environment

Toronto International Film Festival

Sir Winston Churchill is revered as one of history's greatest politicians due to his leadership during World War II, but the British Bulldog also had a soft spot for science. Today, we hear about his rediscovered essays on the environment, anatomy and the possibility of extraterrestrial life. Then, we explore the life of John Coltrane with the writer and director of a new documentary about the jazz legend's career.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

The monarch butterfly migration is one of the most beautiful phenomena in nature. Today, we speak with an Overland Park native who is following the migration on her bike, a 10,000-mile trip. Then, we shine a spotlight on Angel Flight Central, a Kansas City charity staffed by volunteer pilots who fly patients in need to essential medical care.

Danny Wood / KCUR 89.3

About a thousand people rallied in Kansas City on Saturday, calling for action to protect the environment. The People’s Climate March was one of hundreds across the country and overseas timed to coincide with the 100-day mark of President Donald Trump's administration.

GarrettTT / Flickr -- CC

When you flip a light switch or plug something into an outlet, something usually happens. Lights come on, iPhones get charged. But where does that energy come from in Kansas City? How are we using it, and what is the future of energy here?

Then, the story of Aldo Leopold, a Missourian and a passionate early writer about nature and conservation.

Guests:

Danny Wood / KCUR 89.3

The federal Chemical Safety Board has released preliminary findings critical of safety procedures at MGP Ingredients after a toxic chemical release at the Atchison based distiller.

Rob Fleming, a grand-nephew of Henry A. Wallace, uses this 1947 Ford 2n as he works to restore the prairie around his childhood home in Carlisle, Iowa.
Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

Hybrid seed corn and nitrogen fertilizer transformed farming in the 20th century, but they are also closely tied to some of today’s major agricultural challenges. That has prompted some members of two families that played pivotal roles in developing farm innovations to work on putting a lighter, 21st century stamp on the landscape.

In Carlisle, Iowa, Rob Fleming still uses the 1947 Ford 2n tractor he drove on the family farm as a teenager. Back then, neat rows of corn lined his family’s fields. Not anymore.

Roundup, the Monsanto brand name pesticide built on the chemical glyphosate, is used on farm fields and on lawns and gardens.
File: Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

After court documents unsealed Tuesday raised questions about its research methods, chemical giant Monsanto says it did not ghostwrite a 2000 study on the safety of glyphosate, the active ingredient in its flagship pesticide Roundup.

A Colorado farm field
File: Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media

The agriculture sector needs to ramp up its response to climate change, especially in the Midwest, according to a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.  

Researchers at the University of Maryland used climate projections and historical trends in agricultural productivity to predict how changes in temperature and rainfall will impact food production.

Suzanne Hogan / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City's curbside recycling program started in 2004. Since then, our diversion rates, as in the measurement of how much trash we are keeping from the landfills has stayed consistently around the in the 25-30 percent range. The goal is to reach an 80 percent diversion rate by 2020. We're a ways off, but regional experts remain optimistic. 

"We are recycling much more than the numbers show," says Marleen Leonce.

Then-administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency Gina McCarthy visits a Missouri farm in 2014 to highlight the Clean Water Rule.
file: Kristofor Husted / Harvest Public Media

President Donald Trump issued an executive order Tuesday directing the Environmental Protection Agency to revise a controversial environmental rule opposed by many Midwest farm groups.

Trump ordered new EPA administrator Scott Pruitt to formally revise the Obama Administration’s 2015 Clean Water Rule, also known as the Waters of the U.S. Rule, which was meant to explain which rivers, streams and creeks are subject to regulation by the EPA.

Suzanne Hogan / KCUR 89.3

A few thousand folk musicians from around the world are preparing to gather at the Westin Hotel in Crown Center for the 29th annual Folk Alliance International Conference. Over the next five days they're going to make a lot of music, but they're also going to make a lot of paper flyers and garbage. But hopefully not as much as previous years.

Researchers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln inspect a field planted with cover crops.
Jack Williams / for Harvest Public Media

What’s old is new again, at least on some Midwest farms.

Winter cover crops have been used by farmers for centuries, but over the last decade or so they have once again started to become more popular.

The idea is to create biomass in fields that would typically be dormant over the winter. Cover crops like vetch, rye, kale and winter peas can grow after a corn harvest, maintaining live roots in the ground on farm fields in an effort to control erosion, preserve moisture in the soil, and to keep damaging chemicals on fields and out of streams.

Danny Wood / KCUR 89.3

Bird watchers in the Kansas City area and across the United States are finalizing their annual Christmas Bird Count tallies. The census, run by the National Audubon Society, ends Thursday and provides a snapshot of bird species and populations.                               

Sage Ross / Flickr - CC

Do you drink pop ... or soda? Do you wash something or "warsh" it? Those answers depend on where you grew up. Today, we learn How to Speak Midwesternand discover why the Heartland dialect is so different from our Illinois and Minnesota neighbors. Then, consumer advocate Ralph Nader shares an important message in his latest book, Animal Envy, a fable akin to Charlotte's Web and Animal Farm.

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:

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