Environment

Environment
6:33 pm
Sun February 9, 2014

Kansas Mayor Says Sustainability Is About Community, Not Politics

The community of Greensburg, Kan., was hit hard by an F5 tornado in 2007. The event inspired one resident to run for mayor.
Charlie Riedel AP

Originally published on Mon February 10, 2014 1:36 pm

In Washington, the debate over what to do about climate change is split largely down party lines. But it hasn't always been that way.

Republican Sen. John McCain campaigned on the issue in his presidential runs. "Climate change is real," he said in 2007. "The Earth is warming, and it is the result of greenhouse gas emissions."

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Around the Nation
3:54 pm
Sun February 9, 2014

Prospectors See A Golden Lining In California's Drought

A man looks for gold in Woods Creek in Jamestown, Calif., in 2011.
David Paul Morris Getty Images

Originally published on Sun February 9, 2014 6:33 pm

Wayne Warren shakes wet dirt out of a plastic bucket and into a metal chute, tossing aside bigger rocks. For him, California's drought is golden.

Yes, golden. Warren is knee-deep in the San Gabriel River, an hour outside of Los Angeles. That chute next to him is a sluice box. The water washes away the dirt in a muddy cloud, and he leans over the box. Out of the creek, he taps his findings into a green, plastic gold pan and gives it a few swirls. What's left ...

"Sure is pretty in the sun, huh?" he says.

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The Two-Way
10:52 am
Sun February 9, 2014

Is It Enough Rain For Drought-Stricken California?

The cracked-dry bed of the Almaden Reservoir is seen on Friday, in San Jose, Calif.
Marcio Jose Sanchez AP

Originally published on Sun February 9, 2014 12:04 pm

California, which has been experiencing its worst drought on record, is welcoming some heavy rainfall this weekend, but it's still too early to say if it signals a wholesale quenching of dried up streams and farm fields.

NBC News says:

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Animals
8:00 am
Sun February 9, 2014

France Takes A Stand, Crushing Ivory Beneath The Eiffel Tower

Originally published on Sun February 9, 2014 11:44 am

Transcript

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR NEW. I'm Rachel Martin.

This past week, France became the first European country to destroy illegal ivory in a high profile public demonstration. It did so underneath the Eiffel Tower as part of a global effort to call attention to the illicit ivory trade. Officials say the trade not only wipes out the world's population of elephants, it also funds terrorism.

NPR's Eleanor Beardsley has the story.

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Environment
4:58 pm
Thu February 6, 2014

Bloomberg On Climate Change: Cities Are Leading The Way 'Right Now'

Originally published on Thu February 6, 2014 7:55 pm

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg made combating climate change a major focus during his time in office. Now, the billionaire businessman and philanthropist has a new international role to push his message. He has been appointed the U.N. special envoy for cities and climate change. Melissa Block talks with Bloomberg about the new job and what cities can do to fight climate change.

Around the Nation
7:06 pm
Wed February 5, 2014

More Than 80,000 Tons Of Coal Ash Flow Into N.C. River

Volunteers with the Dan River Basin Association, graduate students from Duke University and staff with the environmental group Appalachian Voices collect water samples on the Dan River after a massive coal ash spill.
Eric Chance Appalachian Voices

Originally published on Wed February 5, 2014 10:23 pm

Over the weekend at an old power plant in Eden, N.C., a stormwater pipe that goes under a coal ash pond broke, sending about 82,000 tons of ash into the Dan River.

The river stretches more than 200 miles from North Carolina, through Virginia and into the Atlantic Ocean. It's home to all sorts of wildlife, and a popular destination for fishermen and kayakers.

On Wednesday, Jennifer Edwards, with the Dan River Basin Association, was checking the water and sediment about a mile downriver from the spill.

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Science
4:42 pm
Wed February 5, 2014

Chemical Study Becomes A Tale of Conspiracy And Paranoia

Originally published on Wed February 5, 2014 10:23 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

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

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish. Now, the strange story of Tyrone Hayes. The biologist has devoted much of his career to studying a common herbicide used on corn, called atrazine; specifically, its effects on amphibians. Hayes believes the chemical impedes the sexual development of frogs, and he's publicly argued against the use of atrazine and criticized the corporation that makes it, Syngenta.

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The Salt
4:16 pm
Wed February 5, 2014

California Is So Dry, Some Diners Won't Get Water Unless They Ask

In California, some restaurants are changing their policy to serve water to patrons only upon request.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Sun February 9, 2014 5:39 pm

California's drought is getting very serious — so serious that even those water refills you didn't ask for at restaurants are now under scrutiny.

"We have not had this dry a time period in all of California's history since we've been keeping records — that's how bad it is," Rep. Jim Costa, D-Calif., who represents a district in the Central Valley, told reporters on Tuesday.

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Krulwich Wonders...
3:26 pm
Wed February 5, 2014

Big Fish Stories Getting Littler

Courtesy of Monroe County Public Library

They came, they fished, then snap! They posed. Right in front of their Big Catch — and thereby hangs a tale.

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Law
4:52 pm
Mon February 3, 2014

Undermanned And Limited, Chemical Safety Board Confronts A Crisis

Originally published on Mon February 3, 2014 7:33 pm

Transcript

BRIAN NAYLOR, BYLINE: I'm Brian Naylor in Washington.

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Krulwich Wonders...
8:46 am
Mon February 3, 2014

Can It Be? Pigeons, Geese And White-Tailed Deer Were Once Rare

Robert Krulwich NPR

Originally published on Mon February 3, 2014 4:47 pm

Go back 150 years and ask yourself, what was there a lot of?

We all know the answer ...

There were lots of buffalo, lots of passenger pigeons, lots of oysters. And then, poof! Hardly any. Or none ...

OK, let's flip the question: What were there precious few of 150 years ago, in a couple of cases almost to the point of extinction? The answer — believe it or not — is white-tailed deer, Canada geese and, arguably, ordinary pigeons.

I'm not kidding.

White Tailed Deer

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The Two-Way
11:24 am
Sun February 2, 2014

WATCH: Breathtaking New Video Of Felix Baumgartner's Record Jump

Felix Baumgartner taking the plunge from 24 miles up in his record-breaking 2012 jump.
Felix Baumgartner

Originally published on Mon February 3, 2014 12:21 pm

You might recall Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner's 2012 jump from a 24-mile-high balloon capsule, a height of 127,852 feet. He broke not only an altitude record, formerly set by a U.S. Air Force pilot, Col. Joe Kittinger, in 1960, but also a record for speed of descent, breaking the sound barrier on his plummet to the New Mexico desert.

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The Two-Way
7:42 am
Sun February 2, 2014

Shadow Seen! Groundhog Predicts 6 More Weeks Of Cold

Punxsutawney Phil is held by handler John Griffiths after emerging from his burrow to see his shadow and forecast six more weeks of winter weather.
Gene J. Puskar AP

Originally published on Sun February 2, 2014 8:36 am

Punxsutawney Phil, the "prognosticator of prognosticators" saw his shadow after being roused from hibernation just long enough to make his annual prediction.

That means ... six more weeks of winter.

The famous groundhog's handler, Bill Deely, made the pronouncement atop Gobbler's Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, at about 7:25 a.m. ET.

As The Associated Press reports:

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The Two-Way
4:09 pm
Sat February 1, 2014

At Least 14 Dead In Eruption Of Indonesian Volcano

Indonesian villagers flee as Mt. Sinabung spews volcanic materials in Karo, North Sumatra, Indonesia, on Saturday.
Chairaly EPA/Landov

Originally published on Sat February 1, 2014 6:34 pm

An Indonesian volcano that had been rumbling for months finally unleashed a deadly cloud of poisonous gas and gray ash, killing at least 14 people only a day after authorities had allowed thousands of evacuated villagers to return to their homes.

A series of huge blasts came from Mount Sinabung, a 8,530-foot-high volcano in western Sumatra, on Saturday, sending lava and pyroclastic flows down its slope into nearby settlements.

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The Two-Way
3:23 pm
Sat February 1, 2014

Punxsutawney Phil Vs. The Farmers' Almanac: Whom Do You Trust?

Turns out that Phil's only 39 percent accurate, about the same as The Farmers' Almanac and its rival, The Old Farmer's Almanac.
Keith Srakocic AP

Originally published on Sun February 2, 2014 10:16 am

Punxsutawney Phil, the weather forecasting groundhog, will be rudely rustled from his winter slumber Sunday morning to answer the question of the day: shadow or no shadow? Six more weeks of winter or an early spring?

Why this fascination with Phil? Well, scientifically speaking, long-range forecasting is at best a crapshoot.

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Politics
10:03 am
Sat February 1, 2014

State Department: Keystone XL Would Not Worsen Warming

Originally published on Sun February 2, 2014 12:00 am

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

The Keystone XL oil pipeline may be closer to being built. The U.S. State Department's released an environmental impact statement that says the project would not make climate change any worse, and it's now up to President Obama to decide the fate of the pipeline. NPR's Jeff Brady reports that environmental groups and many Democrats want the president to reject the review's findings.

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The Two-Way
8:37 am
Sat February 1, 2014

Scout Leaders Who Toppled Ancient Rock Formation Are Charged

A frame grab from a video taken by Dave Hall shows two men cheering after the Boy Scout leaders knocked over an ancient Utah desert rock formation at Goblin Valley State Park.
AP

Originally published on Sat February 1, 2014 10:49 am

A former Boy Scout leader who toppled an ancient rock formation in Utah's Goblin Valley State Park, and another Scout leader who videotaped the incident, are being charged with criminal mischief.

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Energy
5:46 pm
Fri January 31, 2014

State Dept. Delivers Unwelcome News For Keystone Opponents

A protest of the Keystone XL pipeline last March along its proposed route near Bradshaw, Nebraska.
NH AP

Originally published on Fri January 31, 2014 11:45 pm

The U.S. Department of State says Canada's production of tar sands crude, which has a bigger greenhouse gas footprint than other types of oil, is unlikely to be affected by the controversial Keystone XL pipeline proposal.

That assessment came Friday as part of a massive environmental review by the State Department — the analysis fills 11 volumes.

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The Two-Way
3:34 pm
Fri January 31, 2014

U.S. Issues Keystone XL Pipeline Environmental Review

Pipefitters work on construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline's southern portion outside Tulsa, Okla., last January.
PR Newswire

Originally published on Fri January 31, 2014 5:11 pm

The State Department says that production of Canadian tar-sand crude, which has a bigger greenhouse gas footprint than other types of oil, is unlikely to be increased if the Keystone XL pipeline goes ahead — and therefore would do little to contribute to climate change.

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Barbershop
12:31 pm
Fri January 31, 2014

The Super Bowl: Looking Forward To The 'Spectacle'

Originally published on Fri January 31, 2014 12:59 pm

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

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The Two-Way
11:15 am
Fri January 31, 2014

Australia OKs Dumping Dredged Mud In Great Barrier Reef Park

A tasseled wobbegong shark (top) lies on the seafloor with the head of a brown-banded bamboo shark in its mouth on the fringing reef of Great Keppel Island on Australia's Great Barrier Reef in August 2011.
Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Fri January 31, 2014 2:44 pm

Australian authorities have approved a controversial plan to dump dredged sediment in the Great Barrier Reef marine park, potentially upsetting one of the world's most fragile ecosystems.

The massive dredging operation would make way for deep-draft ships to enter the Abbot Point coal port in northern Queensland. About 106 million cubic feet of dredged mud will be dumped within the marine park under the plan, according to The Associated Press.

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Krulwich Wonders...
8:07 am
Fri January 31, 2014

A Hunk Of Planet Dissolves Before Our Eyes

Asia
5:10 am
Fri January 31, 2014

Air Quality Worries Dampen Chinese New Year Fireworks

Fireworks explode in a Shanghai street on Thursday, the eve of the Lunar New Year. Setting off firecrackers is meant to ward off evil spirits and bring good luck. But many Chinese say they won't buy firecrackers this year, owing to growing worries about air quality.
Peter Parks AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri January 31, 2014 1:56 pm

People in China rang in the Year of the Horse overnight with the traditional barrage of fireworks, but Lunar New Year's celebrations in some cities were quieter than usual. After severe pollution choked much of eastern China last year, many people swore off the ancient tradition so they could protect their lungs and the environment.

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Around the Nation
3:01 am
Fri January 31, 2014

Weeks Later, More Questions Than Answers In W.Va. Chemical Spill

Workers inspect an area near storage tanks where a chemical leaked into the Elk River at Freedom Industries storage facility in Charleston, W.Va., on Jan. 13. It is still unclear exactly how much of the chemicals leaked into the area's water supply.
Steve Helber AP

Originally published on Fri January 31, 2014 1:28 pm

State officials in West Virginia say that in most areas, they can no longer detect any of the industrial chemical MCHM that spilled into the water supply recently. They say the water is safe for people to drink and use — including most pregnant women. But other public health specialists say they don't trust these assurances.

"I think there's no way to know what the safe levels of the chemicals are at this point," says Dr. Rahul Gupta, director of the state's largest public health department. He's in charge of protecting 250,000 people whose water was affected by the spill.

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Environment
7:00 pm
Thu January 30, 2014

Changing Climate In Argentina Is Killing Penguin Chicks

A penguin nestling sounds off at the Punta Tombo reserve. Young birds that haven't yet traded a down coat for juvenile plumage "aren't waterproof — at all," says biologist Dee Boersma.
Maxi Jonas Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Thu January 30, 2014 8:00 pm

There's a patch of seashore along the coast of Argentina where hundreds of thousands of penguins make their home. It's called Punta Tombo. Dee Boersma, a conservation biologist at the University of Washington, has been going there for 30 years, and she's discovered that a changing climate is killing those penguins.

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Around the Nation
5:27 pm
Thu January 30, 2014

SpaceX Could Give Struggling Texas City A Boost

SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft atop rocket Falcon 9 lifts off from Cape Canaveral in Florida in May 2012. The launch made SpaceX the first commercial company to send a spacecraft to the International Space Station.
Roberto Gonzalez Getty Images

Originally published on Thu January 30, 2014 8:00 pm

The space company SpaceX has identified a remote spot on the southern tip of Texas as its finalist for construction of the world's newest commercial orbital launch site.

The 50-acre site really is at the end of the road. Texas Highway 4 abruptly ends at the warm waves of the Gulf surrounded by cactus, Spanish dagger and sand dunes.

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The Two-Way
1:35 pm
Thu January 30, 2014

This Photo Of Lake Michigan Will Make You Shiver

Lake Michigan, now partially frozen, as snow and clouds blow over.
NOAA

A photo posted by our friends at Michigan's Interlochen Public Radio is so cool we just had to know more about it and about what's going on with the Great Lakes during this extra-frigid winter.

As you'll see, the satellite image from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows clouds and snow blowing across the now partially ice-covered Lake Michigan.

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The Great Plains Oil Rush
3:27 am
Thu January 30, 2014

Much Of North Dakota's Natural Gas Is Going Up In Flames

Gas flaring near Highway 85 southwest of Williston. Analysts estimate that almost 30 percent of the gas being produced in the state is burned off.
Jeff Brady/NPR

Originally published on Thu January 30, 2014 11:44 am

A remarkable transformation is underway in western North Dakota, where an oil boom is changing the state's fortunes and leaving once-sleepy towns bursting at the seams. In a series of stories, NPR is exploring the economic, social and environmental demands of this modern-day gold rush.

North Dakota's oil boom isn't just about oil; a lot of natural gas comes out of the ground at the same time. But there's a problem with that: The state doesn't have the pipelines needed to transport all of that gas to market. There's also no place to store it.

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Around the Nation
1:36 pm
Wed January 29, 2014

How Industrial Chemical Regulation Failed West Virginia

Jonathan Steele, owner of Bluegrass Kitchen, fills a jug with bottled water from a tank he installed in the back of his Charleston restaurant.
Steve Helber AP

Originally published on Wed January 29, 2014 7:55 pm

On Jan. 9, people in and around Charleston, W.Va., began showing up at hospitals: They had nausea, eye infections and some were vomiting. It was later discovered that around 10,000 gallons of toxic chemicals had leaked into the Elk River, just upstream from a water treatment plant that serves 300,000 people. Citizens were told not to drink or bathe in the water, and while some people are now using water from their taps, many still don't trust it or the information coming from public officials.

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Author Interviews
2:17 pm
Tue January 28, 2014

Entrepreneurs Looking For 'Windfall' Cash In On Climate Change

A boat skims through the melting ice in the Ilulissat fjord in August 2008, on the western coast of Greenland.
Steen Ulrik Johannessen AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue January 28, 2014 2:48 pm

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