Environment

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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shannonpatrick17/Flickr CC BY 2.0

The long-delayed TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline project has cleared one of its final hurdles. The Nebraska Public Service Commission recently approved the pipeline in a 3-2 vote. But the commission’s approval came with a potentially significant caveat: a new route for the pipeline that bypasses environmentally sensitive areas.

Is the public ready for Meat 2.0?

Dec 11, 2017

Impossible Foods, a Silicon Valley-based company, has rolled out its new Impossible Burger, genetically engineered from plant protein to look and taste as much as possible like red meat.

Seven decades into the age of nuclear power, the United States has yet to solve the problem of waste. While the US argues and dawdles, however, Finland says it has found an answer — it plans to build one of the world’s first long-term nuclear waste storage facilities in a labyrinth of underground tunnels.

Environmental lawyers are claiming in court that land, rivers and other natural features have intrinsic rights and should own themselves, rather than being considered property — similar to how the law treats corporations as "persons."

Hinchey remembered as Love Canal champion

Nov 30, 2017

Hundreds of mourners have paid their final respects to former U.S. Rep. Maurice Hinchey, a New York Democrat who became a household name during the Love Canal saga in Niagara Falls.

President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping have signed an agreement to build an 800-mile natural gas pipeline in Alaska, but economic hurdles could prevent its construction.

D
 Bureau of Land Management, Wyoming/Flickr CC BY 2.0

A leaked draft of the US Department of Interior’s four-year strategic plan calls for massive fossil fuel extraction from public lands, with no mention of climate change impacts.

The document was leaked to Adam Federman, a reporting fellow with the Investigative Fund at the Nation Institute.

A 26-year research project suggests that as global temperatures rise and heat the soil, the released carbon will trigger even more warming, leading to a dangerous feedback loop.

In 1991, a team of scientists began measuring carbon levels in the soil of the Harvard Forest, a field laboratory nestled in the hills of Massachusetts. The team laid underground electrical cables to heat small plots of soil and they have monitored these test plots ever since. During this time, they have measured two periods of rapid carbon loss, separated by one period of no carbon loss.

The Republican tax plan passed in the House of Representatives would end the $7,500 electric vehicle tax credit, a program that has spurred a boom in EV sales.

Analysts believe eliminating the tax credit for electric cars could set the EV business back in a big way.

When the state of Georgia removed its $5,000 state tax credit for electric vehicles, a credit that supplemented the federal tax credit, sales of EVs dropped an estimated 90 percent, says Joshua Goldman, a senior policy and legal analyst for the Clean Vehicles Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Jay Moran/WBFO

The emerald ash borer is becoming an issue for Cattaraugus County. The invasive species is a major problem for a portion of the 2,000 acres of county forest.


Melting polar ice poses a serious global risk

Nov 18, 2017

The title of a new book says it all — "A Farewell to Ice: A Report from the Arctic."

The book, by Peter Wadhams, head of the Polar Ocean Physics Group at the University of Cambridge, is the result of nearly a half-century of personal ice research, mostly in the Arctic. 

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