Environment

©Diane Cook and Len Jenshel/National Geographic

Tumbleweeds rolling? Must be a western. The cinematic signal of high plains desolation has an even more pernicious side: it’s an invasive species known as Russian Thistle, and it’s wreaking havoc across the United States. George Johnson is a writer based in Santa Fe, and a regular contributor to National Geographic, where he wrote about fighting the tumbleweed menace in his own backyard. To see more photos click here.

New Hampshire’s program to clean up MTBE contamination is getting underway.

The Executive Council has approved funding for an Remediation Bureau, which will begin testing wells and water sources for MTBE contamination. The gasoline additive was intended to help the state address air pollution, but it was banned in 2007, years after the state began seeking damages from companies that produced and marketed gasoline with MTBE because of its effects on groundwater.

Rachel Rohr / Courtesy UNH

One of the challenges apple growers face is a fungal disease known as apple scab. New research at the University of New Hampshire might yield a better approach to preventing its spread – an approach, by the way, that includes the use of special imaging cameras mounted on unmanned aerial vehicles, also known as UAV’s or drones.
 

Fragile Oasis via Flickr Creative Commons

The opening of the U.N.'s climate change summit this past weekend in Poland was overshadowed by Typhoon Haiyan. A Filipino envoy broke down in tears when describing the devastation, and received a standing ovation when he announced that he would fast until a "meaningful outcome is in sight."

An increase in weather-related disasters, fluctuating temperatures and rising sea levels are among the discouraging issues being discussed at the 2-week summit in Warsaw. But, there is some encouraging news…a new report by a Dutch agency found that global greenhouse gas emissions showed signs of slowing in 2012. The slackened pace is not attributed to recession, and has, in fact, occurred as wealth continues to climb among the world’s top CO2 emitters. Fred Pearce is environmental consultant for New Scientist, and breaks down the optimistic report for us. 

Barbara via flickr Creative Commons

There are between 800,000 and 1.2 million moose in North America, but scientists are concerned that their numbers are shrinking – and fast. Moose populations from New Hampshire to Minnesota have been plummeting for years – as much as twenty-five percent each year in some cases – and while there are plenty of theories, nobody’s quite sure why.

Jim Robbins is a freelance writer and regular contributor to the New York Times. He wrote about the moose die-off for the Times’ environment section.

kardboard604 via flickr Creative Commons

The data on driving is that for nearly a decade, Americans are driving less – especially younger drivers. With an added drop in vehicle sales and issued driver licenses, some researchers and reporters suggest that the US may have passed “peak car” – and that America’s infatuation with driving may have hit its zenith in the 1990s.

Jordan Weissmann is a senior associate editor at The Atlantic, where he wrote about the concept of “peak car”.

Emily Badger, is a staff writer for The Atlantic Cities, she’s also covered the “peak car” phenomenon.

While many Americans struggle to trim sugar and fat from their diets, a far more dangerous ingredient may be seeping in…from the ground. Arsenic is an odorless, tasteless poison that exists in the earth’s crust. Last winter, the U.S. Geological Survey found that low levels of arsenic were present in forty percent of New Hampshire’s groundwater, for example,  with one in five wells measuring above ten parts-per-billion.

Independent researchers have also identified excessive levels of arsenic in water-intensive crops, including rice grown in the U.S. and abroad. Deborah Blum is a Pulitzer Prize-winning science journalist, columnist and blogger for Wired and The New York Times. She was given access to a U.S.G.S. map showing arsenic concentration across the U.S. ahead of its release to the public, and is joining us to share some of the findings. 

N.H. Joins Lawsuit Aimed At Blocking Fishing Regulations

Sep 16, 2013

New Hampshire is joining a lawsuit arguing that new federal rules will devastate New England's groundfishing industry.

Gov. Maggie Hassan and Attorney General Joseph Foster said Monday that New Hampshire has joined a lawsuit Massachusetts filed against fishing regulators in May seeking to block the rules.

A couple weeks ago the Associated Press reported that the Department of Agriculture was dropping new vanilla-flavored rabies vaccines by airplane over New Hampshire forests as part of a five-state pilot study. Okay, if that sounds a little strange to you, get this: apparently the government has been distributing rabies vaccines by plane for over fifteen years. The story piqued the interest of NHPR environmental reporter Sam Evans-Brown, so he did some digging and is here to tell us more.

Virus May Be Responsible For Wild Turkey Deaths

Sep 12, 2013
pbedell via Flickr Creative Commons

New Hampshire Fish and Game biologists say wild turkeys in the Newington area may have been infected with a couple of viruses.

They've sent specimens from dead turkeys found last week to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Biologists tell the Portsmouth Herald the turkeys may be been infected with the avian pox virus or one referred to as LPDV.

Ella Nilsen / NHPR

A collaborative project between New Hampshire universities, the National Science Foundation, and state agencies is looking at ecosystem health and how the environment is affected by climate change.

At first glance, this part of Saddleback Mountain in Deerfield looks like a regular forest. But look closer and you see thick, black electrical cords running along the forest floor and silver instruments sitting among the trees.

NASA/Kathryn Hansen via NASA Goddard Space Flight Center's flickr

Methane is 25 times more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon – and scientists have discovered there is a potentially disastrous amount of methane trapped under relatively thin ice in the east Siberian arctic shelf. New research measures the global impact the gas could have on global warming… and it’s not very optimistic.  Fred Pearce is environmental consultant for New Scientist.

Children Learn To Be Good Stewards Of The Great Bay

Aug 3, 2013
Cheryl Senter

The Great Bay Stewards work to preserve and protect the Great Bay estuary through education, land protection and research. Sharon Musselman, one of the educators, is recently a retired teacher who often brought her own classes here to explore this ecosystem.

"I'm excited to be here at Great Bay Discover center," Musselman said. "I brought my first grade class to Great Bay for 15 years because it is such a great experience for first graders."

Eradicating Invasive Species: Part 1 - Plants

Jul 31, 2013

Purple Loosestrife, Autumn Olive, Norway Maple and Multi-flora Rose may sound like plants you'd want in your garden, but actually, they're four of the 423 invasive plants currently in New Hampshire. These non-indigenous weeds, trees and shrubs, grow with a great ferocity strangling and starving the native species. Now some are fighting back against these green villains and making some progress as well. Today we begin a two part series on invasive species in New Hampshire, starting with weeds, trees and other non-native plants. 

Guests:

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

On the dock of Great Bay Marine, there’s what looks like a little raft tied up, but get close and you hear the hum of a water pump. This is where Fat Dog Oyster Company is based.

Reporter Sam Evans-Brown recently spent a day with Jay Baker and Alex Boeri of Fat Dog for his story on the boom in oystering in N.H.'s Great Bay Estuary. You can check out more of his photos and sound in this 2-minute video:

PSNH

Last month, President Obama vowed to take on climate change, bypassing Congress and pledging to use his authority under existing laws. The centerpiece of his plan is imposing, for the first time, limits on carbon emissions from existing power plants.  Environmentalists applauded the announcement, but industry representatives balked, calling the approach heavy handed and warning of plant closures. We'll look at how this debate affects New Hampshire and the region.

Guests:

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Dear EarthTalk: What is the gist of President Obama’s new plan to tackle global warming and how does the green community feel about what the White House is proposing?  -- Bill Kemp, Seattle WA

New Zealand cat owners are reacting with outrage against a plan to drastically reduce the number of free-roaming cats proposed by renowned environmental activist Gareth Morgan.

The movement is rooted in a long-standing national concern about the dwindling native bird populations, including the kiwi, that are struggling against New Zealand’s cat population, which is the largest per-capita in the world. Here to discuss Kiwi’s cat war is ecologist Dr. James Russell, a senior lecturer at the University of Auckland.

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Dear EarthTalk: Is nature photography good or bad for the environment? – Cal Moss, Camden, ME

Photo courtesy NH Audubon

Eric Masterson is a blogger and the author of Birdwatching in New Hampshire, and joins us for a hyper-local guide to spotting species around the state.

Biofriendly, courtesy Flickr

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Dear EarthTalk: What are the big delivery companies like FedEx and UPS doing to green their truck fleets and operations in general?                                       -- Mitchell Glaser, Overland Park, KS

We sit down with New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services Commissioner Thomas Burack.  The state’s environment has seen some hopeful trends recently, particularly when it comes to air quality. The story changes, however, when it comes to our lakes and coastal waters. We’ll get an update on what’s been working in addressing these issues, and what still needs to be done.

Guest

  • Tom Burack - New Hampshire Commissioner for Environmental Services
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Dear EarthTalk: I hear the term “greenwashing” a lot these days but am still not sure exactly what it means. Can you enlighten?-- Ruth Markell, Indianapolis, IN

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Dear EarthTalk: What’s the prognosis for Hawaii’s coral reefs in the face of global warming, invasive algae and other environmental threats?-- Bill Weston, San Francisco, CA

greyloch via flickr Creative Commons

Thirty years ago, a North American ship dumped ballast water containing comb jellyfish into the black sea and triggered a catastrophic decline in marine life. A decade later, discharged ballast containing a strain of cholera contaminated shellfish of the coast of Peru, killing more than 12,000 Latin Americans. These cases of biological stowaways are being targeted by the United Nations for regulation – but the treaty that would prevent future catastrophes has yet to be ratified. Fred Pearce is the environment consultant for New Scientist discusses the stowaway problem and potential solutions with us.

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Dear EarthTalk: My kids just want to play videos games and watch TV all day. Do you have any tips for getting them outside to appreciate nature more?-- Sue Levinson, Bowie, MD

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Dear EarthTalk: How are populations of African elephants faring these days? What conservation efforts are underway and are they working?-- Libby Broullette, Salem, MA

Cody York via cloudcult.com

You may know the band cloud cult from an animated commercial that aired during the Super Bowl a few years ago. In exchange for the work, e-Surance helped fund some of the band's costs for greening the recording of album. The fact that Cloud Cult chooses deals like that--writes heart-warming songs, and travels across the country to perform for good causes--may have you wondering if they are for real. But doing good and staying positive are deeply embedded in the DNA of Cloud Cult. This evening the band will perform a live acoustic set during a yoga class at the At Om Yoga studio in Concord. It’s a benefit for a local child with pediatric cancer. I talked with Craig Minowa, singer, guitarist, and leader of Cloud Cult before they headed to New Hampshire and can say that the whole kind-hearted thing is not just PR. In fact, I told him that they are just about the least cynical indie band I can think of.

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Dear EarthTalk: I know that some of us are genetically predisposed to get cancer, but what are some ways we can avoid known environmental triggers for it?-- B. Northrup, Westport, MA

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