Environment

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Dramatic weather events happened this past week in many parts of the Northern Hemisphere. There were wildfires in Greece, Scandinavia, and the Western U.S. Flooding followed record rainfalls in the Northeast. And dangerous heat waves settled over the Southwest, Japan, and the U.K.

If it continues like this, 2018 could end up being one of the hottest years on record.

Updated at 11:40 p.m. ET Sunday

A total of six people have died in the Northern California Carr Fire near Redding — one of 17 major wildfires burning in the state.

On Sunday, Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko said a sixth victim was found in a home wrecked in the blaze. The victim's identity has not been released.

Bosenko said the sheriff's department is investigating reports of seven missing people.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Nuclear power plants in Europe have been forced to cut back electricity production because of warmer-than-usual seawater.

Plants in Finland, Sweden and Germany have been affected by a heat wave that has broken records in Scandinavia and the British Isles and exacerbated deadly wildfires along the Mediterranean.

You can buy water with electrolytes, minerals or completely "purified." You can buy it with the pH changed to make it alkaline. You can purify your own tap water or even add nutrients back into it. But after seeing a video of a pricey, high-tech filter (about $400 U.S. on sale) that you can monitor with your phone, we wondered, how much of our water filtration fixation is healthy, and how much of it is hype?

Thursday morning, hopeful applicants for a historic grizzly bear hunting license found out whether they were successful or not.

Up to 22 grizzly bears can be hunted this fall in the first grizzly bear hunt in Wyoming since the bear was listed as threatened 44 years ago.

Tom Mangelsen, a Wyoming-based nature photographer, snagged a license. He chronicled the life of the now famous bear "Grizzly 399" and co-authored a book about the bear.

Mangelsen will use his tag to photograph a grizzly, not kill one.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Some 25,000 Cambodians raced to find higher ground after floodwaters spread to their province from a failed hydroelectric dam in neighboring Laos, according to state media in Cambodia. In Laos, the government says flooding has killed at least 27 people and destroyed the homes of more than 3,000 residents.

Let's get the bad news out of the way first: You won't be able to see this Friday's epic lunar eclipse in person if you live in North America (aside from a very small portion of eastern Canada and parts of the eastern Caribbean).

But here's the good news: if you are almost anywhere else, you'll probably be able to see at least a portion of the event.

Prime viewing is in eastern and southern Africa, the Middle East, eastern Europe and south Asia, based on a NASA map.

Heat Waves: A Global Sweat

Jul 25, 2018

No, it’s not just you. It actually is really hot. We’re talking triple digits around the world. This summer alone, nine all-time temperature records have been broken. That’s dangerous, especially in urban landscapes.

Per Curbed, “according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, extreme heat now causes more deaths in U.S. cities than all other weather events combined.”

When a huge floating gyre of plastic waste was discovered in the Pacific in the late 1980s, people were shocked. When whales died and washed ashore with stomachs full of plastic, people were horrified. When photographs of beaches under knee-deep carpets of plastic trash were published, people were disgusted.

Though some of it came from ships, most, presumably, was from land. But how much was coming from where?

A few summers ago in the southern Indian city of Bangalore, an economist named Anant Nyshadham was heading to lunch with some executives at a garment factory.

"We walked through the factory floor on the way to the canteen," he recalls. "And I thought, 'Wow, this is really hot.' "

And this is a man who grew up in the state of Georgia. "But you know, I don't think I'll ever get used to the heat and humidity [there]," he says, laughing. "And India is on a different level."

There's a cycle that starts when the snow melts and the earth thaws high in Colorado's Rocky Mountains. It's a seasonal cycle based on timing and temperature, two variables that climate change is pushing increasingly out of sync.

To the outsider, it can be hard to see: Plants still grow, flowers bud, bears awake, and marmots breed. Broad-tailed hummingbirds still trill around a landscape that evokes the opening scene of The Sound of Music, with flowery meadows and granite peaks.

People are talking a lot about plastic straws these days — how international corporations like Starbucks and Marriott International are banning them, and the deleterious impact they have on the environment.

The cows were silent on a recent July morning at Mill-King dairy farm in McGregor, Texas. They stood under shade trees, digesting their breakfast, while cicadas buzzed in the branches overhead.

"It's starting to warm up, so they're starting to get a little bit less ... frolicky," says Craig Miller, watching from the fence line.

His grandfather started this farm. Now he runs it, producing nonhomogenized milk from a mostly grass-fed herd. He says this cow behavior is exactly what he expects as the temperature rises.

Something was not making sense.

The Montreal Protocol had been in effect for more than 30 years to rid the planet of products that emit chemicals called chlorofluorocarbons — or CFCs, as most people know them.

When it comes to the sea level rise caused by global warming, there appears to be a misnomer floating around the collective conscience of most Americans, says Gregory Dusek.

“I think a lot of people think of sea level rise as something that's not going to be impacting us for some time,” says Dusek, who serves as the chief scientist of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services.

If you've been to a beach this summer, anywhere from Texas to the Carolinas, you've likely seen it. Masses of brown seaweed, sometimes a few clumps, often big mounds, line the shore. It's sargassum, a floating weed that's clogging bays and piling up on beaches in the Gulf and Caribbean.

On Miami Beach recently, Mike Berrier was enjoying the sun and the water, despite the sargassum weed.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

If you've never considered what happens to the remnants of the fully loaded plate of enchiladas, chips and salsa you grab from the buffet at an all-inclusive Mexico resort, you might be in for a shock.

Mexico's Velas Vallarta produces a veritable ton of food waste each day, but rather than dumping it into the trash, the Puerto Vallarta resort delivers roughly 700 pounds of it, each morning, to a hog farmer down the road to use as feed.

Copyright 2018 Michigan Radio. To see more, visit Michigan Radio.

NOEL KING, HOST:

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Each spring, barnacle geese migrate more than 1,800 miles from the Netherlands and northern Germany to their breeding grounds in parts of Russia above the Arctic Circle.

The journey north usually takes about a month, and the geese make multiple stops along the way to eat and fatten up before they lay their eggs, says Bart Nolet of the Netherlands Institute of Ecology and the University of Amsterdam.

When WAMU photographer Tyrone Turner got the opportunity to travel to Antarctica, he thought he would be fascinated with the continent's wildlife.

But instead, it was the ice — in its myriad shapes and textures, "bathed in polar light that morphed from powerfully sharp and blue, to gentle and pink" — that Turner says mesmerized him.

"Antarctica just seemed to me absolutely 'the other world,'" Turner says. "There is no other landscape like it."

The days of plastic straws are drawing shorter.

Marriott International on Wednesday became the latest big company to announce it will stop using plastic straws, saying it would remove them from its more than 6,500 properties by next July. The giant hotel chain said it will stop offering plastic stirrers, too.

A basketball-sized lava bomb slammed through the roof of a tour boat near an active fissure of Hawaii's Kilauea volcano early Monday morning, showering the vessel with debris and injuring 23 people, according the Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency.

Officials described the incident on Facebook writing that an explosion off the coast of Kapoho hurled several lava bombs onto the boat — called Hotspot — at about 6 a.m. local time.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

The dense network of cables that make up the Internet is likely to be inundated with saltwater as sea levels rise, a new analysis suggests, putting thousands of miles of critical infrastructure along U.S. coastlines underwater in the next 15 years.

Pages