this record. Stephen Trumble is an assistant professor of biology. Sascha Usenko is an assistant professor of environmental science. They're both at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. Welcome to SCIENCE FRIDAY.

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Animals
12:04 pm
Fri September 20, 2013

Birding the Fall Migration

September is peak season for the fall bird migration. Hummingbirds have already made the trip south while songbirds have been slow to move this year. Naturalist and author Kenn Kaufman shares tips on spotting different species and making your yard bird-friendly.

Environment
12:08 am
Fri September 20, 2013

EPA Wants To Limit Greenhouse Gases From New Coal Power Plants

Mississippi Power's Kemper County energy facility near DeKalb, Miss., seen under construction last year. Carbon dioxide will be captured from this plant and used to stimulate production of oil from existing wells.
Rogelio V. Solis AP

Originally published on Fri September 20, 2013 8:11 pm

The Environmental Protection Agency's second stab at a proposal to set the first-ever limits on greenhouse gas emissions from new power plants would make it impossible for companies to build the kind of coal-fired plants that have been the country's biggest source of electricity for decades.

Under the proposal, released Friday, any new plant that runs on coal would be permitted to emit only about half as much carbon dioxide as an average coal plant puts into the air today.

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World
5:16 pm
Thu September 19, 2013

Beloved Brazilian Monkey Clings To A Shrinking Forest

The wild population of the golden lion tamarin, which lives only in Brazil's Atlantic Forest, fell to just 200 in the 1970s. Conservationists have helped the species rebound, but the monkeys are still at risk as development encroaches on their remaining habitat.
Andrea Hsu NPR

Originally published on Fri September 20, 2013 11:15 am

The tiny, copper-hued golden lion tamarin is so beloved in Brazil that its image graces the country's 20-real bank note. But this lion-maned monkey is in peril.

There's only one place on earth where the golden lion tamarin lives in the wild: in Brazil's Atlantic Forest, or Mata Atlantica, just north of Rio de Janeiro. Deforestation in the region has reduced the monkey's habitat, once a massive ecosystem stretching for a half-million square miles, to just 2 percent of its original size.

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The Salt
4:25 pm
Thu September 19, 2013

Making Food From Flies (It's Not That Icky)

Black soldier flies mate and lay eggs inside these cages at EnviroFlight.
Dan Charles NPR

Originally published on Thu September 19, 2013 9:14 pm

In the quirky little college town of Yellow Springs, Ohio, home to many unconventional ideas over the years, there's now a small insect factory.

It's an unassuming operation, a generic boxy building in a small industrial park. It took me a while even to find a sign with the company's name: EnviroFlight. But its goal is grand: The people at EnviroFlight are hoping that their insects will help our planet grow more food while conserving land and water.

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