Current Event September 26, 2016
Thousands of Native Americans and supporters are protesting the construction of an oil pipeline from North Dakota to central Illinois, that will transport 470,000 barrels of oil per day. They are against it because a section of the pipeline will run near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. The tribe and its supporters have serious concerns about the project affecting their land and water. President Obama has ordered a temporary halt on the construction of the pipeline, but the Sioux tribe wants a permanent halt to the construction. Listen to hear more about this controversy.
Current Event August 24, 2016
For the first time in history, two pilots flew the Solar Impulse 2, a solar powered plane, around the world without using any fuel. This technology will have to be developed more before the public will be able to fly in them. Nevertheless, this flight symbolized the innovative progress made by aviators and energy conservationists. Listen to the story to hear more about the flight from pilot, Bertrand Piccard.
Current Event June 18, 2016
The Department of Fish and Wildlife wants to find out how bears will react to a new wind project. It will be the first commercial wind project on U.S. Forest Service land and will include 15 turbines.They started tracking bears by using radio collars to see how they move around before the turbines are in place. The collars had many problems, so they started using cameras to track the bears. Now they have data to study bears and wildlife both before and after the wind project begins. Share this story with your students so they can learn more about this wind project in Vermont and its impact on wildlife.
Current Event June 11, 2016
Beginning 200 years ago, many of Vermont’s rivers were straightened for agriculture, logging and to power turbines. Today one of three river miles in Vermont has been straightened, causing the waters to run deeper and faster – and erode away people’s property and roads. Vermont has experienced three 100-year floods in the past 30 years. Traditionally, the state and property owners have built expensive barriers to keep the rivers in line. Now the state is thinking about taking a new approach to floods: creating zones along the riverbanks where no new construction is allowed to let the rivers flow where they naturally want. Listen to this VPR News story and then use the questions below to discuss the issues it raises.
Current Event April 16, 2016
A new law in Vermont has created an opportunity. This law requires institutions to avoid sending lots of food waste to landfills. Now, much of the food that would have been thrown away is being donated to hungry local residents instead. In fact, food rescue was up 30% last year, while overall waste is down 56%. Volunteers check food items for quality and then re-box them before sending them off to people in need. Listen to the story to hear more about how the Universal Recycling Law has increased food donations.
Current Event March 19, 2016
Recent hurricanes, along with ongoing climate change, are washing away an old, capped landfill on Block Island. As the land erodes, pieces of trash and debris are falling onto the beach and into the sea. Local residents and visitors are troubled by the contamination of the beautiful island. Engineers are trying to design solutions to the local problem, while leaders around the world are fighting against climate change. Listen to hear more about the environmental threats to Block Island.
Current Event December 9, 2015
Oklahoma has experienced more than 5,000 earthquakes this year. Some scientists tie these earthquakes to fracking, the extraction of oil and gas from deep within the earth. Fracking uses water to extract the oil and gas and is then injected into underground wells for storage. This can put pressure on faults and cause them to slip and trigger an earthquake. After inspections were ordered, state regulators shut down the water disposal wells, which slowed the earthquakes. But once the wells came back online the earthquakes started again. Listen to hear more about how oil is related to earthquakes in Oklahoma.
Current Event September 28, 2015
Volkswagen, the largest car maker in Europe, is known for good gas mileage and being environmentally sound. This week it was revealed that for the last 6 years, 11 million of its diesel cars were equipped with software that cheated U.S. emissions tests. This is a huge problem for the Volkswagen brand, current owners and carbon emissions. Volkswagen's Chief Executive stepped down, but this is just the beginning of this scandal. People are looking for answers to how diesel cars will be fixed to meet emissions requirements, how that will affect car performance and whether other car manufacturers falsify emissions tests as well. Listen to learn more.
Current Event September 24, 2015
New technology is revolutionizing underwater science. A brand new field is using DNA testing to study and track species diversity in various ecosystems and environments. Biologists can study one liter of seawater and identify the fish that swam through that water. This allows them to study fish and whales without having seen them and without the expense of divers and equipment. But, there are a few issues with some of the data, such as finding the DNA of food that was eaten miles away. Listen to how data from genetic testing can be used to protect marine life, and how it is changing the research process.
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 August 12, 2015
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.
Current Event August 9, 2015
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.
Current Event July 26, 2015
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.
Current Event June 4, 2015
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.
Current Event June 2, 2015
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.
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.
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.
Current Event February 3, 2015
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.
Current Event January 27, 2015
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.
Current Event January 2, 2015
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.