environment

Paul Downey / Flickr - CC

Climate change is a global phenomenon, and when we think about climate change we tend to think about the greater global implications. Like how will increasing ocean temperatures affect glaciers and coastal communities? But how will climate change impact our local communities? How will Kansas City change? 

David Nichols / Flickr -- CC

We've heard about how climate change will affect the coasts (glaciers melting, New York City underwater and more). But what will happen in the Midwest? A look at what's at stake here, from our water supply to flooding to the Ozark forests.

Guests:

The Delta Montrose Electric Association outside Montrose, Colorado, developed micro-hydro power plants in partnership with local water users.
Cally Carswell / for Inside Energy

In the 1930s, rural electric cooperatives brought electricity to the country’s most far-flung communities, transforming rural economies. In Western Colorado, one of these co-ops is again trying to spur economic development, partly by generating more of their electricity locally from renewable resources, like water in irrigation ditches and the sun.

Iowa farmer Paul Heineman harvests a field of oats, marking the first time his family has planted oats in decades.
Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

On a hot, July day in Boone County, Iowa, farmer Brett Heineman shuttled a semi from one of his family’s fields to the local co-op. He and his uncle were harvesting the first crop of oats on this farm in decades.

Before corn and soybeans almost completely covered the landscape – today, they account for 95 percent of crop acres in Iowa – most Corn Belt farmers also grew oats or alfalfa. Now, the Heinemans are among the farmers taking a closer look at re-integrating the small grain into their operations.

Water is life — you drink it, cook with it and even shower in it — but unregulated runoff from farms and business can pose a threat to keeping it clean. A new series from Harvest Public Media, based at KCUR, looks at the conditions of water in Kansas City and throughout the Midwest.

Guests:

David Greene, Kansas City (Mo.) Water Services lab manager, stands on a platform of the water intake facility above the Missouri River.
Peggy Lowe / Harvest Public Media

Standing on a platform above the eastern bank of the Missouri River at the Kansas City, Missouri, Water Services’ intake plant is like being on the deck of a large ship.

Electric turbines create a vibration along the blue railing, where David Greene, laboratory manager for Kansas City Water Services, looks out across the river. Water the color of chocolate milk is sucked up and forced through screens below, picking up all the debris the river carries downstream.  

John Audobon marveled at its beauty; European princes crossed it in game safaris. Dan Flores’s American Serengeti tells the story of the Great Plains over the 19th Century, which saw the largest destruction of wildlife in modern history. 

We explore the historical ecology of the Great Plains. What have we lost, and what can we restore?

Guest: 

Miscanthus, shown growing in Iowa, is a perennial grass that could help keep nutrients out of waterways.
Rick Fredericksen / Iowa Public Radio

A new study supports planting perennial grasses on current cropland as a way to reduce nutrient loss from farm fields.

U.S. beekeepers report losing many of their hives in recent years, thanks a to a variety of threats.
File: Brian Seifferlein / Harvest Public Media

Late spring is swarm season, the time of year when bees reproduce and find new places to build hives. Swarms of bees leave the nest, flying through the air, hovering on trees, fences and houses, searching for a new home.

The U.S. EPA sets the level of ethanol that oil refiners must blend into the fuel supply.
File: Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

It was clear Thursday at a public hearing on ethanol policy, that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency tries to thread a very tricky needle when it establishes renewable fuel plans.

The EPA in May proposed modest increases in the amount of renewable fuels it will require oil refiners to blend into the U.S. gasoline and diesel supply next year – a total of 18.8 billion gallons, up from 18.11 billion gallons this year.

Residents of Flint, Mich., may tell you lead is a serious menace, but for most of the last 5,000 years, people saw lead as a miracle metal at the forefront of technology.

"You can think about lead as kind of the plastic of the ancient world," says Joseph Heppert, a professor of chemistry at the University of Kansas. He says it was because lead is easy to melt — a campfire alone can do it. Unlike iron, lead is malleable.

Iowa farmer Kelly Tobin has experimented with cover crops for 10 years in the hopes of increasing the health of his soil.
Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

Take a road trip through the Midwest during the growing season, and it feels like you’re moving through a sea of corn and soybeans grown largely for livestock feed or ethanol. But now, low grain prices and increasing pressure to clean up waterways may push some farmers to consider other options.

Steve Johnson / Flickr

Water, in three parts: Kansas City's tap water, access issues on a Kansas Indian reservation, and a local guy whose bottled water collection has grown into The Museum of Bottled Water.

Guests:

  • Elle Moxley, reporter, KCUR
  • Gaylene Crouser, executive director, Kansas City Indian Center
  • Neal Wilson, founder and curator, The Museum of Bottled Water
David Lane / davidlaneastrophotography.com

A Kansas Citian with a lifelong love for the night sky took up astrophotography when he realized that some of his favorite images of space were captured here on earth, with no more than a telescope for technological support. Now his photographs are routinely recognized by such organizations as NASA, The Huffington Post and TIME Magazine.

Courtesy Sebastián Lorenzo Pisarello / Senasa

The normally dry northern region of Argentina has a problem of biblical proportions.

Farmers there are struggling with a massive outbreak of locusts. Dark clouds of the green-brown bugs cast shadows when they fly overhead and when they land, they cover the ground.

“It is really, really, amazing when you see the locusts because you see millions of them together,” said Juan Pablo Karnatz, who raises cattle in Santiago del Estero, about 600 miles northwest of Argentina’s capital, Buenos Aires. “When you think they can be more millions flying around, it could be a disaster.”

Valentine's Day is approaching and many Americans will gift flowers to their partners as a romantic gesture. But when did roses become a symbol of romance, and what kind of sex lives have the flowers led before they wind up in a bouquet?

Guest:

Restoring Prairie On The Great Plains

Feb 4, 2016
Courtesy Prairie Plains Resource Institute

From the air, the Midwest looks like a patchwork of cropland and pastures. But before the land was turned over to plows and center pivots, most of it was a sea of grass. 

Native grasslands were first plowed by pioneers homesteading on the plains. More land was converted to crops as tractors and machinery arrived on the farm and conversion of land intensified. 

Brian Seifferlein / Harvest Public Media

By some estimates, producing our food consumes about a fifth of the nation’s energy supply. It takes a lot of diesel to move tractors and semis around the farm, and electricity to pump water and dry grain. But some farmers are trying to cut back on the coal and gas they use and make our food system more energy efficient.

When winter comes to Greg Brummond’s farm in northeast Nebraska, he spends his days in the machine shed fixing all the things that broke through the year.

Austin McKahan / The Kansas City Zoo

Nikita the polar bear is leaving Kansas City. His next project? To procreate on behalf of his entire species. We bid a fond farewell to this 1200-pound celebrity covered in fur. 

Guest:

  • Randy Wisthoff, executive director and CEO, The Kansas City Zoo
Andrea Tudhope / KCUR

According to environmental journalist Simran Sethi, indulging in the sensual side of food can be revolutionary. How taste and sustainability go hand-in-hand, including extended discussions about karah prasad (holy bread in the Sikh tradition) and chocolate.

Guests:

In the entire history of the natural world -- that's hundreds of millions of years -- only four groups of animals have developed the ability to lift up off the ground and fly. A KU professor has been piecing together that story.

Guest:

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR

On a recent episode of Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me, Peter Sagal and his guests joked about a new opportunity afforded to those near death.

Thanks to AIM Holographics, you can now leave behind a holographic eulogy for your loved ones.

You can now, effectively, speak at your own funeral. 

This isn't the only development transforming death and the death care industry. Over the past few decades, the trend of "green burials" has been picking up all across the nation.

When you're talking about wildlife; invasive, alien and non-native mean very different things. On this edition of Up To Date, we discuss the effects native and non-native species have on our environment. 

Guests:

  Whether it's the growing wealth gap in this country or the devastation done to the environment, journalist Chris Hedges believes the United States is primed for a revolutionary moment. On this edition of Up To Date, he talks about the factors that lead to rebellion.

Human's scientific knowledge reaches far and wide, particularly when it comes to the Earth's surface, but we are just beginning the exploration of Earth's deepest reaches, the oceans.  On this edition of Up to Date, we talk with oceanographer, Dr. David Gallo, about new discoveries and how the vastness of the oceans makes it difficult to discover the largest things we lose, like airplanes. 

The Missouri Coalition for the Environment is one of several groups filing suit against the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to try to get the agency to address the long-term storage of nuclear waste.

That suit follows similar cases filed by the states of New York, Connecticut, and Vermont, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Prairie Island Indian Community in Minnesota.

Wikipedia, Creative Commons

We live in a world where there's something remarkable about a clean plate after a meal. But that's just one small piece of the food waste equation. Visits to farms, a meat processing plant, a compost heap, grocery stores and Kansas Citians' kitchens help us understand why there's so much food nobody's eating. 

For more information about food safety, check out this handy chart from the USDA.

Sneebly / Flickr, Creative Commons

A recent community meeting gathered in response to high levels of sulfur dioxide pollution in neighborhoods near downtown Kansas City. What's in our air, where is it coming from, and what exactly do our lungs do with the contaminants we breathe, anyway?

Guests:

The Lake of the Ozarks has been one of Missouri’s top vacation spots for decades, but now, it’s a lake in danger of being “loved to death.” Today, the lake faces pressures from unregulated development, inadequate sewage management and a poor water quality image.

On Wednesday's Up to Date, we talk with a journalist about how the Lake has gotten to this point and who is trying to reverse the decline to protect it for future generations.

Guest:

Alfred Palmer / Wikimedia Commons

The Environmental Protection Agency just released its plan to reduce carbon pollution from power plants and that idea is generating some heat of its own. On Thursday's Up to Date, Steve Kraske and a panel examine what the EPA standards mean for Missouri and Kansas. Both states rely heavily on coal-powered energy and face the challenge of meeting the emission cuts in the time allowed.  We’ll also look at whether alternatives like wind and solar will be catapulted to the front of the line in area energy production.

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