Environment

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)

Eighty-five percent of the Great Bear Rainforest in British Columbia is now protected from logging, after decades of negotiations among environmental activists, the timber industry, First Nations, and the BC government. Temperate rainforests are one of the most rare ecosystems on Earth.Host Steve Curwood discusses how these groups came together with reporter Andrew MacLeod of the magazine The Tyee, who explains what’s been protected and what’s open for logging. (published February 5, 2016)

Storing solar energy is an enduring challenge for scientists, but now a team of MIT researchers has developed a new material that can trap it and release it as heat on demand. Host Steve Curwood visits the MIT lab to hear from postdoc David Zhitomirsky and graduate student Eugene Cho about their material and how it might be used to do such things as defrost windshields and warm our clothes. (published February 5, 2016)

What's New for Electric Cars

Feb 6, 2016

Gasoline prices are low right now, yet some manufacturers are poised to launch affordable electric cars with a 200 mile range. Host Steve Curwood speaks with green transportation reporter Jim Motavalli about electric cars and the future of renewable sources for electricity-- how Tesla’s Powerwall and a large fleet of electric cars could help stabilize the grid, and add flexibility to our greener energy future. (published February 5, 2016)

Beyond the Headlines

Feb 6, 2016

Peter Dykstra shares some good news this week with host Steve Curwood. There are large reductions in air pollution costs and less toxins in fish. They also look back at Donald Trump’s battle against Scottish wind power. (published February 5, 2016)

Storing solar energy is an enduring challenge for scientists, but now a team of MIT researchers has developed a new material that can trap it and release it as heat on demand. Host Steve Curwood visits the MIT lab to hear from postdoc David Zhitomirsky and graduate student Eugene Cho about their material and how it might be used to do such things as defrost windshields and warm our clothes. (published February 5, 2016)

Living on Earth: February 5, 2016

Feb 6, 2016

Great Bear Rainforest Protected From Massive Logging / Beyond the Headlines / A Novel Way to Capture and Release the Warmth of the Sun / What's New for Electric Cars / A Vision to End the Hassle of Urban Parking

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)

Beyond the Headlines

Feb 6, 2016

Peter Dykstra shares some good news this week with host Steve Curwood. There are large reductions in air pollution costs and less toxins in fish. They also look back at Donald Trump’s battle against Scottish wind power. (published February 5, 2016)

Eighty-five percent of the Great Bear Rainforest in British Columbia is now protected from logging, after decades of negotiations among environmental activists, the timber industry, First Nations, and the BC government. Temperate rainforests are one of the most rare ecosystems on Earth.Host Steve Curwood discusses how these groups came together with reporter Andrew MacLeod of the magazine The Tyee, who explains what’s been protected and what’s open for logging. (published February 5, 2016)

The drinking-water disaster in Flint, Michigan, occurred not just as a result of mistakes and bad decision-making — it was the result of lies, falsified science and a deliberate coverup.

“What's happened is an entirely preventable man-made disaster that started out by not following federal law that requires addition of a corrosion control chemical to the water supply to protect the iron and lead pipes from corrosion,” says Virginia Tech water treatment and corrosion expert Marc Edwards.

Abandoned coal mines must be cleaned up for the health of the environment and regional waterways. But much of the funding for these projects comes from fees on new mines. Now with the slump in coal use, there’s less money to straighten up the toxic legacy of coal mining's past. The Allegheny Front's Reid Frazier reports. (published January 29, 2016)

Beyond the Headlines

Jan 30, 2016

In this week’s trip beyond the headlines, Peter Dykstra tells host Steve Curwood that President Obama’s ambitious goal for electric vehicles has fallen short but a non-profit that tracks environmental crimes and accidents from the skies is a great success. Also, we mark the anniversary of the Ramsar Convention, an international agreement to protect wetlands. (published January 29, 2016)

BirdNote: Costa Rica's Morning Chorus

Jan 30, 2016

In Costa Rica, the vibrant colors of a winter sunrise are closely rivaled by the exuberance of its birdsong. BirdNote’s Mary McCann reports that while some of Costa Rica’s bird species hide from sight, their calls are highly distinguishable. (published January 29, 2016)

Zika’s Emergence in a Changing Climate

Jan 30, 2016

An emerging Zika epidemic and its association with a worrisome birth defect has pushed a formerly obscure infection into the spotlight. Along with other vector-borne diseases such as dengue and West Nile, climate change is probably accelerating the spread of Zika, as mosquitoes also spread to new areas. Dr. Kamran Khan, an infectious disease physician, tells host Steve Curwood about growing global public health concerns and how the virus might be controlled. (published January 29, 2016)

Flint and Environmental Racism

Jan 30, 2016

Prof. Robert Bullard, the “father of environmental justice”, says that the lead water disaster in Flint, Michigan is just the latest example in a long history of environmental injustice in the United States. Prof. Bullard, Dean of the School of Public Affairs at Texas Southern University, tells host Steve Curwood that the working class and communities of color like those of Flint are far more likely to be exposed to toxic substances like lead. (published January 29, 2016)

Around the country, coal-fired power plants are racing to comply with new EPA rules to keep sulfur dioxide and mercury out of the air.

The Homer City Generating Station is one such facility. It rises like a cathedral out of a valley in Indiana County, an hour east of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. You can see its smokestacks and hourglass shaped cooling towers from miles around.

The construction project to install new pollution controls at Homer City is a huge and expensive project. Total cost is estimated at $750 million. What makes the project so costly?

Throughout history, humans have gathered in the dark to marvel at the starry blanket overhead. Nowadays, artificial light pollution obscures the night sky in much of the industrial world — which could lead to unforeseen consequences for the environment and for human health.

Opponents of the move from fossil fuels to renewable energy frequently cite the cost — financial as well as on jobs — for their opposition. Investor and philanthropist Tom Steyer, who has been on the front lines of this debate for some time, says that's nonsense.

In fact, he contends, the opposite is true.

“The argument that moving to clean energy is a job killer is false,” Steyer says. “Not only does it create net new jobs, it also reduces energy costs across society and raises people's take home pay.”

Dan Telvock

Attention is now focused on the level of pollution in the Buffalo's Scajaquada Creek. "It's the only one (waterway) in the entire Niagara River Watershed where it's unfit for aquatic life," said Investigative Post's Dan Telvock during WBFO's Press Pass.


Campaign season is in full swing, so candidates are running around saying the kinds of things candidates say, including on the topic of climate change. Meanwhile, last year, Congress passed a budget that included important provisions for US energy and climate policy.

2015's heat and drought in Montana forced many black bear families to forage far from their natural habitat. Quite a few of the wandering bears wound up being shot or hit by cars. And that means there were a lot of orphaned black bear cubs this year.

“We’ve been really, really busy with bears, all throughout the state this year,” says Brady Murphy, a game warden in Augusta, Montana. “We’ve handled a lot of different urban wildlife bear complaints.”

While wildlife in the West is often protected by authorities, the animals' presence is not always appreciated residents.

WBFO News File Photo

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York conservation officials are inviting public comment on potential hunting rule changes for the 2016-17 season.

Only a couple of weeks remain before the nation’s first presidential primary election in New Hampshire and Republican candidates are campaigning heavily in a vital effort to sway voters. On the stump, they are fielding questions from voters about climate change and energy policy.

Here are a few of the questions voters are asking — and what a few of the candidates are saying.

First, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush:

A slow-motion ecological disaster is unfolding in Porter Ranch, California, an affluent Los Angeles suburb.

A massive natural gas leak at the Southern California Gas Aliso Canyon storage field has led California Governor Jerry Brown to declare a state of emergency in the area and hundreds of residents have been forced to evacuate.

The main ingredient of natural gas is methane, a greenhouse gas 25 times more powerful than CO2. Since the beginning of the disaster, the leak has released about 77 million kilograms of methane into the atmosphere.

Hip hop might not be the sound that music fans associate with environmental action, but “green energy" hip hop artist Tem Blessed is using his music to speak directly to young people about sustainability.

President Obama recently delivered his final State of the Union address, outlining his vision for the last year of his Presidency and beyond. Host Steve Curwood chats with Peter Dykstra of Environmental Health News about the speech and what signals it sends about President Obama’s environmental agenda in the months ahead. (published January 15, 2016)

Saving a Bear Cub

Jan 16, 2016

2015's heat and drought in Montana forced many black bear families to forage far from their natural habitat, and many young cubs were orphaned during the trek. Reporter Clay Scott follows game wardens as they rescue one such cub and transport him to safety. (published January 15, 2016)

Polar Bear Summits Talus Mound

Jan 16, 2016

Up in the arctic north of Canada’s Akpatok Island, a large, male polar bear climbs crags in search of murre fledglings, but instead finds a plane full of sightseers rounding the bluff, surprising each other. Writer Mark Seth Lender reports from the Qikiqtaaluk Region of Nunavut, Canada. (published January 15, 2016)

GOP Campaigns Diverge on Climate Questions

Jan 16, 2016

In the mere weeks leading up to the nation’s first presidential primary election in New Hampshire, Republican candidates are campaigning heavily in a vital effort to sway voters. Host Steve Curwood tracked down Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Ohio Governor John Kasich and Florida Senator Marco Rubio to find out how the candidates would address climate change, if they occupied the White House. (published January 15, 2016)

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