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PRI's Environmental News Magazine

Caribbean Islands Face Warmer, Stormier Seas

 

Smashed and battered by the record-breaking Hurricane Irma, many small Caribbean island nations and territories now face the monumental task of rebuilding much of their infrastructure. As every nation can embrace mitigation measures that reduce the threats of extreme weather global action on climate change is more urgent than ever.

 

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Smashed and battered by the record-breaking Hurricane Irma, many small Caribbean island nations and territories now face the monumental task of rebuilding much of their infrastructure. As every nation can embrace mitigation measures that reduce the threats of extreme weather global action on climate change is more urgent than ever.

The Everglades After Irma

 

As well as devastating Florida communities, Hurricane Irma blasted an estimated three to ten feet of storm surge into the Everglades. The storm surge and severe downpours, added to the steady rising of the seas, are degrading the “River of Grass” ecosystem that’s already been weakened and reduced by human development.

 

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Hurricane Floods & Toxic Chemicals

 

Southeast Texas has thousands of oil and chemical facilities, and hurricane flooding is suspected of releasing toxic chemicals from them. Broken sewage systems and poorly protected superfund sites also pose health risks.

 

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Flood Insurance & Resilience

 

As Hurricane Irma hits the US and Texas cleans up from Hurricane Harvey’s devastating floods, Congress faces a September 30th deadline to reauthorize the National Flood Insurance Program. Despite some problems with the program, flood insurance shifts at least some of the costs of recovery to homeowners to incentivize flood-resilient rebuilding.

 

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Houston: Drenched, Damaged and Determined

 

Hurricane Harvey broke records for rainfall, inundating thousands of homes and businesses and leaving tens of thousands homeless in the Houston area of Texas before it moved east through Beaumont and Port Arthur into Louisiana. Still, cleanup in Houston began as soon as the sun came out, and sodden sheetrock and carpet is piling up on curbsides. To discuss how the storm played out and how the country’s fourth-largest city can prepare for more such extreme weather events, host Steve Curwood spoke with Houston Public Media's Laurie Johnson. She notes Houston residents are resilient in the face of the public safety risks and chores of rebuilding ahead.

 

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Global Warming & Harvey

 

A warmer world is a rainier world, as warmer air holds more moisture. The exceptional warmth of Gulf of Mexico waters in 2017 helped fuel Hurricane Harvey’s deluge, Kevin Trenberth, senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research tells host Steve Curwood. They discuss how new satellite and imaging technology helped accurately forecast Harvey’s ferocity. But proposed cuts to federal funding for key technology could hinder future efforts to prepare for extreme weather.

 

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The Great Lakes and Climate Change

 

In the last 30 years the largest fresh water lake in the world in terms of surface area, Lake Superior, has warmed nearly six degrees Fahrenheight. The increased temperature is a boon to some fish but warmer water is also more suitable for some species.

 

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Ancient Underwater Forest in the Gulf of Mexico

 

Sixty feet beneath the water off the coast of Alabama is a forest of cypress trees that is more than 50,000 years old.

 

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Hummingbirds Citizen Science Project

 

The Rufous hummingbird follows the Rocky Mountains to migrate from Alaska to Mexico (Photo: Diana Douglas for Hummingbirds at Home).

 

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Caribbean Islands Face Warmer, Stormier Seas

Smashed and battered by the record-breaking Hurricane Irma, many small Caribbean island nations and territories now face the monumental task of rebuilding much of their infrastructure. As every nation can embrace mitigation measures that reduce the threats of extreme weather global action on climate change is more urgent than ever.

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The Everglades After Irma

As well as devastating Florida communities, Hurricane Irma blasted an estimated three to ten feet of storm surge into the Everglades. The storm surge and severe downpours, added to the steady rising of the seas, are degrading the “River of Grass” ecosystem that’s already been weakened and reduced by human development.

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Fasting and Feasting: The Life of Visionary Food Writer Patience Gray

Patience Gray’s pioneering European cookbook brought foreign tastes to the British home cook and her remarkable Honey From a Weed is still a key source of inspiration for popular food writers, yet she’s largely unknown today. A new biography introduces her iconoclastic and meandering life, with artists, architects, and radicals in postwar London, and finally to the simplicity of living and cooking off the land at the remote heel of Italy’s boot.

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This Week’s Show
September 15, 2017
listen / download


Caribbean Islands Face Warmer, Stormier Seas

listen / download
Smashed and battered by the record-breaking Hurricane Irma, many small Caribbean island nations and territories now face the monumental task of rebuilding much of their infrastructure. As every nation can embrace mitigation measures that reduce the threats of extreme weather global action on climate change is more urgent than ever.

The Everglades After Irma

listen / download
As well as devastating Florida communities, Hurricane Irma blasted an estimated three to ten feet of storm surge into the Everglades. The storm surge and severe downpours, added to the steady rising of the seas, are degrading the “River of Grass” ecosystem that’s already been weakened and reduced by human development.

Worrisome Right Whale Deaths

listen / download
Northern Right whales are endangered, with only about 500 left, so scientists became alarmed this year when 13 carcasses were spotted far north of the whale’s usual summer range in the Gulf of Maine. Warmer waters may be driving the favorite food of these whales further north, where the lack of regulations puts the cetaceans at risk of ship strikes and entanglement in fishing gear.

The Place Where You Live: Gold Beach, Oregon

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Living on Earth gives voice to Orion magazine’s longtime feature where readers celebrate their favorite places. In this week’s edition, writer Andrea Lynn paints a lyrical image of Gold Beach, Oregon, once a destination for prospectors, and now for tourists and fishermen.

Fasting and Feasting: The Life of Visionary Food Writer Patience Gray

listen / download
Patience Gray’s pioneering European cookbook brought foreign tastes to the British home cook and her remarkable Honey From a Weed is still a key source of inspiration for popular food writers, yet she’s largely unknown today. A new biography introduces her iconoclastic and meandering life, with artists, architects, and radicals in postwar London, and finally to the simplicity of living and cooking off the land at the remote heel of Italy’s boot.


Special Features

A River Town in Transition

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Wrangell, Alaska is a small, isolated town at the mouth of the mighty Stikine River and a former a timber capital. But since the saw mills shut down in the ‘90s, the small town has reinvented itself as a tourist destination and a commercial fishing hub. Since both of these industries are dependent on the Stikine, some locals worry that a mining development upriver could put the whole town’s livelihood at risk.
Blog Series: Alaskan River Riches

Close Encounter with a Tabular Iceberg: Mark Seth Lender
Living on Earth's Resident Explorer Mark Seth Lender describes an encounter with a tabular iceberg similar (though much smaller) to the one that recently broke off of the Larsen C ice sheet.
Blog Series: Living on Earth


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...Ultimately, if we are going prevent large parts of this Earth from becoming not only inhospitable but uninhabitable in our lifetimes, we are going to have to keep some fossil fuels in the ground rather than burn them...

-- President Barack Obama, November 6, 2015 on why he declined to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline.

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