environment | KUOW News and Information

environment

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Vincent Kessler/Reuters

In the US, and throughout the globe for that matter, the private sector is increasingly being looked to as a source of leadership for combating climate change. And many companies are stepping up, especially with the lack of leadership coming from Washington.

Consider the family-owned company Mars, the world’s largest candy maker — it produces iconic brands like Snickers, Skittles and M&M’s.

The secret history of Biosphere 2 | terrestrial

Nov 21, 2017
Biosphere 2
Flickr Photo/lance_mountain (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/f5VGrY

What if you looked at the world around you, saw where things are headed on this planet and said to yourself, you know what? I want to start fresh.

A group of scientists did just that — but things didn’t go as planned.


  Everyone poops. Even climbers on the world’s tallest mountain.

All that human waste has caused a lot of problems for local villagers near Mount Everest’s base camp. But a group of Northwest volunteers thinks they've found a fix.

Right now, Sherpas carry barrels of human excrement down from base camp on the backs of yaks. The barrels used to be dumped into large pits above a glacier that flows into the valley below. After those pits filled up, the waste has been carried to excavated sites alongside water banks.

Updated at 8 p.m. ET

TransCanada, the company that owns and operates the Keystone Pipeline, says that an estimated 210,000 gallons, or 5,000 barrels, of oil have spilled near the small town of Amherst, S.D.

Nathan Cultee dumps 16 farm-raised Atlantic salmon into a container on Tuesday, August 22, 2017, at Home Port Seafood in Bellingham.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Bill Radke talks to Lynda Mapes, environment reporter for The Seattle Times, about where all of the nearly 100,000 escaped Atlantic salmon went and what lawmakers in Olympia plan to do about it. 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is one of the government watchdogs monitoring the cleanup of the Hanford nuclear reservation. But recently the EPA’s Hanford office has shrunk in half.

Aboard fishing vessel Marathon, Nathan Cultee tosses one of 16 farm-raised Atlantic salmon caught after a day of fishing on Tuesday, August 22, 2017, at Home Port Seafoods in Bellingham.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

A Washington state conservation group is suing the owners of an Atlantic fish farm that failed over the summer. 

Wild Fish Conservancy says the company negligently allowed the salmon escape to happen, which would be a Clean Water Act violation.

Think "renewable energy" and the wind and sun come to mind, but someday it may be possible to add ocean energy to that list.

Oregon and Washington will be part of a group discussing climate change initiatives with two neighboring nations. The agreement between the more than a dozen U.S. states and Mexico and Canada is the product of meetings at an international climate conference in Bonn, Germany.

Earlier this year, a gray whale calf died after getting tangled in crab pot lines near Seaview, Washington. Now commercial and tribal crab fishermen from the Washington coast have agreed to form a working group to discuss how to reduce the risk of a repeat.

In 2015, University of Washington biologist Elli Theobald and her fellow researchers caught a glimpse of the future.

"The climate conditions in that year happened to mimic what we expect the climate conditions to be in the 2080s under unabated climate change," Theobald says.

Different flower species responded differently to the hot, dry weather. Some flowered a little earlier. Others flowered a lot earlier. Some flowered for a shorter time. And others flowered for a longer time.

When he's not bow hunting elk, Ty Stubblefield, an organizer with Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, is fighting to protect public land - and it's cost him some friendships.
Courtesy of Ty Stubblefield

Ty Stubblefield self-identifies as a “red blooded conservative,” but he’s also an avid hunter who is frustrated with the Republican party’s efforts to transfer public lands out of federal control. So, he’s fighting back.

Voters in Spokane are now weighing in on the future of coal and oil trains. An initiative on the local ballot would regulate coal and oil shipments by rail through specific areas of the city.

Proposition 2 would impose a $261 fine on every rail car carrying uncovered coal and some types of oil through Spokane.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee are set to take part in an international conference on climate change Bonn, Germany. Brown and Inslee were invited to the 2017 UN Climate Change Conference by Fiji’s Prime Minister Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama, who is presiding over conference proceedings this year.

The beaver may be Oregon's official state animal but that status is not shielding it from being killed by the hundreds by a federal agency. 

The killing could end, though, if two environmental groups prevail with their new lawsuit challenging the practice. They contend that it's harming more than just the state’s marquee mammal.

The Department of the Interior is outlining steps aimed at increasing energy production on federal lands. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke says boosting production of resources like oil and gas creates jobs and enhances the nation’s energy security.

Duck Island in the middle of Green Lake, Seattle.
Flickr Photo/Gexydaf (CC BY NC ND 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/34Xd6H

The city of Seattle has filed a lawsuit against a skate shop on Capitol Hill.

The lawsuit claims 35th North, and about 20 community members, damaged Green Lake's Duck Island by building a skate park there without permission.

There could be big changes on the horizon for the way the state of Washington manages its wolf population to minimize the conflicts between wolves and livestock.

Hillsboro, Oregon – At the SolarWorld Americas plant outside Portland, John Clason loads a stack of solar cells into a machine that builds them into panels.

He used to be a cabinet maker, but he switched industries after the 2008 recession.

"The job I had dried up," he said. "So, I looked around and I thought solar panels would be great – the wave of the future, you know?"

More than 30 times this year, the federal government has received reports of whales tangled in fishing gear along the West Coast. Sometimes the whales manage to wriggle free. Other times they don't, and you see heart-rending pictures on the news or a rescue mission.

The Great Smog was a pollution calamity that killed 12,000 people in London over five days in December 1952. At the same time, serial killer John Reginald Christie was preying on vulnerable women in the city and killed at least six.

Backers of a coal export terminal proposed in Southwest Washington are suing state regulators over their denial of a key permit needed to build the project.

Last month, the Washington Department of Ecology denied a water quality permit to the Millennium Bulk Terminals coal export project in Longview, saying the development would have too many environmental, transportation and cultural impacts.

Coming To Washington Ski Slopes: Fake Snow

Oct 24, 2017

This winter, skiers and snowboarders will see something new at Crystal Mountain — a robust $5 million snowmaking system designed to fight warmer winters in the Pacific Northwest.

Crystal’s state-of-the-art program features 36 new snow guns on the lower mountain that have the capacity to create up to 53 football fields covered in snow in a 24-hour period.

Is this the new normal for ski areas in the historically snow-rich Cascades?

Courtesy of Victoria Barrett

Scientists believe that for the planet to continue to safely support life, the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere should be kept as close to 350 parts per million as possible. We haven’t seen that level since the late 1980s - more than a decade before Victoria Barrett was born. 


Fugitive Atlantic salmon have been caught as far as 250 miles from the Cypress Island fish farm they escaped from in August.
Washington Dept. of Fish and Wildlife

Atlantic salmon have spread far and wide in Pacific Northwest waters since 160,000 of them escaped from a collapsed fish farm near Anacortes in August. The fishy fugitives have swum 130 miles south past Tacoma, 250 miles northwest past Tofino (most of the way up Vancouver Island) and up a half-dozen rivers around the region, according to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

In the gritty industrial town of Yiwu, workers prepare jeans to be dyed in a vivid range of colors.

Two months ago, this factory — and this entire city, located in China's eastern province of Zhejiang — was a much quieter place. Inspection crews from the environmental bureau had shut businesses down, cutting electricity and gas so that they could determine who was following China's environmental laws and who wasn't.

The boss of this factory, who asked that his name not be used for fear of punishment by local officials, says he's never seen anything like it.

Washington recyclers are worried they could soon have no place to send your discarded paper and plastics. That’s because China has decided the U.S. is letting food and garbage contaminate too much of its unwanted milk jugs and other recyclables.

China is the biggest buyer of recyclable plastic, paper and metal from the U.S. Starting next year, China will no longer take our recyclables. They say those materials are coming over with food scraps or types of plastic that can’t be recycled.

The Jane Goodall Institute/Michael Neugebauer

Dr. Jane Goodall hasn’t been in one place for more than three weeks since October 1986. That’s when she says she went from being a scientist to an activist for the welfare of wild and captive chimpanzees. She now travels nearly 300 days a year.

As heavy rains move into the Northwest, geologists are watching the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge. This summer’s wildfires have made slopes that are already prone to landslides even more treacherous.

For the first time, scientists have found a deadly plant disease infecting fir trees in the Pacific Northwest.

The so-called “European” strain of sudden oak death showed up in southwest Oregon a few years back. It was known to spread to fir trees in Europe, but that hadn’t been seen in the state.

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