You may have heard that Americans throw away more than any other nation, but any idea of just how much? Each of us is on track to toss 102 tons of garbage in our lifetime. More than 7 pounds a day, and twice what we chucked out in 1960. Pulitzer Prize winner Edward Humes believes we are living in a state of garbage denial. His new book is called Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair with Trash. In it, he looks at the science, politics, and economics of waste.
Pictured here on April 13, 2011, Barataria Bay — part of Louisiana's Barataria Basin — was one of the hardest hit areas in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion. Today, obvious signs of the spill have faded, but communities are still reeling from its effects.
Credit Mario Tama / Getty Images
Orange Beach, Ala., Environmental Manager Phillip West holds a tar ball that has washed onto the area's sugar-white sand beaches. He says the clumps of weathered oil come in when the surf is rough — an indication that two years later, there's still oil lingering offshore.
Credit Debbie Elliott / NPR
Two years later, this Bay Jimmy island is part of 200 miles of Louisiana shoreline still fouled by the BP oil spill. A layer of oil has hardened along the coast, creating a thick layer of asphalt-like tar that's choking the edge of the marsh and accelerating an already alarming rate of coastal erosion.
It's been two years since the Deepwater Horizon exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 rig workers and unleashing the worst oil spill in U.S. history. The oil has long stopped flowing and BP spent billions of dollars to clean up oiled beaches and waterways, but the disaster isn't necessarily over.
Oil fouled some 1,100 miles of Gulf Coast shoreline, but today, in most spots, you can't see obvious signs of the spill. In Orange Beach, Ala., the clear emerald waters of the Gulf roll onto sugar-white sand beaches.
Oil field workers drill into the Gypsum Hills near Medicine Lodge, Kan., on Feb. 21. The Environmental Protection Agency announced new rules Wednesday to control the problem of air pollution coming from wells being drilled by the booming oil and natural gas drilling industry.
The Environmental Protection Agency's new air pollution rules for the oil and gas industry may seem like odd timing, as President Obama has been trying to deflect Republican criticism that he overregulates energy industries. But the rules weren't the Obama administration's idea.
Several years ago, communities in Colorado, New Mexico and Wyoming complained about air pollution from natural gas booms in their local areas.
The Environmental Protection Agency announced new rules Wednesday to control the problem of air pollution coming from wells being drilled by the booming oil and natural gas drilling industry.
Currently, waste products from the drilling operations, which include a mix of chemicals, sand and water, can be pumped into open enclosures or pits, where toxic substances can make their way into the air. The new rules will require this fluid to be captured by 2015, and flared — or burned off — in the meantime.
Dear EarthTalk: How is it that dams actually hurt rivers?-- Missy Davenport, Boulder, CO
Dams are a symbol of human ingenuity and engineering prowess—controlling the flow of a wild rushing river is no small feat. But in this day and age of environmental awareness, more and more people are questioning whether generating a little hydroelectric power is worth destroying riparian ecosystems from their headwaters in the mountains to their mouths at the ocean and beyond.
A wobbling of the Earth on its axis about 20,000 years ago may have kicked off a beginning to the end of the last ice age. Glaciers in the Arctic and Greenland began to melt, which resulted in a warming of the Earth, a new study says. Above, Greenland's Russell Glacier, seen in 1990.
The last big ice age ended about 11,000 years ago, and not a moment too soon — it made a lot more of the world livable, at least for humans.
But exactly what caused the big thaw isn't clear, and new research suggests that a wobble in the Earth kicked off a complicated process that changed the whole planet.
Ice tells the history of the Earth's climate: Air bubbles in ice reveal what the atmosphere was like and what the temperature was. And scientists can read this ice, even if it's been buried for thousands of years.
This NASA map shows the size of aerosol particles in the atmosphere. Green areas indicate larger, more naturally occurring particles like dust. Red areas indicate smaller aerosol particles, which can come from fossil fuels and fires. Yellow areas indicate a mix of large and small particles.