Environment

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.

Beyond the Headlines

Apr 9, 2016

In this week’s edition, Peter Dykstra shares encouraging news about India’s ambitious electric vehicles goal with host Steve Curwood, before complaining about the decline of the DC Metro system and BP’s tax breaks. (published April 8, 2016)

Louisiana has long been a friendly state to the oil and gas industry, but after the 2010 BP oil spill and Hurricane Katrina, Louisiana residents are more aware of the risks associated with the fossil fuel industry. Hundreds of people recently rallied at the Super Dome in New Orleans to protest the sale of new federal leases in the Gulf of Mexico for oil and gas extraction. Anne Rolfes of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade tells host Steve Curwood that the oil industry is losing its sheen in the Bayou State. (published April 8, 2016)

Living on Earth is giving a voice to Orion Magazine’s longtime feature in which readers write about their favorite places. In this week’s edition, Lauren Platte takes us to Morro Bay on the California coast, where the estuary is a refuge for people and wildlife alike. (published April 8, 2016)

Women in some divisions of the Forest Service and Park Service are now coming forward with disturbing stories of sexual harassment in the work place, ending public silence about years of abuse and official neglect. An investigation by the Inspector General of the Department of the Interior has now confirmed that there has been a long-term pattern of sexual harassment and a hostile work environment in Grand Canyon National Park.

New York Confronts Exxon On Climate Risks

Apr 3, 2016

Thomas DiNapoli iis the Comptroller of New York State and trustee of its $178.3 billion Pension Fund. He won an appeal to the Securities and Exchange Commission to force ExxonMobil to report the risks the oil giant will face from climate change and likely increased fossil fuel regulation. Comptroller DiNapoli tells host Steve Curwood that states and their pension funds can help shape industry’s response to global warming. (published April 1, 2016)

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. Peter Bosshard of International Rivers and host Steve Curwood discuss the potential far-reaching consequences for development international aid programs. (published April 1, 2016)

Clearing The View For The Grand Canyon

Apr 3, 2016

Cement plants are big air polluters and in 2009 industrial giant Cemex wanted to build a new plant near the Grand Canyon, causing concern about increasing the haze that already plagues the national park. We revisit a report by Arizona Public Radio’s Laurel Morales, and host Steve Curwood catches up on the story with environmental engineer Bill Auberle who discusses current threats facing the iconic attraction and hopeful signs for its future. (published April 1, 2016)

Living on Earth: April 1, 2016

Apr 3, 2016

New York Confronts Exxon On Climate Risks / Dam Funders Halt Support After Murders In Honduras / Beyond the Headlines / Clearing The View For The Grand Canyon / Sexual Harassment Blights National Parks and Forests

Chris Caya WBFO News

In Buffalo's Delaware Park on Monday, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer said a proposed 30% cut would devastate the Clean Water Act.

Sea level rise is one of the most obvious and ominous effects of global warming, which makes living in low-lying coastal areas increasingly risky. Yet some of the very places that will be most affected by rising seas are undergoing real estate booms.

One of them is the city of Fort Lauderdale, in south Florida.

When researchers who study Adelie penguins in Antarctica returned to their study site to find most of the birds gone, the event made headlines. But the headlines were mostly wrong, according to the researchers.

No one knows for sure what became of the missing birds, but Kerry-Jayne Wilson, one of the lead researchers and the author of a new paper about the event, wants to make one thing clear:

In parts of Nigeria, signs abound warning residents not to drink, swim or fish in the local waterways. Other signs warn residents to avoid drinking their own well water.

Countless oil spills over decades have destroyed fishing and farmland, and turned the once beautiful Niger Delta into a toxic wasteland.

Nevertheless, the large oil companies that extract the oil rarely, if ever, clean up the spills they leave behind. And in places like Nigeria, where the justice system is corrupt and inefficient, using the courts to force the companies to clean up is next to impossible.

It's a little-known designation, a Ramsar site, but it's coveted because the 2,200 around the globe are among the most important waterways in the world. Supporters want the Niagara River added to that list.


Big World, Small Planet

Mar 21, 2016

From global warming to water shortages, humans are beginning to push up against a few fundamental planetary boundaries. Johan Rockström is a professor of environmental sciences at Stockholm University in Sweden and author of the book Big World Small Planet. He tells host Steve Curwood that humans can continue to grow and develop, as long as we respect key planetary limits. (published March 18, 2016)

BirdNote: The Florida Scrub-Jay

Mar 21, 2016

Thousands of years ago, higher sea levels isolated much of Florida from the mainland, and the Florida Scrub-Jay evolved into a unique species found nowhere else. BirdNote’s Michael Stein reports on the habits of this rare bird and the threat of habitat destruction that it faces. (published March 18, 2016)

Living on Earth: March 18, 2016

Mar 21, 2016

Where Kasich Stands on Climate Change / Network TV Cuts Climate Change Coverage / Does Climate Change Cause Extreme Weather? / Late Night Workers Stuck On the Platform / Beyond the Headlines / Big World, Small Planet / BirdNote: The Florida Scrub-Jay

Where Kasich Stands on Climate Change

Mar 21, 2016

After winning his home state of Ohio, Governor John Kasich remains far behind in the delegate count, but is still in the running, and now holds bargaining chips for the Republican convention in July. At a recent CNN Republican debate Governor John Kasich declared humans contribute to climate change and that reducing emissions can create jobs, and help the economy. (published March 18, 2016)

Late Night Workers Stuck On the Platform

Mar 21, 2016

Boston's late night weekend transit service is about to come to a grinding halt, leaving some service workers and other residents wondering how they'll get home after midnight. Living on Earth's Jaime Kaiser spoke with riders and transportation officials about the cutback and has the story. (published March 18, 2016)

In a surprising ruling that runs counter to the agreements made at the Paris Climate Summit, the World Trade Organization has said that India may not protect local production of solar energy cells.

The ruling came in response to a complaint from the United States, which claimed that India’s requirement that 10 percent of its solar panels be produced domestically amounts to restraint of trade.

Growing coffee often leads to deforestation — but it doesn’t have to be that way.

A new initiative called the Sustainable Coffee Challenge aims to change the way the coffee industry operates. Peter Seligmann, chairman, CEO and co-founder of Conservation International, is leading the charge.

The Central Valley of California has the perfect climate for almond trees, but they need a lot of help. So, every year, the valley hosts the largest controlled pollination in the world.

There are about 6,500 almond farms in the Central Valley and they produce 50 to 80 percent of the world’s almonds. There aren’t nearly enough local bees, wild or domesticated, to pollinate all those flowers, so when the almond trees start to bloom, beekeepers from all over the country descend on the Central Valley.

BirdNote: The Florida Scrub-Jay

Mar 19, 2016

Thousands of years ago, higher sea levels isolated much of Florida from the mainland, and the Florida Scrub-Jay evolved into a unique species found nowhere else. BirdNote’s Michael Stein reports on the habits of this rare bird and the threat of habitat destruction that it faces. (published March 18, 2016)

Does Climate Change Cause Extreme Weather?

Mar 19, 2016

Scientists have long avoided attributing specific extreme weather events to climate change, but a recent report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine suggests that some extreme weather events can be attributed to climate change with a high degree of confidence. Host Steve Curwood talks with Penn State professor and former Navy Admiral David Titley, chair of the report’s committee. (published March 18, 2016)

Network TV Cuts Climate Change Coverage

Mar 19, 2016

From the Paris Climate Agreement to the Pope’s environmental encyclical, 2015 should have been a banner year for climate change in the media. But a recent report from Media Matters for America documents a recent decline in commercial network TV global warming coverage. Andrew Seifter from Media Matters discusses the trend with host Steve Curwood. (published March 18, 2016)

Living on Earth: March 18, 2016

Mar 19, 2016

Where Kasich Stands on Climate Change / Network TV Cuts Climate Change Coverage / Does Climate Change Cause Extreme Weather? / Late Night Workers Stuck On the Platform / Beyond the Headlines / Big World, Small Planet / BirdNote: The Florida Scrub-Jay

Where Kasich Stands on Climate Change

Mar 19, 2016

After winning his home state of Ohio, Governor John Kasich remains far behind in the delegate count, but is still in the running, and now holds bargaining chips for the Republican convention in July. At a recent CNN Republican debate Governor John Kasich declared humans contribute to climate change and that reducing emissions can create jobs, and help the economy. (published March 18, 2016)

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