Environment

Environment
4:56 pm
Tue November 5, 2013

Thanks To Parasites, Moose Are Looking More Like Ghosts

A large bull moose is inspected by a hunter at a weigh station in Maine.
Robert F. Bukaty AP

Originally published on Tue November 5, 2013 6:48 pm

The news for moose is not good across the country's northern tier and in some parts of Canada. A recent and rapid decline of moose populations in many states may be linked to climate change, and to the parasites that benefit from it.

In Minnesota, moose populations have dropped from a high of more than 12,000 two decades ago to fewer than 3,000 now. Moose in some parts of Manitoba have declined by 50 percent and more.

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NPR Story
5:07 pm
Sun November 3, 2013

How An Aqueduct Turned Los Angeles Into A 'Garden Of Eden'

Los Angeles saw a dramatic boom in growth after the construction of the Los Angeles Aqueduct in 1913. The system delivers water from the Owens River in the Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains to the city.
Mark J. Terrill AP

Originally published on Mon November 4, 2013 12:36 pm

Today the beauty of Los Angeles is dramatically symbolic of the ancient prophecy the desert shall "blossom like a rose."

This blossoming was made possible by the birth of the Los Angeles Aqueduct, opened 100 years ago this month. The opening of the aqueduct might as well have been the birth of the modern West and the image of the city as a Garden of Eden.

The vast quantities of water the aqueduct moved made Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Phoenix and other cities across the region possible.

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Environment
12:26 pm
Fri November 1, 2013

Hurricane Sandy Recovery, One Year Later

A year after Hurricane Sandy, recovery efforts are still ongoing, and questions remain about how to rebuild and prepare the coastlines for the next storm. A group of experts discusses rebuilding and protective options — from sea walls to "oyster-tecture" — and considers calls for a "managed retreat" from the shore.

The Salt
3:18 am
Fri November 1, 2013

Are Farm Veterinarians Pushing Too Many Antibiotics?

Cattle crowd inside a feedlot operated by JBS Five Rivers Colorado Beef in Wiley, Colo.
John Moore Getty Images

Originally published on Mon November 18, 2013 5:27 pm

In a barn outside Manhattan, Kan., researchers from Kansas State University are trying to solve the riddle of bovine respiratory disease. They're sticking plastic rods down the noses of 6-month old calves, collecting samples of bacteria.

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The Salt
5:08 pm
Thu October 31, 2013

Heat, Drought Draw Farmers Back To Sorghum, The 'Camel Of Crops'

A test field of sorghum outside Manhattan, Kan., planted by Kansas State University.
Dan Charles NPR

Originally published on Thu October 31, 2013 9:07 pm

Much of the world is turning hotter and dryer these days, and it's opening new doors for a water-saving cereal that's been called "the camel of crops": sorghum. In an odd twist, this old-fashioned crop even seems to be catching on among consumers who are looking for "ancient grains" that have been relatively untouched by modern agriculture.

Sorghum isn't nearly as famous as the big three of global agriculture: corn, rice and wheat. But maybe it should be. It's a plant for tough times, and tough places.

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Superstorm Sandy: Before, During And Beyond
4:08 pm
Wed October 30, 2013

In Sandy's Wake, Flood Zones And Insurance Rates Re-Examined

An emergency responder helps evacuate two people with a boat after their neighborhood in Little Ferry, N.J., was flooded.
Andrew Burton Getty Images

Originally published on Wed October 30, 2013 6:00 pm

When Sandy blew into East Coast communities a year ago, it was flooding that did the most damage.

That's in part because the average sea level has risen over the past century — about a foot along the mid-Atlantic coast. That made it easier for the storm to push the ocean onto the land.

And scientists say there will be many more Sandy-style storms — that is, torrential rain and wind that create heavy coastal flooding — and they'll be more frequent than in the past. But preparing people for that means changing the way they live, and that's proving politically difficult.

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The Salt
11:09 am
Wed October 30, 2013

How Much Water Actually Goes Into Making A Bottle Of Water?

The amount of water to make the bottle could be up to six or seven times what's inside the bottle, according to the Water Footprint Network.
Steven Depolo Flickr

Originally published on Wed October 30, 2013 12:22 pm

Environmental activists have long claimed that bottled water is wasteful. Usually, they point to the roughly 50 billion (mostly plastic) bottles we throw away every year.

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Environment
5:59 pm
Sun October 27, 2013

Predicting Quakes Still Shaky, But Being Prepared Is Crucial

Cars lie smashed by the collapsed Interstate 5 connector a few hours after the Northridge earthquake on Jan. 17, 1994, in California.
AFP/Getty Images

Morning recess at St. Augustine Catholic School in Culver City, Calif., is like recess in many other schools. Children run and play in the afternoon sun. But nearby, away from the basketball hoops and the games of tag, the staff is preparing.

Next to the playground sits a cargo container full of supplies: water, duct tape, an axe, a shovel and a generator along with gasoline. All of these supplies are here just in case the freeways are cut off or the power goes out — in case there is a major, destructive earthquake.

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Around the Nation
8:00 am
Sun October 27, 2013

Is Rebuilding Storm-Struck Coastlines Worth The Cost?

The Long Beach High School marching band prepares to march down the Long Beach boardwalk during a ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday.
Andrew Burton Getty Images

Originally published on Sun October 27, 2013 2:10 pm

One year ago Tuesday, Hurricane Sandy bore down on the East Coast, devastating shoreline communities from Florida to Maine.

Many of these areas have been rebuilt, including the Long Beach boardwalk, about 30 miles outside New York City. Officials held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new boardwalk Friday.

Ninety percent of the funding for the restoration came from the federal government. The Federal Emergency Management Agency paid $44 million to repair the devastation.

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Environment
12:47 pm
Fri October 25, 2013

Climate Change Aids Toxic Slime's Advance

Sewage and fertilizer runoff into China's Lake Taihu have fed a nasty bloom: an annual explosion of frothy cyanobacteria, which release neurotoxins into the lake. Hans Paerl, a marine and environmental scientist who studies Lake Taihu, says the warmer temperatures brought by climate change only contribute to the slime's advance.

The Salt
10:00 am
Thu October 24, 2013

Report: Meat Producers Ignore Pleas For Health, Environmental Reform

Chickens in a mechanized hatchery in Monroe County, Ala.
Buyenlarge/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu October 24, 2013 10:41 am

Five years ago, a landmark report excoriated the animal agriculture industry's practices and laid out a road map for how it could do better. But in the years since, the problems are just as bad — and maybe even worse.

That's the conclusion of the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future. This week, the center scolded the industry again with a review of how it has fared in the years since the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production released its original report.

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Environment
6:00 pm
Wed October 23, 2013

Delegates To Debate Watered-Down Plan For Antarctic Marine Preserve

A lone emperor penguin makes his rounds, at the edge of an iceberg drift in the Antarctic's Ross Sea in 2006.
John Weller AP

Originally published on Wed October 23, 2013 7:57 pm

Less than 1 percent of the world's oceans are set aside as protected areas, but diplomats meeting now in Australia could substantially increase that figure.

Delegates from 24 nations and the European Union have convened to consider proposals to create vast new marine protected areas around Antarctica.

This same group met over the summer and didn't reach consensus, so it's now considering a scaled-back proposal.

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The Salt
4:41 pm
Wed October 23, 2013

Are You A Sage Foodie? A Quiz To Test Your Food Literacy

Screenshot of the Food Literacy Quiz

Originally published on Wed October 23, 2013 6:06 pm

So, Food Day is almost upon us (it's Oct 24). And maybe it's time to test your mettle.

The folks behind this celebration have devised a Food Literacy Quiz to gauge your knowledge of all things food — from farm to table.

Think you know tomatoes? Well, by evaluating a series of photos shown in the first question of the quiz, you may learn something about how its seeds are dispersed.

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The Two-Way
11:10 am
Wed October 23, 2013

Norwegian Town's Bright Idea Is A Shining Example Of Ingenuity

People gathered on a spot in front of the town hall of Rjukan, Norway, last week, where mirrors have focused sunlight.
AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed October 23, 2013 2:22 pm

Archimedes would be proud of the town of Rjukan, Norway. So would Sam Eyde.

Rjukan, home to about 3,500 residents and situated about 70 miles west of the capital, Oslo, has installed a trio of giant mountaintop mirrors to focus light into the valley town's square during the cold (and dark) winter months.

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Environment
5:19 am
Wed October 23, 2013

Diplomats Try For Deal Protecting Marine Life Near Antarctica

Originally published on Wed October 23, 2013 6:47 am

Diplomats are trying once again to preserve a vast swath of the ocean around Antarctica. Delegates from 24 nations and the European Union are meeting in Australia now, where they will consider proposals to create a marine protected area that would curtail fishing in the Ross Sea. Previous efforts have failed, but advocates say a scaled-back proposal this time around may stand a better chance.

Around the Nation
4:54 pm
Tue October 22, 2013

15 Years Of Wrangling Over Yellowstone Snowmobiles Ends

A bison crosses a road ahead of a herd of snowmobilers in Yellowstone National Park in 2003. New federal rules announced Tuesday will further restrict the noise and exhaust such vehicles are allowed to emit inside the park.
Craig Moore AP

Originally published on Tue October 22, 2013 9:08 pm

The U.S. government Tuesday announced new rules for snowmobiles in Yellowstone that should make the country's oldest national park cleaner and quieter.

The rules were 15 years in the making because of intense wrangling between snowmobile operators and environmentalists. But both groups support the plan and give credit to snowmobile makers for designing cleaner machines.

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Environment
4:54 pm
Tue October 22, 2013

Despite Efforts, The Rio Grande Is One Dirty Border

Kayakers head out on the Rio Grande toward one of the international bridges that connect Laredo, Texas, and the town of Nuevo Laredo in Mexico. Raw sewage and animal carcasses float in the water.
Neena Satija Texas Tribune

Originally published on Tue October 22, 2013 7:13 pm

There's one easy way to find out how bad the water quality is in the Rio Grande: get into a kayak.

Paddle through chocolate brown water in Laredo and the overwhelming smell makes it hard to breathe. A dog's carcass floats by; there are many dead fish, too.

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The Two-Way
4:27 pm
Tue October 22, 2013

In Cost-Cutting Move, NOAA To Stop Printing Nautical Charts

This undated photo made available by NOAA shows a computer displaying an electronic nautical chart aboard a ship.
AP

Originally published on Wed October 23, 2013 11:21 am

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the federal agency charged with surveying the nation's navigable waters to help keep mariners off the rocks and out of the shallows, will cease printing paper charts after mid-April.

Partly as a cost-saving measure, the NOAA's Office of Coast Survey will offer charts only via on-demand printing, as PDFs or electronic charts.

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Business
3:17 am
Tue October 22, 2013

Michigan Apple Harvest Recovers, But Pickers Are Scarce

Apples sit in a bin after being harvested at Riveridge Produce in Sparta, Mich. The apple harvest in Michigan this year is projected to be about ten times larger than in 2012.
Noah Adams NPR

Originally published on Tue October 22, 2013 10:29 am

One year ago the Michigan apple harvest, hurt by a late winter warm-up and a spring freeze, was almost nonexistent at 3 million bushels. This fall, the crop is projected to yield a record-setting 30 million bushels, but now there's concern that not enough pickers will be in the orchards.

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The Salt
3:38 pm
Mon October 21, 2013

Kansas Farmers Commit To Taking Less Water From The Ground

The long arms of pivot irrigation rigs deliver water from the Ogallala Aquifer to circular fields of corn in northwestern Kansas.
Dan Charles NPR

Originally published on Tue October 22, 2013 12:38 pm

If you've flown across Nebraska, Kansas or western Texas on a clear day, you've seen them: geometrically arranged circles of green and brown on the landscape, typically half a mile in diameter. They're the result of pivot irrigation, in which long pipes-on-wheels rotate slowly around a central point, spreading water across cornfields.

Yet most of those fields are doomed. The water that nourishes them eventually will run low.

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Science
5:43 pm
Sun October 20, 2013

To Fix Climate Change, Scientists Turn To Hacking The Earth

Originally published on Mon October 21, 2013 2:52 pm

In the summer of 2012, a small group of the Haida people, a native community in Canada, had a problem. The salmon they rely on were disappearing. So the Haida took matters into their own hands.

They partnered with an American businessman, drew up plans and then took a boat full of iron dust into the waters off their home island and put the dust in the ocean.

When they spread the iron dust, it created a big algae bloom. They hoped the algae would soak up carbon dioxide and bring back the fish.

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Books
5:39 pm
Sun October 20, 2013

For The Ultimate Getaway, Why Not South Sudan?

Most people associate the Nile with Egypt, but the river also flows through South Sudan, where much of it is bordered by jungle. That makes it a excellent destination for rafting and wildlife enthusiasts, says travel guide author Max Lovell-Hoare.
Courtesy of Levison Wood/Secret Compass

Originally published on Sun October 20, 2013 8:02 pm

With cooler temperatures approaching, you might be in the market for a perfect wintertime vacation. Maybe someplace sunny and warm, unspoiled by tourists, with beautiful views and rich culture.

To find all that, you might consider South Sudan. That's the suggestion from Sophie and Max Lovell-Hoare, authors of the Bradt Travel Guide to the young country.

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Science
5:19 pm
Sun October 20, 2013

Climate Watcher Says He's Done With Flying

Originally published on Sun October 20, 2013 8:02 pm

Meteorologist Eric Holthaus has made his career monitoring the Earth's climate, and he's alarmed at what he sees. After reading a new, bleak international report on climate change, Holthaus has decided one important way to reduce his carbon footprint is to give up airplane travel for good.

The Salt
3:58 pm
Fri October 18, 2013

A Fight Over Vineyards Pits Redwoods Against Red Wine

Environmental groups are fighting to stop the leveling of 154 acres of coast redwoods and Douglas firs to make way for grapevines.
Courtesy Friends of the Gualala River

Originally published on Fri October 18, 2013 6:18 pm

In the California wine mecca of Sonoma County, climate change is pitting redwood lovers against red wine lovers.

This Friday morning, a coalition of environmental groups are in a Santa Rosa, Calif., courtroom fighting to stop a Spanish-owned winery from leveling 154 acres of coast redwoods and Douglas firs to make way for grapevines.

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Science
1:48 pm
Fri October 18, 2013

Vines Choking Out Trees in the Tropics

Transcript

JOHN DANKOSKY, HOST:

This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm John Dankosky.

If you've ever walked through the jungle, you'll know it can be surprisingly dark down on the forest floor. You see trees soaring up all around. You're creating a dense canopy overhead. And climbing toward that canopy, snaking up the trees are the vines.

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Environment
4:38 am
Thu October 17, 2013

Fuel Efficiency Standards Live On After 1973 Oil Embargo

Originally published on Thu October 17, 2013 10:23 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

This year is the 40th anniversary of the OPEC oil embargo - an event that has shaped our nation's politics and the cars we drive ever since. In 1973, the Arab world decided to cut oil exports to punish nations that supported Israel during its war with Egypt and Syria. While the embargo only lasted several months, it triggered an energy crisis that lasted for years. NPR's Richard Harris reports on the ways we are still feel those effects today.

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The Salt
3:20 pm
Wed October 16, 2013

Here's A Reason To Love Disco Again: Stopping Food Waste

Tristram Stuart, founder of Feeding the 5000, is helping to organize several disco soup events across Europe for World Food Day.
Courtesy of Feeding the 5000

Originally published on Wed October 16, 2013 6:33 pm

Wednesday is World Food Day, an occasion food activists like to use to call attention to world hunger. With 842 million chronically undernourished people on Earth, it's a problem that hasn't gone away.

This year, activists are trying to make the day a little spicier with pots full of disco soup to highlight the absurd amount of food thrown away that could feed people: one-third of all the food produced every year.

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Parallels
12:51 pm
Wed October 16, 2013

As Greenland Seeks Economic Development, Is Uranium The Way?

Workers stand inside the gold mine in Greenland's Nulanaq mountain in 2009. The Danish territory's underground wealth was at the forefront of elections in March. Now, Greenland faces another dilemma: whether to end a zero-tolerance policy on uranium extraction.
Adrian Joachim AP

Originally published on Wed October 16, 2013 6:39 pm

Karen Hanghoj, a scientist with Denmark's Geological Survey, points to the southern tip of Greenland on a colorful map hanging in her office.

"What you can see here in the southern region here is you have a big pink region," she says. "And then within the pink region, you see you have all these little purple dots.

"And what the purple dots are is a later period of rifting. These complexes have these weird chemistries and have these very, very strange minerals in them," she adds.

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Environment
2:57 am
Wed October 16, 2013

Fuel In The Fire: Burn Wood For Power Or Leave It To Nature

At more than 400 square miles, the Rim Fire is the largest Sierra Nevada fire in recorded history.
Mike McMillan US Forest Service

Originally published on Wed October 16, 2013 12:59 pm

The record-breaking wildfire in Yosemite National Park is almost fully contained, two months after it started. The blaze calls attention to a problem across the western U.S.: After a century of having its fires routinely extinguished, the forests are overloaded with fuel.

A heated debate has flared up about what to do with that forest fuel. California is hoping to reduce its fire risk through renewable energy, but some worry about the environmental costs of thinning the forests.

'It Was Torched'

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The Salt
10:44 am
Tue October 15, 2013

Farm Families Pick Massive Corn Harvest As Prices Shrink

Curt Friesen is a fourth-generation farmer in central Nebraska.
Grant Gerlock for NPR

Originally published on Tue October 15, 2013 2:39 pm

Corn prices are down and the farm bill is stalled in Congress. So there's a lot of uncertainly in the air as harvest season gets into full swing across the Midwest. But this is a time of year when farm families like the Friesens in Henderson, Neb., come together to focus on the big task at hand: the corn harvest.

Everyone in the family has a job to do.

"Like my dad — he drives auger wagon," Curt Friesen says. "He drives auger wagon only. That's all he's done since 1976, I think. ... My wife, Nancy, she drives the combine; that's her job."

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