Environment | Connecticut Public Radio


Environmental Priorities

Dec 8, 2011

Studying The Chaos Theory

Dec 8, 2011
Gardener41, creative commons

Mark Demers is a Fairfield University Professor who just got a grant to study “chaos theory.” Could the gentle flap of a butterfly wing in China set off a tornado in Texas? He’ll study the evolution of systems that change over time and attempt to understand their stability and predictability.

Where Are The Fish Going?

Dec 7, 2011
Chris Deacutis (Flickr Creative Commons)

Preparing for Future Storms

Nov 21, 2011
Chion Wolf

We’ve been hearing for years that Connecticut has an aging electricity infrastructure - along with some of the highest electric rates in the country.

So, there’s a problem - how to upgrade without sending costs through the roof? It’s a problem that the state has been able to kick down the road for years - but now consecutive, massive storms have brought these questions into the fore.

First Tropical Storm Irene knocked out power to around three-quarters of a million customers...then a few months later, a freakish October snowstorm did even more damage.

Patrick Skahill

So, what do you need to get into pigeon racing? Well, first - you have to have a lot of pigeons. In Bill Desmarais' case, 300 in his backyard. Then you tag the birds, load them onto a truck and ship them hundreds of miles away - where they get released all at once.

The bird that flies home fastest, wins.

Bill Desmaris explains, "We call it racing, they call it flying home."

Measuring The World

Nov 14, 2011
Chion Wolf

“A pint’s a pound, the world around.” Except...what’s a pint? And, for that matter, what’s a pound?

Here in America, we take for granted our feet, our inches, our Fahrenheit temperatures...we even watch our pounds.

But, leave this country, and it’s pretty clear we’re on an island - an island the rest of the world would measure in meters...an “international standard” that we’re still resistant to.

Flickr Creative Commons, Chi King

"You have just dined, and however scrupulously the slaughterhouse is concealed in the graceful distance of miles, there is complicity."

So said Ralph Waldo Emerson who saw, even in the 19th century, the way civilization puts artificial spaces in the natural order of things. Nature is wild. Wild animals are savage. The livestock business is brutal. Pigs are sentient. All of these things are true, but we prefer to have them orbit around, flung as far into space as possible.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

It's been 10 days since the unusual Autumn Nor'easter rocked Connecticut with heavy snow and massive power outages, and Connecticut is still feeling the effects. Joining us by phone to talk about the recovery efforts is 1st District Congressman John Larson.

Flickr Creative Commons, Steve Snodgrass

Jewett City, a community of 2.5 square miles in southeastern Connecticut, has its own power company, owned by the town. There are seven non-profit companies like this in the state. They're small, which means they can coordinate closely with other branches of government. Heck, they can coordinate with branches on trees.

Harriet Jones

Most storm clouds have a silver lining, and the freak October snowfall was no exception. Connecticut’s tree companies have work ahead of them for many, many months. 

In Vernon, Sue Peterson is surveying the scene of devastation in her front yard.

“It was huge Norway maple. Huge, huge tree.”

She was in the dark after her power failed on the Saturday night of the storm.

Day Ten Without Power

Nov 7, 2011
Tucker Ives

CL&P said they’d have power back on by Sunday night - but none of us - including Governor Malloy - were surprised when that didn’t happen. Now, Malloy is one of many state officials launching an investigation into the power company’s response. He’s hired former FEMA director James Lee Witt to oversee the investigation, which is due December 1.

The Courant’s Chris Keating still doesnt have power in Simsbury and we want to hear from you. How’s it looking in your town? We’ll have an update with Keating on power outages, lawsuits, investigations.

West Hartford Center

Nov 7, 2011
conbon33, creative commons

Donald Poland’s research focuses on the remaking of urban spaces, and he’s using West Hartford Center as a case study.

Poland argues that this type of space is not “explained” by current studies of urban areas - which focus instead on big cities and metro areas.

Today - where we live - we’ll explore West Hartford Center which he describes as both “resilient and mundane.”

Still In The Dark

Nov 4, 2011
Chion Wolf

Governor Dannel Malloy deployed the troops six days after the snowstorm that tore down powerlines and left millions of Northeast residents in the dark.

Still, as of this morning, 300 thousand customers are without power in Connecticut - making the state the slowest to respond.  

Some residents in the hardest-hit areas are forming “vigilante” tree crews to clear debris - something that CL&P officials say could be dangerous.  

The October Snowstorm For The Record Books

Oct 31, 2011
Chion Wolf

The freak October storm that hit the state this weekend caused more power outages than Hurricane Irene. And, for people in many parts of the state, it could be at least a week until they get their power back. Transmission lines are out to the Northwest corner of the state - where many towns are 100 percent out. Many state schools are closed - power is out to businesses, and hundreds of roads are either closed or barely passable because of downed trees and lines.

From The DEP To The EPA

Oct 28, 2011
Chion Wolf

The federal EPA is under attack. From Republican lawmakers and some businesses who say their regulations choke off commerce...and from some environmentalists who think they haven’t been forceful enough in safeguarding our air, water and land.

Our recent program looked at several bills, passed in the House, that would weaken the EPA’s regulatory authority. Some Midwest states are challenging new rules going into effect in January that would force them to reduce harmful emissions that float downwind into our airspace.

Courtesy of Shedd Aquarium By Keith Pamper

Partnerships are common at zoos and aquariums for breeding programs but what does it take to transfer animals across the country safely?  Especially if the animal you're talking about is a 2100 pound beluga whale?

Kristine Magao, Supervisor of Belugas, at Mystic Aquarium spoke with WNPR's Lucy Nalpathanchil about the recent journey of Naluark, a male beluga whale who came to Mystic from Chicago's John G Shedd Aquarium.

Scenic Views and Walking Shoes

Oct 20, 2011
Emily Judd

The scenic views, the history and the activities that Wickham Park offers is an experience no one will soon forget. On a warm day in July, Park Director Jeff Maron showcased the non-profit park to the Media Lab beginning at the park’s newest addition, the Sensory Garden. The sights, sounds and smells of the year-old garden were unique and inclusive, making the experience accessible to all. The park took a creative license to include a sixth sense, imagination.

Examining Environmental Regulations

Oct 19, 2011
thoth, creative commons

The EPA has been criticized for being both “regulators gone wild” and “regulators gone missing.”

The Environmental Protection Agency has been the target of legislation passed in recent weeks by the Republican-led House.  The bills aim to gut existing regulations - while forcing the agency to examine the economic impact of the work it does.  This movement the heart of a new book by Richard Trzupek about how many Republicans think the EPA kills jobs.

Deb Heinrich

Oct 13, 2011
creative commons

Our recent conversation with Robert Egger, the social enterprise pioneer, got us thinking more about the role of non-profits in the state.  In fact, he thinks Connecticut has a leg up in the way it thinks about the non-profit sector, having appointed Deb Heinrich, a former state lawmaker, to the job as “liason” earlier this year.  We sat down earlier this week with Heinrich to talk about “social enterprise” and the scope of her work for Governor Malloy.

Yow Wray (Flickr Creative Commons)

Gone Fly Fishin'

Sep 23, 2011
Tucker Ives

Connecticut attracts people from all over the country for one of its natural resources: the Farmington River.

The reason people come to this river is for fly fishing.

Every day, you see them: The men and increasingly, the women, who stand - silently - in the middle of the river in their waders and vests, constantly casting in hopes of the perfect catch.

But what makes the Farmington River so ideal for anglers?

Vermont to Connecticut Tourists: We're Open for Business

Sep 22, 2011
Nancy Eve Cohen

Vermont is a big tourist destination for people in Connecticut who enjoy the outdoors.  As the foliage season begins Vermont’s Office of Tourism says most of the state has recovered from Tropical Storm Irene and is "open for business". WNPR’s Nancy Cohen reports.

Ryan Wick (Flickr Creative Commons)

In a world where everything we do seems tied to science and technology, a quote like this is pretty scary:

Leon Botstein, the president of leading liberal arts college Bard, told the New York Times:

“The most terrifying problem in American university education is the profound lack of scientific literacy for the people we give diplomas to who are not scientists or engineers,”

Technical High School Builds Lab For Green Trades

Sep 21, 2011
Nancy Eve Cohen

Connecticut’s Technical High School System is building energy-efficient buildings that will serve as laboratories for students to learn about green technology. WNPR’s Nancy Cohen reports the first one opened this week

Nancy Eve Cohen

About three weeks after Irene hit people in some areas of Vermont have been living without phone service, impassable roads and a scarred landscape.  WNPR’s Nancy Cohen reports some Vermont residents are worn out physically and emotionally.

The Rock River in South Newfane flows through the back yard of Maureen Albert-Piascik. She says when Irene hit the river started to crest and she evacuated.

"it just went up so fast. The river was just so high the next thing I knew my house was surrounded by water." 

Irene Took A Swipe At Hammonasset Beach State Park

Sep 14, 2011

The impact of Tropical Storm Irene is still being felt in some locations, including state parks. WNPR’s Nancy Cohen reports Hammonasset Beach State Park sustained a lot of damage.

The preliminary estimate for the cost of repairing damage at all of the state parks is about $10 million. $7 million of that is just at Hammonasset where some of the dunes were blown away and old cedar trees at the campground took a hit.  Environmental Deputy Commissioner Susan Frechette says the storm surge did the most damage at West Beach.

Nancy Eve Cohen

The U-S Environmental Protection Agency has decided to meet with biologists from the states of Connecticut and Massachusetts to discuss the clean up plan for the Housatonic River. As WNPR’s Nancy Cohen reports the meetings will delay the release of EPA’s clean-up proposal.