Environment

While discussions about climate change usually center on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, Eric Toensmeier is focused on the other side of the equation: how to capture the carbon dioxide that's already in the atmosphere.  And he thinks the answer might be in his backyard garden. At one-tenth of an acre, Toensmeier’s garden in Holyoke, Massachusetts, is not a large space. But with 300 varieties of perennial crops, his experiments on growing them in different configurations — to increase...

WBFO File Photo

The air coming off the Tonawanda Coke plant is considerably cleaner than it was. That was the message two state officials delivered to a public meeting in the Town of Tonawanda Tuesday night.

Deep in an icy mountain not far from the north pole are rows upon rows of boxes filled with seeds — nearly a million samples gathered from the seed collections of nations around the globe. This is the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. The vault, says its founder, Cary Fowler, is “the backup insurance policy for all the seed banks around the world." Fowler has just come out with a book featuring stunning photography called, " Seeds on Ice ," which tells the story of the seed vault's founding and its...

The Army Corps of Engineers has denied a permit for the construction of a key section of the Dakota Access Pipeline, granting a major victory to protesters who have been demonstrating for months. The decision essentially halts the construction on the 1,172-mile oil pipeline just north of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. Thousands of demonstrators from across the country had flocked to North Dakota in protest. "Our prayers have been answered," National Congress of American Indians...

US President-elect Donald Trump campaigned on a promise to “rip up” the Paris climate agreement. But at the first official meeting of the parties to the agreement, other nations expressed their determination to implement the deal and to continue their work on climate protection, even if the US withdraws. Trump’s rejection of the Paris Agreement has generated “an unprecedented sense of solidarity among all the countries,” says Alden Meyer, director of strategy and policy for the Union of...

Anti-poaching efforts may get a boost from a DNA database for rhino horn

Nov 27, 2016
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gmacfadyen/Flickr

Of the world’s endangered animal species, none faces a more dire situation than rhinos. With just 25,000 or so rhinos left in in the world, the threat of extinction looms large. But now an international database that keeps track of 75 percent of them may offer some hope. South African law requires that a tissue sample be collected any time a rhino is moved from one park to another or receives medical care. The sample is used to create a DNA profile for each animal that can be recorded and, in...

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Reuters/James Akena

International negotiators have reached a landmark agreement to phase out the manufacture and use of heat-trapping chemical coolants known as hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). In 1987, under the Montreal Protocol, nations agreed to replace chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) with hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), when scientists found that CFCs were destroying the ozone layer that shields Earth from cancer-causing ultraviolet radiation. HFCs don’t harm ozone nearly to the degree as CFCs, but they are potent...

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 Cloudtail the Snow Leopard/Flickr 

A new report from the World Wildlife Fund and the Zoological Society of London says global wildlife populations have declined by almost 60 percent since the 1970s — and the losses continue. The two organizations jointly release a biennial  Living Planet report  that assesses how the natural world is coping with the stress of rising human population. The outlook for the world’s wildlife is grim, according to Colby Loucks, the senior director of the Wildlife Conservation Program for WWF. “The...

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Gage Skidmore/Flickr

Starting in January 2017, Republicans will control the White House and both branches of Congress, which suggests a vastly different outlook for the US on issues related to the environment, global warming and energy. Based on the promises President-elect Donald Trump made on the campaign trail, “advocates of clean energy and strong environmental protection have almost nothing to cheer about,” says Peter Dykstra of DailyClimate.org and Environmental Health News. “For the most part, Trump’s...

As the story goes, Native Americans — specifically, Algonquins — introduced the Pilgrims to the cranberry at Plymouth, Massachusetts. Nowadays, the tart, bright red fruit holds an honored place at the traditional American Thanksgiving feast. Few cranberry growers have come to the modern organic movement, however. A rare exception is the popular 140-year-old Ruesch Century Farm near Vesper, Wisconsin, which advertises itself as “the world’s smallest organic cranberry bog.” The Ruesch Farm uses...

International negotiators have established the world’s largest "marine protected area" off the coast of West Antarctica. It is the first of its kind to be established in international waters. On Oct. 28, the EU and 24 nations of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, known as CCAMLR (pronounced “Cammelar”) agreed to protect 600,000 square miles of the Ross Sea — an area perhaps best known for its emperor penguins. Now, some of the richest and most pristine...

The BagShare Project offers a creative and simple solution to the global problem of plastic bags: sewing and sharing handmade, reusable bags from scrap materials. The project is the brainchild of Leni Fried, an artist from Cummington, Massachesetts. She began BagShare in 2007 , and since then, she estimates, volunteers have made about 15,000 bags at community sewing events. Bags are donated to local stores, where customers can borrow them — instead of using disposable bags. “It’s kind of...

Elon Musk, the co-founder of Tesla motors and SpaceX, has announced a new line of attractive roofing tiles that can capture energy from the sun. Along with a home battery, called the Power Wall, and a Tesla electric car, the new roofing tiles could form a complete personal solar power system for an individual residential home. To achieve his vision, Musk is pushing for a merger of two companies in which he's the largest shareholder: Tesla and the home solar company, SolarCity. “Fundamentally,...

Nuclear power plant sale approved

Nov 18, 2016
Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

The New York Public Service Commission voted unanimously Thursday to approve the sale of the FitzPatrick Nuclear Power Plant on Lake Ontario, an essential component to its completion.

Nuclear plant sale faces critical deadline

Nov 17, 2016
Nuclaer Regulatory Commission

The New York State Public Service Commission is meeting today to approve the sale of the Fitzpatrick Nuclear Power Plant on the shore of Lake Ontario. It is one of two deadlines New York state must meet this week in order to ensure the nuclear plant does not close.

America is a nation of cat lovers. In the US, house cats outnumber dogs three to one. But the reality is that cats don’t always bother to love us back — nor do they need to, since we provide for them anyway. How did cats get such a sweet deal? Abigail Tucker tries to answer that question in her new book, " The Lion in the Living Room: How House Cats Tamed Us and Took Over the World. " “It’s really kind of a staggering success story, because there are at least 600 million — some people think...

Wildlife trafficking is on the ballot in Oregon

Nov 7, 2016

When Oregon voters go to the polls this week, they will decide whether to ban the buying and selling of illegal animal products, such as ivory and jaguar skins. The 12 species covered by  ballot Measure 100 are being poached internationally at high rates and many are threatened with extinction. Supporters say Oregonians should do their part in the fight against animal trafficking with a “yes” vote. If the measure passes, Oregon will join neighbors California and Washington in having such a...

Last summer, I stood with my wife on the edge of a sheer cliff in Glacier National Park . We stared down toward the massive Grinnell Glacier. In that moment, we decided to move to Montana. I can work anywhere with internet, and my wife had multiple job offers at hospitals across the country. We could have picked anywhere, but we decided to make this remote region our home, the center of our universe. As a writer, I’m surprised that I can’t find the exact words to explain why we chose to live...

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Darron Birgenheier/Flickr

Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson has said there is “no compromise when it comes to clean air, clean land or clean water.” His vice presidential nominee, former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld, echoes this view. But they don't go as far as you might think.  The Libertarian platform has only 126 words dedicated to the environment, as opposed to pages of explanation from the other presidential candidates, points out Chip Knappenberger, assistant director for the study of science at...

If you’re like most people, you probably have a fridge and cupboard with too many half-used packages. You need only a cup or two of some ingredient, but you have to buy a pound or a quart, and what’s left often goes stale and ends up in the garbage. That waste is part of the reason Sarah Metz decided to launch a new store called the Fillery. The Fillery is designed to reduce waste and save money: Shoppers will bring their own reusable containers and buy only what they need. The store hopes to...

Blanding’s turtles have about a 1 in 80 chance of living to be adults. So, a nonprofit in Boston is working to shift those odds and give baby Blanding’s turtles a better start. They're being helped by some Massachusetts students. Sending these baby turtles to schools, where young humans can care for them and raise them for a year, can give a big lift to this regionally threatened species, says Bryan Windmiller, executive director of Grassroots Wildlife Conservation . “We call it 'head...

Chris Caya/wbfo

Environmental groups are calling on big oil companies to "come clean"about climate change.

Seth Wenig/AP

Several natural gas and coal-fired power plant owners sued New York State energy regulators Wednesday over the state's approval of billions of dollars in subsidies for aging nuclear plants.

New York State Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

Campers flocked to New York State Parks in record numbers for the fifth year in a row this year.

WBFO File Photo

Pipeline companies are not having a lot of success in New York so far in 2016. Opponents say they are dirty and continue New York’s over reliance on fossil fuels. Two projects have already been canceled. A pipeline company representative says the projects are not as harmful as opponents say and, in fact, essential for the state’s current electric needs.

Fall flower bulbs shine brightly come spring

Oct 13, 2016
Elizabeth Licata

This is a key time of year for gardeners who are already looking ahead to next spring. The planting of bulbs now can reap big rewards when winter comes to an end. Buffalo Spree editor Elizabeth Licata, a WBFO contributor, spoke with fellow garden writer Sally Cunningham about bulbs, and why they're a must for any serious gardener.

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A Lockport company has been fined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for violating chemical safety rules for handling the potentially deadly gas phosgene.

by Angelica A. Morrison / Seneca Bluff Buffalo

Efforts toward Great Lakes habitat restoration continue, as a ground breaking ceremony took place for a new local project Friday in South Buffalo.

Grape harvest coming up short in drought-ridden areas

Oct 6, 2016

Grape harvests are underway at vineyards in the Northeast where unusually dry warm weather this summer was ideal for growing grapes. But in parts of New York and southern New England, where drought struck, some growers are seeing decreasing yields.

How much will wind, solar energy cost NYers?

Oct 3, 2016

A new report from the conservative fiscal watchdog group finds that New York State's plan to boost renewable sources of energy and support struggling nuclear plants could cost more than the state estimates. The Empire Center says that could mean higher energy bills for consumers who are paying for the initiative that aims to cut harmful carbon dioxide emissions.

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