Environment | Connecticut Public Radio


Climate change will impact native plant species in New England. The Native Plant Trust and The Nature Conservancy said states need to preserve at least an additional 2.3 million acres of land in specific locations to save the flora that both beautify and protect their landscapes, according to a new report released by the groups this week.

Quite Adept (Flickr / Creative Commons)

This time of year we're still trying to squeeze extra plants into our veggie garden. But instead of just planting more veggies, we like to take this opportunity to plant flowers and herbs that attract beneficial insects, are beautiful and some that can be eaten, too. It provides a pop of color in the veggie garden in summer while helping control harmful insects.

More than half of the buildings in the contiguous U.S. are in disaster hotspots, a new study finds. Tens of millions of homes, businesses and other buildings are concentrated in areas with the most risk from hurricanes, floods, wildfires, tornadoes and earthquakes.

The findings underscore how development patterns exacerbate damage from climate change.

The emergence of the 17-year cicadas has dominated bug news of late, but in the northeastern parts of the U.S. and Canada, another cyclical menace has emerged that has the potential to do more lasting damage.

A mother humpback and calf in a bay off Vava'u, Tonga. They'd joined a few thousand adult humpbacks in Antarctica during summer before returning to the South Pacific. Along the way young whales began to imitate adult feeding methods and other behaviors.
Brian Skerry / National Geographic

They are giants who live their whole lives underwater. In many ways, a whale’s life is completely alien to the human experience. Yet these ocean giants share some surprising similarities with us.

Workmen have invaded Flora Dillard's house on the east side of Cleveland. There's plastic over everything and no place to sit, but Dillard doesn't seem to mind. "A couple of days of inconvenience is nothing, compared to the results that you get," she says.

In Florida, wildlife managers and environmental groups are stunned by a record number of manatee deaths. More than 750 manatees have died since the beginning of the year, the most deaths ever recorded in a five month period. Most of the deaths are in Florida's Indian River Lagoon, where a large die-off of seagrass has left manatees without enough to eat.

solar farm
Joe Amon / Connecticut Public

Fewer families are choosing burials for deceased loved ones and opting instead for cremation. It’s a funerary trend that is helping to forge a link between the Catholic Church and the solar industry. 


Early summer is still rhododendron and azalea time. There are late blooming, evergreen, large leafed varieties and native azalea species still putting on a show.

Photo of traffic on I-95 Northbound in Stamford, Connecticut
Nutmegger / Wikimedia Commons

In 2018, Connecticut announced it would be part of an ambitious multi-state program to cut carbon emissions from transportation. In December 2020, Governor Lamont signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and D.C., committing to launch a regional transportation "cap and invest" program.

Patrick Skahill / Connecticut Public Radio

Environmental advocates were hopeful a proposal to cap vehicle emissions would be brought up during a special legislative session convened this week. 

But the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI) was not expected to be called for a vote in the House Wednesday and was left out of a massive 800-plus-page budget document. 

Connecticut Neighborhood Pushes Back Against Planned Fuel Cell Power Plant

Jun 14, 2021
Creative Commons

A proposal to site a 9.66-megawatt fuel cell power plant in the South End of Bridgeport, Connecticut, is drawing fire from residents who say the neighborhood already hosts more than its share of industrial facilities.

A commercial lobster diver says he escaped relatively unscathed after nearly being swallowed by a humpback whale, in a biblical-sounding encounter that whale experts describe as rare but plausible.

Michael Packard, 56, said in local interviews and on social media that he was diving off the coast of Provincetown, Mass., on Friday morning when the whale suddenly scooped him up.

The Connecticut State Capitol Building
Joe Amon / Connecticut Public

The recently completed legislative session notched a number of wins -- but also some losses -- for environmentalists. Advocates hailed improvements to Connecticut’s “bottle bill” but expressed disappointment with lawmakers’ failure to sign on to a multistate program aimed at reducing vehicle emissions.

A cairn in front of an alpine slope with the White Mountains of New Hampshire in the background
Carmen Baskauf / Connecticut Public

One hundred years ago, a Connecticut-born forester came up with a wild idea, creating a trail that stretched through the Appalachian Mountains, from Georgia to Maine.

Now--thousands of hikers attempt to through-hike the Appalachian trail each year. Millions more use parts of the trail for recreation.


Most gardeners have planted their vegetable garden. But while it's tempting to sit back and enjoy your work, the planting shouldn't stop. Interplanting is mixing and matching vegetables with complimentary growth styles. It maximizes the production in a small space, saving room, time and effort.

Nothing can ruin our joy in the aurora borealis, or northern lights, those ribbons of blue, green and violet light that cascade from the sky. Not even knowing for sure what causes them.

Physicists have long speculated about what gives rise to this very specific light phenomenon that occurs in the Earth's polar regions.

Now they're certain.

Transportation Emissions Plan Down To 3 Members After Conn. Walks Away From Pact

Jun 7, 2021
Much of the money from the TCI will go towards transportation initiatives, which in turn create jobs, tax revenue and some of the economic growth the state needs. It also adds a funding stream to the underfunded transportation fund.
Patrick Skahill / Connecticut Public Radio

The regional effort to reduce vehicle emissions along the East Coast that advanced in December with just four of 13 interested jurisdictions agreeing to take part appears to have dwindled, at least for the time being, to include just Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Washington, D.C. as active participants.

Aequorea victoria
Sierra Blakely / Wikimedia Commons

Did you know 75 percent of animals in the ocean glow?

North Atlantic right whales now grow smaller than they did 40 years ago, and new research suggests a leading cause is the damage human activity inflicts on the critically endangered mammals.

The findings, published today in the journal Current Biology, reveal that when fully grown, a North Atlantic right whale born today would be expected to be about one meter shorter than a whale born in 1980. Currently, full-grown members of the species average 13 to 14 meters in length (43 to 46 feet).

'Miss Kim' Korean Lilac
Kerry Woods (Flickr / Creative Commons)

The lilacs have been beautiful this year and the flower show continues with some of the later blooming types such as 'Miss Kim' Korean lilac. Now is the time to do a little lilac care.

The 2021 Atlantic hurricane season officially begins Tuesday, June 1, and the National Hurricane Center has designated 21 storm names for the six-month period ending Nov. 30.

Finchlake 2000 / Creative Commons

Beavers build sophisticated dams and deep-water ponds that slow erosion of riverbanks, create cooler deep-water pools for temperature-sensitive plant and fish species, and increase the water table, a big deal for Western states coping with drought. And they're social animals who have mates, kits, and an active social life. 

But centuries-old myths and fables about the beaver have led to their destruction and prevented us from recognizing their charms and value to the ecosystem. We fear them, dislike them, and use them for all the wrong reasons, like killing them for their pelts.

Let's celebrate the beaver!

Jonathan Hanna (Unsplash.com)

As I nurse a sore shoulder, I'm reminder of all the things I should be doing to keep my body in shape for gardening season. It's so easy this time of year to do too much. There's flowers to plant, shrubs to dig and move, compost and mulch to spread and bags of fertilizer to carry. I think I'm keeping myself is pretty good shape through winter, but garden chores work a whole other bunch of muscles.

Gotham Coyote Project

Have you spotted a coyote in your neighborhood? These carnivores can live just about everywhere, from Canada to Central America, from California to -- just recently -- Long Island.

This hour, we talk with two researchers that study coyotes. We learn about how coyotes have expanded their range over the last 200 years to cover much of North America.

As other species have struggled to survive amidst human habitat destruction, why has the scrappy coyote been able to thrive?  We want to hear from you, too. Do you have coyotes in your town or city?

Do you like seeing them, or do you worry they will snag your cat for supper?

A secret cache of clean energy is lurking in sewers, and there are growing efforts to put it to work in the battle against climate change.

The U.S. Department of Energy estimates Americans wash enough energy down the drain every year to power about 30 million homes. The sources are often everyday items inside homes. Think hot showers, washing machines and sinks. Evolving technology is making it easier to harness that mostly warm water.

A division of National Grid has entered the race to develop offshore wind in the Northeast.


It's peony season! The herbaceous peonies are blooming and they're a delight with their large white, pink and red, sometimes fragrant, flowers. But there is another group of peonies that gets less attention. The tree peonies are like their herbaceous peony cousins as far as plant and flower size. But the main difference is tree peonies are shrubs. They have a woody structure that doesn't get cut back in fall. If you're looking for a 3- to 5-foot tall shrub that flowers for weeks in spring and is low maintenance, consider tree peonies. 

A mother humpback and calf in a bay off Vava'u, Tonga. They'd joined a few thousand adult humpbacks in Antarctica during summer before returning to the South Pacific. Along the way young whales began to imitate adult feeding methods and other behaviors.
Brian Skerry / National Geographic

They are giants who live their whole lives underwater. In many ways, a whale’s life is completely alien to the human experience. Yet these ocean giants share some surprising similarities with us.

This hour, we talk with National Geographic underwater photographer Brian Skerry. His newest cover story for the magazine looks at the growing body of research on whale culture. 

Is It A Plan To Fight Climate Change Or A Gas Tax? TCI Faces Pushback

May 17, 2021

In the annals of Connecticut’s legislative brawls, this one has the makings of tolls 2.0.

The new transportation effort that is grazing the guardrails is the Transportation and Climate Initiative, TCI. It’s a climate change-combating concept that seeks to replicate through the motor vehicle sector what the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) accomplished through the electric power sector — cutting greenhouse gases and other emissions while raising money to cycle funds back into related climate change programs. In the case of TCI, it could also cycle funds into the state’s dwindling transportation fund.