Environment

Photo of Chris Lucash
Jeffrey Mittelstadt, WildSides

Chris Lucash spent close to three decades working with the endangered red wolf population in North Carolina. He was present when the first wolves were released back into the wild in the late 1980s and helped support the wild population as it grew to its peak in the 2000s.

In June of 2015, Lucash was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease, and he passed away just one year later.

Photo of the Blue Ridge Mountains
Ken Thomas / Wikipedia

For a century the National Park Service has established and preserved parks, seashores and memorials across the country. Sites range from Yellowstone National Park to the César E. Chávez National Monument.

In 2015, the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, both partially located in North Carolina, were two of the top three most visited sites in the National Park system.

However, growing concerns about climate change and big maintenance bills threaten preservation efforts.

The old well at the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill.
Tim Schleicher / flickr, Creative Commons

Legislative leaders are at odds with environmentalists over a new policy initiative at UNC-Chapel Hill.

The state budget sets aside $1 million for scientists to conduct environmental research and make public policy recommendations. But some professors worry about potential ties to the legislature that could pressure them to sway their findings for political gain.

Host Frank Stasio talks with WUNC's Dave DeWitt about the new program, which has been dubbed the North Carolina Policy Collaboratory.

Megan Davies
NC DHHS

Some of the state’s environmental watchdogs are quitting their jobs, saying it is impossible to achieve their objectives under Governor McCrory’s administration and the Republican-led legislature.

In a recent editorial, Susan Ladd, columnist with the Greensboro News and Record, asserts that lawmakers have taken many actions to hinder environmental protection.

ECU Scientists Track Spread Of Zombie Crabs

Aug 4, 2016
Cliff Hollis, ECU News Services

North Carolina's mud crabs are falling victim to an invasive parasite that researchers say turns them into walking zombies.

April Blakeslee is an assistant professor of biology at East Carolina University. She said the parasitic barnacle called Loxothylacus panopaei, or simply Loxo, can commandeer the reproductive systems of the crabs and alter their behavior.

photo of a church
Theresa Schenk / Pixabay

Note: This segment originally aired on Thursday, June 2, 2016.

Whether it's reducing carbon emissions or increasing solar energy, environmentalists see a need for people to change the way they treat the earth in the shadow of climate change. Likewise, some religion leaders see their faith as motivation to care better for the environment.

Ken Ilgunas

This program originally aired on April 21, 2016.

Ken Ilgunas was working as a dishwasher near the oil refineries of Alaska when his friend suggested they should hike the entire length of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.

He immediately agreed, and a year later he started the journey from Alberta, Canada to the Gulf Coast of Texas on foot.

Jedediah Purdy
Travis Drove

  This show originally aired on October 6, 2015.

In an era where humans and the environment are inextricably tied, how do we approach environmental politics, economics and ethics?

In what ways do the historical perspectives on the relationship between humanity and nature shape how policymakers approach current environmental issues like climate change and global warming?

@camtraplive / Twitter

In 1913, National Geographic published the first photographs taken with an automatic camera trap.

Wildlife photographer George Shiras rigged a string to his camera shutter and used bait to coax animals into pulling it, arguably resulting in the first animal selfies ever.

Today, the technology has come a long way, and more scientists are using it to study the behavior and diversity of species all over the world, and it has opened a new frontier in citizen science.

US Embassy Canada / Flickr Creative Commons

North Carolina is one of the leading states in solar energy. 

But the recent elimination of some tax credits and the possibility of solar permitting may slow the growth of solar energy in the state. And the Department of Environmental Quality is considering a change to the state’s Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards that could affect renewable energy production in the state. 

Image of bottled water provided by Duke Energy to families affected by the coal ash spill.
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

Next month will mark two years since 40,000 tons of coal ash and 27 million gallons of contaminated water flowed into Dan River as a result of a Duke Energy spill. The electric utility giant is working to clean up the coal ash at multiple sites across the state.

But legal infighting and regulatory delays have stalled progress at 10 of the 14 sites. Meanwhile some residents are afraid to drink out of their tap.

Image of Ken Dodge, professor of public policy at Duke
Duke University

Note: This is a rebroadcast from last year.

There is a common metaphor in the scientific community that uses flowers to describe children’s sensitivity to their environments. A child like a dandelion will turn out fine despite the circumstances she is raised in, while a child like an orchid will flounder without a nourishing environment, but blossom with care and support. 

A picture of a coal ash pond.
Waterkeeper Alliance

The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality says Duke Energy will have to excavate most of its coal ash pits in North Carolina.

A new report says 20 pits have to be cleaned up rather than covered, but environmental groups think that number should be higher and point to an earlier draft report that identified 27 pits for excavation. 

Image of wood pellets, which are causing an environmental controversy in North Carolina. Though the energy source is carbon neutral in theory, that's not always true in practice.
Andrew_Writer / Flickr Creative Commons

The wood pellet industry is booming in North Carolina, thanks in part to high demand from Europe. Power plants burn the wood product to create energy, but wood pellet companies are cutting down trees at a higher rate than anticipated, raising questions about whether the practice really is carbon neutral.

The Latest On Paris Climate Change Talks

Dec 10, 2015
Justin Catanoso is covering COP 21 in Paris, where global leaders hope to finalize a universal agreement to fight climate change.
Eric. J. Lyman

Ice caps are melting, ocean levels are rising and coral reefs are dying. The way things are going, some scientists say the world could be unfit for human habitation by the end of century.

All eyes are on Paris right now as world leaders are negotiating an agreement to slow the effects of climate change. A deal is expected by tomorrow, but there are still big issues to resolve between the industrialized and developing nations. 

Blue Ridge Mountains
Christopher Sessums / Flickr Creative Commons

Duke Energy has scrapped a proposal to build new transmission lines in western North Carolina.

The decision comes after environmental groups raised concerns about the plans for 45 miles worth of towers from Asheville to South Carolina. The controversy attracted more than 9,000 public comments online.

Faith Community Church
NC Warn

State regulators meet this week to decide whether to expedite the implementation of a new law that would change environmental standards.

It includes a cut to the number of air quality monitors in the state and allows companies to avoid fines if they self-report an environmental violation. 

Pictures from Dolly Sods Wilderness in West Virginia, which partially inspired Null for his book
Matthew Neill Null

Writer Matthew Neill Null calls West Virginia a museum of failed enterprise. He argues that industries like logging, coal mining, oil extraction, and now hydraulic fracturing, have irreversibly marked the state’s history and landscape.

Null has a long personal history with the area—his family has lived there since before it became a state, and his writing aims to explore the lesser-known stories of the land and the people who lived on it.

Hurricane Irene
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center / Flickr Creative Commons

North Carolina could experience fewer hurricanes in the coming decades, according to a new study from Colorado State University.

The Atlantic Ocean has been in an active era of hurricane activity since 1995, but cooler water temperatures and lower salinity rates in the North Atlantic could signal a beginning of the inactive period. 

Jordan Lake, Durham, NC
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

State lawmakers have 10 days before the latest temporary budget expires.

The House and Senate are trying to reconcile their $21 billion spending plans, and among the sticking points are environmental issues, including the state's solar energy tax credit, renewable energy standards, and water quality requirements for Jordan Lake.

Coal fired power plant in Wyoming
Greg Goebel / Flickr Creative Commons

Earlier this week the Obama Administration announced its EPA Clean Power Plan that directs states to lower greenhouse gas emissions from coal-burning power plants by around 32 percent by 2030.

Image of a sweat bee on button snakeroot
Barbara Driscoll

Bees are vital to the American food system. Honey bees alone contribute more than $15 billion to the American economy through pollination of plants that produce fruits, nuts and vegetables.

Image of Joel Bourne
Andrew Tie / WUNC

Eastern North Carolina native Joel Bourne was living down the road from his family farm at the end of the Green Revolution in the mid-20th century.

At that time, newly modified wheat seeds produced an agricultural boom that allowed farmers across the world to grow more crops than ever before. It was the answer to a growing crisis of food scarcity.

NC Legislative building
NC General Assembly

State lawmakers passed nearly 100 bills in two days to meet this session's crossover deadline, the time when non-budgetary measures have to pass at least one chamber of the General Assembly to stay alive.  

Bills about the death penalty, education policy and environmental regulations are among those that still have legs.

Host Frank Stasio talks with WUNC capitol reporter Jorge Valencia and WUNC education policy reporter Reema Khrais about the measures that survived or failed to meet the crossover deadline.

Official logo Earth Week That was the backdrop for the USED as prime time CBS News Special Report with Walter Cronkite about Earth Day 1970.
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Peter54321

Earth Day is now a prominent national event. But the roots of the first gathering in 1970 was just one politician's push to improve the rivers and hunting grounds in Wisconsin. The idea sparked other events that year across the nation and now April 22nd marks an annual recognition and celebration of environmental issues.

Pages