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Preview: The Environment Report Podcast

The Environment Report

Michigan Radio's "The Environment Report" hosted by Rebecca Williams explores the relationship between the natural world and the everyday lives of people in Michigan. New episodes every Tuesday and Thursday.

Last Build Date: Sat, 27 May 2017 06:30:01 +0000


Crowdsourcing meets science with new animal tracking technology

Thu, 25 May 2017 14:46:57 +0000

Researchers have developed a way to track endangered species using smartphones and drones, and you can help them with that work.

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Does the free market or government regulation drive more use of renewables?

Tue, 23 May 2017 14:29:37 +0000

A new survey finds a majority of Americans (54%) lean toward regulations as the best way to increase our use of renewable energy versus relying on economic markets alone. Cary Funk is the associate director of research at the Pew Research Center. She says a majority of Americans say that increasing the use of renewable energy sources should be a top priority for the country’s energy policies. “But there’s a closer divide on whether or not government regulations are necessary or whether the private marketplace can ensure that businesses and consumers increase more reliance on renewables even without regulations,” she says.

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Why it's hard to get plastic bag bans to stick

Thu, 18 May 2017 14:09:04 +0000

Plastic bags are all around us. They’re a persistent litter problem on land and along the Great Lakes. Some cities have tried to ban bags or charge a fee for them. But it's hard to make these bans stick.

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Deciphering "lead free" labels at the store isn't always easy

Tue, 16 May 2017 12:55:56 +0000

We’ve heard a lot about lead service lines after the Flint water crisis. But that’s not the only way lead can get into your drinking water.

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Birds breeding early to catch up to climate change

Thu, 11 May 2017 15:53:40 +0000

New research shows that in order for some early birds to catch the worm, they have to breed sooner in the spring. Luke DeGroote is the avian research coordinator at Carnegie Museum of Natural History, and he runs the bird banding program at the museum's Powdermill Nature Reserve. Right now, he’s in the thick of spring migration. “It’s sort of a bit like fishing, in a way. We put out our nets to see what we catch,” he says.

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The uncertain future of Great Lakes funding

Tue, 09 May 2017 18:18:24 +0000

Now that President Trump has signed the spending bill, Great Lakes funding is safe, at least for now. The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is funded in full for 2017. But Trump wants to eliminate this funding entirely in his 2018 budget proposal .

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A fight is brewing over Great Lakes fish

Thu, 04 May 2017 14:12:17 +0000

The rules for commercial fishing in Michigan are being rewritten in Lansing. The law is old and needs to be updated. There are only 21 non-tribal businesses licensed by the state to catch fish for market. Tribes fish under their own rules.

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Study finds common pesticide impairs honey bees' ability to fly

Tue, 02 May 2017 13:30:39 +0000

Researchers have found a commonly used pesticide can significantly impair the ability of honey bees to fly. The pesticide is called thiamethoxam and it’s used on crops like corn, soybeans and cotton, along with many vegetable and fruit crops.

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A prominent climate scientist explains why scientists are taking to the streets

Thu, 27 Apr 2017 15:54:57 +0000

One of the most famous and vocal climate scientists is speaking out, again. Penn State researcher and author Michael Mann was recently asked by Democrats to be a witness at a hearing on climate science. It was held by the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology. Mann called the other three witnesses fringe experts because they were questioning the science behind climate change.

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3 years later, the Flint water crisis has changed how other cities deal with infrastructure

Tue, 25 Apr 2017 14:08:06 +0000

Three years ago today, the city of Flint switched to the Flint River for its drinking water. We all know how that story goes. So now, three years later, how has what happened in Flint changed the way we look at our drinking water?

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Study looks at the "chemical soup" in some of the nation's streams

Thu, 20 Apr 2017 14:07:34 +0000

A lot of different chemicals end up in our rivers and streams. Researchers are finding these mixtures of chemicals are more complex than we thought, and it could hurt fish and other creatures.

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There are still just 2 wolves left on Isle Royale. And 1,600 moose.

Tue, 18 Apr 2017 12:00:58 +0000

This year’s Winter Study of the wolves and moose of Isle Royale found that there are still just two wolves hanging out on the island.

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A hackathon for Lake Erie

Fri, 14 Apr 2017 14:35:13 +0000

Pollution and other problems plague areas all over the Great Lakes region, and they can make drinking or swimming dangerous. There’s plenty of blame to go around for this – city water utilities, agriculture, and politicians to name a few. Now an unlikely industry has joined the search for solutions: technology is taking on Lake Erie.

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Why it's so hard to know exactly how much of Michigan's water is bottled and sold

Tue, 11 Apr 2017 12:50:00 +0000

Tomorrow evening at 7pm, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality is holding a public hearing on a request from Nestle Waters.

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More federal websites change what they say about climate, environment

Thu, 06 Apr 2017 17:54:20 +0000

Some government websites are changing what they say about the environment, and a group of researchers is keeping track. Researchers in the U.S. and Canada are continuing to back up scientific data from federal agencies in the U.S. They’re also keeping a close eye on how information is changing on federal websites like the EPA, the State Department and the Department of Energy, along with other federal agency sites, and they've been finding changes are happening.

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Should fish consumption advisories consider chemical mixtures?

Tue, 04 Apr 2017 15:38:36 +0000

Fish consumption advisories usually focus on one chemical at a time – like mercury – and these advisories tell you how much of each kind of fish you should eat, and what to avoid. But they don’t often tell you much about mixtures of different chemicals in the environment that could be in fish.

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Utilities are taking steps to save energy - and money - on the hottest days of the year

Thu, 30 Mar 2017 12:01:06 +0000

Most of us don't think about how much electricity costs at different times of the day. But the state's two largest utilities are planning to change that. When it's really, really hot and humid out, what do lots of people do when they get home? They turn on, or turn up, the air conditioning. There are big spikes in electricity demand on the hottest summer days, between 2:00 in the afternoon to 7:00 in the evening. And that electricity is really expensive to produce. DTE Energy and Consumers Energy have to fire up gas-burning peaker units that sit idle most of the year. Now they're figuring out ways to get customers to use less energy when it most counts. Michael LeHaye is a DTE Energy customer who lives in Ann Arbor. He's enrolled in a program DTE has had for a long time. It lets the utility cycle his air conditioner compressor off for roughly 15 minutes an hour on the very hottest days. He gets a discount on his bill - and it's pretty painless. “You know, I have never noticed them

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In Ohio, farmers are being trained to avoid nutrient build

Tue, 28 Mar 2017 14:35:06 +0000

The buildup of nutrients in western Lake Erie can trigger algae growth – and contaminate drinking water in nearby cities. That happened as recently as 2014, when Toledo residents could not drink their water for two days.

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As the climate gets warmer, some mammals are getting smaller

Thu, 23 Mar 2017 14:48:14 +0000

Here’s one way to react to a warming planet: get smaller. We know mammals literally shrank, during a massive global warming event 56 million years ago. Imagine an early horse ancestor the size of a cat. Now back then, the earth was 46 degrees hotter on average than it is right now. So researchers wanted to know: do mammals still experience shrinking - a.k.a. dwarfing - during other, less intense periods of warming? Abigail D'Ambrosia is a researcher at the University of New Hampshire, and she did a study with scientists at the University of Michigan to answer that question. “And we found that, yup! There’s definitely dwarfing in a couple of the mammals we found,” she says. She says nobody's sure why generations of mammals gradually shrank during those periods of global warming in the past. Maybe because it’s easier to cool yourself off if you’re smaller. Or maybe global warming killed off so many plants, animals didn’t get enough food. D’Ambrosia thinks it’s some combination of the two

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How climate change is altering spring

Thu, 23 Mar 2017 14:36:41 +0000

You know how in old Disney cartoons and movies, spring arrives and all the birds and woodland creatures just wake up all at once? That’s kind of how nature works, too. But new research suggests that what we typically think of as spring: flowers blooming, ice melting... is starting to change.

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