Environment

Scandal and protests have prompted the Brazilian government to call a halt to more mega-dam construction in the Amazon.

For about the last 20 years, Brazil had “really grandiose plans” for more than 80 big dams in the Amazon basin and some of them have gone ahead, says Sue Branford, a Brazil reporter for the environmental news agency Mongabay. But problems keep arising with these projects.

More states join the fight to reduce global warming

Feb 24, 2018

While the Trump administration moves to block the Clean Power Plan, which would reduce carbon emissions from electric generators, two more states are joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a program that cuts emissions in nine Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states.

Seawater is infiltrating the Runit Dome, an atomic bomb-waste repository on a remote Marshall Island atoll in the central Pacific Ocean, posing a potential risk of radiation exposure for the small, local population. 

Humanity is now facing an ever-increasing threat of unpredictable and extreme weather, climate scientists warn.

While global warming is creating more powerful storms and record-breaking, drought-driven wildfires, it would be a mistake to view these events as the “new normal,” they say. The planet has not reached a new climate stability, so the years ahead could be quite a lot worse.

National Geographic, the National Audubon Society and other conservation groups have declared 2018 the Year of The Bird to celebrate the centennial of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

To help kick off the celebration, novelist and National Geographic writer Jonathan Franzen wrote a cover story, Why Birds Matter, for the magazine’s January issue. Franzen says a walk in New York City’s Central Park opened his eyes to the pleasures of birdwatching.

Elizabeth Miller / Great Lakes Today

New York State is starting its $75 million program to replace aging septic systems in 31 priority counties.

Starting preschool at age three is a predictor of success as an adult. If that experience includes plenty of structured play outside, it could also instill a lifelong awareness and appreciation of the natural environment.

President Trump pushed Monday to slash funding for the Great Lakes -- repeating a move he made last year.

Trump released a budget proposal that would slash funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative from $300 million annually to $30 million.

Seventeen former Department of Interior officials from both Republican and Democratic administrations have written a letter protesting a new DOI ruling that exempts industry from punishment for causing negligent deaths of birds. The ruling may also violate the century-old Migratory Bird Treaty with Canada and other nations.

Michael Mroziak, WBFO

The City of Niagara Falls has made news in recent months for the problems plaguing its water infrastructure. But the Cataract City is just one of many municipalities dealing with outdated systems in states of disrepair. The Niagara Falls Water Board is launching a new initiative to raise awareness of the need for large-scale improvements not just in that city but across the Great Lakes region.


Bitcoin has become the world’s premier virtual currency, and although it exists only online, it runs up enormous energy costs in the real world.

Verifying bitcoin transactions is so energy intensive the currency tops 159 individual countries in energy consumption, according to data consultant Alex de Vries.

The Dust Bowl was a terrible American disaster. As settlers moved west in the 19th century, they plowed under the seemingly endless prairie to produce grain. Then, in the 1930s, the rains failed and the winds tore away the topsoil by the ton, sending it flying across the Great Plains, choking livestock and people and driving them off the land.

The U.S. and Canadian Coast Guards have assisted over 300 ships this winter, one of the most demanding years for icebreaking. 

So far, the Great Lakes ice cover is more extensive than it has been in the last two years.  A big freeze hit the region right at the end of the shipping season, causing problems for several of the region’s biggest industries.


State officials and residents don't agree on how to proceed with a town of Wheatfield landfill. The state Department of Environmental Conservation recently tested nearby soil and determined that toxic waste from the landfill was not leaking into adjacent residential properties. On WBFO's Press Pass, Dan Telvock of Investigative Post outlines how homeowners are grouping together to file a lawsuit to challenge the state's findings.


Lawsuit against NY's nuclear subsidies can proceed

Jan 30, 2018
File Photo / National Public Radio

An attempt by New York State to dismiss a lawsuit against its program that supports financially struggling nuclear power plants with fees collected on ratepayer's utility bills has been rejected.

US natural disasters in 2017 cost $306 billion, the most expensive year since NOAA started keeping track in 1980.  

To put that figure in perspective, that's more than the interest on the US national debt and twice the federal budget for health, Medicare and education. The second most expensive disaster year was 2005, the year of Hurricane Katrina. That year’s total was $215 billion.

WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz says the county will adhere to the Paris Climate Agreement.  WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley tells us how the county will call on the community and businesses to help shrink greenhouse gas emissions.


Inside the Mediterranean and cactus display at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Burlington Ontario Canada

Copyright 2018 Great Lakes Today. To see more, visit Great Lakes Today.

A group of workers from the Royal Botanical Gardens in Burlington, Ontario pile discarded Christmas trees onto an organic barrier used to block the Common Carp from entering the wetland area.

Copyright 2018 Great Lakes Today. To see more, visit Great Lakes Today.

City of Buffalo

Area rivers and creeks are chock full of ice - and with the warm-up coming this week, municipalities are trying to prevent flooding.

In more than 3,800 neighborhoods throughout the US, children have blood lead levels more than double those found in Flint, Michigan, the city that in 2015 became the focus of national concern about childhood lead poisoning, according to a special report from Reuters.

The Beaufort Gyre, an immense 60-mile-diameter pool of cold freshwater and sea ice, is “stuck” in a clockwise rotation that should have ended years ago. Its eventual reversal could send massive amounts of chilly water straight toward western Europe, plunging it into brutal winters and disrupting fisheries.

A breath of fresh air can be physically healing, and a group of physicians is now putting the idea into practice by prescribing time outdoors for some patients.

Dr. Robert Zarr, a pediatrician who founded and directs the nonprofit Park Rx America, prescribes going outdoors because, he says, seeing trees and hearing birds can help treat childhood maladies such as obesity, depression and disruptive behavior.

A group of 21 youths is suing the US government for its failure to protect their future by preventing harmful global warming impacts, but the Trump administration says the case should be dismissed.

President Donald Trump has ordered the Interior Department to radically shrink two national monuments in Utah — Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante — but many legal scholars argue he is overstepping his powers.

Dog owners live longer, a new study says

Dec 20, 2017
D
 Pedro Ribeiro Simões/Flickr CC BY 2.0

Having a dog in your household can help you feel loved and valued. Now, new research from Sweden shows that having a dog can also bring about measurable cardiovascular benefits.

Paul Pasquarello / New York Power Authority

It's an annual tradition in our region - the installation of the winter ice boom across the Niagara River at Lake Erie - and this year work went quickly.

Hampshire College goes 100 percent solar

Dec 16, 2017

Hundreds of US colleges and universities are taking action to combat global warming, but so far just one residential college has turned 100 percent to renewable energy: Hampshire College.

To get there, the Massachusetts college has installed a 19-acre solar farm, complete with 15,000 panels. Together, the panels will produce about 4.7 megawatts of power each year — more than Hampshire can even use, says Jonathan Lash, its president.

Julia Botero / WRVO News File Photo

A new study argues that New York state leaders needs to substantially ramp up their green investments to protect the climate.

40 years of documenting Earth's beauty

Dec 12, 2017

After 40 years of traveling the world and capturing natural wonders, photojournalist Art Wolfe has published a stunning new book, "The Earth is My Witness."

The volume features an expansive photo collection that documents climate change and the world’s most threatened traditional cultures.

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