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Environment

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public Radio

State Attorney General William Tong is directing his staff to provide “any assistance we can” in an ongoing investigation into questionable conduct and purchases at the Connecticut Port Authority.

Pears.
Forest Starr and Kim Starr (Flickr) / Creative Commons

Pears are great backyard fruits. New Englanders have been growing pear trees since the 1600s. While the commercial industry has shifted to Washington and Oregon because of better growing conditions and fewer disease problems, pears still make great backyard fruits.

A year after a young man was killed by a shark off Cape Cod — the first such death there in more than 80 years — beach towns full of vacationers are struggling to manage an influx of great whites.

Sharks off the coast have become more common in recent years as the seal population they hunt has increased. Scientists point out that sharks do not target humans, though they can mistake them for prey. But many officials believed the attack was only a matter of time.

Can The U.S. Offshore Wind Industry Survive Without A Federal Tax Credit?

Aug 26, 2019
Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public Radio

The Trump administration’s decision to delay the Vineyard Wind project will impact the offshore wind developer’s ability to take advantage of a big federal tax credit that expires in December.

Democratic lawmakers say the administration’s decision was a political move to stall the project and could endanger the future growth of the industry. Lawmakers are scrambling to pass legislation to get the tax credit extended.

But some industry observers say offshore wind may be able to survive just fine without it. 

woodleywonderworks / Creative Commons

For the past decade, Connecticut’s residential electric customers have paid bills that are among the highest in the continental United States, but there isn’t one grand explanation for Connecticut’s sky-high electric bills.

images of Giant ground sloth (Megatherium americanum), Moa (Megalapteryx didinus), Blue Whale (Balaenoptera musculus)
Ballista, George Edward Lodge, Michael L. Baird / Wikimedia Commons

What would it have been like to see a huge, elephant-like mastodon roaming our state? 

The earth has been home to some spectacularly large animals. A few of them still roam or swim our world today.

This hour, we take a look at the biology of these giants. 

Sneeze weed.
Virginia State Parks (Flickr) / Creative Commons

Some plants have unfortunate common names. Take sneezeweed for example. Sneezeweed, or helenium, is a native perennial that's blooming now with colorful flowers on 3 to 5 foot tall plants. It's great to grow in your garden because it flowers as the summer perennials, such as bee balm, are finishing but before the fall perennials, such as sedum and asters, begin.

The U.S. used to send a lot of its plastic waste to China to get recycled. But last year, China put the kibosh on imports of the world's waste. The policy, called National Sword, freaked out people in the U.S. — a huge market for plastic waste had just dried up.

Where was it all going to go now?

Patrick Skahill / Connecticut Public Radio

In recent years, an invasive insect called the gypsy moth has spelled doom for countless New England trees. From 2016 through 2018, it’s estimated gypsy moths defoliated more than 2 million acres in southern New England, which means a lot of cleanup for foresters.

But among all that destruction there is some good news: gypsy moth populations are, finally, declining.  

If you want to know what climate change will look like, you need to know what Earth's climate looked like in the past — what air temperatures were like, for example, and what ocean currents and sea levels were doing. You need to know what polar ice caps and glaciers were up to and, crucially, how hot the oceans were.

Sources: Vineyard Wind Decision Delayed Until December 2020

Aug 18, 2019
Nadine Sebai / The Public's Radio

Final approval for the Vineyard Wind Project will likely not happen for at least another 18 months, according to information received from multiple sources by The Public’s Radio. This means the country’s first large scale offshore wind farm won’t begin construction in time to take advantage of a lucrative federal tax credit that expires at the end of the year. 

Ray Hardman / Connecticut Public Radio

Monarch butterflies famously migrate to Mexico in the winter, traveling along well established routes. One of those routes runs along the shoreline of Connecticut. An organic gardener whose mission is to increase the population of migrating monarchs will be in New Haven this weekend to show people how to raise and release these amazing creatures.

A garden after the first freeze.
woodleywonderworks (Flickr) / Creative Commons

I've been rereading an old classic, 1973 gardening book by a former Redding, Connecticut resident Ruth Stout. In her book, No Work Gardening, she touts using deep layers of organic mulches as the solution to pretty much everything in the garden. She uses deep mulching for weed control, fertility management, and pest control and got huge yields with little work. Ruth passed many years ago, but her book got me thinking about simplifying my garden work.

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public Radio

Representative John Larson took to the banks of the Connecticut River Monday to promote federal legislation he said will strengthen roads and bridges while taxing polluters and providing rebates to American taxpayers. 

Santa Clara Weekly / Facebook

An accident earlier this summer at Bradley International Airport caused thousands of gallons of toxic chemicals to spill into the Farmington River. The aviation support company responsible for that accident was also involved in a similar incident in California in 2016.

In June, a faulty manual fire alarm in an airplane hangar at Bradley triggered the release of firefighting foam containing PFAS, a group of chemicals that are highly toxic, and hard to remove from the environment. An estimated 50,000 gallons of the foam eventually made its way into the Farmington River.

Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection

Connecticut Attorney General William Tong says the state is working aggressively to deal with toxic chemicals known as PFAS in the Farmington River. In June, thousands of gallons of the chemicals were accidentally released into the Farmington near Bradley International airport.

On Thursday, Tong was joined by legislators and environmental officials at the banks of the Farmington River in Windsor near where the spill originated. He said before any action is taken, the state needs more information.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is out with a new report Thursday examining how land use contributes to climate change and other environmental problems.

Tomato hornworm.
Christine Kalina (Flickr) / Creative Commons

I remember my first encounter with the tomato hornworm. I came back after being away from my garden for a few days and noticed the tops of my plants were all munched. I naturally blamed the deer, but after further inspection I came face to face with this 4-inch long, green monster. It was happily munching away on the leaves. I swear I could hear it chew.

Humans must drastically alter food production to prevent the most catastrophic effects of global warming, according to a new report from the United Nations panel on climate change.

The panel of scientists looked at the climate change effects of agriculture, deforestation and other land use, such as harvesting peat and managing grasslands and wetlands. Together, those activities generate about a third of human greenhouse gas emissions, including more than 40% of methane.

Seals On Cape Cod Are More Than Just Shark Bait

Aug 6, 2019
Miriam Wasser / WBUR

There are tens of thousands of seals on Cape Cod and the Islands, and everyone seems to have an opinion about them. Some see them as an adorable tourist attraction that helps the ecosystem. But to others, they’re Public Enemy No. 1 — a messy, fish-eating shark magnet that needs to be culled. 

Chokeberry.
Dave Lage (Flickr) / Creative Commons

If you have a wet area, a pond or stream or live near Long Island Sound, finding an attractive shrub that grows well in wet conditions can be difficult. Luckily, there are some easy to grow shrubs -- beyond winterberry and shrub dogwoods -- that can take wet and, even salty soils, and thrive in your yard.

Jess Gambel / Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station

This hour, we take a look at bees. From the famous animals that make the honey we eat to lesser-known native “solitary bees” that nest in holes in the ground, there are thousands of species of bees, and hundreds of them have been found right here in Connecticut!

We'll talk about the critical role these pollinators play in agriculture and learn about the threats they face.

Later, we talk about another iconic pollinator: the monarch butterfly. Have you spotted one of these rare and magnificent creatures near your home?

Is Divestment Key To Our Climate Future?

Aug 1, 2019
Frankie Graziano / WNPR/Connecticut Public Radio

Yale University has a $29 billion endowment, one of the largest in the world. The endowment invests in many things including fossil fuel companies.

This doesn’t sit well with some Yale students and faculty who are concerned about climate change. They’ve called on the school to divest that money from oil, coal, and gas companies. 

Fishing For A Living Is Dangerous. Will Offshore Wind Farms Make It Worse?

Jul 30, 2019
Daniel Farnham on the Megan Marie, which is undergoing a maintenance check involving fixing rust patches on the boat caused by salt water and harsh winds.
Nadine Sebai / The Public's Radio

New England commercial fishermen have one of the most dangerous jobs in the country. Now, they’re worried new offshore wind farms will make things worse. Construction is set to begin this year on the country’s first large scale offshore wind project. Most of the attention has focused on jobs and the economy, but the fishermen say they’re also worried about safety. 

Wikimedia Commons

 

If you've ever grown broccoli, cabbage, kale, or cauliflower you know this insect. We've all experienced this. You're happily washing your head of broccoli or kale leaves when you come across a green caterpillar. Worse yet, if you miss them you end up having a little protein in your veggie dish.

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public Radio

Port Authority Board Chair Bonnie Reemsnyder announced Wednesday she is stepping down, after Governor Ned Lamont called for her resignation. It’s just the latest trouble at the agency responsible for promoting investment in Connecticut’s three deepwater ports.

Robert Henry is driving along the top of a Mississippi River levee, giving me a tour of land where he'd love to be planting soybeans right now. We're just east of New Madrid, Mo.

"Smells kind of raunchy, doesn't it?" he says.

From the window of Henry's truck, I see what looks like a swamp, with trees standing in water. Then we make a turn, and suddenly, as far as I can see, there's water. It covers a wide flood plain between the main river channel and the levee. This is where Henry normally grows his crops.

Patrick Skahill / Connecticut Public Radio

A road that cuts through a dusty Connecticut farm bisects what could be the past and future of Connecticut farming. On one side is broadleaf tobacco, a staple crop of Connecticut farms for generations. On the other, delicate hemp plants, swaying in the July heat. 

NASA

Fifty years ago, man walked on the moon. But before that happened, millions held their breath at each stage of the Apollo 11 mission, starting with the launch.

This hour we talk about the lasting impact of this historic moment--a feat of engineering, science, and political will. 

Amy the Nurse / FLICKR

Sometimes flowers take a while to catch on. Consider the zinnia. This popular annual flower was first discovered in its native Mexico by the Spanish. They thought it was so unattractive they called it “mal de ojos” or sickness of the eyes. Not a great beginning for a flower. But after years of breeding, the zinnia has been transformed into one of my favorite summer bloomers.

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