Streams

 

 

Environment

Mapping The Microbes That Flourish On Fruits And Veggies

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Salad is not just a food; it's home to a flourishing community of mostly benign microbes. A new inventory finds surprising differences in the bacteria growing on popular fruits and vegetables.

Comment

Why Illinois Is Roaring Mad About Lion Meat

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Lion meat has been gaining traction among adventurous foodies. But some wildlife advocates worry that interest in lion meat in the U.S. could encourage more poaching abroad. So they're pushing legislation to ban lion meat in the state that seems to be at the center of the U.S. trade.

Comment

The Leonard Lopate Show

Fossil Fuels v. Alternative Energy in the U.S.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

New York Times reporter Elisabeth Rosenthal looks at how much the United States really needs fossil fuels like oil and gas and whether alternative, clean energy from wind, the sun, and the water will ever be able to compete with fossil fuels to provide our energy needs. Her article “Life After Oil and Gas,” was published in the Sunday Review section of the Times.

 

Comments [5]

Transportation Nation

Devil's Slide Tunnels Open After a Long Fight

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Devil's Slide Tunnels under construction in 2009 (photo by flickr user Mars Hall)

The new tunnels at Devil’s Slide on the northern California coast are finally open to drivers. This marks the first time cars have driven through a brand-new California highway tunnel in almost 50 years. The Devil’s Slide tunnels, officially named the Tom Lantos Tunnels, have been under construction since 2007 but have been a source of controversy since the 1970s.

When Highway 1 was built along the California Coast in the 1930s, it included a 1.2 mile stretch of road on an extremely unstable piece of hillside between San Francisco and Half Moon Bay called Devil’s Slide. During especially rainy winters, the ground would give way, causing the road to break and forcing drivers into a 45 mile detour. In 1995, the road was closed for 158 days.

Since the 1960s, California’s Department of Transportation, or Caltrans, had been looking for an alternative route. Caltrans proposed a highway bypass that would cut through the coastal hills. Locals and environmental activists were vehemently against the bypass, which would have been a larger freeway and split Montara State Park. The groups successfully used the National Environmental Policy Act and the California Coastal Act to postpone construction of the bypass through the 1970s and 80s. At the same time, the groups fought for a tunnel as the solution to the Devil’s Slide.

Caltrans had originally said that a tunnel would be too costly, but an independent study in 1996 showed that the tunnel was “reasonable and feasible.” In November of 1996, 74 percent of the voters of San Mateo County approved an initiative that stated a tunnel was the only permissible repair alternative to Devil’s Slide.

Construction began in 2007. The tunnels are over three-quarters of a mile long, with a total of 32 ventilation fans. The project’s cost of $439 million was fully funded with Federal Emergency Relief money, secured by U.S. Representative Tom Lantos, the tunnel’s namesake.

In a press release, Brian Kelly, the acting secretary of California’s Business, Transportation and Housing Agency, praised Caltrans and the other groups that worked to make the tunnels a reality.

“Ingenuity, will, and perseverance combined to get this project done. The new tunnels are state of the art structures that blend well into the beautiful, natural surroundings on this stretch of Highway 1,” he said. “Thanks to the work of the men and women who dedicated themselves to completing this project, motorists and emergency responders will have a safer journey from this day forward.”

Read More

Comment

A Hot Topic: Climate Change Coming To Classrooms

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

For the first time, new nationwide science standards due out soon will recommend teaching K-12 students about climate change. Educators say many teachers have shied away from the polarizing topic, and an organized campaign to promote it as "controversial" leaves many students confused.

Comment

Op-Ed: It's Time To Beef Up The U.S. Coast Guard

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The U.S. Navy estimates that by 2035 the Arctic Ocean may be ice-free for a month each year. In an op-ed for Foreign Policy, James Holmes, U.S. Naval War College, argues that in preparation for the increased activity in the Northwest Passage, the U.S. needs a Coast Guard that can fight.

Comment

Transportation Nation

How a D.C. Suburb Avoided the Capital's Traffic Nightmare

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Arlington's Wilson Boulevard and North Lynn Street at night. (Photo CC by Flickr user Mrs. Gernstone)

(Washington, D.C. -- WAMU) While the District of Columbia grapples with proposed changes to its parking and zoning policies, last updated in 1958, nearby Arlington County, Virginia seems to have triumphed in its effort to minimize traffic congestion. Commuters are shifting from cars to transit and bikes.

What's more, traffic volume has decreased on several major arterial roads in the county over the last two decades despite significant job and population growth, according to data compiled by researchers at Mobility Lab, a project of Arlington County Commuter Services.

Multifaceted effort to curb car-dependence

Researchers and transportation officials credit three initiatives for making the county less car-dependent: offering multiple alternatives to the automobile in the form of rail, bus, bicycling, and walking; following smart land use policies that encourage densely built, mixed-use development; and relentlessly marketing those transportation alternatives through programs that include five ‘commuter stores’ throughout the county where transit tickets, bus maps, and other information are available.

“Those three combined have brought down the percentage of people driving alone and increased the amount of transit and carpooling,” said Howard Jennings, Mobility Lab’s director of research and development.

Jennings’ research team estimates alternatives to driving alone take nearly 45,000 car trips off the county’s roads every weekday. Among those shifting modes from the automobile, 69 percent use transit, 14 percent carpool, 10 percent walk, four percent telework and three percent bike.

“Reducing traffic on key routes does make it easier for those who really need to drive. Not everybody can take an alternative,” Jennings said.

Arlington’s success in reducing car dependency is more remarkable considering it has happened as the region’s population and employment base has grown.

Since 1996 Arlington has added more than 6 million square feet of office space, a million square feet of retail, nearly 11,000 housing units and 1,100 hotel rooms in the Rosslyn-Ballston Metro corridor. Yet traffic counts have dropped major roads: on Lee Highway (-10%), Washington Boulevard (-14%), Clarendon Boulevard (-6%), Wilson Boulevard (-25%), and Glebe Road (-6%), according to county figures. Traffic counts have increased on Arlington Boulevard (11%) and George Mason Drive (14%).

“Arlington zoning hasn’t changed a great deal over the last 15 years or so. It’s been much more of a result of the services and the programs and the transportation options than it has been the zoning,” said Jennings.

Arlington serving as a regional model

Across the Potomac, the D.C. Office of Planning is considering the controversial proposal of eliminating mandatory parking space minimums in new development in transit-rich corridors and in downtown Washington to reduce traffic congestion. In Arlington, transportation officials say parking minimums have not been a focus.

“When developers come to Arlington we are finding they are building the right amount of parking,” said Chris Hamilton, the bureau chief at Arlington County Commuter Services. “Developers know they need a certain amount of parking for their tenants, but they don’t want to build too much because that’s a waste.”

Hamilton says parking is available at relatively cheap rates in the Rosslyn-Ballston Metro corridor because demand for spots has been held down by a shift to transit.

“In Arlington there are these great options. People can get here by bus, by rail, by Capital Bikeshare, and walking, and most people do that. That’s why Arlington is doing so well,” Hamilton said.

Hamilton credited a partnership with the county’s 700 employers for keeping their workers, 80 percent of whom live outside the county, from driving to work by themselves.

“Arlington Transportation Partners gives every one of those employers assistance in setting up commute benefit programs, parking programs, carpool programs, and bike incentives. Sixty-five percent of those 700 employers provide a transit benefit. That’s the highest in the region,” Hamilton said.

“There’s been a compact with the citizens since the 1960s and when Metro came to Arlington that when all the high-density development would occur in the rail corridors, we would protect the single family neighborhoods that hugged the rail corridors,” he added.

Read More

Comment

Are Agriculture's Most Popular Insecticides Killing Our Bees?

Monday, March 25, 2013

Neonicotinoids are pesticides widely used to coat the seeds of agricultural plants, especially corn. But some evidence suggests these chemicals may also be poisoning bees. A tell-tale clue: reports of massive bee die-offs that all took place during corn-planting season.

Comment

The Leonard Lopate Show

Unwanted Electronic Gear Piles Up

Monday, March 25, 2013

Flat-screen technology has drastically lowered the demand for the recycled tube glass and creating stockpiles of useless materials across the country.

Comments [19]

President's Pen Establishes New National Monuments

Monday, March 25, 2013

One dedicated to anti-slavery activist Harriet Tubman and a stretch of New Mexico wilderness are among the newly established monuments.

Comment

Coal And Coral: Australia's Self-Destructive Paradox

Saturday, March 23, 2013

The city of Gladstone is the world's fourth largest coal-export hub. It's also a jumping off point to the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef. But coal mining could eventually kill the reef that Australians revere.

Comment

Scientists Use Antacid To Help Measure The Rate Of Reef Growth

Friday, March 22, 2013

There's some evidence that carbon dioxide we pump into the atmosphere has slowed the development of coral reefs. So researchers are adding antacid to the water in a tiny part of the Great Barrier Reef, to see whether the corals will grow faster if their water supply is less acidic.

Comment

Did Congress Just Give GMOs A Free Pass In The Courts?

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Congress on Thursday approved stopgap funding legislation that includes language explicitly granting the USDA authority to override a judge's ruling against genetically modified crops. Critics denounce the measure as the "Monsanto Protection Act." But it seems to be codifying powers the USDA already has exercised in the past.

Comment

The Leonard Lopate Show

Architect Bjarke Ingels on Sustainability

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Architect Bjarke Ingels explains "hedonistic sustainability," the idea that sustainable design can enhance our lives rather than be seen as a burden.

Comments [5]

Environmentalists, Drillers Reach 'Truce' For Fracking Standards

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Four major drilling companies, including Shell and Chevron, and several environmental groups have agreed on 15 voluntary standards for cleaner drilling practices in the Appalachian Basin. But some environmental groups are skeptical about the effort because the standards are voluntary.

Comment

The Abnormally Normal Science Of Sinkholes

Thursday, March 21, 2013

When a Florida man vanished into a massive sinkhole that opened underneath his home in February, the case garnered national attention. But geologists say sinkholes occur regularly without much notice.

Comment

The Leonard Lopate Show

Healing Iraq's Environment

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Over the last two decades, the Mesopotamia Marshlands in Southern Iraq—an area twice the size of the Florida Everglades—have suffered massive environmental degradation. But some parts of the region are starting to return to health. Dr. Azzam Alwash, founder of the non-profit environmental organization Nature Iraq talks about his efforts to restore the marshlands and the push to name the area Iraq’s first national park.

Comments [1]

'Temperature Rising': Will Climate Change Bring More Extreme Weather?

Thursday, March 21, 2013

In a series for The New York Times, environmental reporter Justin Gillis has been exploring whether harsh weather events are connected to global warming or if they are simply the random violence nature visits upon us.

Comment

It's 'Birds Gone Wild' Out On Australia's Heron Island

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Normally, the buff-breasted rail is a shy little creature. But on this island out on the Great Barrier Reef, it's become the avian equivalent of a weed. And the island is dotted with other pesky and sometimes (to visitors) menacing birds.

Comment

Massive Sinkhole In Louisiana Baffles Officials

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The giant sinkhole is threatening a neighborhood in southern Louisiana. A salt mine collapsed last year, creating a series of problems regulators say they've never seen before, including tremors and oil and gas leaks and a sinkhole that covers 9 acres. Residents are losing patience.

Comment