Environment

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

Ryan Caron King / WNPR

Metro-North riders may notice an increase in security during their commute this month as New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut beef up law enforcement presence at stations in response to the attacks in San Bernardino and Paris. 

Chris Coomber / Creative Commons

I was visiting my brother in Goshen recently. We were looking at the majestic blue spruce trees in his backyard that he planted as Christmas trees years ago, when his kids were younger.

They've created a backdrop for privacy, and have cherished memories for him and his kids.

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."

Foreign ministers in Paris have a tough week ahead as they tackle the first draft of a global agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But local observers are still encouraged by positive signs in the climate negotiations.

Ryan Caron King / WNPR

A new federal transportation funding bill recently signed by President Barack Obama will provide Connecticut with an extra $310 million in financial aid over the next five years.

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:

Maja Dumat flickr.com/photos/blumenbiene/11692859806 / Creative Commons

This flower is named after a shepherdess who had unrequited love for a gardener.

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.

Most people visit the Isle of Skye off the west coast of Scotland for the beautiful scenery or historic castles or maybe the Talisker Distillery.

Not Stephen Brusatte. He goes to Skye for the dinosaurs. And he's pretty jazzed about what he and his team discovered on a recent field trip. "What we found is the biggest dinosaur site that's ever been found in Scotland," he says.

Norwalk's Christmas Tree Has a Squirrel Problem

Dec 1, 2015
Airwolfhound flickr.com/photos/24874528@N04/8326091066 / Creative Commons

It may be "the most wonderful time of the year," but squirrels are making it not so wonderful in Norwalk, Connecticut.

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."

"I actually think we're going to solve this thing."

That's what President Obama said in a news conference just before he left a United Nations summit on climate change.

"Climate change is a massive problem," Obama said. "It is a generational problem. It's a problem that by definition is just about the hardest thing for a political system to absorb, because the effects are gradual, they're diffused. And yet despite all that ... I'm optimistic. I think we're going to solve it."

Ryan Caron King / WNPR

Speaking at a press conference Monday, Governor Dannel Malloy said the state Department of Transportation is resurfacing more roads this year -- one step in creating "best-in-class system" for transportation infrastructure in Connecticut. 

There's a building in Mountain View, Calif., where energy-saving technologies of the future are being tried on for size.

Step inside, and the first thing you notice is the building is dead quiet: no noisy air whooshing through louvers.

That's because the building uses passive cooling instead of traditional air conditioning. Cool ground water passes through a system of small tubes running below the ceiling.

Leaders from around the world are converging on Paris for the 2015 U.N. Climate Change Conference. The two-week event is designed to allow countries the chance to come to an agreement on stifling climate change.

Below are 10 questions and answers that should better prepare you for the conference and what to expect during and after its completion.

Click the audio link at the top of this page to listen to "Heating Up," NPR's special on climate change, hosted by Ari Shapiro. Share it, download it, take it with you.

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."

RAYANDBEE / Creative Commons

When you think of drought, what place comes to mind? California? Texas? 

Nearly 150 world leaders are gathered near Paris for what is being billed as a last-chance summit to avoid catastrophic climate change.

NPR's Eleanor Beardsley reports that this is the biggest diplomatic meeting in France since 1948. She filed this report for our Newscast unit:

Ryan Caron King / WNPR

How to best rebuild the massive, elevated I-84 viaduct flowing through the center of downtown Hartford remains an open question and state officials find themselves facing a dizzying array of engineering questions and lots of numbers. 

A controversial natural gas pipeline proposed to cut across Southern New Hampshire has submitted its application to Federal Regulators. 

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and like most of us, the men at the maximum-security prison in Cranston will sit down to a Thanksgiving meal. Their turkey and stuffing will be seasoned with herbs harvested from their prison garden. 

Ryan Caron King / WNPR

Connecticut’s persistent transportation woes are getting attention in two recent reports. The studies highlight how aging infrastructure is causing problems for highway travel in the state.

Jhonnathas Trindade

The failure of two mining dams in southeastern Brazil earlier this month killed around a dozen people and left hundreds displaced. It's also created major environmental and humanitarian fallout in the country, which is being watched by people in Connecticut who hail from this region of Brazil. 

Local concern over large deposits of silt in two Deerfield Valley rivers has forced Mount Snow to call a public hearing on the issue.

The controversial Northeast Energy Direct natural gas pipeline is now in the hands of the federal government.

Benjamin Chun flickr.com/photos/benchun / Creative Commons

The holidays are coming up quickly and as we entertain family and friends, it's great to have a colorful centerpiece for the table. While traditional cornucopias are nice, this year consider creating a living succulent centerpiece.

A Brattleboro nonprofit that promotes sustainable building design says green buildings should be able to prove that they can stand up to natural disasters, especially those associated with climate change.

Ryan Caron King / WNPR

Standing under the columns of the elevated portion of I-84 in Hartford, known as the viaduct, Governor Dannel Malloy announced on Tuesday that his office released an economic analysis examining the benefits of rebuilding the highway.

The analysis found that replacing the crumbling overpass could pay off almost double the lower estimates of potential replacement cost. 

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