Topic: Environment

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Current Event September 7, 2015

Forest Service Budget Goes Up in Flames

Environment Weather and Climate

This year’s wildfire season is one of the worst and most expensive. With the combination of climate change, an extended fire season, and drought, catastrophic fires are becoming the new normal. Some people are starting to call the U.S. Forest Service the “U.S. Fire Service,” since fighting fires has become their main responsibility and their biggest cost. It costs more than $150 million a week to fight fires, which is more than the Forest Service can afford. FEMA and the U.S. Forest Service have been battling over spending, but there are doubts Congress will increase the budget this year.

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Current Event August 12, 2015

Raining Nitrogen

Civics/Government Earth and Space Science Environment

Levels of nitrogen in the soil and water in Rocky Mountain National Park have been on the rise over the last few decades. Dairy farming in the state has contributed to this rise in nitrogen but dairy farmers are working be part of the solution. Technology is helping to warn farmers about wind shifts that would bring nitrogen into the park. Listen to learn more about this source of nitrogen and how self regulation might help the problem.

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Current Event August 9, 2015

Clean Power Plan

Environment Climate Change Atmosphere

NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, called 2014 the hottest year on record and cited the changing climate as the cause of extreme storms, droughts and floods around the world. Slowing climate change is a top priority of President Obama, who unveiled his Clean Power Plan on August 3rd. The Plan would limit the carbon that power plants can release, cutting emissions by a third over 15 years, as well as boost the use of renewable energy. China and the U.S. are the top contributors of carbon emissions, and Obama wants the U.S. to lead the way and encourage other countries to set limits as well. He faces significant political opposition to the Clean Power Plan, even though two of three Americans support the idea.

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Current Event July 26, 2015

Marine Mammal Friends

Life Science Environment Elementary

Summer camp is usually a time to swim, play and make new friends. But at a special summer camp in California, kids get to take care of sick and stranded baby seals. Kids learn to rescue and care for the injured baby elephant seals and sea lion pups. They cut up fish to make them nutritious smoothies. The last day of this camp is similar to other camps since the kids are both happy and sad as they say goodbye to their new friends. But at this camp, the healthy new friends are released into the Ocean. Listen to learn more about how this camp helps kids learn about seals.

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Current Event June 4, 2015

State versus Towns Over Fracking

Civics/Government Earth and Space Science Environment

The practice of fracking, extracting gas from deep inside the earth, has divided neighbors and split towns. And now it’s pitting cities and towns in Texas against the state of Texas. The Texas state legislature has passed a law that takes the power to regulate the gas industry away from the cities and towns directly impacted by fracking. As you'll hear in this public radio story, blocking these local efforts to control fracking has sparked a fierce debate.

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Current Event June 2, 2015

Oil Spill Puts Focus on Safety

Civics/Government Earth and Space Science Environment

On Tuesday, May 19, 2015, an oil pipe in Santa Barbara California burst, spilling more than 100,000 gallons of oil into a storm drain that emptied into the ocean. The oil has devastated the coastline. From plants and animals on shore to the bottom of the ocean, this spill is expected to have a lasting impact on this ecologically diverse coast. Listen to learn more about the spill, its environmental impact and the political response it has inspired.

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Solar energy

Science High School

Supply and Demand of Solar Energy

Economics Earth and Space Science Environment Energy

To lower dependency on fossil fuels, some Americans have installed solar panels on their homes to produce their own clean energy. This decision involves a cost-benefit analysis of cost value and environmental impact. In some regions this cost-benefit ratio has been upset by fracking, and the cheap natural gas that it produces. How does supply and demand impact the cost of energy? How does the cost of energy impact people seeking alternatives such as solar energy? Listen to learn how one family has dealt is dealing with this shifting energy landscape.

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Thoreau and transcendentalism

ELA Middle School

Reflecting on Thoreau's 'Walden' with Art

Environment Philosophy Nonfiction

For many, Henry David Thoreau is best known for his 1854 experiment on simplicity, where he lived in the woods of Massachusetts on Walden Pond. The resulting book "Walden; or, Life in the Woods," has connected generations of readers to his vision of self-reliance, closeness to nature and transcendentalism. An art museum located near Walden Pond has launched a show, Walden Revisited, with works inspired by and responding to Thoreau’s work.

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Current Event February 3, 2015

Environmental Kids

Civics/Government Earth and Space Science Environment

Going to the movies can be entertaining, but for some young people it can also be life changing. Short documentaries showing young people working to protect the planet are inspiring other youth to take action and stand up for change. Listen to learn more about these documentaries and the efforts they have inspired.

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Current Event January 27, 2015

BP Pays Up

Civics/Government Life Science Economics Environment

A federal judge has found oil company BP responsible for the April 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion and resulting oil spill. Now the question is how much should BP pay for the damage caused by 3.19 million barrels of oil that poured into the Gulf of Mexico. Some argue that BP should receive the maximum penalty for the environmental and economic damage caused by the spill. But BP wants credit for the money its has already spent on damages and cleanup. Listen to learn more about this complicated decision.

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Current Event January 2, 2015

Nutrition and the Environment

Civics/Government Environment Nutrition

What you eat doesn’t just impact you; it impacts the environment. This is the argument that some nutritionists are presenting to U.S. Congressional Dietary Guideline Advisory Committee. They suggest Congress should consider the agricultural practices and the environmental impact of some foods when issuing nutrition guidelines. But that suggestion has not been well received by Congress. Listen to learn more about this effort to marry nutrition and environmentalism and the congressional backlash it has provoked.

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Current Event November 19, 2014

Art Exhibit Celebrates Walden

Literature Environment Arts Philosophy

For many, Henry David Thoreau is best know for his 1854 experiment in simplicity, living in the woods of Massachusetts on Walden Pond. The resulting book 'Walden, or Life in the Woods,' has connected generations of readers to Thoreau's vision of self-reliance, closeness to nature, and transcendentalism. An art museum located near Walden Pond has launched a show, Walden Revisited, with works inspired by and responding to Thoreau’s work.

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Current Event October 29, 2014

Living in a Drought

Civics/Government Economics Earth and Space Science Environment Weather and Climate

California is in the middle of a four year drought. The city of Santa Cruz has stepped up its conservation efforts with tough water restrictions. Water use is rationed by household, pushing residents to conserve in every way possible. This public radio story takes you to Santa Cruz and sheds light on how the city uses high penalties and water school to get people on board with water conservation.

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Current Event August 5, 2014

A Cargo of Lost Legos Tells the Story of Marine Trash

Earth and Space Science Environment

Lego pieces have been washing up along beaches for nearly two decades after a shipping container slipped its cargo. Now, these Legos that were accidentally dropped into the sea are traveling around the world and turning up in places like Holland and Australia. Listen to this story to learn how that's possible.

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Microbial fuel cells

Science Middle School

Turning Sewage into Microbial Fuel Cells

Life Science Earth and Space Science Environment Energy Cells

Scientists are creating bacteria batteries in an effort to use waste water to create electricity. This public radio story is about how the microbes from sewage can be harnessed to create microbial fuel cells. The process could provide ways to provide energy in remote place for very little money.

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Shredding cars

Science Middle School

Recyling Old Cars

Earth and Space Science Environment Physical Science Human Impacts Air Pollution

The "cash for clunkers" program was a limited federal government program in the U.S. that gave people credits to trade in their old, gas guzzling, polluting cars for newer ones. The goal was to get older cars off the road to improve pollution. In this audio story we hear how these old cars are shredded and transformed into scrap metal. Because the “cash for clunkers” program did not allow the re-sale of old car engines, junkyards were forced to turn the cars into scrap metal.

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Overfishing and bluefin tuna

Science Middle School


Overfishing and Blue Fin Tuna

Life Science Environment Ecosystems Oceans Human Impacts

This public radio story takes you on a boat for some blue fin tuna tagging and fishing. It’s action packed but also filled with scientific data about the status of blue fin in our oceans.

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An imminent thaw

Science Middle School

The Changing Ecosystem of the Bering Sea

Earth and Space Science Environment Ecosystems Oceans

Ice is an essential component of the ecosystem of the Bering Sea region. For example, sea ice cover can dramatically affect the levels of phytoplankton which has enormous effects on the entire food web. In this public radio story we hear about the health of the Bering Sea ecology by studying scientific observations.

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Geology through sound

Science Middle School

Geological Data about Climate Change Turns into Music Through Sound

Life Science Environment Climate Change Human Impacts Geology Sound

What does climate change sound like? You will hear in this public radio story about a geologist who has turned decades worth of data into music. He created a multitrack sequencer for data instead of music. The data and music shows a tight correlation between the amount of carbon dioxide and the amount of ice on the earth.

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