Environment

Microbes Fight Fungal Disease in Frogs

Feb 27, 2016

Fighting the fungal diseases that have killed millions of frogs and other amphibians is a top priority, and new research suggests natural soil bacteria might provide protection. UMass Boston biology professor Doug Woodhams tells Living on Earth’s Helen Palmer how they work. (published February 26, 2016)

El Niño Brings Hunger Emergency

Feb 27, 2016

Drought associated with El Niño is hammering subsistence farmers in Asia, Latin America and much of Africa, and creating a hunger emergency for 60 million people. Host Steve Curwood speaks with Nahuel Arenas of Oxfam America about the unfolding humanitarian crisis. (published February 26, 2016)

Living on Earth: February 26, 2016

Feb 27, 2016

El Niño Brings Hunger Emergency / Drought and African Wildlife / U.S. Climate-Changing Emissions Drastically Underestimated / Proposed Rules to Curb Methane Leaks / BirdNote: Early Bird Gets the Nesting Site / Beyond the Headlines / Fungal Diseases Surge, Threatening Species Around the World / Microbes Fight Fungal Disease in Frogs

Drought and African Wildlife

Feb 27, 2016

This year's El Niño that’s causing extreme droughts in parts of the world is causing skyrocketing food prices in southern Africa. But nature has also used drought through the ages to adjust the balances among prey and predators. Bobby Bascomb reports from Johannesburg, South Africa. . (published February 26, 2016)

Measuring the emissions of the powerful climate-changing gas methane emissions is difficult, as it escapes from wetlands and landfills as well as from oil and gas drilling and pipelines around the world. Now, a team of scientists using satellite data with ground observations has found a better way to calculate its presence. Daniel Jacob, Harvard professor of Atmospheric Chemistry and Environmental Engineering, tells host Steve Curwood their recent study suggests much more methane is escaping than estimates had calculated, and the US could be responsible for up to 60 percent of the extra.

El Niño Brings Hunger Emergency

Feb 27, 2016

Drought associated with El Niño is hammering subsistence farmers in Asia, Latin America and much of Africa, and creating a hunger emergency for 60 million people. Host Steve Curwood speaks with Nahuel Arenas of Oxfam America about the unfolding humanitarian crisis. (published February 26, 2016)

BirdNote: Early Bird Gets the Nesting Site

Feb 27, 2016

Competition for nesting sites is fierce as migrating birds return north for the summer months, but as BirdNote’s Michael Stein reports, clever bluebirds and the tree swallows beat the rush—staking their claim before others have a chance. (published February 26, 2016)

Beyond the Headlines

Feb 27, 2016

In this week’s trip beyond the headlines, Peter Dykstra tells host Steve Curwood about unexpected health effects linked to breathing Beijing’s dirty air and how exposure to a toxin in the sea ruined this year’s Dungeness crab season. It also poisoned California’s seabirds years ago, inspiring a famous Alfred Hitchcock film. Traveling back in environmental politics, they consider how ignorance related to environmental contamination of food contributed to the Salem witchhunt. (published February 26, 2016)

From the chytrid fungus in frogs to white-nose syndrome in bats, fungal diseases have been wreaking havoc on many animal species around the world. Writer Elizabeth Kolbert authored an article about the global surge in these diseases in Yale’s magazine E-360. She discusses the causes and possible actions to protect animals in the future with host Steve Curwood. (published February 26, 2016)

As the saying goes in Hollywood, “Sex sells.” The same may be true for marine biology.

In a new book called "Sex in the Sea," Marah Hardt, a marine biologist and co-director of the non-profit Future of Fish, documents how life under the waves depends on the intricate, complex and mysterious mating rituals of its inhabitants — and she does it in a way designed to catch people’s attention.

Dan Telvock/Investigative Post

Toxic waste from Love Canal was removed from a landfill in Wheatfield in 2014 and 2015. But the New York Department of Environmental Conservation recently determined that the Nash Road site poses a "significant threat to public health."

Back in 2011, when gasoline prices in the US were close to $4 a gallon, President Barack Obama called for automakers to put a million electric cars on the road in America by 2015.

So far, Americans have bought only 400,000 — and with such low gas prices, the whole effort is doomed, right? Maybe not.

For consumers, range and price are the biggest obstacles to purchasing an electric vehicle: a $30,000 electric car barely goes 100 miles on a charge — even less in cold weather. And if you want to go 300 miles on a charge, you have to shell out $100,000 for a Tesla.

Winter is prime time for birders looking for a lark

Feb 22, 2016

Not all birds fly south for the winter. There are plenty of wild birds on display across Western New York, even in these cold weather months. Buffalo Spree editor Elizabeth Licata, a WBFO contributor, visited one local nature preserve to find out more.


After decades of negotiation, an agreement has been reached that will protect 85 percent of the Great Bear Rainforest in British Columbia from logging. The agreement was hammered out among environmental activists, the timber industry, First Nations and the BC government.

Wolf Species Have "Howling Dialects"

Feb 20, 2016

Members of the wolf family howl, some like coyotes in shorter varied bursts, others like the European grey wolf in a long tonal call. Now, University of Cambridge researchers have found that different types of howls and their preference for use are identifiable as a dialects. Study author Arik Kershenbaum speaks with host Steve Curwood about the finding and how this could be used for management of wolves. (published February 19, 2016)

Living on Earth: February 19, 2016

Feb 20, 2016

Obama Calls For New Oil Tax / Beyond the Headlines / Converting the Economy to Renewable Energy Without Big Batteries / Race and Reclaiming a Refuge / BirdNote: The Feathers that Carry Water / Killing Wolves in British Columbia / What a Wolf's Howl Says / Wolf Species Have "Howling Dialects"

Beyond the Headlines

Feb 20, 2016

In this week’s trip beyond the headlines, Peter Dykstra tells host Steve Curwood about Aliso Canyon’s large greenhouse gas leaks and North Carolina’s odd concern over future waste from solar panels, before reflecting on the Boss Hog investigative project on North Carolina’s hog waste problem. (published February 19, 2016)

Race and Reclaiming a Refuge

Feb 20, 2016

In 1979, a group of unarmed black protesters briefly occupied Georgia’s Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge in an effort to rebuild a community displaced decades earlier. Reporter Joseph Rose of the Oregonian magazine tells host Steve Curwood how that occupation contrasts with the recent standoff involving white ranchers in Oregon’s Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. (published February 19, 2016)

What a Wolf's Howl Says

Feb 20, 2016

When a wolf howls in Yellowstone’s snowy landscape, a howling chorus responds. But in the spring, the wolves grow quieter as they raise pups. Now researchers understand how wolf calls change with the seasons, and hope to answer the tougher question of what the howls actually mean. The park’s reporter-in-residence, Jennifer Jerrett, has the story. (published February 19, 2016)

A little-used provision in the Clean Air Act may give the EPA the authority to institute broad, market-based mechanisms such as cap and trade to combat climate change.

The provision, known as Section 115, was reportedly discussed by the State Department and international negotiators as part of the president’s statutory authority to regulate CO2 and meet the pledges the US made in Paris at COP21.

The dramatic drop in coal production in states like Pennsylvania has had an unfortunate consequence: less money to clean up abandoned coal mines that continue to pollute rivers and streams.

Much of the funding for mine cleanup projects comes from fees on coal production and the construction of new mines. As the coal industry struggles, that money is slowly disappearing.

HIgh Court Puts Clean Power Plan On Hold

Feb 13, 2016

The Supreme Court has issued a stay on implementation of the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan. This could delay mandatory emissions cuts from the electric power sector. But other legal options that were strengthened by the Paris Climate Agreement might be better suited for tackling climate change domestically and internationally. Vermont Law School Professor Pat Parenteau and host Steve Curwood discuss the stay and its affect on the President’s strategy for tackling climate change. (published February 12, 2016)

Californians hope two months of plenty of snow could ease the 4-year drought. But Living on Earth’s Emmett Fitzgerald reports that high snowfalls in the Sierra Mountains this winter won’t end the water problems and the state needs to manage the resource creatively and efficiently for the foreseeable future. (published February 12, 2016)

Beyond the Headlines

Feb 13, 2016

In this week’s trip beyond the headlines, Peter Dykstra and host Steve Curwood talk about a college committing to 100 percent solar power and an effort to open up buried streams in Detroit, Michigan. Also, they remember a 1950s television personality who vividly predicted the impacts of climate change and sea-level rise. (published February 12, 2016)

Sex and Sustainability in the Sea

Feb 13, 2016

The extensive ecosystem under the waves depends on the intricate, complex and mysterious mating rituals of its inhabitants. Host Steve Curwood speaks with Marah Hardt, a marine biologist and author of a new book, Sex in the Sea about some clever and unusual reproductive strategies unique to sea-dwellers and why understanding this is critical for maintaining the resource.

Living on Earth: February 12, 2016

Feb 13, 2016

HIgh Court Puts Clean Power Plan On Hold / Beyond the Headlines / Sierra Snows Ease, But Won't End California Drought / Sex and Sustainability in the Sea

“Environmental racism is real,” says professor Robert Bullard, considered the father of environmental justice. “It’s so real that even having the facts, having the documentation and having the information has never been enough to provide equal protection for people of color and poor people.”

Bullard is dean of the School of Public Affairs at Texas Southern University and the author of the 1990 book "Dumping in Dixie: Race, Class and Environmental Quality."

The extreme weather events unfolding around the world as a result of El Niño may give nations an opportunity to learn how to plan for the expected effects of global warming.

“In some sense, what we're seeing around the world right now is an advanced view of the sort of things that we'll see more of in the future — all of the weather systems being somewhat more vigorous than they have been in the past, the risk of both droughts in some regions and flooding in other regions,” says climate scientist Kevin Trenberth of the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

Michael Mroziak, WBFO

In light of the water crisis going on in Flint, Michigan, two Buffalo elected officials wanted to find out if the Queen City's water supply is safe.


Looking for parking in a city is frustrating for the driver, and bad for the climate as circling cars emit unnecessary carbon dioxide. But as reporter Clive Thompson tells host Steve Curwood, fleets of coordinated, self-driving cars could bring an end to parking as we know it and help make our future cheaper, as well as more efficient, pleasant and green. (published February 5, 2016)

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