Environment

Mike Desmond / WBFO News

If you use Delaware Park, the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy wants to hear what you would like to see done - or undone - to the park.

(Photo courtesy: Courier-Express Collection, Archives and Special Collections, E.H. Butler Library, SUNY Buffalo State.)

A movement that started with scared homeowners, strange smells and a collection of health symptoms celebrates an anniversary today. Forty years after President Jimmy Carter first declared Love Canal a national health emergency, former housewife and activist Lois Gibbs looks back and realizes that the people she mobilized were the start of something a lot bigger.


Center for Environment, Health & Justice

Tuesday is the 40th anniversary of President Jimmy Carter declaring Love Canal a federal health emergency. It was the first time a man-made disaster was given that declaration. The environmental disaster was memorialized in the song "Love Canal" by the band Flipper. WBFO's Nick Lippa produced an  audio postcard with remembrances from canal evacuees Luella Kenny and former Channel 2 reporter Dick Lucinski.


Center for Health, Environment & Justice

It was 40 years ago this week when federal officials declared the Love Canal neighborhood of Niagara Falls, NY a disaster area. In the first of a series of "Reporter's Notebook" stories reflecting on behind the scenes of that infamous period in Western New York history, WBFO's Mike Desmond talks with Morning Host Jay Moran about covering the story for the former Courier-Express newspaper.


A team at Stanford University has started using a genetic editing tool called CRISPR to identify the genes that make corals more heat-tolerant.

As the climate changes, warming oceans pose a huge threat to coral reefs. In 2016, nearly a third of the corals on the Great Barrier Reef died off. A quarter of all the fish species in the sea rely on corals for habitat, so die-offs aren’t just bad news for corals.

It was, so to speak, a perfect storm for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The agency was already stretched beyond its capacity when Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico last year, so much so that it did not properly attend to the damage done by the worst storms in memory. 

First, Hurricane Irma had just leveled the Virgin Islands two weeks prior. In response, all of the supplies in FEMA’s warehouse in San Juan had been moved and used there. Second, a string of massive wildfires were raging in California at the time. Hurricane Maria was the third strike.

Local NGOs repair Puerto Rico’s coral reefs in Maria’s aftermath

Aug 4, 2018

On a beach in Vega Baja on Puerto Rico’s northern coast, Ernesto Vélez Gandía stands next to a fallen loved one.

“We got a lot of love for him,” he says. “We saw him alive, very alive … so we just admire him and remember him. It’s very sentimental. I don’t know, but it’s deep in the heart.”

The deceased in this instance is a dead piece of coral, sitting in shallow, warm water at the entrance to a reef — a likely casualty from a warming ocean. This particular piece of coral was one of the oldest in the reef, he says.

Boston faces a daunting future of rising seas

Aug 4, 2018

Boston got a wake-up call earlier this year when the first of a string of nor’easter storms hit just as the tide was peaking. The ocean spilled into the subway and into homes up and down the coast.

The Union of Concerned Scientists projects that by the end of the century, Boston will see close to 7 feet of sea level rise, putting 89,000 Massachusetts coastal homes worth $63 billion at risk from tidal floods.

File Photo / WBFO News

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has received a request from Tonawanda Coke for a hearing on the revocation of its license to operate.

Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy

What changes do residents want for Buffalo's Olmsted Parks? That was the question asked Monday night, with the goal of having a five-year capital plan of improvements ready by May 2019.

Drilling rigs used in fracking found along nature trail irk some hikers

Jul 29, 2018

This past June, approximately a thousand hikers joined in the 22nd running of the Rachel Carson Trail Challenge — a 35-mile all-day event that starts at 5:50 a.m. The deadline to finish was set at 8:54 p.m., or 15 hours and four minutes later.

It should be noted that this is not a race. The goal is just to finish — while taking in all of the natural splendor that the trail offers as participants wind through terrain just north of Pittsburgh and its suburbs.

A Boston hospital promotes patient health with its own rooftop farm

Jul 28, 2018

For Boston Medical Center, feeding patients is about more than making sure they get calories. Food is medicine, and that food comes from an unusual location — a farm on the hospital roof.

What was once a flat, black roof provides prime real estate for roughly 25 varieties of fruits and vegetables that feed hospital patients, visitors and employees. The farm is considered the first of its kind in New England.

What would a Justice Kavanaugh mean for the environment?

Jul 28, 2018

President Trump’s nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to replace retiring US Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy is causing great concern for those who believe the US government has an obligation to protect the environment and public health.

Vermont Law School professor Pat Parenteau says Judge Kavanaugh’s conservative record could affect a range of environmental issues that will come before the Supreme Court, from endangered species protections to climate action.

Book tells story 'most famous man most of us have never heard of'

Jul 26, 2018

David Hosack’s name probably is not on most lists of famous New Yorkers. But Victoria Johnson argues that he should be.

“David Hosack was the most famous man most of us have never heard of,” Johnson says.

Partisan unity is a rare sight in Washington, DC, these days.

Yet a bipartisan coalition of congressional members has begun to pledge its solidarity to a political effort that could address one of the more hot-button topics on the Hill: climate change.

The group calls themselves Americans for Carbon Dividends. It is led by two former US senators: Sen. Trent Lott, a Republican from Mississippi, and Sen. John Breaux, a Democrat from Louisiana.

Something was not making sense.

The Montreal Protocol had been in effect for more than 30 years to rid the planet of products that emit chemicals called chlorofluorocarbons — or CFCs, as most people know them.

When it comes to the sea level rise caused by global warming, there appears to be a misnomer floating around the collective conscience of most Americans, says Gregory Dusek.

“I think a lot of people think of sea level rise as something that's not going to be impacting us for some time,” says Dusek, who serves as the chief scientist of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services.

File Photo / WBFO News

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation says it is revoking permits from Tonawanda Coke because the company has repeatedly violated air pollution regulations.

The state sent the company a cease and desist letter Friday telling it to stop any operations that release materials into the air, and ordering that permits to do so be revoked next month.

Public safety advisory for Olcott Beach

Jul 19, 2018

The Niagara County Department of Health has issued a beach advisory at Olcott Beach, located in Olcott, and is expected to remain in effect until further notice.

by ANGELICA A. MORRISON / Cornell's Ruth Richardson explains the water testing process.

Many are heading to the beach to escape the hot temperatures this summer, only to find the water is closed. Now, a group of researchers is trying out a new method that could deliver water testing results faster.

Whether you call it a lightning bug or a firefly or perhaps by its scientific name, Lampyridae, chances are you’ve had some experience with the tiny flying insect that flashes and blinks its way through summer evenings. And if you've been noticing more fireflies in your backyard this summer, you're not alone.

As immigration issues along the US southern border continue to roil the country, one driving force of migration from troubled Central American countries has received relatively little notice: climate change.

The 2018 farm bill stirs conflict and controversy

Jul 14, 2018

The US Congress took almost two years to negotiate the 2014 Farm Bill. The 2018 Farm Bill is shaping up to be possibly even more divisive.

The humpback whale population is recovering

Jul 14, 2018

Rapidly melting Antarctica ice poses a threat to coastal cities, but there is at least one species that is benefiting: Humpback whales are flourishing these days, due to an abundance of krill.

Nineteenth-century commercial whaling killed the vast majority of the world’s whales, so this current revival of the humpback whale should be celebrated as a conservation victory, says University of California, Santa Cruz, researcher Ari Friedlaender. Nevertheless, there are questions about how long the krill boom might last.

Marie Cusick / State Impact Pennsylvania

A Pennsylvania family that lost more than 500 trees to make way for the stalled Constitution Pipeline project asked a court on Thursday to dissolve an injunction that gave the company access to their property and to determine compensation that remains unpaid.

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation released action plans for 12 waterbodies affected by harmful algal blooms. The state is partnering with local communities to reduce and eliminate the blooms.

Empire State Consumer Project

The Empire State Consumer Project has published its 2018 Government Pesticide Survey, highlighting the hazards of common pesticides used on local government properties.

Hamburg Police

In the battle of man vs. beast, this time the beast lost. A wild black bear that has captured Western New York's attention on a journey around the region this summer has been "euthanized."

Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program

The 5th annual New York State Invasive Species Awareness Week has begun. In New York it’s easy to be aware of invasive species since we have so many of them. Thanks to our early success creating a world-class sea port, and excellence in canal-building, NY has more invasive forest pests than any other state, and ranks in the top three for aquatic invasives. I guess the folks who set out to make NY the Empire State should have thought twice about trying to rank first in everything.

The feast-or-famine life of lobstering in Maine

Jul 8, 2018

The lobster industry has always been a rollercoaster of a profession — with lobstermen (and women) risking their lives to bring in the biggest catches.

In recent years, though, global warming has heightened the rhythm of this already delicate dance: Warmer ocean temperatures lead to a glut of lobsters flooding the market, but water that is too warm can lead to dead lobsters at the bottom of the sea.

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