Environment

Steven Somsen's farm got a new addition last year, breaking up fields of wheat and soybeans that span as far as the eye can see from his rural North Dakota home.

"We ended up with some towers on our property," he says, nodding toward the giant, spinning, white wind turbines dotting the farmland around his house.

Xcel Energy, a Midwest-based utility, installed three on his land, among the 100 turbines placed near his remote community of Courtenay.

Firefighters in Portugal have gained control over a wildfire that swept through central Portugal over the weekend and killed at least 64 people, authorities said Wednesday. But the investigation into what ignited the wildfires, and why they proved so deadly, is just beginning.

The fire near the town of Pedrogao Grande "is no longer progressing," Civil Protection Agency spokesman Vitor Vaz Pinto told reporters, according to The Associated Press. The blaze, one of dozens that erupted Saturday, quickly swept through the hilly area about 120 miles northeast of Lisbon.

CITY AS LIVING LABORATORY

The City of Milwaukee is putting the finishing touches on a water and land use plan to help guide the future of the harbor’s 1,000 water-edged acres. The idea is to combine a robust working function while also breathing vitality into areas where there currently is none.

Lots of ideas are floating around.

Enter a New-York based artist by the name of Mary Miss. She uses the environment in unexpected and artful ways to draw people to outdoor spaces.

Copyright 2017 Minnesota Public Radio. To see more, visit Minnesota Public Radio.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

At the wine tasting room of Taylors Wines in Sydney, Australia, bottles are uncorked, poured, swished, sniffed and sipped. There's a lot for employees to toast this year.

"The Australian wine sector is growing at a fast rate," says Mitchell Taylor, the winery's managing director. "And what is exciting is the top level, about 20 to 30 dollars a bottle and above, that segment is growing at 53 percent."

That's thanks, in part, to China.

What if you could go back in time and follow your food from the farm to your plate? What if you could see each step of your meal's journey — every ingredient that went into its creation, and every footprint it left behind?

Ethiopia gave the world Coffea arabica, the species that produces most of the coffee we drink these days. Today, the country is the largest African producer of Arabica coffee. The crop is the backbone of the country's economy – some 15 million Ethiopians depend on it for a living.

The Endangered Species Act is facing a growing number of calls for significant changes. Momentum in Congress and in western states is building to give states more of a say when making changes to the landmark regulation that protects about 1,600 animal and plant species, and their habitats.

Animals like the Wyoming toad.

Back in 1985, there were only 16 of these palm-sized amphibians left at the Mortenson Lake National Wildlife Refuge in Laramie, Wyo.

Susan Bence / Milwaukee Public Radio

The City of West Allis has been providing curbside recycling pickup for over two decades, but this week residents will find gleaming blue carts at their doorsteps. Up until, the city has used 30-gallon plastic bags.

West Allis is one of a handful of municipalities using the"bag" method.

Melissa Oberdorf remembers the days before West Allis trucks started hauling away recyclables. Her family members were early adopters.

Go To New York City For The Whales

Jun 18, 2017

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

Over the last 2 years photographer Nichole Sobecki and journalist Laura Heaton have documented the devastating impact of climate change on one of the most unstable places in the world, Somalia.

Their reporting appears in Foreign Policy magazine in an article titled "Somalia's Land is Dying. The People Will Be Next."

Far below the surface of the ocean, off the coast of eastern Australia, is an area simply known as "the abyss." The largest and deepest habitat on the planet, the abyssal zone stretches well beyond Australia's waters and spans half the world's oceans — but it remains largely unexplored.

Marine biologist Tim O'Hara recently set out change that, on a monthlong expedition with about two dozen scientists from seven countries. The voyage dredged up hundreds of previously unknown species along the way.

About 20 percent of baby food samples tested over a decade-long period had detectable levels of lead, according to a new report from Environmental Defense Fund, a nonprofit group.

The group evaluated data collected by the Food and Drug Administration from 2003 to 2013. This included 2,164 baby food samples. They found 89 percent of grape juice samples, 86 percent of sweet potatoes samples and 47 percent of teething biscuits samples contained detectable levels of lead.

A federal judge in Washington, D.C., ruled Wednesday that the Trump administration failed to follow proper environmental procedures when it granted approval to the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline project.

It's a legal victory for the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and environmentalists, who protested for months against the pipeline. Oil started flowing through it earlier this month. The tribe fears that the pipeline, which crosses the Missouri River just upstream of its reservation, could contaminate its drinking water and sacred lands.

Sam Kirchoff

A number of local citizens are concerned that scientific research is factoring less and less into policymaking. So, they formed Milwaukee Area Science Advocates, or MASA, to "champion science as a pillar of freedom and prosperity."

The idea to advocate for evidence-based policy decisions started brewing last winter, when a handful of people organized a March for Science in Milwaukee. It went well. On Earth Day, more than 3,000 people flocked to downtown.

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