Environment

WNPR's Environmental Reporting Initiative is made possible by United Technologies Corporation.

Aundrea Murray / WNPR

The I-84 viaduct in Hartford needs to be replaced, but the state still has to figure out how that’s going to happen -- and it's currently considering options.

DVIDSHUB / Creative Commons

New patterns of extreme weather have insurance companies thinking more seriously about climate change. As storms intensify and damages increase, many are looking at new ways to predict losses from climate related risks. 

The Case Against Owning Exotic Pets

Apr 1, 2015
Steve Jurvetson / Flickr

It's official: owning a dog or a cat is just not as cool as it used to be. Nowadays, anybody who's anybody owns a monkey, or a leopard, or a slow loris... Whatever that is. Indeed in today's age, with the desire to stand out leading us to make ever more questionable decisions, owning a creature everyone else is smart enough (or ethical enough) not to own is a true mark of distinction.

USFWS Headquarters / Creative Commons

The Northern Long-eared bat is now a protected animal under the Endangered Species Act. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced the move on Wednesday, saying the designation will come with a special interim rule aimed at relieving regulatory burdens on local land owners and government agencies in the bat's range.

Scientists in California are hoping to use your smart phone to solve a cosmic mystery. They're developing an app to turn your phone into a cosmic ray detector. If enough people install the app, the scientists think they'll be able to figure out once and for all what's producing the very energetic cosmic rays that occasionally hit the Earth.

Ryan King / WNPR

It all starts with a sugar bush. While that sounds like something out of the board game Candy Land, it's actually another name for a stand of sugar maples -- one of the trees that gives us maple syrup.

Ryan King / WNPR

CTfastrack begins service this weekend. The 9.4 mile bus-only roadway runs from New Britain to Hartford, looking to lure some driving commuters to consider mass transit.

lolo-38 / Creative Commons

You may leave the radio or the TV on for your kitty when you head off to work, but new research is saying that might not be the best idea. Instead, why not try out a few of these songs, composed specifically for your cat master?

Robert Dewar / Creative Commons

Neanderthals have long been recognized as humans’ closest relatives. They were highly intelligent, skilled hunters, with a rugged build, and a knack for toolmaking.

Updated at 4 p.m. ET

A Russian rocket has carried a Russian cosmonaut and an American astronaut to the International Space Station, where they will live for a full year, twice as long as people usually stay.

No American has remained in space longer than 215 days. Only a few people have ever gone on space trips lasting a year or more — the longest was 437 days — and they're all Russian cosmonauts. The last year-plus stay in space occurred nearly two decades ago.

The Antarctic is far away, freezing and buried under a patchwork of ice sheets and glaciers. But a warming climate is altering that mosaic in unpredictable ways — research published Thursday shows that the pace of change in parts of the Antarctic is accelerating.

Wikimedia Commons

Residents on Connecticut's coast continue to underestimate the economic and physical dangers posed by severe weather, according to a new survey out of Yale.

Bill Dickinson / Flickr

The new route for passenger rail through the Pioneer Valley in western Massachusetts is exceeding expectations, according to numbers from Amtrak.

The service shifted west in late December, which eliminated a stop in Amherst, and added new ones in Northampton and Greenfield. 

MGM Springfield

MGM broke ground on an $800 million casino in downtown Springfield, Massachusetts on Tuesday.

Company officials -- including Mike Mathis, MGM Springfield president; Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno; and state Gaming Commission Chairman Stephen Crosby -- were all in attendance.

SEDACmaps / Creative Commons

A delegation from the East African Nation of Djibouti is visiting Yale University to learn more about how climate change will affect the horn of Africa in the coming years.

Updated at 12:50 p.m. ET

SpaceX has put all of its images in the public domain — as the result of a tweet.

CEO Elon Musk tweeted Saturday:

Among the responses was this one:

Musk's reply:

SpaceX posted new images on its website and on Flickr. The decision puts SpaceX in the company of NASA, which also has its images in the public domain.

Doug Kerr / Creative Commons

Connecticut's energy and environmental commissioner says budget cuts proposed by Governor Dannel Malloy could lead to reduced hiring, closing bathrooms at some state parks, and restricting trash collection.

Wikimedia Commons

A high school science club wants Connecticut lawmakers to name titanium as the state’s official element.

dailyjoe / Creative Commons

Ask an environmental regulator what they do -- and they're likely to say this: making sure people don't break the law and don't pollute. But as a WNPR investigation found out, getting people to obey environmental rules can be tricky.

With recent news headlines proclaiming that dozens of people have been selected as finalists for a Martian astronaut corps, it might seem like a trip to this alien world might finally be close at hand.

But let's have a little reality check. What are the chances that we really will see people on the Red Planet in the next couple of decades?

A brutally cold season that featured buried cars and bizarre warnings, culminated Sunday night as this winter officially became Boston's snowiest ever.

As Dan Guzman of member station WBUR tells our Newscast unit, snow that fell Sunday night pushed the city past the seasonal record set 19 years ago:

Officials in Vanuatu are still assessing damage from what President Baldwin Lonsdale says was "a monster" — Cyclone Pam, a strong storm that hit the small nation in the South Pacific with winds that damaged or destroyed 90 percent of the buildings in the capital, Lonsdale says.

"This is a very devastating cyclone in Vanuatu. I term it as a monster, a monster," he said. "It's a setback for the government and for the people of Vanuatu. After all the development that has taken place, all this development has been wiped out."

A blighted tornado-damaged building on Main Street in Springfield, Massachusetts will soon come under the wrecker’s ball. 

Springfield city officials will formally announce Monday the demolition of a former auto parts store, that was the scene of a recent natural gas leak that forced a temporary closure of several streets and precautionary evacuations.  The city seized the building for non-payment of taxes, but could not find an interested buyer for redevelopment.  Mayor Domenic Sarno is pursuing a blight reduction strategy.

Evan Schuurman / Save The Children

Two Connecticut-based agencies are responding to Cyclone Pam. The monster storm is believed to have left widespread destruction and killed an unknown number of residents on the South Pacific islands of Vanuatu. 

Backers of a renewable energy bill making its way through the Vermont Legislature say a draft ruling from regulators in Connecticut effectively endorses the Vermont legislation.

Karl-Ludwig Poggemann / Creative Commons

Go for a drive through Sweden and you’ll find some of the safest roads in the world. But that hasn’t stopped the small country from rolling out a plan to make its roads even safer. The goal of Sweden's Vision Zero Initiative is to eliminate the number of national road deaths and injuries.

Meanwhile, much of the United States is still trying to figure out what to do about a lot of its traffic and infrastructural issues. In Connecticut, Governor Dannel Malloy has proposed making changes like widening I-95. But some question whether that’s really the best way to improve traffic flow along the congested interstate.

This hour, we talk with the Vision Zero Initiative's project manager to find out how Sweden is improving its road systems, and find out what we can learn from its approach to traffic safety. We also hear the story of one man's proposal to build a skating lane in Edmonton, Alberta. Dread your work commute? Why not strap on your blades and skate there? 

John Mueller / Creative Commons

Amtrak says 299 passengers headed for Boston were stuck on a cold, dark train for more than three hours after it lost power in Connecticut. 

City of Middletown / Middletowneyenews.blogspot.com

Zoning may not be the sexiest topic when it comes to headlines, but it sure has been in the news a lot lately, and it tells us a lot about what matters in our cities and towns.

This hour, we hear about some recent zoning stories making waves in different parts of the state, and we hear from you -- what has zoning law done for you lately?

The near-record amount of snow that has fallen on Boston this winter is testing one of the city's great traditions: On orders from Mayor Martin J. Walsh, the Public Works Department began removing parking space savers from city streets on Monday.

In the past, the informal rule has been that whoever takes the time to dig out a parking space gets to keep it for 48 hours. But this year, the city has gotten about 100 inches of snow and those 48 hours have turned into weeks.

NASA Goddard Photo and Video / Flickr Creative Commons

High levels of carbon dioxide are putting creatures in Long Island Sound at risk. That's the finding of a new study examining the economic impact of climate change on our shoreline.

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