environment

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Republican lawmakers are proposing a constitutional amendment that would make it harder for the state to give away open space. The measure comes at a time when officials say Connecticut won't meet its goals for land conservation. 

Vincent Scarano / Connecticut College

Picture a curbside lined with garbage. You may imagine old mattresses or discarded TVs, but there's one bit of trash your mind may block out: cigarette butts. An anthropology professor at Connecticut College has become obsessed with these often-overlooked artifacts of modern life, examining what they can tell us about our culture -- and the basics of archeology. 

Christine Olson / Creative Commons

An oceanographer who helped solve the mystery of last summer’s explosion on a crowded Rhode Island beach said there’s a very low risk of the same type of explosion occurring again.

Christine Olson / Creative Commons

The cable that caused an explosion at a crowded Rhode Island beach last summer, injuring a woman, may have counterparts lying under beaches, harbors and waterways at dozens of sites nationwide.

At the end of every year, U.S. meteorologists look back at what the nation's weather was like, and what they saw in 2015 was weird. The year was hot and beset with all manner of extreme weather events that did a lot of expensive damage.

December, in fact, was a fitting end.

Photonesta

Okay, this show comes with a trigger warning.

We're going to talk about things people eat, and some of those things are not for the squeamish. This is a conversation about disgust, and specifically, how our reflexive response of disgust may get in the way of things we probably need to think about doing.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

In December, Connecticut regulators approved the $3 billion merger of Spanish firm Iberdrola and New Haven-based UIL Holdings. The news came just two weeks after the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority issued a draft decision OK-ing the deal. 

For now, they're known by working names, like ununseptium and ununtrium — two of the four new chemical elements whose discovery has been officially verified. The elements with atomic numbers 113, 115, 117 and 118 will get permanent names soon, according to the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry.

New Bedford Whaling Museum

A new project is using log books from historic whaling vessels to get a broader look at climate change in the Arctic. The project, called Old Weather: Whaling, is getting help from citizen scientists.

pedrik / Creative Commons

A conservation goal set more than a decade ago points to an ambitious target: preserving 21 percent of Connecticut's land as open space by 2023. Funding has now lagged, the state said, and it won't reach that goal. 

5Gyres, Oregon State University / Creative Commons

A federal ban on tiny synthetic plastic spheres known as "microbeads" passed through Congress this week, following the lead of legislative action in several states including Connecticut.

Like amaranth and quinoa before it, millet – a hardy, gluten-free ancient seed – has become an "it" grain in recent years.

It's the solstice again, which is an astronomer's favorite time of year. That's because it's one of the few occasions where we have anything semi-practical to say to anyone.

"Hey, Adam, you're an astronomer. What's this whole solstice thing about?"

Well, I'm glad you asked.

Almond Butterscotch / Creative Commons

Connecticut needs to conserve more land -- and do it much faster -- if the state hopes to meet a conservation goal set for the year 2023, which seems increasingly out of reach.

It is without a doubt a spectacular moment for the space industry: Just months after the setback of a launch explosion, a SpaceX rocket managed to launch satellites into space, then tumble back to Earth, use rockets to stabilize itself and stick the landing on a small pad in Florida.

In a finding that suggests "considerable water activity" on Mars, NASA says its Curiosity rover has found very high concentrations of silica on the red planet. The agency says it also found "a mineral named tridymite, rare on Earth and never seen before on Mars."

MGM Springfield

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission unanimously approved a plan on Thursday that will allow MGM Springfield to begin construction on its proposed $950 million casino in the city's downtown.

scrappy annie flickr.com/photos/14903992@N08/15723002693 / Creative Commons

Ho, ho, ho, it's time for holiday gift buying. Yes, let's talk about special gifts you can give the gardener in your family. If you're stuck for ideas, I've got a few to share. Are you listening, Santa?

Time is running out for New York residents opposed to erecting high-voltage power towers across the scenic Hudson Valley to weigh in.

LOLren / Creative Commons

Nearly 200 countries adopted a landmark agreement to combat global warming over the weekend and several Connecticut environmentalists were watching.

A new house in Matunuck will sustain winds of more than 130 miles per hour. It’s the first home under construction in New England built to disaster certification standards known as FORTIFIED.

After a string of severe storms in recent years, the state hopes to shift to a more rigorous building code so that homes can sustain high winds and water damage.

In what supporters are calling a historic achievement, 196 nations attending the COP21 climate meetings outside Paris voted to adopt an agreement Saturday that covers both developed and developing countries. Their respective governments will now need to adopt the deal.

Thawt Hawthje / Creative Commons

As world leaders in Paris approach what could be a historic agreement on climate change, a new Yale University survey finds Americans have very complicated attitudes about the environment.

At the U.N. climate summit in Paris, the U.S. has a big footprint. Cabinet officials scurry from meeting to meeting, trying to get a binding deal that would help some 200 countries slow the planet's warming. Yet in some ways, the United States is an outlier.

"Everybody else is taking climate change really seriously," President Obama said during his visit to Paris at the start of the summit. "They think it's a really big problem."

The best photos from the New Horizons spacecraft that buzzed Pluto earlier this year are now making their way back to Earth, providing resolutions of less than 100 yards per pixel.

Negotiators at COP21, the U.N. climate change conference in Paris, have settled on a rough blueprint for approaching the complex and contentious task of reining in emissions and reducing global warming. But many issues will need to be resolved by the summit's end next Friday.

"It always seems impossible until it's done," French Ecology Minister Segolene Royal told the conference Saturday, quoting Nelson Mandela. She then added, "We will do it."

You can read the 48-page draft accord farther down in this post.

From Paris, NPR's Christopher Joyce reports:

Ryan Caron King / WNPR

There were a few years when the greens of Hartford’s Goodwin Park Golf Course were a dull shade of brown. The grass had faded, trees and weeds were overgrown, and several years of mismanagement and a poor economy left the course in such bad condition that it almost had to be closed.

But Beaky Gilbert and his golfing partners didn’t stop playing there, and their dedication might have paid off.

Albert Ter Harmsel / Creative Commons

As climate change negotiations in Paris continue, another weather event is coming to the fore in Connecticut. The state is currently in the midst of a "moderate drought."

This year marks the centennial of the last long log drives on the Connecticut River. From the late 1800s and early 1900s, logs as big as 30 feet long were floated down the river to sawmills in Massachusetts and Connecticut.

Now two Vermonters are keeping the history alive, chronicling the history of the drives.

At Sunday night's Jefferson Jackson dinner, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders took a moment on the stage to express his opposition to the Northeast Energy Direct—the controversial natural gas pipeline proposed by Kinder Morgan.

"I opposed the Keystone Pipeline from day one," Sanders said. "And that is why, here in New Hampshire, I believe the Northeast Energy Direct pipeline, that would direct fracked natural gas for four hundred miles, through seventeen communities, is a bad idea, and should be opposed."

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