Environment

The Picture Show
9:18 am
Wed August 14, 2013

Capturing The Complexities Of The Colorado River

A major tributary of the Colorado River, the Dolores River Basin, is seen south of Grand Junction, Colo. Ken Neubecker, executive director of the Western Rivers Institute, talks about the connection of water and energy. "Water takes a lot of energy, a huge amount of energy; people don't realize it. We tend to take water for granted."
Heather Rousseau

As a photographer, how do you visualize something that can't always be seen? Like, how do you show the complex relationships between water, energy and modern society?

It's not easy, but that was my task as I worked on a photo essay for a capstone class at Ohio University last fall about life along the upper Colorado River.

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The Two-Way
12:36 pm
Tue August 13, 2013

Federal Court Says U.S. Must Complete Yucca Mountain Review

Originally published on Tue August 13, 2013 12:50 pm

A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that the Obama administration is breaking the law by delaying its review of a plan to store nuclear waste in Nevada. The court ruled that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission must complete its licensing process — that is, approve or reject — the Energy Department's plan for the waste site in Nevada.

NPR's Geoff Brumfiel filed this report for our Newscast unit:

"The Nuclear Regulatory Commission's original job was to issue or deny a license to build a nuclear waste dump inside Yucca Mountain, Nevada.

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The Salt
10:49 am
Tue August 13, 2013

Why Urban Beekeeping Can Be Bad For Bees

Beehive designer Johannes Paul (right) and Natural England's ecologist Peter Massini, with a brood frame colonized with bees from the "beehaus" beehive on the roof of his house in London in 2009.
Sang Tan AP

Originally published on Thu August 15, 2013 5:27 pm

Two British scientists are dumping cold water on campaigns to promote urban beekeeping. They say that trying to "help the bees" by setting out more hives is naive and misguided if the bees can't find enough flowers nearby to feed on. You'll just end up with sick and starving bees.

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Krulwich Wonders...
12:00 pm
Mon August 12, 2013

This Pulsing Earth

John Nelson IDV Solutions

It's breathing, he thought. "All of a sudden I see a thing with a heartbeat."

John Nelson is a designer, well known for tracing complex weather patterns or cultural information on maps, so considering what he usually does, this was easy. NASA's Visible Earth team publishes pictures of our planet every month of the year, so John thought, why not stitch them together, and see what the seasons look like from outer space?

So he stitched, and then looked.

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The Two-Way
9:23 am
Mon August 12, 2013

Resort Villa Collapses Into Sinkhole Near Disney World

An aerial view of the Summer Bay Resort in Clermont, Fla., shows a villa that collapsed into a sinkhole Sunday night.
WFTV AP

Originally published on Mon August 12, 2013 11:49 am

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Environment
5:23 pm
Sun August 11, 2013

The Algae Is Coming, But Its Impact Is Felt Far From Water

Chinese beachgoers walk by an algae-covered public beach in Qingdao, China, in July. The seas off China have been hit by their largest-ever growth of algae, ocean officials say, with waves of green growth washing onto the shores.
AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sun August 11, 2013 5:49 pm

Algae blooms are green or red or brown, slimy, smelly and you don't want it coming soon to a waterfront near you.

Most of us don't give a lot of thought to algae until the furry-like monstrosity is spreading over beaches, rivers, lakes and bays, but gigantic algae blooms have become an increasing problem around the world.

The danger algae blooms pose is that they sap the body of water where they are growing of nutrients and oxygen; they then die, decompose and rot.

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The Salt
12:40 pm
Fri August 9, 2013

Wine Waste Finds Sweet Afterlife In Baked Goods

At her bakery in Costa Mesa, Calif., Rachel Klemek sells cabernet brownies made with a flour substitute derived from grape pomace, a byproduct of winemaking packed with nutrients known as polyphenols.
Mariana Dale NPR

Originally published on Sat August 10, 2013 11:26 am

When winemakers crush the juice from grapes, what's left is a goopy pile of seeds, stems and skins called pomace. Until several years ago, these remains were more than likely destined for the dump.

"The pomace pile was one of the largest problems that the wine industry had with sustainability," says Paul Novak, general manager for WholeVine Products, a sister company to winemaker Kendall-Jackson in Northern California.

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Environment
12:00 pm
Fri August 9, 2013

Climate Update: Warming Temperatures

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released its annual "State of the Climate" assessment. Deke Arndt, an editor of the report, discusses warming temperatures and other climate trends from 2012. Plus, Sol Hsiang, who studies climate and violence, discusses his research connecting rising temperatures to increases in human conflict.

TED Radio Hour
10:01 am
Fri August 9, 2013

The Hackers

When typical solutions fall short, why not find a different way?
Thinkstock

Originally published on Fri December 6, 2013 10:08 am

A hacker is somebody who doesn't ask how something works — they just see what works. — Jay Silver

Science and technology now allow us to "hack" solutions to the biggest challenges of our time. But how far is too far? And what are the consequences of these hacks? In this hour, we hear stories from TED speakers who dare to hack the brain, the climate, and even the animal kingdom in hopes of creating a better world.

TED Radio Hour
10:01 am
Fri August 9, 2013

Can Hacking The Stratosphere Solve Climate Change?

Robert Leslie TED

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 1:43 pm

Part 3 of the TED Radio Hour episode The Hackers.

About David Keith's TEDTalk

Environmental scientist David Keith proposes a cheap and shocking way to address climate change: What if we inject a huge cloud of sulfur into the atmosphere to deflect sunlight and heat?

About David Keith

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TED Radio Hour
10:01 am
Fri August 9, 2013

Are We Ready To Hack The Animal Kingdom?

James Duncan Davidson TED

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 1:46 pm

Part 2 of the TED Radio Hour episode The Hackers.

About Stewart Brand's TEDTalk

Mankind has driven species after species extinct. Now Stewart Brand says, we have the technology to bring back the species that we wiped out. So should we? Which ones? He asks a big question whose answer is closer than you may think.

About Stewart Brand

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Environment
5:20 pm
Thu August 8, 2013

Swinging CO2 Levels Show The Earth Is 'Breathing' More Deeply

Plants accumulate carbon in the spring and summer, and they release it back into the atmosphere in the fall in winter. And a change in the landscape of the Arctic tundra, seen here, means that shrubs hold onto snow better, which keeps the organic-rich soils warmer and more likely to release carbon dioxide that's stored there.
Jean-Erick Pasquier Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

Originally published on Thu August 8, 2013 9:34 pm

Plant life on our planet soaks up a fair amount of the carbon dioxide that pours out of our tailpipes and smokestacks. Plants take it up during the summer and return some of it to the air in the winter. And a new study shows that those "breaths" have gotten deeper over the past 50 years.

This isn't just a curiosity. Plant life is helping to reduce the speed at which carbon dioxide is building up in our atmosphere. That's slowing the global warming, at least marginally, so scientists are eager to understand how this process works. The new study provides some clues.

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The Two-Way
3:42 pm
Thu August 8, 2013

NOAA: Hurricane Season On Track To Be 'Above Normal'

Image of Tropical Storm Dorian on July 24 from NOAA's GOES East satellite.
NOAA

Originally published on Thu August 8, 2013 6:13 pm

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration stuck by its earlier prediction today that the summer will bring with it an "above normal" Atlantic hurricane season.

NOAA reports:

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The Two-Way
11:12 am
Thu August 8, 2013

World-Record Snakehead Fish Caught In U.S.

Caleb Newton, who lives in Spotsylvania County, Va., holds the 17-pound, 6-ounce northern snakehead fish he caught in June. The International Game Fish Association has approved a world record for his catch of the invasive predator.
Griffin Moores The Free Lance-Star

Originally published on Thu August 8, 2013 11:59 am

A Virginia man has caught the largest northern snakehead on record with a rod and reel, landing a 17-pound, 6-ounce specimen of the fish often called "Frankenfish" for their monster-like appearance and tenacious survival skills.

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Environment
5:58 pm
Wed August 7, 2013

EPA Wants To Allow Continued Wastewater Dumping In Wyoming

More than 40 years ago, the EPA banned oil companies from releasing wastewater into the environment, but made an exception for the arid West. If livestock and wildlife can use the water, companies can release it. Cows like these grazing near a stream of waste on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming are supposedly the reason the EPA lets oil companies release their waste into the environment.
Elizabeth Shogren NPR

Originally published on Thu August 8, 2013 10:16 am

The Environmental Protection Agency is proposing to let oil companies continue to dump polluted wastewater on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming. This includes chemicals that companies add to the wells during hydraulic fracturing, an engineering practice that makes wells produce more oil.

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Animals
4:31 pm
Wed August 7, 2013

Climate Change Could Spell Final 'Chuckle' For Alpine Frog

The Cascades frog is found only in the alpine wetlands of the Pacific Northwest, though its range used to extend down to Northern California and up to British Columbia. Scientists are concerned its range will continue to shrink with climate change.
Ashley Ahearn KUOW

Originally published on Wed August 7, 2013 7:33 pm

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Parallels
1:59 pm
Wed August 7, 2013

'It's Too Hot': Shanghai Wilts In Record-Setting Heat Wave

People cool off Wednesday in a pool in Shanghai, where temperatures reached an all-time record: 105.4 degrees.
Frank Langfitt NPR

Originally published on Wed August 7, 2013 6:41 pm

Temperatures Wednesday in Shanghai hit an all-time high: 105.4 degrees, according to officials here. It was the hottest day in 140 years, since the government began keeping records.

The Chinese megacity is in the midst of its hottest summer ever.

Usually bustling streets are near empty at noon and thousands have gone to hospitals for relief. To get a feel for how people are handling the heat wave, I waded into a public pool in the city's Hankou district. By early afternoon, the temperature was 98 degrees in the shade, according to the thermometer I brought along.

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Environment
5:12 pm
Tue August 6, 2013

Wells Are Running Dry In Parts Of Kansas

Nate Pike fears that wells, like this one that supplies his ranch with water, will dry up completely after years of water pumping and irrigation in Kansas.
Frank Morris KCUR

Originally published on Tue August 6, 2013 7:27 pm

Imagine enough water to fill a couple of Great Lakes, but spread under some of the driest parts of eight Western states. That was the High Plains Aquifer 60 years ago.

But now, Nate Pike, whose been riding the dry rolling ranch lands south of Dodge City, Kan., for most of his 80 years, can't even go fishing at his favorite spring called St. Jacob's Well.

"And that thing had a lot of water in it. It never went down, never changed," he says. "But as you can see now, I can't believe I can't see the water from up here."

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Environment
5:12 pm
Tue August 6, 2013

Earth Scientists Pin Climate Change Squarely On 'Humanity'

Pedersen Glacier, 1917
Louis H. Pedersen climate.gov/National Snow and Ice Data Center

Originally published on Tue August 6, 2013 8:12 pm

The weather is one of those topics that is fairly easy for people to agree on. Climate, however, is something else.

Most of the scientists who study the Earth say our climate is changing and humans are part of what's making that happen. But to a lot of nonscientists it's still murky. This week, two of the nation's most venerable scientific institutions tried to explain it better.

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The Salt
4:54 pm
Tue August 6, 2013

Heck No Or Let's Go? Your Thoughts On Lab-Grown Meat

The scientists who developed the in vitro beef say it could help solve the coming food crisis and combat climate change.
David Parry / PA Wire

Originally published on Tue August 6, 2013 5:52 pm

Would you taste or buy a lab-grown hamburger if you could? That's the question we posed Monday at the end of our report on the world's first in vitro burger, launched this week at a tasting event in London that was streamed via the Internet.

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Around the Nation
3:42 am
Tue August 6, 2013

Dredging South Carolina's Rivers For Long-Forgotten Timber

Louis Marcell and Adam Jones prepare to search for old logs, known as sinker wood, on the bottom of Ashley River near Charleston, S.C. They use sonar and a book of old train lines to find the timber, some of which has been preserved in the mud since the 1800s.
Noam Eshel

Originally published on Tue August 6, 2013 12:56 pm

On the Ashley River, a few miles south of Charleston, S.C., the water is murky and the marsh grass high. A three-man logging crew is cruising on a 24-foot pontoon boat. It's low tide and logs are poking out everywhere.

Hewitt Emerson, owner of the Charleston-based reclaimed wood company Heartwood South, is in charge. He's going to an old saw mill site, but won't say exactly where. He's heading to Blackbeard's Creek, he says, as in pirate Blackbeard — the early 18th century scourge of the seas.

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The Salt
4:29 pm
Mon August 5, 2013

Long Awaited Lab-Grown Burger Is Unveiled In London

Scientists say commercial production of cultured beef could begin within 10 to 20 years.
David Parry / PA Wire

Originally published on Thu August 8, 2013 5:04 pm

After three months, $330,000 and a high-profile media blitz, the world's first hamburger grown in a lab made its worldwide debut Monday.

The unveiling of "cultured beef," as the burger is branded, was a production worthy of the Food Network era, complete with chatty host, live-streamed video, hand-picked taste testers, a top London chef and an eager audience (made up mostly of journalists). Rarely has a single food gotten such star treatment.

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The Salt
3:27 am
Mon August 5, 2013

Ecologists Turn To Planned Grazing To Revive Grassland Soil

Fox Ranch, outside Yuma County, Colo., is a 14,000-acre nature preserve and working commercial cattle ranch. The ranch is used by the Nature Conservancy to put into practice its panned grazing technique.
Luke Runyon Harvest Public Media

Originally published on Wed August 7, 2013 4:24 pm

The world's soil is in trouble. Ecologists say without dramatic changes to how we manage land, vast swathes of grassland are at risk of turning into hard-packed desert. To make sure that doesn't happen, researchers are testing out innovative ways to keep moisture in the soil.

In eastern Colorado, one way could be in the plodding hooves of cattle.

Conventional wisdom tells you that if ranchland ground has less grass, the problem is too many cows. But that's not always the case. It depends on how you manage them, if you make sure they keep moving.

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Environment
3:17 am
Fri August 2, 2013

Our Once And Future Oceans: Taking Lessons From Earth's Past

Changes to the acidity of the Earth's ancient oceans affected the coral reefs more than 50 million years ago. And researchers are using that information to try to predict how the planet might fare in our rapidly changing climate. Above, the Wheeler Reef section of the Great Barrier Reef.
Auscape UIG via Getty Images

Originally published on Wed September 4, 2013 12:48 pm

One of the most powerful ways to figure out how the Earth will respond to all the carbon dioxide we're putting into the atmosphere is to look back into the planet's history.

Paleontologists have spent a lot of time trying to understand a time, more than 50 million years ago, when the planet was much hotter than it is today. They're finding that the news isn't all bad when you take the long view.

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The Two-Way
8:52 pm
Wed July 31, 2013

Sold! First Parcels Auctioned For Future Offshore Wind Farms

The offshore wind farm in the North Sea near Borkum, Germany, is nearly complete. The Riffgat facility, seen here on June 23, includes 30 turbines, each with a generating capacity of 3.6 megawatts.
David Hecker Getty Images

Originally published on Fri August 2, 2013 6:01 pm

A Rhode Island company was the highest bidder in the federal government's first-ever auction for the right to build an offshore wind farm.

After 11 rounds, Deepwater Wind outbid two other companies for two patches of ocean off the coasts of Massachusetts and Rhode Island. The winning bid was $3.8 million.

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Energy
4:52 pm
Wed July 31, 2013

Canadian Regulators Investigate Mysterious Tar Sands Spills

Roughnecks build a drilling rig at the MEG Energy site near Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada. In addition to large, open-pit mining operations, tar sands oil can be extracted from the ground by pumping down high-pressure steam.
Michael S. Williamson The Washington Post/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed July 31, 2013 6:05 pm

Government regulators in Canada are investigating a series of mysterious oil spills around tar sands operations in Alberta. Thick oil is gurgling up unexpectedly from the ground instead of flowing through the wells that were built to collect it.

The spills are raising questions about a technology that's rapidly expanding to extract fossil fuels that could ultimately end up in the controversial Keystone XL pipeline.

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Environment
9:30 am
Tue July 30, 2013

The Wallops and Assateague Islands Report #17

An RQ-4 Global Hawk
Credit U.S. Air Force photo by Bobbi Zapka / http://www.af.mil/shared/media/photodb/photos/070301-F-9126Z-229.jpg

This week, Robin gets an update on the upcoming Antares rocket launch from Keith Koehler, NASA Public Affairs  Specialist. We also meet Miranda and Victoria, two Salisbury University students who are interns with NASA.

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Law
5:27 pm
Mon July 29, 2013

Legal Battles Over Land Rights, Pipelines Are On The Rise

The Crosstex NGL Pipeline is just one such project in the country that has forced long, unwanted legal battles between oil companies and landowners.
Mose Buchele KUT

Originally published on Wed July 31, 2013 9:01 pm

At Margaret O'Keefe's farm in East Texas, they grow high-quality Bermuda grass. The fields are flat and vibrant green, surrounded by woods of a darker, richer green. The family loves this land. O'Keefe inherited it from her mother, who divided it among eight children.

"She used to call it 'enchanted valley,' " O'Keefe says.

But her "enchanted valley" also lies in the path of the Crosstex NGL Pipeline.

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Environment
5:27 pm
Mon July 29, 2013

Once Resilient, Trees In The West Now More Vulnerable To Fires

The remains of a tree are seen in front of a boulder in the Dome Wilderness area of New Mexico in August 2012. The Las Conchas Fire torched the land in 2011, burning through more than 150,000 acres of forest.
David Gilkey NPR

Originally published on Thu August 22, 2013 2:24 pm

On any given day, there's a wildfire burning somewhere in the U.S. — and that's not necessarily a bad thing. Many western forests have evolved with fire, and actually benefit from the occasional wildfire.

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The Two-Way
11:44 am
Mon July 29, 2013

Hawaii Starts Feeling Effects Of Tropical Storm Flossie

Tropical Storm Flossie approaches Hawaii.
National Weather Service

Originally published on Mon July 29, 2013 1:19 pm

Almost all the Hawaiian islands are under a tropical storm warning.

The Honolulu Star Advertiser says the city of Hilo is already seeing rain and wind, as a weakened Tropical Storm Flossie moves closer. The storm is expected to hit the Big Island later this morning.

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