environment

Mystic Aquarium

A new exhibition at Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut is using trash from the ocean to create art. It's an effort to highlight the importance of recycling plastic.

Apples and oranges / Creative Commons

It’s been just over a year since Russian authorities arrested 30 activists aboard Greenpeace’s Rainbow Warrior III -- a ship protesting Russia’s controversial oil rig in the Arctic. Among those arrested was the ship’s captain, Peter Willcox, a Greenpeace veteran and resident of Norwalk, Connecticut. 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency unveiled new rules today to reduce emission levels for smog-causing ozone, which is linked to asthma and other health problems.

The draft measure calls for lowering the threshold for ozone from 75 parts per billion to between 65 ppb and 70 ppb. The agency said it would take comments on an ozone level as low as 60 ppb.

Carter Roberts / NASA

If you're looking for life elsewhere in the universe, there's a lot to look at, and computers are pretty good at it. At least, they're good at analyzing the stuff you tell them -- for example, the brightness of stars in our sky.

UConn

Federal and state environmental officials say grants of more than $1.3 million have been awarded to local government and community groups in Connecticut and New York to improve the health of Long Island Sound. 

Finchlake 2000 / Creative Commons

Today, we take a deeper look at the beaver. Beavers are sophisticated eco-engineers, one of few animals capable of broadening biodiversity and currently considered of the keys to reversing climate change. They build sophisticated dams and deep-water ponds that stem erosion of riverbanks, create cooler deep-water pools that support temperature-sensitive plant and fish species, and increase the water table, a big deal for Western states suffering the impact of worsening drought. In addition, they're social animals who live much like humans, with mates, two kits per year, and an active social life. 

USDAgov / Flickr Creative Commons

It looks like the Emerald Ash Borer has won. Since 2012, the tiny invasive green beetle has spread to dozens of towns, posing a deadly risk to ash trees and resulting in six counties falling under wood quarantines. Now, with winter just around the corner, the state has announced it will modify those rules to make it easier for consumers to transport firewood around the state. 

Updated at 3:45PM ET

It was the first ever landing on a comet, and it was perfect.

Unfortunately, that wasn't the end of the journey for the European Space Agency's unmanned Philae lander. After touching down on Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, the lander bounced off the surface and flew a kilometer back up into space.

Everyone has days in which we wonder if much of anything works. Websites crash. Screens blink, go blank, or taunt: I'm sorry. Try later. We have an unusually high volume of calls. Download to update. Click here if you've forgotten your password.

But for a couple of hours on an afternoon this week, people got glimpses of excellence.

With America Recycles Day Saturday, Massachusetts environmental officials are celebrating the Commonwealth’s new commercial food waste ban – the first statewide ban in the nation. The state’s Commissioner of Environmental Protection will visit the Red Lion Inn to see how the renowned hotel is shipping its food waste to a nearby farm.

Philae, the lander currently on comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, may not be able to perform its extended mission — scientists at the European Space Agency worry that the probe may have landed in a spot too shadowy for solar panels to recharge its batteries. The ESA says it may not be able to contact the craft after Friday night.

Worries over the robotic lander's power supply prompted engineers to take the risky step of activating its drill, an operation that had been shelved out of fears that it would sap the remaining charge.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

We take certain things for granted. Like the mountains, rivers and rocks around us.

So what made Connecticut look the way it looks today? As you kayak on the Connecticut River, drive over Talcott Mountain, or swim in Long Island Sound...there are millions of years of history underneath you.

As you may be aware, there's a hot new space movie now in theaters — Interstellar. Here's the premise: It's just a little bit in the future, conditions have become pretty horrible on Earth and some astronauts head out in search of a new planet for humans to inhabit.

In a head-spinning step, a handful of researchers from Cambridge, England, are experimenting with one of man's oldest building materials — the kind from trees — instead of steel as the primary structure for big buildings. And they're aiming really, really high.

Flickr Creative Commons / why 137

A new agreement between China and the United States to reduce carbon emissions will send strong signals to the global community, according to a Wesleyan professor who has studied climate change for the Obama administration.

The European Space Agency made history on Wednesday morning, landing the first man-made object on the surface of a comet. 

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is shutting down cod fishing, from Provincetown, Mass., up to the Canadian border, in an effort to reverse plummeting numbers of the iconic fish in the Gulf of Maine.

Starting Thursday, no fishermen — commercial or recreational — may trawl or use certain large nets that might catch cod for the next six months. Local cod fishermen, who now face an uncertain future, say the government hasn't done enough to maintain cod populations, and they challenge NOAA's cod counts.

Wikimedia Commons

Polar vortex is a phrase you've probably heard a lot, but what does it actually mean?

"I think, sometimes, people sort of misunderstand the polar vortex and they think it's this giant amoeba of cold that sits over the North Pole that just gets dislodged and heads right over Chicago," said Ryan Hanrahan, meteorologist at NBC Connecticut. "That's not really what happens."

Humans have never landed anything on a comet's surface. That may change tomorrow.

The European Space Agency's Rosetta mission is poised to send out a small probe to land on a comet known as 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Rosetta spent 10 years chasing the comet before arriving in August.

Jessica Whittle / Creative Commons

One of the most basic functions of local government is to protect its citizens. We talk with a panel of local firefighters who do just that.

When a fire breaks out, many Connecticut towns have volunteer forces that go to the rescue. What draws firefighters to this profession that includes a lot more than just fighting fires? Some Connecticut firefighters are even taking it a step further, and are going out west to help fight forest fires.

iStock / Thinkstock

With the gubernatorial election one week away, lots of issues are on the minds of voters: the economy and jobs, taxes, gun policy, and education -- but what about climate change? 

Robert Snache/flickr creative commons

Paul Bogard, the author of the paperback, The End of Night, went on a journey in search of something rare in America and Europe—true darkness. He wanted to have the jaw-dropping experience of looking up at the night sky to see uncountable stars and planets that we seldom see due to light pollution.

Nancy Eve Cohen / NEPR

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has given people until this Monday to comment on a $613 million plan to finish a toxic waste cleanup of the Housatonic River.

Wavian / Creative Commons

It’s been almost two years since Hurricane Sandy tore her way through the Northeast -- leaving behind a trail of destruction throughout much of our region. 

Adam Gault/Photodisc / Thinkstock

When you think of ways to combat climate change, a few things probably jump to mind. Clean energy. Recycling. But investments?

Steven Thomas / NPS

The state's wildlife action plan aims to provide management options for animals and plants that don't quite qualify for federal protection. Take for instance the Northern Long-eared bat or New England Cottontail rabbit. They're not listed on federal endangered species lists, but their numbers have dropped in recent years due to things like disease and habitat loss.

If you've got decisions to make at the meat counter (or at a burger joint) and want to do right by the environment, you have a couple of options.

You could skip the beef entirely, which is what some environmental groups say you should do. Or you could go for meat with a "grass-fed" or "organic" label.

Patrick Skahill / WNPR

Gina McCarthy, head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, visited Connecticut on Tuesday.

It was a homecoming of sorts for McCarthy, who was commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Protection from 2004 to 2009. 

Kevin Burgio

Kevin Burgio remembered the first time he saw monk parakeets. He was out bird watching "and I ran across this puddle that had like five or six monk parakeets drinking from it," he said. "I'm like, what the hell is that? Did someone lose, like, five parrots? I didn't know there were parrots here."

Kenneth Lu / Creative Commons

Last month, hundreds of thousands showed up for the People’s Climate March in New York City, the largest climate march ever seen in U.S. history. There, climate activists worked their way through the busy streets of New York, calling on Americans to act on global climate change. Today, we talk to someone who was at the march. We’ll also preview today’s Climate Stewardship Summit at the University of St. Joseph.

Also, radio personality Gerri Griswold and Icelandic singer-songwriter Lay Low join us to talk about the upcoming Iceland Affair and Fire and Ice Music Festival.

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