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.

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)

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)

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)

Pushing for Green Chemistry

Oct 16, 2015

Today, we live in a stew of synthetic chemicals, and consumers know little or nothing about many of them as few are tested and proprietary information can conceal a product’s dangers. Ken Geiser, UMass Lowell Emeritus Professor, talks with host Steve Curwood about testing regimes and how we can make the chemical industry safer. (published October 9, 2015)

Twenty years ago, the health care industry produced more toxic dioxin emissions than any other sector, thanks to medical waste incinerators. Gary Cohen, Co-Founder and President of Health Care Without Harm, decided to clean it up, an effort that won him a 2015 MacArthur "genius grant" Fellowship. Cohen tells host Steve Curwood how greening health care practices can improve human welfare and the environment, and explains what still needs to be done. (published October 9, 2015)

A new meta-analysis from the Harvard School of Public Health finds that exposure to insecticides in and around the home may increase kids' risk of developing childhood cancers. 

WBFO News file photo

With little progress on an international climate change agreement, state and municipal governments worldwide are coming together to address the issue.

Whales off the coast of southern California and Hawaii recently won a modest victory in the courtroom. In response to a lawsuit brought by the Natural Resources Defense Council, the US Navy has agreed to restrict its use of damaging sonar and explosives in key whale habitat.

File photo

Chautauqua County is joining Erie County in banning personal care products containing microbeads.

The Atchafalaya Basin in Louisiana is one of the country’s last great cypress swamps, and a Spanish fisherman-turned-conservationist named Dean Wilson is fighting to protect it.

The EPA failed to follow its own rules for ensuring chemical safety and illegally approved a powerful insecticide linked to declining numbers of honeybees, a federal appeals court has ruled.

Concerns raised over presence of sea lamprey

Oct 6, 2015
WBFO News file photo

An effort is underway to eliminate an invasive species in Cayuga Creek before it migrates to Lake Erie.

A coalition of 400 groups, including environmental activists, faith leaders and labor organizations, is demanding President Barack Obama end fossil fuel leasing on public lands.

Scientists are warning that intense wildfires in the northernmost areas of North America are changing the composition of the tundra ecosystem, degrading permafrost and contributing to a northward migration of trees, all of which have serious implications for the future of the climate.

Warming air masses resulting from climate change create the conditions for intense forest fires in the cold north, explains Scott Goetz, a senior scientist and deputy director at the Woods Hole Research Center in Massachusetts.

During his visit to the US, Pope Francis told a joint session of Congress that now is the time for "courageous actions and strategies" to protect nature. The question is, will his words make any difference to a Congress that has yet to take any action on climate change?

Former Republican Congressman Bob Inglis of South Carolina believes they might.

Chris Caya WBFO News

A project designed to stop sewer overflows into Scajaquada Creek remains up in the air.

There are many groups and efforts dedicated to conserving threatened wildlife and plant species. One group of environmentally-conscious volunteers in Boston, Massachusetts, however, is not afraid of getting their hands dirty to take care of their local eco-system. 

Marc Albert is director of “Stewardship Saturday” a 10-year-old weekly tradition of local conservation on the Boston Harbor Islands. 

“Other park managers and I wanted to offer the public an opportunity to sort of be hands-on with helping to take care of the park,” Albert says. 

President Barack Obama, when he addressed the Coast Guard Academy in May, pointed to climate change when speaking about instability in Africa and the Middle East. 

“(I) understand climate change did not cause the conflicts we see around the world. Yet what we also know is that severe drought helped to create the instability in Nigeria that was exploited by the terrorist group Boko Haram. It’s now believed that drought and crop failures and high food prices helped fuel the early unrest in Syria, which descended into civil war in the heart of the Middle East,” Obama said. 

WBFO file photo

Cattaraugus County could soon become the latest community to ban personal care products containing microbeads. The tiny plastic beads can pass through sewage treatment plants and into open water. They have been found in fish that have been used for human consumption.

Mike Desmond/WBFO News

On a day when Pope Francis reminded Congress that he believes climate change is occuring, the Rise Up for Climate Justice Campaign made a stop in Niagara Square on Wednesday.

When Pope Francis addresses a joint session of Congress today, he will speak directly to many politicians, including some presidential candidates, who are not welcoming of his message about climate change and economic inequality. It could be very interesting to watch.


Area shorelines received a facelift as volunteers descended upon 40 area sites for the 30th annual Great Lakes Beach Sweep.