Environment

USDA photo by Darin Leach / U.S. Department of Agriculture

The Earth has been through many changes. We can see the evidence when we study the geological record, but looking ahead is harder.

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe explores the science of predicting climate change.  What do we know about the future of our planet, and how can we prepare for what is to come?

Joyce Russell/IPR

By a vote of seven to two, the Iowa Environmental Protection Commission Tuesday sided with developers over environmentalists and homeowners when it comes to putting back topsoil after new homes and businesses go up.     

The new rules will no longer require at least four inches of topsoil.     

Federal rules require restoration of topsoil to prevent stormwater runoff, but developers say Iowa’s standard is too strict.      

courtesy of Bill McKibben

Rapidly melting sea ice, crippling drought, violent storms--author and environmental activist Bill McKibben has been predicting these events for decades.  But now, he says, "We need to get serious about taking care of ourselves."  IPR's Charity Nebbe speaks with McKibben about what it will take to convince humanity to take action on climate change.  McKibben delivered the commencement address at Grinnell College on May 18.

Dan Farber / flickr

Former Vice President Al Gore is in Cedar Rapids this week as part of his Climate Reality Project, a tour meant to teach people how to “take on the climate crisis." Participants in the three day session are encouraged to give press interviews, communicate with government officials, and organize others in the effort against pollution.

Gore says he believes this year is a turning point in government action on climate change, and he believes the environment will be a key issue in the 2016 presidential election.

Photo by John Pemble

Having served from 1959-1995, 95-year-old Neal Smith is the longest serving Iowan in the United States House of Representatives.

Sarah Boden/Iowa Public Radio

Three potential Republican contenders for the White House spoke at the "Road to 2016: Informing the Energy Debate" today at the World Food Prize building in Des Moines. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania all say that regulation by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency hinders U.S. economic growth.

Kenneth Mertes

Many scientists believe that Earth is in the midst of a sixth great extinction. On this edition of Talk of Iowa, threats to biodiversity in the Midwest.

Lindsey Moon / Iowa Public Radio

Reading Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie books is a rite of passage for millions of children. 

Chris Tomlinson / Geograph

Ebola and algae scares hit in Western Africa and Toledo respectively this week. The threats may feel far away, but they hit home closer than you think.

On this News Buzz edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with Anne Pham, in charge compliance and enforcement of the drinking water program at the Department of Natural Resources. She explains what made the water in Toledo undrinkable and how we can protect Iowa water.

Courtesy of Emily Robbins

Emily Robbins is a city girl now.

Well, I’m using that term as a cliché. Robbins, 27, lives in Kansas City and works as an engineer at a large firm. She is part of a profession that is made up of just 14 percent women.

Her choice of professions makes sense, though, when you know that she started out as her father’s “boy.”

Katherine Perkins / IPR

The Clean Air Act was most recently amended in 1990, with overwhelming bipartisan support.  Is that kind of sweeping environmental policy possible today? 

The True Cost of Energy

Jul 28, 2014
Kwerdenker / Wikimedia Commons

"Cheap energy isn't cheap."

keeva999 / flickr

The EPA sets regulations for 6 sources of air pollution, but there are hundreds of pollutants known to the EPA that go unregulated.

David Wade Couch

Today we continue our summer series on the environment by taking a look at urban development – what we’re doing right and wrong.

Petrarchan47 / Wikimedia Commons

A beloved Iowa eagle was found dead earlier this week. Indy, as his fans called him, a young male eaglet whose hatching was witnessed by thousands online earlier this spring was electrocuted by a power pole on Tuesday. The bird had a large following in the state and across the country; more than 500 people have posted condolences on the Raptor Resource Project’s Facebook page. Host Ben Kieffer speaks with their executive director, Bob Anderson, about what happened to the bird and what can be done to protect these eagles in the future.

Courtesy of PLASTIC RECYCLING OF IOWA FALLS, INC

Reduce, reuse, recycle. That’s been the mantra among the environmentally conscious for the last 25 years. This hour – an in-depth exploration of recycling in Iowa.

Clare Roth

Recycling can be a tricky process - whether you leave materials curbside or deposit them at a drop-site, it's often hard to know exactly what can or can't be recycled.

On this Talk of Iowa "short," Joe Hummel of City Carton and Theresa Kurtz of the Iowa Recycling Association share how recycling really works, answer common questions, and alleviate recycling myths.

DO -

Clean out your glass and plastic bottles as much as you can.

Officials with the Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management agency  released to the general public the routes rail lines take to haul crude oil through the state from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota.    The rail lines are complying with a new federal mandate to report shipments of more than a million gallons.     

Melanie Hoffert / melaniehoffert.com

Melanie Hoffert grew up on a farm in North Dakota.  Like so many others, she left.  But now she feels torn between the land and people she loves and the freedom to live an authentic life.  Host Charity Nebbe talks with Hoffert about her memoir Prairie Silence: A Rural Ex-Patriot's Journey to Reconcile, Home, Love and Faith.  In that book, she describes the month she returned to her family farm to help her father and brother during harvest.  They also discuss what it was like to grow up as a gay woman in rural North Dakota.

Adam Burke

For decades, U.S. climate change policy has amounted to, "Do as I say, not as I do." However, this week President Obama announced its boldest step yet to reduce carbon emissions. The President wants to reduce carbon emission from power plants by 30% by the year 2030.

Today on River to River, what these guidelines mean for Iowa.

Mary Thompson Riney

Despite news reports that highlight danger, the world is actually a much safer place for children than it once was.  Accidental death rates for children were much higher in the early 19th and 20th centuries.  And yet, children who were once encouraged to go outside and play, are now highly supervised in organized sports and spend more time watching television than playing outdoors.  On this Earth Day, Host Charity Nebbe talks with historian Pamela Riney-Kehrberg about her new book The Nature of Childhood: An Enivornmental History of Growing Up in America since 1865."  In it, Kehrbe

Democrats in the Iowa Senate  got the ball rolling on a bill that’s a dream come true for  environmentalists  and natural resource advocates.   The bill raises the state  sales tax for a natural resources trust fund that voters approved by constitutional amendment two years ago.  Backers added a tax cut​  to the bill to soften the blow.    

Unlocking Prairie Secrets from a Sod House

Apr 15, 2014
Jackie Sojico/for Harvest Public Media

 

Ecologists in Nebraska are trying to find out what the Great Plains looked like when homesteaders settled there in the 19th century. To do that, they’re working with a team of archaeologists and historians dissecting a sod house, a house built out of bricks cut from dirt.

Larry Estes has had a sod house in his backyard in Gates, Neb., for as long as he can remember. He never really thought anything about it until a year ago when a repairman asked him about it.

Geek2Nurse / flickr / derivitive work: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/legalcode

Increasingly, efforts in environmental preservation are coming from churches.  Join host Charity Nebbe for a talk with Sister Mary Beth Ingham, professor emerita at Loyola Marymount University.  They cover what the Franciscan tradition is in viewing nature and our role in keeping it healthy.  Also, hear about what some churches in Iowa are doing to keep green.

World Bank Photo Collection / flickr

Jane Goodall is famous for her groundbreaking observation of wild chimpanzees; but for the last 30 years, she’s devoted most of her time to traveling the world, telling her stories, and trying to fan the flames of an environmental movement that could save her beloved chimpanzees and so many other species from extinction.

USFWS Mountain Prairie

Every year more wildlife friendly habitat disappears from Iowa and many different species are paying the price.  Host Charity Nebbe discusses the importance of wildlife corridors and roadside prairies with wildlife biologist Jim Pease and Rebecca Kauten, program manager for Integrated Roadside Vegetation Management.  They explain how Iowa's species are suffering due to a lack of connecting habitat as well as both the history of the state's roadside prairies, and the pros and cons of these

Rachel Gardner

We get flown over, driven through, dismissed and mocked, but the history of this region is rich and important. Today on Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe talks with John Lauck, author of The Lost Region: Toward a Revival of Midwestern History, and historian Leo Landis. They talk about the history of the Midwest and why it matters.

Sarah McCammon / Iowa Public Radio

Researchers at the University of Iowa have received a $125,000 federal grant to study the effects of frack sand mining on air quality.

The rise in hydraulic fracturing in the US and Canada has created demand for silica sand, used in the fracking process. There’s currently just one major frack sand mine in Iowa’s Clayton County. But parts of northeast Iowa are rich in these sand deposits.

David Plowden

For more than 50 years photographer David Plowden has been capturing images of American and the land he loves most is here in the Midwest. Host Charity Nebbe talks with Plowden about his latest book "Heartland: The Plains and the Prairie." 

Also, Dennis Chamberlin of Iowa State University's Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication discusses how the field of photojournalism is changing.  

Clay Masters / IPR

 Iowa homeowners and municipalities can use urban wetlands to capture nutrients that pollute state waterways and improve water quality. That’s according to a new report out Wednesday. But researchers say it would only be a small part of improving the state’s water quality.

The amount of pollution municipalities put into the state’s rivers and streams are regulated. This new report from the Iowa Policy Project documents what else cities and homeowners to reduce polluted storm runoff. 

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