West Virginia's former 'King of Coal' goes on trial

Nov 1, 2015

Former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship, the man once known as West Virginia's 'King of Coal,’ is on trial in connection with the deadly 2010 Upper Big Branch mine disaster in West Virginia.

On April 5, 2010, the worst American mine disaster in 40 years occurred at Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia. A huge explosion ripped through the mine, killing 29 of the 31 men working there.

The Living and Dead in Good Company

Nov 1, 2015

Massachusetts’ Mount Auburn Cemetery is renowned as the final resting place for American luminaries including Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Fannie Farmer, and Charles Sumner. But as America’s first garden cemetery, it’s also a brief home for migrating birds every spring and fall. John Harrison and Kim Nagy, co-authors of the book Dead in Good Company: A Celebration of Mount Auburn Cemetery walk through the cemetery with host Steve Curwood and observe the wildlife and visit the deceased. (published October 30, 2015)

Greening Death

Nov 1, 2015

Each year, five million people die in the US. About half of them choose conventional burial and half choose cremation for their body, both methods that consume resources and pollute the air and earth. Now there’s a greener alternative on the horizon, the Urban Death Project. Katrina Spade, founder and executive director, explains Urban Death Project and tells host Steve Curwood how this environmentally-consciousness choice can bring meaning to death. (published October 30, 2015)

Beyond the Headlines

Nov 1, 2015

Peter Dykstra tells host Steve Curwood about some scary studies: one warns that some major cities will soon be hot as hell, and another cautions that processed meat is a carcinogen, and red meat is a suspected carcinogen. Then, we look athe efforts by some states to send the EPA’s new Clean Air Rules to the grave; and we take a look back on a humpback whale’s rise to fame thirty years ago. (published October 30, 2015)

Building a Sanctuary for Endangered Bats

Nov 1, 2015

Bats around the country are struggling to cope with the invasive European fungus White Nose syndrome. But writer Don Mitchell is trying to help by turning his farm into a sanctuary for the endangered bats that live on his property. Living on Earth’s Emmett FitzGerald reports from the Champlain Valley of Vermont. (published October 30, 2015)

Living on Earth: October 30, 2015

Nov 1, 2015

Better Office Air Makes For Better Thinking / Building a Sanctuary for Endangered Bats / Greening Death / Beyond the Headlines / The Living and Dead in Good Company

Unless you’re a sailor or you work on an oil rig, you’ve probably never seen a common murre. These black and white birds live nearly their entire lives at sea, but this summer starving murres washed up on the Pacific Coast from Southern California to Alaska.

Just about every day since the beginning of August, Eve Egan has gotten a call from a confused beachgoer saying: “I know this is going to sound crazy, but I see a penguin on the beach.” Egan calmlly explains that it’s almost certainly a common murre, a seabird that looks like a mix between a small penguin and a loon. 

For the past 15 years, the battlefield at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania — the scene of the bloodiest fights of the US Civil War — has been undergoing major changes. 

In the late 1990s, the National Park Service began to rehabilitate the natural landscape at Gettysburg, to make it look more like it did in July 1863, when the battles took place. In areas that saw heavy fighting, like the Peach Orchard, the Park Service decided to replant peach trees; in the meadows that had grown into forest since the battle, they removed the trees and restored the meadows.

courtesy Google Maps

The largest island on the Niagara River is getting a touch-up along a portion of its shoreline, as a concrete bulkhead will soon be replaced by what partners call a "living shoreline."

Writer Bill McKibben was so shocked and angered by the revelations of Exxon’s early knowledge of climate change that he protested at his local Exxon filling station and was arrested. He tells host Steve Curwood why he thinks everyone should know about the allegations of Exxon’s misconduct. (published October 23, 2015)

Exxon Denied its Own Climate Research

Oct 24, 2015

Investigations by InsideClimate News and the Los Angeles Times reveal that Exxon’s scientists and top management, informed by the company’s own ambitious climate research, had grasped the import of climate change by the early 1980s. ICN reporter Neela Banerjee tells host Steve Curwood how they discovered the research and how top Exxon management nevertheless cast doubt on the facts of global warming, starting in the late 1990s. (published October 23, 2015)

Canada Shifts Left and Greener

Oct 24, 2015

The newly elected Canadian Prime Minister is Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau, taking the reins from the Conservative Party’s Stephen Harper. Host Steve Curwood speaks with Reuter’s investigative resources correspondent Mike De Souza about the status of Canada’s environmental policies and how incoming Prime Minister Trudeau might reconcile Canada’s extraction-based economy with more of a conservation ethic. (published October 23, 2015)

The Creole Pig

Oct 24, 2015

In Haiti, the creole pig was a staple of the peasant economy, bringing families economic stability, devouring food waste and occasionally becoming an religious sacrifice. But as Allison Griner reports, disease killed many creole pigs and American efforts to control the swine flu took the rest. Efforts to replace the pig failed, but now peasant farmers are slowly rebuilding the creole pig herd. (published October 23, 2015)

When it comes to global efforts to fight climate change, India quickly becomes Exhibit A. Like other developing countries, it seems stuck in a zero-sum game where it must choose between fast economic growth to bring its people out of poverty or protecting the environment. 

Twenty years ago, the health care industry produced more toxic dioxin emissions than any other business sector, because of medical waste incinerators. Then environmental health advocate Gary Cohen decided to try to clean things up. His efforts have now won him a 2015 MacArthur 'genius' fellowship.

Chris Caya/WBFO News

Legislation proposed by Sen. Tim Kennedy would help keep a toxic chemical out of New York's fresh water supply. Kennedy is proposing a ban on the sale of products containing the anti-microbial chemical.

China, the biggest emitter of global warming gases, announced it would soon implement a nationwide cap-and-trade program, and partner with the US, the world’s second biggest emitter, on other ways to reduce emissions.  

According to Jennifer Morgan, the director of the Climate Change Program at the World Resources Institute, the new commitments from China and its willingness to join forces with the US are significant.

Fall leaf peeping season in full swing

Oct 20, 2015
Elizabeth Licata

The air is getting crisper and the days are getting shorter, sure signs that fall has arrived in Western New York. One of the season's most spectacular visuals is the changing colors of leaves on area trees. WBFO contributor Elizabeth Licata, editor-in-chief of Buffalo Spree magazine, has some advice for leaf peepers on where to find the region's best displays of autumn foliage.

An Amazon tribe fights back against illegal logging

Oct 19, 2015

The Ka’apor tribe of Maranhao, Brazil, which depends on the Amazon rainforest for its livelihood and culture, is using both traditional and high-tech methods to fight back against illegal logging in their territory.

Invasive species threaten native grasslands in the Pacific Northwest

Oct 19, 2015

Several years ago, on a hillside in southeastern Washington state, botanist Mark Darrach found three rare species of flowers, previously unknown to science. Then, not long afterward, he discovered something else: a nasty invasive grass that threatens to overtake the entire landscape.

Since the beginning of August, a seabird called the common murre has been washing up in droves on beaches from Southern California to Alaska. Living on Earth’s Emmett FitzGerald reports on the efforts in California to save the birds, and the latest scientific theories about what’s going on. (published October 16, 2015)

Democrats Debate Climate Change

Oct 18, 2015

The Democratic presidential candidates recently squared off in their first debate. All five hopefuls spoke on climate change and the need for action, but differed on how to address the issue. Host Steve Curwood recaps their statements and looks back on a conversation with Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders about carbon tax and the climate bill he introduced in 2013, a plan that was referenced in the debate. (published October 16, 2015)

The King of Coal On Trial

Oct 18, 2015

Former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship is on trial in connection with the deadly 2010 Upper Big Branch mine disaster in West Virginia. Mother Jones writer Tim Murphy recently profiled the coal baron, and speaks with host Steve Curwood about how this one man came to gain and then lose so much power over West Virginia’s economy, politics, and environment. (published October 16, 2015)

Beyond the Headlines

Oct 18, 2015

In this week’s trip beyond the headlines, Peter Dykstra warns host Steve Curwood that though an overnight deep freeze as portrayed in the movie “Day After Tomorrow” is impossible, Atlantic sea currents seem to be changing. He also describes Donald Trump’s recent anti-wind farm campaign near his Scottish golf resort. Traveling back in the history annals, we remember two prominent tales of whales. (published October 16, 2015)

Why are we fascinated with dolphins?

Oct 18, 2015

After a swim with dolphins in the waters of Hawaii changed her life, writer Susan Casey set off on a quest to find out more about these amazing creatures. The result is her new book, Voices in the Ocean: A Journey into the Wild and Haunting World of Dolphins.

Living on Earth: October 9, 2015

Oct 17, 2015

Pesticides, Herbicides and Childhood Cancers / MacArthur 'Genius' Cleans Up Polluting Health Sector / Pushing for Green Chemistry / Resetting the Gettysburg Battlefield Landscape / Beyond the Headlines / India at a Crossroads

Each year, thousands of visitors travel to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania to walk the battlefield and imagine witnessing Pickett’s charge and the bloodiest clash of the Civil War. But the landscape has changed dramatically since 1863 and picturing the fight isn’t easy. Now, as The Allegheny Front’s Lou Blouin reports, the park service is using modern conservation tactics to take Gettysburg’s landscape back in time. (published October 9, 2015)

Beyond the Headlines

Oct 16, 2015

This week, Peter Dykstra discusses the recent disastrous rainstorms and new marine sanctuaries around the world with host Steve Curwood, and looks back on some misguided alarm about “killer bees” in the face of real threats from other invasive species. (published October 9, 2015)

India at a Crossroads

Oct 16, 2015

Investigative journalist Meera Subramanian crisscrossed India examining its environmental problems and searching for homegrown solutions described in her new book A River Runs Again. She tells Living on Earth’s Helen Palmer that everywhere she looked, she found serious concerns, but also hope for a better future. (published October 9, 2015)

Pesticides and herbicides control pests and weeds, but new analysis suggests they also pose a significant threat to the health of young children. Host Steve Curwood and the study’s senior author, Chensheng Lu of the Harvard School of Public Health, report that exposures can increase children’s risk for leukemia, lymphoma and brain tumors. (published October 9, 2015)