Environment

Where We Live
11:52 am
Wed December 11, 2013

What Does It Take to "Make a Place"?

Jamil Ragland
Chion Wolf

It’s our monthly broadcast, live from our iConnect downtown storefront. Today we kicking off an evening of pop-up shopping: the Small Business Night Out featuring over 15 vendors. We also preview a community conversation looking at how we are shaped by our surroundings.

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Live Blog
8:56 am
Tue December 10, 2013

James Redeker Live on Where We Live

James Redeker, CT DOT Commissioner.
Credit Chion Wolf / WNPR

James Redeker, Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Transportation, joins us to talk about the latest in infrastructure. What with Metro-North woes, CTfastrak progress, talk of changes to the I-84 viaduct in Hartford, and more emphasis on transit-oriented development, is the state doing everything it can to improve the quality of our trains, buses, bridges, and roads? Check in below to see what Redeker has to say.

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Where We Live
8:30 am
Tue December 10, 2013

DOT Commissioner James Redeker

Commissioner James Redeker
Chion Wolf

It’s a snowy commute this morning. That means you’ll be sharing the road with Connecticut Department of Transportation crews, plowing and treating the roads.

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Blame It On The Wind
5:00 am
Tue December 10, 2013

Connecticut Asks Upwind States to Clean Up Their Air

An ozone transport map illustrates how out-of-state pollution moves into Connecticut. Red is westerly transported air, which moves hundreds of miles. Yellow is a southerly, nocturnal, low-level jet. Green is short-range pollution, which moves at ground level and city-to-city in the mid-Atlantic and northeast.
Credit CT DEEP

Blame it on the wind patterns, which are responsible for moving most of America's air from west to east. Often, that air carries pollution from out-of-state coal plants into Connecticut, which contributes to the formation of ozone. Now, Governor Dannel Malloy and environmental leaders from around the northeast have filed a formal petition with the Environmental Protection Agency saying they've had enough. 

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Metro-North
11:32 am
Mon December 9, 2013

Changes, Improvements Announced for Metro-North

Metro-North Signal Department workers consult circuit diagrams, make signal changes and test the system at Spuyten Duyvil.
J.P. Chan MTA

Metro-North announced immediate improvements to address safety concerns at critical curves and moveable bridges. 

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Weather
7:41 am
Mon December 9, 2013

Winter Storm Plows Through Mid-Atlantic To Hit New England

A winter storm is hitting an area from Virginia to New England, snarling traffic and closing schools. On Sunday, heavy snowfall changed the look of an NFL game in Baltimore, Md., where Ravens players stood for the national anthem at 1 p.m.
Patrick Smith Getty Images

Originally published on Mon December 9, 2013 8:24 pm

Winter won't officially begin for nearly two more weeks, but a winter storm continued to plow across much of the eastern part of the U.S. on Monday, bringing a dangerous mix of snow, ice and freezing rain. The storm knocked out power in some areas, fouled morning commutes and caused more than a thousand flights to be cancelled.

"Heavy snow fell Sunday in the Mid-Atlantic, with more than 8 inches reported in Philadelphia and a foot in nearby Newark, Del.," The Associated Press reports.

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Slick Commutes Ahead
8:53 am
Sun December 8, 2013

Winter Storm Moves Into Mid-Atlantic

Tractor trailers sit on I-35 north of Dallas on Saturday.
Tony Gutierrez AP

Originally published on Mon December 9, 2013 10:28 am

Freezing rain has been creeping across Tennessee on its way to the mid-Atlantic as the stunning cold, snow and ice that gripped Texas and the west on Saturday advance eastward.

The storm is expected to turn Virginia and Pennsylvania into an icy mess today and scrabble north into New York and southern New England tonight.

Roads will be perilous in many places by this evening and forecasters warned travelers and holiday shoppers to stay home.

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Metro-North Derailment
5:33 pm
Sat December 7, 2013

N.Y. Train Crash Spotlights Push For Automatic Safety System

A police officer stands guard at the scene of a Metro-North passenger train derailment in the Bronx borough of New York on Dec. 1.
John Minchillo AP

Originally published on Mon December 9, 2013 11:36 am

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The Colin McEnroe Show
9:47 am
Thu December 5, 2013

Preserving the Moon and Protecting Its Rocks

Astronaut Eugene Cernan salutes deployed U.S. flag on the lunar surface
Credit NASA Goddard Center on Flickr Creative Commons

Neil Armstrong was the first man to walk on the moon, but the first man to urinate there was Buzz Aldrin, just a little ahead of Neil. The two astronauts relieved themselves into bags within their suits, then removed those bags and left them on the lunar surface. When you gotta go, you gotta go. It was time to go. 

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Environment
9:42 am
Thu December 5, 2013

Council on Environmental Quality Gets An Earful About Bamboo

Credit CT-N

The Council on Environmental Quality met Thursday to hear public opinion on how the state's environmental laws might be improved. 

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Environment
7:00 am
Thu December 5, 2013

CRRA Proposes Freezing Worker Salaries

CRRA says it plans to freeze salaries for its workers beginning in 2014.
Credit Heather Brandon / WNPR

The Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority, also known as CRRA, announced plans this week to freeze worker salaries. The agency handles waste for more than 50 towns. CRRA says the salary freeze would save the agency $1.5 million and help close a projected budget gap of $12.6 million for the next five years.

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Climate Change
5:01 pm
Tue December 3, 2013

Ready — Or Not. Abrupt Climate Changes Worry Scientists Most

Puddled meltwater very likely primed this ancient edge of the Antarctic's Larsen Ice Shelf to rapidly disintegrate over just several weeks. This view of the splintered mix of frozen bergs is from a Feb. 21, 2002, satellite image.
Landsat 7 Science Team/NASA/GSFC

Originally published on Tue December 3, 2013 8:09 pm

An expert panel at the National Academy of Sciences is calling for an early warning system to alert us to abrupt and potentially catastrophic events triggered by climate change.

The committee says science can anticipate some major changes to the Earth that could affect everything from agriculture to sea level. But we aren't doing enough to look for those changes and anticipate their impacts.

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Earthquakes
3:22 pm
Tue December 3, 2013

Loud Booms Caused By Microearthquakes, Seismologist Says

This chart represents ground motion as recorded by the Weston Observatory. Highlighted are the seismic waveforms indicated Friday's two earthquakes in sotheastern Connecticut.
Weston Observatory / Town of Groton: Office of Emergency Management

The U.S. Geological Survey says it recorded a 2.1 magnitude earthquake in Connecticut last Friday. According to Groton's Office of Emergency Management, that explains the mysterious loud booms that perplexed several residents over the weekend.

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Native Plants
11:45 pm
Mon December 2, 2013

Woodbury Couple Uses Native Plants To Rebuild Forests, Backyards

Lisa and Kyle Turoczi are co-owners of Earth Tones Native Plant Nursery in Woodbury. Lisa is a landscape architect. Kyle is a soil scientist. (Their four dogs love the property.)
Patrick Skahill / WNPR

When you buy plants at a big box store, a lot of the plants aren't from Connecticut. Some are even invasive. Lisa and Kyle Turoczi are working to change that. As co-owners of Earth Tones Native Plant Nursery in Woodbury, they've even been contracted to rebuild a forest. 

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Technology
5:29 pm
Tue November 26, 2013

The Misery Of Holiday Travel, In One Real-Time Map

FlightAware Misery Map combines weather and flight data into a live map." href="/post/misery-holiday-travel-one-real-time-map" class="noexit lightbox">
The FlightAware Misery Map combines weather and flight data into a live map.
FlightAware

As I write this, snowstorms are swirling over the East Coast, threatening Thanksgiving holiday travel plans for millions of travelers. How much time in the purgatory of airports will this mean for you? Check out FlightAware's MiseryMap, which combines weather and flight data into a live map that lists which airports are being struck by storms, the number of delays and cancellations, and graphs that show flight destinations and the chances they'll actually make it on time.

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Thanksgiving
6:50 am
Tue November 26, 2013

Big Travel Day Could Be A Big Mess Due To Weather

Tuesday's forecast for the eastern half of the U.S. shows big bands of rain, freezing rain and snow.
National Weather Service

Originally published on Tue November 26, 2013 8:59 am

Rain, sleet, snow and an estimated 43.4 million Americans traveling to be with family or friends.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Fracking
11:40 pm
Mon November 25, 2013

Connecticut's Complicated Relationship With Natural Gas

A fracking site in Warren Center, Pennsylvania.
Credit Fracking Lawyer / Creative Commons

More than half of Americans surveyed by a new Yale study reported knowing little to nothing about hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as "fracking." Minimal shale deposits mean fracking wells aren't likely to come to Connecticut, but the state is facing another concern: what to do with fracking waste.

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Attention Commuters
2:45 pm
Mon November 25, 2013

How Do We Improve Metro-North?

What suggestions do you have for how Metro-North service can be improved?
Credit Flodigrip's world / Flickr Creative Commons

It's been a rough and frustrating year for Metro-North commuters. Aside from the derailment in Bridgeport and the power outage in September, the service has been slower and less reliable than usual. On a recent episode of Where We Live, we heard many suggestions from our guests and listeners on how to make Metro-North better.

Listen to the recent episode of Where We Live on Metro-North.

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Wetlands
5:11 pm
Fri November 22, 2013

Rate Of Coastal Wetlands Loss Has Sped Up, U.S. Study Says

Saltwater wetlands that include marshes and shoals on Virginia's Atlantic coast. U.S. coastal wetlands losses were 25 percent greater from 2004-2009, according to a recent federal study.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Originally published on Fri November 22, 2013 7:47 pm

The U.S. lost an average of 80,000 acres of coastal wetlands from 2004 to 2009, according to the latest data published by federal agencies. More than 70 percent of the estimated loss came in the Gulf of Mexico; nationwide, most of the loss was blamed on development that incurred on freshwater wetlands.

"The losses of these vital wetlands were 25 percent greater than during the previous six years," NPR's Elizabeth Shogren reports for our Newscast unit. She also notes that the loss equals "about seven football fields every hour."

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Why Not Just Charge It?
3:42 pm
Fri November 22, 2013

New Round of Incentives Aims to Bring More Electric Vehicle Charging Stations to Connecticut

Governor Dannel Malloy addresses reporters outside the 2013 Connecticut International Auto Show in Hartford. He announced a new round of incentives for building additional electric vehicle charging stations around the state.
Credit Patrick Skahill / WNPR

When you drive an electric car, you have to charge it, but sometimes finding those charging stations can be hard. Drivers call that "range anxiety" and it's stopped some consumers from going electric. Now, the state is looking to change that. Earlier this month, it announced more than $135,000 in grants to assist in the construction of 56 new, publicly available charging stations. 

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Cosmos
9:38 am
Thu November 21, 2013

Why We (Should) All Love The Stars

ALMA array on the Chajnantor plateau of Chile points skyward to the Milky Way, our own galaxy. The center of our galaxy is visible as a yellowish bulge crossed by dark lanes, which are themselves huge clouds of interstellar dust." href="/post/why-we-should-all-love-stars" class="noexit lightbox">
Part of the ALMA array on the Chajnantor plateau of Chile points skyward to the Milky Way, our own galaxy. The center of our galaxy is visible as a yellowish bulge crossed by dark lanes, which are themselves huge clouds of interstellar dust.
José Francisco Salgado ESO

Originally published on Wed November 20, 2013 12:31 pm

Millions of people read their horoscopes every day. They hope to find some kind of answer in those lines, as if the cosmos and its alignments had something to say directly to each one of us. Wouldn't it be wonderful if, indeed, the cosmos spoke to us this way?

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Disaster Relief
8:41 am
Thu November 21, 2013

In Tornado-Ravaged Illinois 'War Zone,' Veterans Find A Mission

Washington, Ill., sits in ruins as the sun rises Monday, a day after a severe tornado tore through the community.
Zbigniew Bzdak MCT/Landov

Originally published on Thu November 21, 2013 2:10 pm

Lots of people in and around Washington, Ill., are referring to the areas devastated by Sunday's tornado as looking like a war zone.

David Casler is among them.

"Right here, right now, if you look around this street, this is a war zone, only no one's shooting at us," he says.

Casler knows the difference. He served as a Marine in Iraq in 2004 and was subsequently hit by a roadside bomb while working there as a security contractor, suffering a brain injury.

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Where We Live
4:38 pm
Wed November 20, 2013

Service Goes South, Fares Go North: a Look at Metro-North

Metro-North has been less-than-reliable recently.
Credit Sean Marshall / Creative Commons

It’s been a rough year for Connecticut’s commuter rail line. From the derailment in Bridgeport to the extended power outage, Metro-North commuters have had headache after headache. So what can we do to improve the rail system and get people to and from New York City safely and on time?

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You Shall Not Pass!
4:19 pm
Wed November 20, 2013

Hartford Resident Sues to Reopen Flower Street

Joshua LaPorte, CT State Senator John Fonfara, Christopher Brown, and Attorney Ken Krayeske.
Chion Wolf WNPR

Christopher Brown is a cyclist in Hartford, and he's suing the Connecticut Department of Transportation for closing Flower Street. Brown described the street as "a crucial North/South route for safe bike and pedestrian travel between Capitol and Farmington Avenues." 

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Resilience
12:15 pm
Wed November 20, 2013

Disaster Assistance Centers Open in Two New Connecticut Locations

Storm surge during Sandy contributed to flooding along the Connecticut shoreline.
Credit Jan Ellen Spiegel / WNPR

The state is opening two new disaster assistance centers on Wednesday to help residents who suffered losses during Superstorm Sandy. One is a mobile center, serving Middlesex County. The other will be located at the Groton senior center. 

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Call Bruce Willis
11:49 am
Wed November 20, 2013

Deflecting An Asteroid, With Paintballs

This artist's conception shows how families of asteroids are created. Over the history of our solar system, catastrophic collisions between asteroids located in the belt between Mars and Jupiter have formed families of asteroids in similar orbits.
NASA/JPL-Caltech

When you think about ways to deflect an asteroid, your mind probably immediately jumps to heavy artillery. Things like lasers. Or Bruce Willis-style nuclear bombs. But Sung Wook Paek is working on a much lower-key approach to preventing Armageddon: paintballs.  

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Environment
9:29 pm
Tue November 19, 2013

CRRA Claims Multimillion-Dollar Deficit

CRRA said it's facing a revenue gap of $7.6 million over the next three years, but a state audit said that number was a lot higher - 23 million. CRRA management met with state officials on Tuesday to discuss the agency's plans moving forward.
Credit Heather Brandon / WNPR

Representatives from the Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority (CRRA), a trash agency responsible for waste management in more than 50 Connecticut municipalities, said they're facing a $7.6 million budget gap for the next three fiscal years. The gap was revealed to members of a state task force on Tuesday. The reveal comes on the heels of a state-sponsored audit of CRRA released earlier this month that projects a much bigger shortfall: around $23 million. 

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Sharing the Road?
5:54 pm
Tue November 19, 2013

Londoners Urged To Cycle, But Commute Can Be Treacherous

Cyclists negotiate rush hour traffic in central London on Nov. 15. Fourteen London cyclists have died so far this year, all in accidents involving heavy goods vehicles.
Oli Scarff Getty Images

Originally published on Tue November 19, 2013 7:30 pm

London's colorful mayor, Boris Johnson, has made it a priority to get more of his constituents on two wheels. But a series of deaths on the city's roads have shaken cyclists and noncyclists alike.

The number of Londoners cycling to work has more than doubled in the past decade. On some roads, cyclists now make up more than half the rush hour traffic.

And for years, Johnson has been among them. Many think the London mayor has his eye on Prime Minister David Cameron's job.

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Technology
12:55 pm
Tue November 19, 2013

Landlines, It Turns Out, Aren't Vanishing Everywhere

A Cambodian gambler talks on 18 cellphones at once at a boxing match in Phnom Penh in 2010. There are nearly 132 cellphones for every 100 Cambodians, but the country has also seen a surge in the number of landlines.
Tang Chhin Sothy AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed November 20, 2013 7:03 am

On All Things Considered, NPR's Martin Kaste reported Monday on U.S. landline infrastructure. One fact stood out: 96 percent of homes had landlines in 1998, and that number is down to 71 percent today.

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Drillin' Holes
11:30 pm
Mon November 18, 2013

Geothermal Projects Expand Across Connecticut

Workers drill a hole into the ground in advance of installing geothermal piping. Geothermal technology uses ambient ground temperatures to heat and cool buildings.
Patrick Skahill / WNPR

The town of Tolland said two of its schools will switch to geothermal technology in the coming months. According to the Connecticut Geothermal Association, that project will join a list of nearly 60 active projects in Connecticut.

One of those projects is in South Windham, at Horizons, a camp for developmentally disabled children and adults. I met up with Guy Wanegar, President of the Connecticut Geothermal Association, as a crew dug a hole for geothermal piping outside a new dining hall. The ground was muddy, and gallons of water spewed up as the drill worked its way vertically through hundreds of feet of dirt and bedrock.

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