Environment

Pipe Down! That Noise Might Affect Your Plants

Mar 26, 2012

Researchers haven't given much thought to the effect of noise and noise pollution on plants. After all, plants don't have ears — at least, not the kind you hear with — so there doesn't seem to be much point. But thanks to ecologist Clinton Francis, that could be about to change.

Francis is a postdoctoral researcher at the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center in North Carolina. But he has spent the past few years in northwestern New Mexico, studying noise pollution in Rattlesnake Canyon.

Photo by Dovak, courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

In Wisconsin, a bill that would authorize a hunting and trapping season for wolves sits on Governor Scott Walker’s desk.  The bill pits republican and democratic supporters against environmental and conservation groups who say the proposal has no basis is the science of wildlife management.

Shell Oil plans to explore for petroleum off Alaska's north coast this summer. The native people of Alaska have a big stake in both oil revenue and environmental protection. That conflict has played out in recent trips by Inupiats to Washington, D.C., to argue their case.

Photo by Karen Johnson for Creative Commons via Wordpress

Rising gas prices have again shifted the political debate between those calling for more drilling to meet America's fossil fuel dependency and those advocating for investment in alternative energy sources. Many environmentalists are convinced that we are nearing the day when fossil fuels are tapped out, or too expensive or too harmful to extract.

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Dear EarthTalk: American farmers are an aging population. Is anyone doing anything to make sure younger people are taking up this profession in large enough numbers to keep at least some of our food production domestic?-- Beverly Smith, Milwaukee, WI

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Dear EarthTalk: I can’t seem to find any natural bug repellents that really work so I end up using the harsh, chemical varieties. Are there any really effective bug repellants that aren’t chemically based, or other strategies we can use to keep bugs at bay?                  -- Melissa Armantine, New Paltz, NY

This year, the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services turns 25 years old.  Its Commissioner, Tom Burack says that over that time a lot of progress has been made in terms of clean water, air and land, but there’s still a long way to go.   “This legacy,” Burack says “requires vigilance and maintenance”. Those are tough goals, and with recent budget cuts to his department it makes it even that much more tough.

The man who warned us that aerosol spray-cans could destroy the earth's protective ozone layer has died.

F. Sherwood Rowland, better known as Sherry Rowland, was a Nobel-prize winning chemist at the University of California, Irvine. And he didn't just keep to the laboratory: He successfully advocated for a ban on ozone-destroying chemicals called CFCs.

Beached Dolphins Keep Cape Cod Rescuers Busy

Feb 8, 2012

Dolphins have been stranding themselves along the shores of Cape Cod, Mass., since the Pilgrims' times, and this winter is no different. What is different is how long the latest round of strandings has lasted — almost a month. So far, rescuers have counted 147 strandings and 38 successful rescues and releases.

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Dear EarthTalk: How is it that Latino communities are among those hardest hit by air pollution? -- Miguel Aragones, Los Angeles, CA

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Dear EarthTalk: I was horrified to read recently that our oceans are actually becoming acidic, that the continued burning of fossil fuels is changing the chemistry of our seas. What’s going on?  -- Kim Richardson, San Diego, CA

 

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Dear EarthTalk: Is it true that cable and other pay TV boxes that sit atop television sets consume massive amounts of energy, in part because they are always on, even when the TV is off? -- Sam Winston, Metarie, LA

 

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Dear EarthTalk: I understand that some companies are now looking to cut down forests and burn them as “biomass” for generating electricity. Is nothing sacred?   -- Audrey Barklay, Newark, NJ

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Dear EarthTalk: Is it true that the bathroom is where over half of our household water usage takes place? What are some ways to take a bite out of that? -- Shelby McIntyre, Chico, CA

Yes indeed, some 60 percent of our household indoor water usage happens in the bathroom. As such, updating old leaky fixtures and changing a few basic habits could go a long way to not only saving fresh water, an increasingly precious resource, but also money.

The twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are the busiest in the nation. They also have some of the dirtiest air, thanks to thousands of cargo trucks that pass through each day.

But this month marks the beginning of a new era, as tighter emissions standards go into effect.

'100 Percent Clean Energy'

A common trope in environmental stories is to put things in terms of jobs vs. the environment. But that's not what happened in the case of the ports.

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Dear EarthTalk: There are a number of companies out there now doing “energy audits” for the home, after which they try to sell you attic insulation and other products and services. Is this just a scam or would it be wise for me to look into this?                            -- Bill Richards., New York, NY

 

Our issue Tuesday series continues with a look at where the Republican Presidential Candidates stand on the environment.  It’s a low priority for most G. O. P. voters this year, but the candidates do have their positions from energy policy to the impact of regulation on business to the elimination of  the E. P. A.  We’ll find out what they’re saying and how that’s playing in the Republican primary. 

Guests

I admit to being a distracted driver at times, but it's not for the usual reasons. I'm looking for moose, but not the kind wildlife biologists usually look for. I'm looking for a small moose on car license plates.

For ten years now New Hampshire's moose license plates have raised significant funds for conservation of both historic and natural resources. Land has been conserved; loons and other endangered species protected; nature education brought into classrooms; historic buildings and covered bridges fixed up along with buildings in our state parks.

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Dear EarthTalk: Recycling can be a somewhat time-consuming task; so can you please provide some benefits of taking the time to separate my trash?                             -- Joseph Jiminez, Houston, TX

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Dear EarthTalk: Is it true that asthma rates in the U.S. have doubled in the last three decades? What's behind this troubling trend and what can we do to reverse it?                 -- Patrick, via e-mail

 

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Late last week, we posted a cool infographic, courtesy of the journalists at Stateline, taking a look at the percentage of each state’s GDP that’s made up by federal spending.  The group then subdivided federal spending into defense-related spending and everything else.

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Dear EarthTalk: I know that large fish contain a lot of mercury, but where does it come from? And what are we doing to prevent this contamination? -- Alison Bronner, Atlanta, GA

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Dear EarthTalk: Is it true that gas furnaces cost less to run and burn cleaner than their oil counterparts? If I make the switch, how long should I expect it to take for me to pay back my initial investment? And are there any greener options I should consider?  -- Veronica Austin, Boston, MA

 

A large tract of some of the North Country’s most beautiful terrain has been protected from development. 

A new conservation easement is going to protect land around Pittsburg and the Connecticut River.

“We just today finalized a conservation easement on 2,300 acres up in Pittsburg up around First and Second Connecticut Lakes.”

That’s Jack Savage. He’s a spokesman for The Society for The Protection of New Hampshire Forests.

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Dear EarthTalk: I heard that the less meat one eats, the better it is for the environment. How so?

                                                                                                                          -- Jason K., Sarasota, FL

 

<a href="http://naturallycuriouswithmaryholland.wordpress.com/category/december/">Mary Holland</a>

The natural world quiets down in December, both visually and audibly. Fall's riot of colors is long gone, and the bird song chorus is a distant memory. Not everyone embraces winter, but there is a positive way to view the impending season of cold, ice and snow. Without the overload of spring, summer and fall distractions, we're freed up to notice and appreciate the subtle winter world.

(Photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/simplerich/2187363093/" target="_blank">Simple Rich</a> via Flickr Creative Commons)

“Clean Coal,” refers to technologies that reduce heavy metal, carbon and other emissions from the burning of coal. The development of technologies that could, potentially, filter greenhouse gasses and store CO2 permanently is moving ahead. This week, a large demonstration of clean coal technology is being staged in Illinois, testing the viability of so-called “carbon sequestration,” an important step in testing the potential of clean coal technology. 

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Dear EarthTalk: Thorium is a naturally occurring element that is supposedly more available, more efficient and safer to use than uranium for generating nuclear energy. Is this true and, if so, why haven’t we made the switch?                                                                    -- Jane Westermann, Austin, TX

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Dear EarthTalk: I’ve heard of green roofs, but what are “green walls?” --P. Spencer, Alcoa, TN

 

Organic Bug

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Dear EarthTalk: I would like to make my holiday gifts matter this year. Where can I find ideas for green gifts?                                                                                            --Mary Baumgartner, via e-mail

 

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