Environment | Connecticut Public Radio
WNPR

Environment

Joe Amon / Connecticut Public/NENC

The arcane world of energy surcharges dominated a virtual conference call Monday, as hundreds of participants watched a public hearing between Eversource and state regulators. 

At issue was a controversial rate increase implemented shortly before Tropical Storm Isaias knocked out power to hundreds of thousands of Eversource customers.

Marina Shamesh / PublicDomainPictures.net

On sweltering summer days, having a house or apartment with air conditioning is important not only for comfort, but also for safety.  The need to cool down will only grow as climate change makes our world  hotter.

Beautifuclcataya (Flickr / creative commons)

You know fall is coming when the wild asters start to bloom. This native perennial flower is hardy, tough, and long blooming. It's also known as the Michaelmas daisy as it blooms into the end of September during the Feast of Saint Michael. But there's more to this wildflower than what we see in meadows. In the garden paired with goldenrods, sedum and rudbeckia, it's an amazingly easy perennial to grow for beautiful fall color.

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public

The opaque world of energy policy continues to roil the surface of state government as regulators again have chastised the state’s two biggest utilities: Eversource and United Illuminating. This time, the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority fined both companies, alleging an “insufficient” rollout of a program called shared solar.

Pixabay.com

It's been a great summer for flowers. But it's a shame the hot temperatures forced many flowers to go by so quickly. To enjoy the flower season longer, cut some of your favorite annual, perennial and bulb flowers and arrange them in vases indoors. Before you run out and snip some blooms for the table, here are some tips.

Illustration by Chion Wolf

When you were growing up, you probably heard about famous inventors. Maybe you thought they were brilliant. Rigorously trained. Confident. Capable. And that their inventions advanced humankind through and through.

But Dr. Ainissa Ramirez spent the last 5 years writing a book that strips away those presumptions. In The Alchemy of Us: How Humans and Matter Transformed One Another, she paints portraits not of how inventors settled questions of the limits of technology - but of how much further we still have to go.

Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)
Melinda Young Stuart (Flickr / Creative Commons)

We've been busy watching many different butterflies this summer in our garden. It seems they love this heat and humidity. And there's been enough water for them to thrive. Of course, this time of year the Monarch butterflies become more noticeable. Their prized plant is the milkweed. Many insects only feed and lay eggs on a few different types of plants. That's certainly true of monarchs. Anything in the milkweed family is fair game. Monarch caterpillars have the unique ability to eat the milkweed leaves even with the toxic, white, milky sap. It actually makes the Monarchs less appealing to birds, so it's a protection device, too.

Joe Amon / Connecticut Public/NENC

After a tumultuous week filled with legislative outrage, sniping between energy companies, and consumer sticker shock at rising utility bills, state regulators on Friday announced they would temporarily suspend a controversial rate increase for energy company Eversource.

Today, you’re gonna hear from three people who had close encounters with wild animals - and have the scars to prove it.

You’ll hear how - and if - any of these people felt defined by their experiences, and what sense they’ve made out of their encounters. Plus, you’ll hear from a wildlife expert about what animals you should be careful to keep away from here in New England.

Don McCullough / Creative Commons

The delicate balancing act of anticipating electric demand before and during the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown electricity suppliers, regulators and customers an unwelcome surprise this summer: massive jumps on electric bills. 

Genovese basil is the basil cooks reach for when making pesto.
Pixabay

Basil is one of those quintessential tastes of summer. Growing up, it reminds me of my mom's eggplant parmesan, Caprese salad and tomato sauce. You can't grow tomatoes without growing some basil.

Illustration by Chion Wolf

Colin McEnroe Show alum Chion Wolf has a new show: Audacious. Hear this guest episode from her series!

Last year, a 28-year-old guy in Mumbai tried to sue his parents -- who are both lawyers -- for having brought him into the world. He claims his parents didn’t get his consent to live. In addition to being a very bold person, he is an anti-natalist. That is, he believes that it is morally wrong to bring sentient life into this world -- no matter how charmed or how troubled that life is -- and that humanity should stop reproducing, full stop.

Marina Shamesh / PublicDomainPictures.net

On sweltering summer days, having a house or apartment with air conditioning is important not only for comfort, but also for safety.  The need to cool down will only grow as climate change makes our world  hotter.

But air conditioning itself also contributes to greenhouse gas emissions. This hour, we talk about how to make sure climate-friendly cooling options are available to everyone.

Here in Connecticut, not all residents can afford to run air conditioners in the heat of summer because of sky-high electricity costs. We talk about how energy efficient homes are important not only for our state’s carbon footprint, but also for racial and socioeconomic equity.

Raspberries
Pixabay

July is raspberry season. But you might have noticed some damage on your raspberry canes. Two common problems you'll see this time of year are raspberry cane blight and raspberry tip borer. Although neither problem will wipe out your raspberry crop, they both will reduce your yields.

Fadein / Wikimedia Commons

With the weather getting hotter and many indoor activities limited because of the pandemic, a trip to the water is a great way to cool off.

But not every Connecticut community has a beachfront or river in town, and many wealthy communities with waterfronts have a history of limiting water access to residents only.  Some of those restrictions have reappeared this summer in response to COVID-19.

This hour, we talk about the implications of excluding access to our state’s natural waters, especially during a pandemic.

Ground cherries
anneheathen (Flickr / Creative Commons)

Some vegetables are just fun. We've been growing ground cherries for years. This tomato-family vegetable looks like a mini version of a tomatillo. It's a sprawling 2-foot tall plant that produces an abundance of green turning to brown papery husks. Inside the husk is the fun part. Small, cherry-sized fruits mature from green to golden. Unwrap the husk, harvest and snack on the fruits. They taste like a cross between a tomato and pineapple. They are sweet and delicious and something kids really love.

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public

After years of debate and study, the future of Hartford’s aging trash-to-energy facility is finally beginning to crystalize. And Connecticut’s trash future may end up looking a lot like a step into the past: sending garbage to landfills. 

Ryan von Linden / New York Department of Environmental Conservation

Do you see bats where you live? These flying creatures play important roles in ecosystems around the world, from pest control to pollination.

But bats in Connecticut are in big trouble. This hour: bats in our state have been devastated by White-Nose Syndrome. We learn more about this deadly disease and talk about why we should be concerned that populations in Connecticut have been so hard hit.

Bats in China have made news because of the COVID-19 pandemic. We hear why scientists have looked to these flying creatures to understand the origins of a number of deadly diseases.

And we talk with bat researchers about why--amid fears of a pandemic--bats need our support, not our fear, more than ever.

Robin Lubbock / WBUR

The pandemic has forced many people in New England into a dire economic situation. But there is at least one potential silver lining: the opportunity for climate action. It’s likely the federal government will approve stimulus money again to try to boost the economy, and many environmentalists propose we intentionally direct some of those funds toward “green” recovery. 

Illustration by Chion Wolf

Last year, a 28 year-old guy in Mumbai tried to sue his parents - who are both lawyers - for having brought him into the world. He claims his parents didn’t get his consent to live. In addition to being a very bold person, he is an anti-natalist. That is, he believes that it is morally wrong to bring sentient life into this world - no matter how charmed or how troubled that life is - and that humanity should stop reproducing, full stop.

Japanese Stiltgrass
NY State IPM Program at Cornell University (Flickr / Creative Commons)

This time of year it's important to be on the look out for weeds in the lawn and garden. One new Asian weed import that's spreading around the state is Japanese stiltgrass.

Joe Amon / Connecticut Public/NENC

When the Connecticut Trail Census began in 2017, it relied on a group of electronic sentinels. They were tiny boxes, housing infrared counters, which logged trail visits across the state. The intent was to provide local and state officials a clearer picture about how trails were being used and could be improved. 

Sandy Cole / Wikimedia Commons

The Argus Pheasant is a lifelong bachelor. He mates with multiple females but has no further contact with his mates or the baby pheasants he sires. By human terms, not much of a feminist.

Yet, he stages a chivalrous courtship on moonlit nights on a forest stage he clears with meticulous care. He sings and dances and pecks. He encompasses his 'date' in a cape of intricately-colored four-foot-long feathers. He ends with a bow.  

Evolutionarily, there's no purpose for the spectacular feathers on the Argus Pheasant - unless you consider they may have evolved to satisfy the sexual preferences of the female Argus.

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. 

Harvesting 'Red Golds'
Chiot's Run (Flickr / Creative Commons)

We grow potatoes in our garden. Even though they're cheap and plentiful, there's more to potatoes than russets and white boiling potato varieties. There are many unusual potato varieties you won't find in most markets. These varities feature red or blue skin and flesh and unusual textures, shapes and sizes.

Wood Thrush
Paul J. Fusco

Have you noticed fewer sparrows or warblers flitting about your backyard? Bird populations in North America have been declining for years, but in 2019, the data was particularly grim. Two-thirds of bird species are at risk of extinction due to climate change and urbanization, according to recent studies. What does that mean for Connecticut’s birds?

This hour, we talk to UConn professor Chris Elphick and climate scientist Brooke Bateman, from the National Audubon Society, about the factors contributing to bird decline and what we can do to protect bird habitats.

And Corina Newsome, a self-proclaimed “Hood Naturalist,” is on a mission to inspire young people of color to consider careers in wildlife sciences. We talk to Newsome about her work.

Geranium 'Ann Folkard'
troistoques (time-out) (Flickr / Creative Commons)

There are geraniums and then there are geraniums. The classic geraniums everyone knows are the annual flowers my mom used to love. She'd pot up some red geraniums every year at her house. While I still grow annual geraniums in honor of my mom, I also like perennial geraniums.

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public Radio

Since the pandemic hit, carbon emissions have dropped globally. A study in “Nature Climate Change” found a 17 percent decrease in emissions by early April. In New England, data show that air pollution and energy consumption are down.

strawberry
PEXELS.COM

It's strawberry fields forever. The delicious red berries are coming in strong and it's time to take care of the berries and plants for next year.

Creative Commons

Social structures, in almost all cases, are defined by some form of hierarchy. Whether in academics, sports, religion, business, or politics, there's usually someone at the top and others whose goal it is to get there. But while it's easy to think that we've designed our world to be this way, the truth may be that we had no choice.

Pages