SunEdison Falters; Solar Still Sunny

May 28, 2016

Solar behemoth SunEdison’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing disappointed its investors, yet the industry as a whole is booming, says Nat Kreamer, CEO of Spruce Finance. Mr. Kreamer explains to host Steve Curwood why one company fell so far within a soaring market, and how public-private partnerships could help the growing solar industry take our energy grid to a low-carbon future. (published May 27, 2016)

As investigations into ExxonMobil’s public versus private communication about climate change continue, the Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) is pursuing another legal avenue to hold ExxonMobil accountable. CLF President Brad Campbell tells host Steve Curwood his organization has taken steps to sue the company for polluting the Mystic River at Everett, Massachusetts and for failing to prepare its Everett storage facility for rising sea levels and other climate impacts. (published May 27, 2016)

BirdNote®: Drinking on the Wing

May 23, 2016

Most birds drink standing up, but swallows and swifts dip down over ponds to drink on the wing. In this week’s BirdNote® Michael Stein examines where this adaptation come from. (published May 20, 2016)

Beyond the Headlines

May 23, 2016

In this week’s trip beyond the environmental news headlines, Peter Dykstra fills in host Steve Curwood about faltering “clean coal” and carbon capture projects and how critics say chemicals manufacturing safety measures are falling short of protecting the public. The history calendar this week brings a tale of how superstition saved lives, when tornadoes battered one Kansas town on the very same date three years in a row. (published May 20, 2016)

The Politics of Teaching Climate Science

May 23, 2016

The majority of Americans are worried about climate change, yet the subject is barely covered in public school science classes. The Allegheny Front’s Julie Grant reports on the powerful forces and opinions that make global warming a potential minefield for teachers. (published May 20, 2016)

In the US political conservatives often express less concern about environmental issues than liberals. But eco-psychologist Christopher Wolsko of Oregon State University tells host Steve Curwood this is due in part to the liberal framing of issues. His studies indicate reframing environmental topics in ways that reflect conservative values such as respect for authority and patriotism can better engage conservatives. (published May 20, 2016)

Checking Up on Native Plants

May 23, 2016

Spring brings the first native blooming plants, and native wildflowers are springing up at the New England Wild Flower Society’s Garden in the Woods near Boston. But climate change, aggressive invasive species and insects are stressing some iconic plants, so a group of experts assessed the state of New England’s plants now. We revisit a conversation between host Steve Curwood and the Wild Flower Society’s senior research ecologist Elizabeth Farnsworth, as they walked in the woods to find out what’s going on. (published May 20, 2016)

Robert Creenan/WBFO News

As summer approaches, many Western New Yorkers will start paying attention to their local gardens. What they don’t often know about is the neighborhood-altering impacts they can have. WBFO's Robert Creenan reports.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has honored four Western New Yorkers as New York Environmental Champions. Dr. William Boeck and Thomas Lowe of Niagara University, Dr. Joseph Gardella of the University of Buffalo and Dr. Sherri Mason of Fredonia State University were recognized for their dedication protecting the public's health and the environment.

Climate change is doing more than melting Earth’s enormous polar ice sheets: It’s actually changing the Earth’s rotation.

As the ice melts and runs off into the oceans, the weight of all that mass shifts, causing the Earth to wobble slightly on its axis, explains NASA’s Erik Ivins, co-author of a new study that documents the change in the Earth’s rotation.

It’s a fascinating phenomenon, Ivins says, but has no major effects for humans.

As global warming melts more of the sea ice in the Arctic, it’s creating new economic opportunities — from shipping, to oil drilling to tourism. This summer, a 1,000-passenger luxury cruise ship will navigate the receding sea ice through the fabled Northwest Passage.

A federal judge in Oregon ruled that 21 young people have the right to sue the federal government for failing to properly protect future generations from the dangers of climate change.

When Africa’s Great Green Wall is finished, it will cross 11 countries, from Senegal and Mauritania in the west to Eritrea, Ethiopia and Djibouti in the east.

For those in charge of making this ambitious dream a reality, it’s not just about planting trees to hold back the desert.

“The Great Green Wall is about development; it’s about sustainable, climate-smart development, at all levels,” says Elvis Paul Tangam, the African Union Commissioner for the Sahara and Sahel Great Green Wall Initiative.

WBFO News File Photo

State environmental conservation officials are issuing guidance on how New Yorkers can avoid conflicts with coyotes as spring temperatures rise and the animals increase foraging.

New research from the London School of Economics estimates that a broad range of global stocks and other financial assets are overvalued because investment managers don’t take the risks of climate change into account.

The LSE research estimates financial assets worldwide are presently overvalued by $2.5 trillion — and, in the worst case, $24 trillion.

Next-Gen Climate Activism

Apr 25, 2016

Student activists calling for a shift away from fossil fuels say that institutions that refuse to act forfeit their status as moral leaders. Harvard Law student Ted Hamilton discusses with host Steve Curwood the lawsuit that’s attempting to compel Harvard to divest its portfolio of fossil fuels, and the connections between divestment and the broader climate movement. (published April 22, 2016)

The 2016 Goldman Environmental Prizes

Apr 25, 2016

The Goldman Foundation annually honors six activists from around the world who have fought for the protection of the environment. The murder of one of last year’s winners, Berta Cáceres from Honduras, has put this year’s awards in an even brighter spotlight. Host Steve Curwood profiles this year’s winner from Latin America, Máxima Acuña of Peru, who fought a proposed gold mine on her farm, at the expense of being sent to jail and having her house knocked down and her potato crop destroyed. (published April 22, 2016)

UN Climate Chief Calls for Urgent Action

Apr 25, 2016

Earth Day 2016 brought a significant milestone for the Paris Agreement, as some 175 nations signed on at the UN Headquarters in New York City. Yet the ambitious goals of this climate agreement are not guaranteed without aggressive moves to curb carbon pollution. Host Steve Curwood sits down with Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, to discuss what’s required to give civilization a fighting chance. (published April 22, 2016)

Beyond the Headlines

Apr 25, 2016

Peter Dykstra and host Steve Curwood look at a remote indigenous tribe in Guyana that used the internet for plans to build a drone to monitor illegal deforestation, discuss Republican lawmakers and right-wing media who once accepted climate change, but have since flip-flopped, and look back at things that have gotten better, worse or stayed the same since the first Earth Day in 1970. (published April 22, 2016)

Living on Earth: April 22, 2016

Apr 25, 2016

UN Climate Chief Calls for Urgent Action / Paris and Climate Justice / Next-Gen Climate Activism / Beyond the Headlines / Happy Birthday, Living on Earth! / The 2016 Goldman Environmental Prizes / The 2016 North American Goldman Prize Winner, a Student from Baltimore

Michael Mroziak, WBFO

On Earth Day 2016, officials from the City of Buffalo delivered statistics showing an increase in recycling by residents. Leaders are hopeful the upward trend will continue as the city looks to reach the goal of an initiative introduced one year ago.

Western New York is receiving mixed grades in a new report on air pollution.

For years, women in the US Forest Service and at some national parks have complained about a hostile work environment.

Now, an investigation by the Inspector General of the Department of the Interior has confirmed that at one iconic site, Grand Canyon National Park, there has been a long-term pattern of sexual harassment.

Fighting the haze at the Grand Canyon

Apr 17, 2016

Back in 2009, industrial giant Cemex wanted to build a new plant near the Grand Canyon. Opposition forced the company to relocate the project farther away. Nevertheless, the battle to preserve air quality and visibility at the canyon is ongoing.

A federal judge in Oregon has found that 21 young people have the right to sue the federal government for failing to properly protect future generations from the dangers of climate change. Vermont Law Professor Pat Parenteau tells host Steve Curwood it’s a surprising and perhaps landmark decision that shows climate change is a unique challenge for the legal system. (published April 15, 2016)

Beyond the Headlines

Apr 16, 2016

This week, Peter Dykstra and host Steve Curwood discuss the fact that the numbers of wild tigers are growing, that responses to replacing lead water pipes differ from city to city and look back on Aaron Burr, who proposed a municipal water system for New York City in the 18th century, but later as vice-president shot Alexander Hamilton. (published April 15, 2016)

BirdNote: Spider Silk and Birds’ Nests

Apr 16, 2016

In nesting season, ingenious birds make use of many objects they find to construct a snug home for their eggs. But as Michael Stein reveals, some small birds like kinglets and hummingbirds have found that spider silk collected from webs is just the thing to hold nests together, the bird equivalent of duct tape. (published April 15, 2016)

Living on Earth: April 15, 2016

Apr 16, 2016

Youth Win Right to Sue Feds Over Climate Change / Beyond the Headlines / I Feel the Earth Move / Controversial Arctic Cruise / BirdNote: Spider Silk and Birds’ Nests / Revisiting Africa’s Great Green Wall / Great Green Wonder of the World / Elephant Matriarch Puts Her Foot Down

Revisiting Africa’s Great Green Wall

Apr 16, 2016

As human activity puts pressure on land in Africa and the planet warms, the Sahara desert threatens to overtake the arid Sahel region. But a bold initiative to plant a wall of trees 4,300 miles long across the continent could keep back the sands of the Sahara, improve degraded lands, and help alleviate poverty. We return to a 2012 Living on Earth story on the Great Green Wall, reported by Living on Earth’s Bobby Bascomb in Senegal. (published April 15, 2016)

I Feel the Earth Move

Apr 16, 2016

Climate change is doing more than melting ice sheets. It’s actually changing the Earth’s rotation. NASA’s Erik Ivins tells host Steve Curwood that the planet resembles a large top wobbling on its axis as the weight of ice lifts, but the wobble has no major effects for humans. (published April 15, 2016)