Current Event April 6, 2016
The severe drought in California resulted in a state-wide mandate of 25% reduction in water use last year. This affects many residents, especially those who make a living in farming and agriculture. The snowpack in the Sierra Nevada mountains feeds water into the state’s reservoirs, which supplies about 30% of the state’s water needs. Last year the snowpack was 5% of average. This year, it’s about 95%. Even though it’s just below average, this is a great improvement. However, most growers remain cautious about whether the drought is really over.
Current Event February 16, 2016
Last summer, President Obama laid plans for fighting climate change. The Clean Power Plan includes Environmental Protection Agency standards on carbon pollution from U.S. power plants. Twenty-seven states sued over the proposal. Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court put a hold on the Clean Power Plan by a vote of 5-4. Environmentalists say this ruling threatens progress on global warming. In some states, coal companies and Republican politicians are cheering this decision. Listen to hear from supporters and opponents, and what this may mean for regulating coal.
Current Event January 6, 2016
Along the Mississippi River, people are just starting to assess the damage caused by a winter flood. The rainwater is moving south along the river and threatening more communities. Many people couldn’t afford flood insurance and thought they were on safe ground. Six feet of water ruined businesses, destroyed homes and closed roads. Listen to hear more about this devastating flood.
Current Event October 13, 2015
Hurricane Joaquin hit South Carolina bringing over 20 inches of rain. People were evacuated, homes flooded and roads collapsed. The cost of the damage is still being calculated and a few counties were declared disaster areas. People in South Carolina are very concerned about the failure of eleven dams that led to much of the flooding. Who is responsible? In some towns, the dams are owned by private homeowners, and have not gotten enough repair or attention. Listen to this story to hear about the damage from Hurricane Joaquin, and what can be done to prepare for future disasters.
Current Event September 15, 2015
New government climate change regulations, which aim to limit the demand for coal, are threatening to cause layoffs, bankruptcies and impact the livelihood of many U.S. coal town families. Coal is the number one contributor to climate change and 40% of the coal mined in the United States is on federal land, land belonging to the public. Coal mining companies pay the government to lease this land, as a part of the federal coal program. Debates have sparked hearings this summer in Wyoming, Colorado, Montana, and New Mexico. In Wyoming, where 84% of the coal mined on federal land comes from, coal miners are fighting for their jobs. Listen to different perspectives on coal mining.
Current Event September 7, 2015
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.
Current Event September 4, 2015
It’s been 10 years since Hurricane Katrina flooded New Orleans. At the time, President George W. Bush and his administration were widely criticized for their slow response to the flooding. But on the 10 year anniversary, Bush was invited back to visit the city again. His tour sparked mixed reactions from residents who still feel they were let down by the federal government's response to the massive disaster.
Tsunamis are created by tectonic plates thrusting against each other and then lifting the sea floor and dropping it down, which creates a giant wave. A 2010 earthquake in Chile was caused by a shift in the seafloor. This same shift set off tsunami detection buoys and left scientists waiting for the tsunami to hit. But it ended up being small. Listen to learn more about this quake and how tsunamis are created.
Scientists say it’s nearly certain that human activity and fossil fuels are warming the planet. The mainstream discussion focuses on alternative energy and reducing fossil fuel emissions. But the field of geoengineering is looking for more large scale and proactive things we can do to offset warming. Some see this as an exciting way to help the planet, others as a threat. Listen to learn about the strategies geoengineers are exploring to prevent further global warming.
Scientists are using computer computations to link cases of extreme weather to global warming. Scientists set out to link major flooding in England and Wales in the fall of 2000 to climate change. This task was undertaken by scientists and citizens alike - running thousands of computer simulations and comparing the result in a world with climate change and one without it. Listen to learn what these simulations found.
Current Event February 12, 2015
New England has been hit hard by snow in the last month. Storm after storm has left unprecedented amounts of snow to be removed from the streets in cities like Boston, Massachusetts. Where does all of this snow go and what happens to it? Listen to hear how the City of Boston is dealing with mounds of snow.
A United Nations report in 2014 shows that human activities are changing the planet. The scientists are more confident in their conclusions that humans are causing global warming. There are rising sea levels, higher temperatures and impacts on wildlife. This conversation with a public radio reporter looks at the long term trend in global temperatures and what humans can do to reverse the trend.
Current Event October 29, 2014
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.
Current Event October 7, 2014
Nearly two years ago Hurricane Sandy devastated communities on the New Jersey coast, leaving governments, scientists, architects, and citizens looking for innovative solutions to protect against natural disasters. This public radio story looks at the design and thinking behind the New Meadowlands Project in New Jersey. From the appeal of a new Central Park, to the protection wetlands provide neighboring communities from flooding, this story will get your students thinking about the benefits and challenges of implementing big environmental protection projects.
Current Event August 6, 2014
What does a 20% chance of rain mean to you? For people around the country, it can mean many different things. So weather forecasters and meteorologists are trying to be more careful with their words to explain probability in weather predictions. Listen to this public radio story to learn how.
Global warming is expected to increase summer temperatures making cities even hotter. As concrete and asphalt within cities retain heat, it can increase health risks. The sun mixes with city pollution to create ozone that can irritate people's lungs, especially if they have breathing problems such as asthma. Listen to learn how public health officials are trying to help those living in the hottest areas.
Manatees, the vegetarian aquatic mammals that inhabit the waters of Florida, depend on natural warm water springs to survive the winter. However, those warm water sources have diminished over the years due to an increase in development around the area. Listen to learn how local power plants are maintaining the warm water to try to help the manatees.
As the ocean rises, some island nations might disappear and the coastlines change. This is critical for some island nations that are at risk of slipping under water as sea levels rise. Political, economic and personal consequences are factors in how the climate problems in these nations are dealt with. Listen to learn what can be done to prevent these catastrophic changes in our geography.
Before World War II, a wind chill table and a formula were developed which scientists followed until it was updated at the beginning of the 21st Century. Scientists are still trying to understand the best way to calculate wind chill. Listen to learn from people who often experience cold temperatures and how some factors can affect how cold we feel more than others.
What makes up a coral? This audio story takes you to an underwater observatory where a scientist is studying coral reefs. The scientist has found that CO2 in the ocean is making the ocean warmer and dissolving the coral reef system. But the scientist also discusses how coral reefs can recover. Listen to this story to hear the factors that threaten coral reefs and how they can recover.