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Environment

The Leonard Lopate Show

Underreported: Deep Sea Mining

Thursday, July 07, 2011

This week, a team of Japanese scientists announced that vast deposits of rare earth minerals—considered essential for the production of certain electronics—have been found under the Pacific Ocean. Cindy Lee Van Dover, Director of Duke University Marine Laboratory and Peter B. Kelemen, an Earth & Environmental Studies Professor at Columbia University, tell us about the deposits and how deep sea mining works.

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The Takeaway

Oil Pipeline Rupture Angers Montana Residents

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Montanans living along the Yellowstone River say they are worried and angry, following the rupture of an ExxonMobile pipeline which sent up to 1,000 barrels of oil gushing into the river. The pipeline had been shut down once before, in May, after residents of the town of Laurel raised concerns over rising river levels. 

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Transportation Nation

TN MOVING STORIES: Los Angeles To Cut Dozens of Bus Routes, Why NYC Women Don't Bike More, and Oil Spill in Montana

Sunday, July 03, 2011

A bike lane being installed on Manhattan's Upper West Side in 2010 (photo by Kate Hinds)

Federal spending on bike and pedestrian infrastructure was $4 a person in 2010 -- and Economix says we should be investing more. (New York Times)

Los Angeles's bus system gets millions of low-income workers to their jobs -- so why is the city cutting bus lines? (New York Times)

Why don't more women bike in NYC? Safety, safety, safety. (New York Times)

A Haaretz editorial characterizes the state of public transportation in Tel Aviv "shameful" and calls for reform.

A ruptured oil pipeline in Montana has spilled 1,000 barrels of oil into the Yellowstone River. (The Takeaway)

After five years and $12 million, Newark's proposed Triangle Park remains a parking lot -- not the pedestrian-friendly park space it was meant to be. (Star-Ledger)

Chicago's Metra might have double-charged customers who purchased tickets with credit cards last week. (Chicago Tribune)

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The Leonard Lopate Show

Here on Earth: A Natural History of the Planet

Friday, July 01, 2011

Tim Flannery, scientist, explorer, conservationist, and co-founder and Chair of the Copenhagen Climate Council, discusses the Earth’s evolution—from a galactic cloud of dust and gas to a planet teeming with life. Here on Earth: A Natural History of the Planet describes how the Earth’s crust and atmosphere formed, how its oceans transformed from toxic brews of metals to life-sustaining bodies of water covering 70 percent of the planet’s surface, and how our own species evolved.

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The Leonard Lopate Show

Encounters at the Ragged Edge of the World

Friday, July 01, 2011

Environmental writer Eugene Linden talks about how the far corners on the earth have been changed by—or have resisted being changed by—modernity. The Ragged Edge of the World: Encounters at the Frontier Where Modernity, Wildlands, and Indigenous Peoples Meet looks at this environmental frontier—Vietnam, New Guinea and Borneo, pygmy forests and Machu Picchu, the Arctic and Antarctica, Cuba and Midway Island.

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The Leonard Lopate Show

Tropic of Chaos

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Investigative journalist Christian Parenti explains how extreme weather is breeding banditry, humanitarian crisis, and failed states from Africa to Asia and Latin America. In Tropic of Chaos: Climate Change and the New Geography of Violence, Parenti travels along the front lines of this gathering crisis and describes how to confront the challenge of climate-driven violence with sustainable economic and development policies.

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Transportation Nation

Ray LaHood: People Want to Live in Cities with Transportation Choices

Thursday, June 30, 2011

In Ray LaHood's latest "On the Go" -- the video series in which the US Department of Transportation Secretary answers questions from the public -- he fields questions from Streetsblog readers.  Watch below to see him talk about urban livability, driving responsibly, the expansion of streetcars in New Orleans,  and the DOT's collaboration with HUD and EPA.

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Transportation Nation

TN MOVING STORIES: Florida's Commuter Rail Fate To Be Decided This Week, and Less NYkers Driving Over MTA-Tolled Bridges

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Florida Congressman John Mica has been pushing SunRail for years -- but is he dedicated to commuter rail, or to earmarks for CSX? (New York Times)

Meanwhile: Florida Governor Rick Scott says he'll decide the fate of the SunRail project this week. (The Hill)

And: Scott has the lowest approval rating of any governor in the nation, in part because of unpopular decisions like killing that state's high-speed rail project. (New York Times)

How feasible is President Obama's gas mileage goal of 56.2 miles per gallon by 2025? (The Takeaway)

Boston's MBTA is expanding its "quiet car" program. (MyFox Boston)

Shhhh - the T is pulling into the station (photo by Kate Hinds)

German researchers say that a handful of cars "talking" to each other can reduce traffic congestion. (Autopia)

Maryland's proposed Red Line in Baltimore has received federal approval to move to the next phase of development -- meaning federal funding is likely to eventually come. (Baltimore Sun)

Zurich is piloting climate- and traffic-resistant sensors for vehicles, and designing ways to use mobile phones to access the data collected by the sensors. (Treehugger.com)

Less motorists are driving over the New York MTA's toll bridges. (New York Post)

 

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The Leonard Lopate Show

The Fate of Fresh Water

Monday, June 27, 2011

Alex Prud'homme tells the evolving story of freshwater—as the climate warms and the world population grows, demand for water has surged, but supplies of freshwater are static or dropping, and new threats to water quality appear every day. The Ripple Effect: The Fate of Fresh Water in the Twenty-first Century investigates the state of our water infrastructure, the supply and quality of water, how secure our water supply is, new sources of water, and discusses whether the wars of the 21st century will be fought over water.

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Transportation Nation

Hydrogen Cars Research Picks Up Speed

Friday, June 24, 2011

Rice University Mechanical Engineering Professor Boris Yakobson

As gas prices are finally stabilizing, alternative fuel ideas may return to the back burner. But at least one professor is making strides in one of the more elusive energy sources, hydrogen. The key is trapping enough of the gas to meet Department of Energy standards, and storing the energy at temperatures that make every day use viable.

When hydrogen burns in an engine with oxygen the output is pure, clean water. This makes it one of the most carbon neutral fuels to be found, however trapping the hydrogen, as it's quite a dense gas has been the problem. Several prototypes and early model hydrogen cars have been on the roads for a couple decades now, and many automakers are slowly experimenting with the prospect of zero emissions cars, but a method for harnessing hydrogen safely and efficiently enough for mass production has still eludes automakers.

Rice University Mechanical Engineering Professor Boris Yakobson has a fuel cell model that is in the concept phase now, but it exceeds the Department of Energy's specifications. The DOE says at least 6 percent of hydrogen needs to be stored to power a car. Yakobson believes he can harness at least 8 percent using a relatively simple 'grapevine'-like structure. He proposes using a fuel cell based on "a particular form of carbon as a building element. Then in addition to this we can also introduce another element calcium," he says. "Calcium has the special property of attracting hydrogen molecules."

The most important element of this structure is its stability, allowing hydrogen to be stored at higher temperatures. Right now the only way to store hydrogen so it's usable is at sub-zero temperatures. With Yakobson's latest model, temperature would not matter, making it a longer-term viable solution for future hydrogen car manufacturers.

This is just a concept idea from Yakobson and his team but some initial tests show it's a promising option and takes us a step closer to getting longer-lasting hydrogen cars on the road.

For the full story and more on the 'grapevine' structure, listen to the radio version at KUHF.

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The Takeaway

The Urgent Water Pollution Problem in the 21st Century

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Randy Newman captured a moment of national anger in "Burn On," a song about the polluted Cuyahoga River catching fire in 1969. That environmental disaster pushed Congress and the Nixon administration to create the Environmental Protection Agency and pass laws like the Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act. But today's guest warns that these laws are woefully outdated, and that clean water is becoming increasingly scarce. Access to freshwater, he argues, is the most urgent problem we face in the twenty-first century.

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The Takeaway

Historic Floods Ravage North Dakota

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Souris River, which loops from Saskatchewan, Canada to North Dakota, has risen to record high levels and is spilling into the North Dakota city of Minot, causing more than 11,000 residents from there to evacuate for the second time this month. The flooding is said to have been caused by a heavy spring snow melt and heavy rains. The last major flood in the area occurred in 1969, which prompted the construction of levees. But this flood is five feet taller than the 1969 flood, and the levees are unable to contain it. 

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Transportation Nation

Study: On Job Creation, Bike Lanes Beat Roads

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Back in January we reported on a study using local data that found that building bike lanes brought more bang for the buck on job creation than building roads. Now, the original researchers at the Political Economy Research Institute of U. Mass Amherst have expanded that study to 11 cities with the same findings.

The PERI study (PDF) finds:

"Overall we find that bicycling infrastructure creates the most jobs for a given level of spending: For each $1 million, the cycling projects in this study create a total of 11.4 jobs within the state where the project is located. Pedestrian-only projects create an average of about 10 jobs per $1 million and multi-use trails create nearly as many, at 9.6 jobs per $1 million. ... and road-only projects create the least, with a total of 7.8 jobs per $1 million."

The study says bike lanes generate more jobs per dollar spent because building a bike lane is more labor intensive than building a road. "A greater portion of the spending is used to employ construction workers and engineers, both labor-intensive industries." So, for example, "a bike path which requires a great deal of planning and design will generate more jobs for a given level of spending than a road project which requires a greater proportion of heavily mechanized construction equipment and relatively less planning and design."

They study adds that a greater proportion of road spending "leaks" out of state for supplies.

These findings are already being used by advocates like America Bikes and the League of American Bicyclists to argue for more bike lanes, and to steer tight infrastructure dollars toward bike plans at a time when an increasingly effective argument for spending on road repair is not disrepair but job creation.

Via Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

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The Leonard Lopate Show

The Story of the Earth Liberation Front

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Director Marshall Curry discusses his documentary “If a Tree Falls: The Story of the Earth Liberation Front,” which tells of the rise and fall of an anarchist environmental group, the ELF. The film focuses on the evolution of the group and the transformation and radicalization of Daniel McGowan, one of its members, and poses questions about environmentalism, activism, and the way we define terrorism. “If a Tree Falls” opens June 22 at IFC Center.

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Transportation Nation

TN MOVING STORIES: AAA To Launch Fast-Charging Trucks For EVs, NRDC Threatens Rail Companies With Pollution Suit, and the End of NYC's Bike War?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Electric vehicle charging (photo by Birmingham News Room/Flickr)

A Wall Street Journal opinion piece says New York City's bike war is over. "Look all around you. The bikes have won, and it's not a terrible thing."

AAA is launching fast-charging trucks to juice up stranded electric vehicles. (Los Angeles Times)

Another departure at San Francisco's Muni leaves a leadership vacuum. (San Francisco Examiner)

San Francisco taxi drivers protest regulation and credit card charges. (San Francisco Chronicle)

Transportation Alternatives and the New York Daily News took a bogus parking placard (complete with the seal of Bulgaria) on a test drive to see if their car would get tickets. It didn't. (NY Daily News)

The NRDC threatened two railroad companies with a pollution lawsuit. (AP)

One Canadian columnist says it's time to charge the real cost of parking. (Toronto Star)

A number of Boston bus operators were hired despite checkered driving records that include multiple suspensions, numerous moving violations and repeated accidents in which they were found to be at fault. (Boston Herald)

The VP of the US High Speed Rail Association is on board with Congressman Mica's Northeast Corridor privatization plan. (The Hill)

Some airlines are switching from paper to iPads in the cockpit to cut down on weight -- and therefore fuel costs. (Good)

 

 

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Transportation Nation

TN MOVING STORIES: Feds Investigate Possible Oil Market Manipulation -- Taxi Driver Group Supports Outer Borough Plan -- Chinese Build Kenyan "Superhighway"

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Federal Trade Commission has launched a probe into whether companies, refineries, and/or traders have manipulated crude oil markets. (Wall Street Journal)

A group representing thousands of New York City taxi drivers threw its support behind legislation that would allow livery cabs to pick up street hails  -- despite its intention to attend a protest of the plan Monday. (WNYC)

Chinese companies are building a 'superhighway' -- a road that's 16 lanes across in some places -- in Kenya. (NPR)

Highway in Kenya (photo by PercyGermany/Flickr)

Can biofuels making flying clean and cheap? (Good)

Rhode Island's transit agency head says he has to cut bus service 10% because of an expected budget deficit. (Boston Globe)

The United Arab Emirates decided to build the world's most sustainable city...then the financial crisis hit. Whither the Masdar pod-cars? (Marketplace)

Paris to New York in 90 minutes? Paris to Tokyo in three hours? That's the promise of an experimental jet unveiled at the Paris Air Show. (NPR)

The Takeaway follows up on Saudi women agitating for their right to drive.

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The Leonard Lopate Show

The Hidden World of Sharks

Monday, June 20, 2011

Juliet Eilperin, environmental reporter for The Washington Post, looks at the ways different people and cultures relate to sharks, the ocean’s top predator. She reminds us why sharks remain among nature’s most awe-inspiring creatures. Demon Fish: Travels through the Hidden World of Sharks takes us from Belize to South Africa to show us how sharks live and why they are at risk of extinction.

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Transportation Nation

TN MOVING STORIES: The US DOT Puts Two More Bus Companies Out of Business -- Two Cities, Two Different Views of Electric Bikes

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Yarn-bombed bike rack on Manhattan's Upper West Side (photo by Kate Hinds)

The proliferation of electric bikes on NYC streets has led to tickets -- and confusion (New York Times). Meanwhile, Las Vegas's transportation commission is purchasing them (Las Vegas Sun).

The US Department of Transportation put two bus companies out of business this weekend. (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Meanwhile, eight times since October, U.S. bus-safety regulators gave extensions allowing operators to stay on the road after finding problems serious enough to shut them down. (Bloomberg via San Francisco Chronicle)

As New Jersey emerges from the financial downturn, access to transit is driving the office market recovery. (Wall Street Journal)

Can electric vehicles create a sustainable job market -- and would the cars sell as well without a tax subsidy? (NPR)

Sales of full-size pickup trucks have stalled; GM plans to trim production accordingly. (Detroit Free Press)

New York City wants to put cameras on some street sweepers to catch alternate side parking violations. (New York Times)

A New Jersey Assembly panel plans to examine Governor Christie's decision to pull the state from a multistate pact to reduce greenhouse gases. (AP via NJ.com)

In New York, new East River ferry service begins today. (MyFoxNY.com)

Some members of Manhattan's Community Board 8 are not loving the Central Park Conservancy's plan to put in cross-park bike paths. (West Side Spirit)

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The Leonard Lopate Show

Plastic: A Toxic Love Story

Friday, June 10, 2011

Susan Freinkel describes why the plethora of plastics has created a major problem—we’ve produced as much plastic in the last 10 years as we did in the entire 20th century, and plastics draw on dwindling fossil fuels, leach harmful chemicals, litter landscapes, and destroy marine life. In Plastic: A Toxic Love Story, Freinkel tells the story of plastic through eight familiar objects: comb, chair, Frisbee, IV bag, disposable lighter, grocery bag, soda bottle, and credit card. She combs through scientific studies and economic data, reporting from China and across the United States to assess the real impact of plastic on our lives, and how we can learn to live without it.

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Transportation Nation

Growth Management Still Alive in Florida, but Different Than Before

Friday, June 10, 2011

(Orlando, Fla-WMFE) City planners, developers, and the general public are still trying to figure out what growth in Florida will look like after Governor Rick Scott approved sweeping changes last week.  They undo much of the oversight capabilities of the state that have been in place for the last 25 years.

Secretary Billy Buzzett of Florida’s major growth management agency, The Department of Community Affairs, joined a panel discussion put on by the Urban Land Institute yesterday in Orlando.  In his remarks Buzzett generally praised the new law called the Community Planning Act, but did say, “The new law is going to allow a lot more flexibility to local government than it did before so there’s going to be less state mandates which does allow more tailor made competitions between local governments, so I would expect to see some of that and I think that’s good not bad."

Read the full story at WMFE.

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