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Climate Change

The Takeaway

Keeping Earth cool with cool colors, man

Friday, May 01, 2009

Everybody is trying to do their part to reduce the effects of climate change. But most of us are also probably hoping for some major shifts in our energy infrastructure to make the biggest differences. But a group of scientists in California would like to see the Department of Energy back a relatively simple idea: lightening up the colors of our rooftops and roads to reduce the energy that our homes and land absorb.

On The Takeaway is Surabi Menon, a research scientist at the Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory in Berkley, California, to explain how this would work.

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The Takeaway

Round two on the Kyoto Protocol

Monday, April 27, 2009

The beleaguered Kyoto Protocol, enacted in 1992 to limit global greenhouse gas emissions, but was never ratified by the United States, is back up for negotiations this year. Will the U.S. be a real partner to the cap-and-trade agreement? In advance of the new Kyoto discussions, President Obama is meeting with the representatives of 17 governments at the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate in Washington D.C. The governments will be looking for indications of how others will navigate the Kyoto Protocol negotiations. For more The Takeaway turns to Andrew Revkin, New York Times environmental reporter.

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The Takeaway

The Clean Coal Tell-All

Monday, April 13, 2009

What have you heard about clean coal? That it involves vats of liquid carbon dioxide annexed away underground? That it's dangerous? That it's never been done before? In an exclusive interview, Scientific American's energy and environmental editor David Biello sits down with The Takeaway to chat about the technology formally known as "carbon capture and sequestration" ("CCS"), carbon balloons, and carbon geysers— the newest Old Faithfuls.

Check out more of what Biello has to say on Scientific American, where he did a week's worth of carbon capture and sequestration coverage.

And for more coverage of what a "new energy economy" will look like, check out The Takeaway's Power Trip clean energy series.

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The Takeaway

Slideshow: "Citizen science" projects

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Science is leaving the lab with "citizen science," which asks volunteers to participate in local experiments that contribute to a greater scientific end. View a slideshow of "citizen science" experiments that you can conduct, ranging in size from the subatomic to the galactic after the jump.
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The Takeaway

Saving history: The biologist who protected six million bird-watching notecards

Thursday, April 02, 2009

For nearly 100 years, birds couldn't shake their human paparazzi.

As part of the U.S. government's Bird Migration Program, bird enthusiasts from Kansas to the West Indies tracked down our feathered friends — the Jennifer Anistons of yesteryear — scribbling down notes about their habits: When they came to the area in springtime, where they roosted (and with whom they roosted), and when they flew away for winter.

The note-taking program was first started in 1882 under the leadership of bird expert Wells W. Cook, and it ended in 1970. I spoke with the program's last director, Chandler Robbins, who, at 90, is just three years into his retirement from the United States Geological Survey. Robbins has been protecting the notecards from the incinerator for more than 30 years. He gave us a history of the bird program and told us why it's so important for the two-by-fives to be dusted off and used — before the paper that holds them crumbles away. Click on the LISTEN button below to hear the conversation!
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The Takeaway

Birding gets a digital upgrade

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Starting in 1882 and continuing for almost a century, the United State's Bird Migration Program collected two-by-five notecards from bird watchers around North America. Today, these long preserved cards — did we mention that there were over six million of them? — are being dusted off, in the hopes that they can tell us something about a bird of a different feather: climate change. Jessica Zelt, coordinator of the newly established North American Bird Phenology Program where she is in charge of digitizing the cards, joins the show to tell us more.

Are you itchin' to get your hands on a little American history? You can transcribe the migration notecards into the digital directory from your very own home. Click here to help! Go on, be a part of bird history.

For more, read Molly Webster's Producer's Note

And before we let you go, we'd like to leave you with a little bird quote from our friends here at the Internet, because really, what's the World Wide Web good for if not to root-out some profound, bird-related witticisms? Ahem: "My favorite weather is bird-chirping weather." ~Loire Hartwould

(c) USGS.gov

(c) USGS.gov

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The Takeaway

Can the concrete industry go green?

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Like the Big Mac or Budweiser beer, concrete is everywhere. But concrete comes with a cost: in creating the ubiquitous building material, tons upon tons of carbon dioxide are emitted annually. In fact, the concrete industry is the third largest producer of greenhouse gases in the world. Is there a way to green the gray giant? For answers, The Takeaway is joined by the New York Times editor and writer Henry Fountain. Fountain is the author of the today's Science Times article, Concrete is remixed with the environment in mind.

This isn't the first time The Takeaway listeners have heard about the CO2 spewing powers of cement. Check out our interview with Vinod Kholsa, as part of our Power Trip green energy series.

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The Takeaway

Extreme Ice: A new NOVA film on glacial melting

Monday, March 23, 2009



When we use the metaphor of things moving at a glacial pace, our intention is to describe something progressing very slowly. Well if you were familiar with James Balog and his nature photography, chances are you’d never use that phrase that way again. James Balog is the founder and director of the Extreme Ice Survey. With the use of 26 time-lapse cameras, Balog and his colleagues document the rapid changes on glaciers across the Northern Hemisphere. You can see Balog in action, trekking through treacherous terrain, in a new NOVA and National Geographic documentary, Extreme Ice. You can also check out Balog's photography in his latest book, Extreme Ice Now: Vanishing Glaciers and Changing Climate: A Progress Report.

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The Takeaway

Survivor: Planet Earth

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

There's a polar bear meeting in Norway this week, where politicians are considering how to handle the dire predictions surrounding the fate of our arctic friend. And this meeting got us thinking: in the face of a warming globe, is extinction the only option? Are organisms, along with a little thing called natural selection, finding a way to beat this formidable foe? We hope Warren Allmon, a paleontology professor at Cornell who specializes in macroevolution, can shed some light on our queries. Mr. Allmon is also the director of the Museum of the Earth.

Polar Bear S.O.S. has enlisted children to spread the word about the animal's plight. Hear their message below.

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The Takeaway

Copenhagen conference's 'last call' for the case of global warming

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

At a science conference in Copenhagen this week, there's a "last call" for scientists who want to present evidence in the case for global warming. American, British and other European scientists will present latest scientific findings on climate change since the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) report in 2007. This is in part an attempt to encourage an international climate treaty in December in Copenhagen. Joining The Takeaway from Copenhagen is BBC Environmental Correspondent Matt McGrath.

One topic being addressed at the conference is rising sea levels. Watch the video below for more information.

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The Takeaway

Moon over Kilimanjaro

Friday, February 27, 2009

Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest peak in Tanzania, is famous for its snow-capped peaks and that snow cap has gotten a lot of attention recently. Climate change experts say its melting glaciers are dramatic evidence of the impact of human-induced climate change. That’s why UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon flew over the top of Kilamanjaro this morning—a stunt to draw attention to climate change. But are the retreating glaciers of Mount Kilamanjaro really the iconic symbol of climate change? Joining us to explain this is Doug Hardy from the University of Massachusetts. He's a “high elevations” specialist who took a trip to Mount Kilimanjaro earlier this month.

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The Takeaway

President likely to allow California to restrict car emissions

Monday, January 26, 2009

Continuing his string of reversals of Bush administration policies, President Obama is set to allow California to opt out of federal regulations and set stricter standards to limit greenhouse gas emissions from cars. More than a dozen other states may adopt the same standards. Struggling automakers have said that complying with the new rules will cost billions. New York Times reporter Peter Baker joins The Takeaway to explain the significance of the change in federal policy.

For more, read Peter Baker's article, Obama’s Order Is Likely to Tighten Auto Standards, in today's New York Times.

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The Takeaway

Satellite data proves Antartica is warming

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Despite the warming trend that is hitting the rest of the planet, it's been long thought that Antarctica is actually getting colder. Global warming skeptics point to Antarctica's cooling off as evidence that climate change is a myth. But now scientists using satellite data have determined that Antarctica is actually warming, much like the rest of the planet. One of the researchers, NASA climate scientist Drew Shindell, joins us to explain the findings.

Check out NASA's Earth Observatory website for a lot more information and imagery.

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The Takeaway

Out in the Greenwash: Creating sustainability in America

Friday, January 16, 2009

Yesterday, the U.S. House Democrats unveiled a stimulus bill that would designate $54 billion to renewable energy. But the problem in creating a sustainable energy source may not lie in funding for green projects, but the manner in which they are implemented. In her latest piece for PBS’s Blueprint America Maria Hinojosa, a senior correspondent for NOW on PBS, explores the issues confronting implementing green energy in California, greenwashing everywhere, and how it may be a reflection for the future of eco-politics.

Don't forget to watch Maria Hinojosa's report "Blueprint America: Power Struggle" airing tonight on PBS's NOW.

Watch a PBS/NOVA report on "The Big Energy Gamble" in California.

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The Takeaway

In Poland, climate is on world leader's minds

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

But will the economic slowdown hamper environmental progress?

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The Takeaway

Survey shows concern over climate change trumps economic crisis

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

"Over 40% of the people polled said that climate change was a more pressing issue than the global financial crisis."
—Richard Black, discussing a global poll on climate change

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The Takeaway

Beetles killing millions of acres of pine

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

» Video: "America's Disappearing Forests" (The New York Times)
» "Bark Beetles Kill Millions of Acres of Trees in West" (The New York Times)


"If you stand on a mountaintop in Colorado you can look in every direction and see dead trees. It is everywhere."
--Jim Robbins on the impact of pine beetle infestations

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The Takeaway

An oil briefing for Obama

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

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The Takeaway

Where the candidates stand on energy and the environment

Friday, October 17, 2008

This fall, energy and the environment have taken a back seat to financial turmoil, national security and the wars that the nation is fighting on two fronts. But when voters head to the polls they need to know where both candidates stand on important policies concerning nuclear energy, offshore drilling and clean coal — to name a few. For a look at how John McCain and Barack Obama plan to tackle energy dependence and global warming, The Takeaway turns to Martin Smith.

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The Takeaway

Stop global warming? Put down the burger

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Do you want to battle climate change effectively? Then put down that cheeseburger! The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations estimates that direct emissions from meat production account for about 18 percent of the world's total greenhouse gas — roughly equivalent to the amount from cars and trucks. Are there really global benefits for going meat-free?

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