Environment

Climate change is doing more than melting Earth’s enormous polar ice sheets: It’s actually changing the Earth’s rotation.

As the ice melts and runs off into the oceans, the weight of all that mass shifts, causing the Earth to wobble slightly on its axis, explains NASA’s Erik Ivins, co-author of a new study that documents the change in the Earth’s rotation.

It’s a fascinating phenomenon, Ivins says, but has no major effects for humans.

As global warming melts more of the sea ice in the Arctic, it’s creating new economic opportunities — from shipping, to oil drilling to tourism. This summer, a 1,000-passenger luxury cruise ship will navigate the receding sea ice through the fabled Northwest Passage.

A federal judge in Oregon ruled that 21 young people have the right to sue the federal government for failing to properly protect future generations from the dangers of climate change.

When Africa’s Great Green Wall is finished, it will cross 11 countries, from Senegal and Mauritania in the west to Eritrea, Ethiopia and Djibouti in the east.

For those in charge of making this ambitious dream a reality, it’s not just about planting trees to hold back the desert.

“The Great Green Wall is about development; it’s about sustainable, climate-smart development, at all levels,” says Elvis Paul Tangam, the African Union Commissioner for the Sahara and Sahel Great Green Wall Initiative.

WBFO News File Photo

State environmental conservation officials are issuing guidance on how New Yorkers can avoid conflicts with coyotes as spring temperatures rise and the animals increase foraging.

New research from the London School of Economics estimates that a broad range of global stocks and other financial assets are overvalued because investment managers don’t take the risks of climate change into account.

The LSE research estimates financial assets worldwide are presently overvalued by $2.5 trillion — and, in the worst case, $24 trillion.

When area residents say they’re going to pitch in to help keep the environment clean, they mean it. More than eight tons of litter, trash and debris was collected during the Spring Shoreline Sweep hosted by the Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper on April 23.

Next-Gen Climate Activism

Apr 25, 2016

Student activists calling for a shift away from fossil fuels say that institutions that refuse to act forfeit their status as moral leaders. Harvard Law student Ted Hamilton discusses with host Steve Curwood the lawsuit that’s attempting to compel Harvard to divest its portfolio of fossil fuels, and the connections between divestment and the broader climate movement. (published April 22, 2016)

The 2016 Goldman Environmental Prizes

Apr 25, 2016

The Goldman Foundation annually honors six activists from around the world who have fought for the protection of the environment. The murder of one of last year’s winners, Berta Cáceres from Honduras, has put this year’s awards in an even brighter spotlight. Host Steve Curwood profiles this year’s winner from Latin America, Máxima Acuña of Peru, who fought a proposed gold mine on her farm, at the expense of being sent to jail and having her house knocked down and her potato crop destroyed. (published April 22, 2016)

UN Climate Chief Calls for Urgent Action

Apr 25, 2016

Earth Day 2016 brought a significant milestone for the Paris Agreement, as some 175 nations signed on at the UN Headquarters in New York City. Yet the ambitious goals of this climate agreement are not guaranteed without aggressive moves to curb carbon pollution. Host Steve Curwood sits down with Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, to discuss what’s required to give civilization a fighting chance. (published April 22, 2016)

Beyond the Headlines

Apr 25, 2016

Peter Dykstra and host Steve Curwood look at a remote indigenous tribe in Guyana that used the internet for plans to build a drone to monitor illegal deforestation, discuss Republican lawmakers and right-wing media who once accepted climate change, but have since flip-flopped, and look back at things that have gotten better, worse or stayed the same since the first Earth Day in 1970. (published April 22, 2016)

Living on Earth: April 22, 2016

Apr 25, 2016

UN Climate Chief Calls for Urgent Action / Paris and Climate Justice / Next-Gen Climate Activism / Beyond the Headlines / Happy Birthday, Living on Earth! / The 2016 Goldman Environmental Prizes / The 2016 North American Goldman Prize Winner, a Student from Baltimore

ANGELICA A. MORRISON / WBFO

A tiny fish has been making a big splash in local aquatic research. The emerald shiner is the focus of a research project at Buffalo State’s Great Lakes Center. The bite-sized specimen is only a few inches long, but it plays a big role in the local aquatic system.

Michael Mroziak, WBFO

On Earth Day 2016, officials from the City of Buffalo delivered statistics showing an increase in recycling by residents. Leaders are hopeful the upward trend will continue as the city looks to reach the goal of an initiative introduced one year ago.


ANGELICA A. MORRISON / WBFO

Joggers whisk by in pairs or with pets along the path at the Delaware Park Marcy Casino. It’s a typical late spring morning with trees budding, water fowl floating in Hoyt Lake and the sour aroma of the Scajaquada Creek wafting in the air.

Western New York is receiving mixed grades in a new report on air pollution.

For years, women in the US Forest Service and at some national parks have complained about a hostile work environment.

Now, an investigation by the Inspector General of the Department of the Interior has confirmed that at one iconic site, Grand Canyon National Park, there has been a long-term pattern of sexual harassment.

Fighting the haze at the Grand Canyon

Apr 17, 2016

Back in 2009, industrial giant Cemex wanted to build a new plant near the Grand Canyon. Opposition forced the company to relocate the project farther away. Nevertheless, the battle to preserve air quality and visibility at the canyon is ongoing.

A federal judge in Oregon has found that 21 young people have the right to sue the federal government for failing to properly protect future generations from the dangers of climate change. Vermont Law Professor Pat Parenteau tells host Steve Curwood it’s a surprising and perhaps landmark decision that shows climate change is a unique challenge for the legal system. (published April 15, 2016)

Beyond the Headlines

Apr 16, 2016

This week, Peter Dykstra and host Steve Curwood discuss the fact that the numbers of wild tigers are growing, that responses to replacing lead water pipes differ from city to city and look back on Aaron Burr, who proposed a municipal water system for New York City in the 18th century, but later as vice-president shot Alexander Hamilton. (published April 15, 2016)

BirdNote: Spider Silk and Birds’ Nests

Apr 16, 2016

In nesting season, ingenious birds make use of many objects they find to construct a snug home for their eggs. But as Michael Stein reveals, some small birds like kinglets and hummingbirds have found that spider silk collected from webs is just the thing to hold nests together, the bird equivalent of duct tape. (published April 15, 2016)

Living on Earth: April 15, 2016

Apr 16, 2016

Youth Win Right to Sue Feds Over Climate Change / Beyond the Headlines / I Feel the Earth Move / Controversial Arctic Cruise / BirdNote: Spider Silk and Birds’ Nests / Revisiting Africa’s Great Green Wall / Great Green Wonder of the World / Elephant Matriarch Puts Her Foot Down

Revisiting Africa’s Great Green Wall

Apr 16, 2016

As human activity puts pressure on land in Africa and the planet warms, the Sahara desert threatens to overtake the arid Sahel region. But a bold initiative to plant a wall of trees 4,300 miles long across the continent could keep back the sands of the Sahara, improve degraded lands, and help alleviate poverty. We return to a 2012 Living on Earth story on the Great Green Wall, reported by Living on Earth’s Bobby Bascomb in Senegal. (published April 15, 2016)

I Feel the Earth Move

Apr 16, 2016

Climate change is doing more than melting ice sheets. It’s actually changing the Earth’s rotation. NASA’s Erik Ivins tells host Steve Curwood that the planet resembles a large top wobbling on its axis as the weight of ice lifts, but the wobble has no major effects for humans. (published April 15, 2016)

Great Green Wonder of the World

Apr 16, 2016

Africa’s Great Green Wall is making slow progress, and helping provide employment to keep young people on the land. Living on Earth’s Helen Palmer reports on the hopes for the project to help local economies and the environment. (published April 15, 2016)


From Living on Earth ©2016 World Media Foundation

Elephant Matriarch Puts Her Foot Down

Apr 16, 2016

On a blistering day at an African watering hole, Living on Earth’s Resident Explorer Mark Seth Lender witnesses a confrontation between basking crocodiles and a small herd of elephants seeking to quench their thirst. (published April 15, 2016)


From Living on Earth ©2016 World Media Foundation

Two major financiers of the Agua Zarca dam project in Honduras have suspended their financial support in the wake of the high-profile murders of Berta Cáceres and Nelson Garcia, activists who opposed the dam.

What's the story behind the famous London Fog?

Apr 13, 2016
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REUTERS/Toby Melville

Cities have unique signatures — and for London, it's fog. A century ago, acrid, corrosive, soot-laden smog killed thousands and shrouded the city in darkness. Yet some Londoners felt affection for the fog, dubbing it “the London Particular.”  

New research suggests that the snowiest winters on the East Coast are fueled by moisture being pumped out of the Arctic Ocean.

The study, which drew on more than 40 years of water samples taken at the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest in New Hampshire, found that much of the precipitation in snowy years in that New Hampshire forest, originated in the Arctic.

In the US, the cost of illnesses triggered by air pollution is falling

Apr 12, 2016
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Robert Galbraith/Reuters

In the endless tug-of-war between industry and regulators over air pollution, industry issues repeated warnings about the economic costs of regulation, but rarely mentions costs of pollution to society. Yet, according to the World Health Organization, air pollution causes 3.3 million premature deaths worldwide.

In the US, where more than 200 coal-fired power plants have been retired in recent years, data indicates that lowering the amounts of fine particle pollution is generating significant public health dividends and lowering the overall cost to society.

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