Friday, October 3, 2014
Future Conservation Leaders, Natural Resources Revival, Fight for Frogs, Amazing Monarch Journey
Future Conservation Leaders: Santa Cruz Island, off the coast of California, is home to bald eagles, scrub jays, and the most adorable foxes you may ever see! This summer, the island is also home to high school students from the Los Angeles area, working side by side with scientists. Co-host Caroline Raville spent some time with these young people to learn about LEAF, Leaders in Environmental Action for the Future. This Nature Conservancy program not only gives high school students a chance to enjoy nature, but provides a spark for many of them to pursue careers in science and conservation. Natural Resources Revival: A county in eastern Oregon has transformed from being dependent on timber, to being a pioneer in using its natural resources. Lake County is known as the "Saudi Arabia" of geothermal power. Its schools and hospitals are already taking advantage of sustainable energy sources including solar and wind power as well. Folks who used to be at odds, from the lumber industry and conservation groups, have put aside their differences to come up with sustainable answers for the future. A Fight for Frogs: A third of the world's amphibians face extinction, with more than 400 animals listed as "critically endangered." Habitat loss is one major threat, and that's the challenge for the gopher frog. Their population is now at an alarming low. These amphibians need both sandy, forested areas, and wetlands in order to breed. But development is making it tougher and tougher for them to survive. Sharon Collins of Georgia Public Broadcasting shows us how scientists are working to save these animals. Amazing Monarch Journey: Monarch butterflies, up to two billion of them, have to fly hundreds of miles to get to their wintering site in Mexico. So even a tiny impact on their migration ability could mean the difference between survival and death. Ecologist Sonia Altizer studies how long distance migration in flying animals may also affect the spread and evolution of infectious disease. These beautiful insects face many threat
Friday, October 10, 2014
Forage Fish, Wild Olympics, Biofuel from Cornfield Residue, Fire Ants
Researchers on the Oregon coast study the role that forage fish play in the food chain. Sometimes called "bait fish", sardines, anchovies, smelt and other small fish are vitally important in sustaining larger species - including sea birds, salmon, and marine mammals like sea lions. Humans also catch forage fish, mainly for animal feed, and there's growing concern that large-scale commercial harvesting of forage fish comes at the expense of other marine life, potentially with catastrophic results. Spectacular Olympic National Park is the centerpiece of the verdant Olympic Peninsula in northwest Washington State, right up against the Canadian border. There's now a bill in Congress that would add more protection to the forests and watersheds around the park, and we explore why there's wide support for the proposal among the people living there. In another report on emerging second-generation biofuels, we travel to Iowa where farmers are discovering there's growing demand for the residue in their cornfields - stalks, leaves, husks and cobs - left on the ground after the corn is harvested, That residue, called "corn stover", is biomass that can also be converted into ethanol. Everybody wants to eradicate biting, invasive fire ants, but scientists say they can learn a great deal by studying the social structure of these insects. New research shows that the widespread success of fire ants has been assisted when humans disturb natural areas with roads and development.
Friday, October 17, 2014
Owyhee Canyonlands, Sustainable Alaskan Village, Algae Power, Fungi Fuel
Much of Oregon is a desert; and in the dry, remote southeastern corner of the state there's a wild and captivating canyon landscape carved by the Owyhee River. It's been described as the largest intact, unprotected stretch of the American West, but it needs more protection from development pressure, including mining. A robust campaign for wilderness designation is making progress. We travel to a remote Alaskan village, Igiugig, where young native Alaskans are adopting new technologies and green ethics to build a healthy, sustainable future while keeping true to their traditions. With another report on emerging biofuels, we learn about new advances in converting algae into a wide range of useful products, including oil, growing the algae with by-products from corn ethanol distilleries. We meet a scientist in Montana who searches the globe for botanical specimens, discovering fungi and bacteria in the tissues of some plants that can be converted into a diesel-like fuel.
Friday, October 24, 2014
Wilderness Anniversary, Arkansas Oil Pipeline, Climbing Fish
Marking the fiftieth anniversary of the Wilderness Act, we explore its origins and success in protecting more than 100 million acres of unspoiled natural wilderness, a distinctly American achievement. There are still many more areas of wild nature that deserve protection, and the Wilderness Act remains an essential law in the cause of conservation. In March, 2013, a rupture in a buried oil pipeline surprised suburban homeowners in Mayflower, Arkansas by flooding their streets with crude oil. Many of them didn't even know there was a pipeline under their yards. To find out more about this event, we offer a two-part investigative story co-produced with Inside Climate News, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporting unit. Researchers study a type of Goby fish in Hawaii that climbs up steep waterfalls to reach its freshwater spawning areas, an amazing story of adaptation and evolution over time.