WBEZ | environment http://www.wbez.org/tags/environment Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Chicago's Plastic Bag Ban http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2016-02-02/chicagos-plastic-bag-ban-114683 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/platic bag ban-Flickr-Ars Electronica.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago&rsquo;s plastic bag &ldquo;ban&rdquo; has been in effect for six months. So, how&rsquo;s it going so far?</p><p>We talk to Jordan Parker, executive director of Bring Your Bag Chicago about some of the benefits and drawbacks of the legislation on the books, what she&rsquo;d like to see going forward, and how you can avoid using plastic bags altogether.</p></p> Tue, 02 Feb 2016 15:59:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2016-02-02/chicagos-plastic-bag-ban-114683 Political Crisis In Moldova http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2016-01-25/political-crisis-moldova-114610 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Healing%20earth%20%281%29.png" style="height: 245px; width: 620px;" title="" /></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/243764758&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p dir="ltr"><span style="font-size:24px;">&ldquo;Healing Earth&rdquo; Environmental Science textbook adds spirituality to curriculum.</span><br />Science and faith are sometimes in harmony with each other, but often there have been bitter disputes. Pope John Paul II finally settled the Catholic Church&rsquo;s famous dispute with Galileo by formally acquitting him in 1992. But with challenges like Climate Change and mass extinctions, faith leaders from the indigenous to Islam, from Buddhist to Baha&rsquo;i have called for urgent action to heal our Earth, which Pope Francis calls &ldquo;the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor&rdquo;. &nbsp;&nbsp;A new era calls for new tools. &nbsp;Loyola University-Chicago&rsquo;s International Jesuit Ecology Project has created a new environmental science e-textbook and multimedia project called &ldquo;Healing Earth&rdquo;. &nbsp;The project goes beyond science to add the perspectives of ethics, spirituality, and action. &nbsp;We talk with three people behind the project, Nancy Tuchman, &nbsp;professor of Biology and founding director of the Institute of Environmental Sustainability at Loyola University-Chicago, Michael Schuck, associate professor of Theology at Loyola University-Chicago and Father Michael Garanzini, chancellor secretary and president emeritus of Loyola University Chicago.</p><p><strong>Guests:</strong> Nancy Tuchman, &nbsp;professor of Biology and founding director of the Institute of Environmental Sustainability at Loyola University-Chicago.</p><p>Michael Schuck, associate professor of Theology at Loyola University-Chicago.</p><p>Father Michael Garanzini, chancellor secretary and president emeritus of Loyola University Chicago.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Moldova1.jpg" style="height: 404px; width: 620px;" title="A Moldovan army general watches demonstrators during a large protest in Chisinau, Moldova, Sunday, Jan. 24, 2016. More than 15,000 people gathered to protest against the government, demanding early elections in the impoverished East European nation, an action that comes after demonstrators stormed Parliament last week as lawmakers approved a new pro-European government.(AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)" /></div><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/243764751&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe><span style="font-size:24px;">Growing Political and Social Unrest in Moldova</span><br />Last week a group of protesters broke into the Moldovan Parliament, demanding the country hold new elections. The event took place amidst larger protests in the capital, Chisinau. The protests began when the government secretly swore in a new head of government. We&rsquo;ll take a look at what&rsquo;s behind the growing unrest with Matthew Rojansky, director of the Kennan Institute at the Wilson Center.</p><p><strong>Guest:</strong> Matthew Rojansky, director of the Kennan Institute at the Wilson Center.</p></p> Mon, 25 Jan 2016 15:46:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2016-01-25/political-crisis-moldova-114610 Maryland Startup Redirects River Of Rejected Gifts http://www.wbez.org/news/maryland-startup-redirects-river-rejected-gifts-114348 <p><p>We change our minds about purchases a lot in the U.S., especially after the buying binge of the holidays. Returns cost retailers about $260 billion each year. That doesn&#39;t include the cost to the environment of all that producing, shipping, and throwing away.</p><p>One of the companies on the receiving end of all those returns is trying to reduce the cost to retailers, and the cost to the environment.</p><p>The Optoro warehouse in Maryland is a hoarder&#39;s dream &mdash; the building is packed, floor to ceiling, with returned merchandise. The CEO, Tobin Moore, stands neck deep in stuff that people changed their minds about.</p><p>&quot;This is probably 10 truckloads just right here &mdash; air compressors, power drills, lawn mower I think, carseat down on the bottom,&quot; Moore says.</p><p>You might think that when you return something, it goes back on the shelf. But it&#39;s often too much hassle for the stores to sort and restock. Returns might go to liquidators or resellers, or straight to the landfill.</p><p>Optoro is trying to change that, with something called &quot;reverse logistics.&quot;</p><p>&quot;The real goal of reverse logistics is to try to get the products as fast as possible with the least amount of touches back to market &mdash; whether that market is being sold online, to a wholesaler, to a recyclers, or donated if it should be sent to a charity,&quot; Moore says.</p><p>The workers here, about 150 of them, pick through every little thing in these stacks, and decide where the stuff goes next.<br /><br />&quot;There&#39;s some things you can put thru in a few seconds, especially if it&#39;s a new, unopened box,&quot; says worker Greg Cull.<br /><br />Other things, Cull says, need testing. He&#39;s sitting at a workbench, styrofoam packaging littering the floor, checking out a sleek, new speaker system. Cull spends his day testing electronics like this. These speakers seem fine, so he sends a song thru the cables.</p><p>&quot;I haven&#39;t checked the subwoofer yet,&quot; he says. &quot;Yeah, it&#39;s working.&quot;</p><p>Sounds good, all the parts are there, it looks untouched. This will go on the website blinq.com, at a fraction of the price.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/optoro-warehouse-6099_custom-299bea4fd52fd1e0850dfd067b67282129d47b4d-s800-c85.jpg" title="An employee drags a palette of recently returned goods through the Optoro warehouse so they can be processed. (Dianna Douglas/NPR)" /></div><p>Products that are dented or don&#39;t have original packaging go into big bins on the loading dock &mdash; off to pawn shops or mom and pop stores. Another worker, Gleason Wood, points to one pallet, a hodgepodge of hundreds of things.</p><p>&quot;That pallet right there we&#39;re asking for $1,835 for it,&quot; he says.<br /><br />The stuff on it sold for five times that much.</p><p>&quot;A couple of tools, a juice extractor. Me, myself, if I had a flea market I would want it,&quot; Wood says.&nbsp;<br /><br />Optoro has found a niche sorting returns, and the river of rejects is expected to keep growing as more stores offer free shipping both ways. Tobin Moore is benefitting from America&#39;s obsession with stuff. It also makes him uneasy.</p><p>&quot;Both how we consume and how retailers are dealing with returns isn&#39;t really sustainable,&quot; he says.</p><p>The folks at Optoro will take in and send out 25 million items this year &mdash; more than double the number from last year.</p><p><em>&mdash; via <a href="http://www.npr.org/2016/01/01/461615668/maryland-startup-redirects-river-of-rejected-gifts?ft=nprml&amp;f=461615668">NPR News</a></em></p></p> Fri, 01 Jan 2016 09:28:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/maryland-startup-redirects-river-rejected-gifts-114348 Is a national policy on school milk boosting lunchtime waste? http://www.wbez.org/news/national-policy-school-milk-boosting-lunchtime-waste-113813 <p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-21bd09b5-15d2-103d-de8b-cc3df2ad6f9d">One day this fall, first grader Russell Muchow brought his usual bagged lunch from home to Kellogg Elementary School in the far Southwest Side Beverly neighborhood. &nbsp;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-21bd09b5-15d2-103d-de8b-cc3df2ad6f9d">When it came time for lunch, he wanted to have a cold milk. But when he asked for a carton in the lunch line, his mom Molly Muchow says Russell was told, &ldquo;in order to take the milk (he) had to take the lunch.&rdquo;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-21bd09b5-15d2-103d-de8b-cc3df2ad6f9d"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/20151103_122235_resized.jpg" style="height: 500px; width: 281px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: right;" title="Inside school garbage can. (WBEZ/Monica Eng)" />But the 6-year-old already had a lunch and if he took a second one, he&rsquo;d just have to throw it away. It didn&rsquo;t make sense to him. So when he got home, Molly Muchow says, &ldquo;he was distraught&rdquo; over being told he had to take food he couldn&#39;t eat. &ldquo;That is not what we teach them at home. We don&rsquo;t throw out food. That is unacceptable.&rdquo;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-21bd09b5-15d2-103d-de8b-cc3df2ad6f9d">Muchow says she called up the Kellogg school &nbsp;lunch director (Chicago Public Schools officials did not respond to WBEZ requests to interview the lunch director.) and basically got the same message: kids can&rsquo;t take free milk unless they take the whole meal.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-21bd09b5-15d2-103d-de8b-cc3df2ad6f9d">&ldquo;So I said I&rsquo;d just pay for the milk extra,&rdquo; Muchow recalled. &ldquo;And [the lunch director] told me it would actually be better for me to have him take the lunch even if he was going to throw it out, for budget reasons, and numbers and for them.&rdquo;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-21bd09b5-15d2-103d-de8b-cc3df2ad6f9d">This may sound outrageous from a food waste perspective, but from a school money angle, it&rsquo;s true.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-21bd09b5-15d2-103d-de8b-cc3df2ad6f9d">That&rsquo;s because for each child who takes the full meal &mdash; which includes an entree with milk and a side of fruits or vegetables</span>&nbsp;&mdash; the U.S. Department of Agriculture pays CPS $3.15, which it shares with the food service company Aramark.</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-21bd09b5-15d2-103d-de8b-cc3df2ad6f9d">But if a child just takes a milk, the district and Aramark get nothing from the feds.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-21bd09b5-15d2-103d-de8b-cc3df2ad6f9d">The situation recently dominated a Kellogg Local School Council meeting, but it&rsquo;s an issue that&rsquo;s rooted in federal policy.</span></p><p dir="ltr">&quot;In order for it to be a reimbursable meal by USDA the lunch needs to include all the meal components,&quot; explained USDA regional administrator Tim English. &quot;And that would be a grain, vegetable or fruit, milk and meat or meat alternate. The idea is that we want to provide kids who are taking school lunch with a well-rounded meal.&quot;&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/8546053033_e95eaad450_k.jpg" style="text-align: center; height: 349px; width: 620px;" title="Students and parents at a Chicago public school say that when kids just want a single part of a meal--like a milk to go with a home lunch--they are pushed to take an entire free lunch. The full meal triggers payment from the federal government. Some think this could be generating a lot of food waste in schools. (flickr/USDA)" /></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-21bd09b5-15d2-103d-de8b-cc3df2ad6f9d">But it means kids who just want an egg or banana at breakfast, for instance, must take the rest of the meal, even if it&rsquo;s tossed in the garbage.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-21bd09b5-15d2-103d-de8b-cc3df2ad6f9d">Starting last school year, most &nbsp;districts across the country like Chicago&rsquo;s, with a lot of low-income students, adopted the Community Eligibility Provision. That&rsquo;s a USDA program that &nbsp;makes all meals free to all students in the school or district regardless of income. This reduces mountains of free lunch application paperwork and the need to collect money in the lunchroom.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-21bd09b5-15d2-103d-de8b-cc3df2ad6f9d">Students still have the ability to pay 45 cents for milk out of pocket each day. But Northwestern University economist and professor of social policy Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach says the policy doesn&#39;t make that likely.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-21bd09b5-15d2-103d-de8b-cc3df2ad6f9d">&ldquo;Under these circumstances, if you&rsquo;re getting the same thing and you can choose to pay for it or you can choose to get it for free the vast majority of people will choose to get the same item for free instead of paying for it,&rdquo; she said.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-21bd09b5-15d2-103d-de8b-cc3df2ad6f9d">&ldquo;The incentives here are certainly for kids to take what&rsquo;s free and then wastefully dispose of it,&rdquo; she continued, &ldquo;so it seems like there&rsquo;s room for a policy improvement so that kids can get just the milk for free instead of taking the whole meal and then throw part of it away.&rdquo;&nbsp;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-21bd09b5-15d2-103d-de8b-cc3df2ad6f9d">That policy change would require an act of Congress &mdash; which happens to be reviewing the rules around school lunch right now, albeit at a slow pace.</span></p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/nutritionists-raise-glass-whole-milk-new-dietary-guidelines-113390" target="_blank"><span style="display: none;">&nbsp;</span><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/8542429717_dfe01d4a07_k.jpg" style="height: 207px; width: 310px; float: left; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px;" title="The Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Agriculture have teamed up to revise the country’s dietary guidelines, as they have every five years since 1980. They aim to drop the longstanding limit on total fat consumption, which could clear the way for whole milk in school meal programs. (flickr/USDA)" /><span style="display: none;">&nbsp;</span></a></div></div><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-21bd09b5-15d2-103d-de8b-cc3df2ad6f9d">There is, however, a window for a quicker fix. CPS could choose to pick up the 45 cent tab when a student wants just a milk, making the less wasteful option an easy option (We found at least one district in Ohio where the superintendent says he decided to start doing this two months ago in response to food waste).</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-21bd09b5-15d2-103d-de8b-cc3df2ad6f9d">Still, CPS rejects the idea, saying it would just cost too much. And, to be fair, this appears to be the stance of most districts across the nation, according to Tim English, the USDA director for the Midwest.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-21bd09b5-15d2-103d-de8b-cc3df2ad6f9d">So if free milk won&rsquo;t be an option in the district, how are the existing choices presented to students? Are kids told they can bring money to buy a milk? Are they encouraged to take more than they want? </span></p><p dir="ltr"><span>We asked CPS to explain exactly how lunch staff are told to present the options, but officials would not talk to us about it. The district also would not give us permission to talk to the Kellogg lunch staff about the procedure they follow on the matter.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-21bd09b5-15d2-103d-de8b-cc3df2ad6f9d">Kellogg parent Jill Zayauskas says she pretty clear about the way the options are handled at her school, and it makes her mad.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-21bd09b5-15d2-103d-de8b-cc3df2ad6f9d">&ldquo;My son was five when he first saw this and if a five-year-old knows wasting food is wrong then the people who plan this program should know that,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;I just don&rsquo;t understand why children are forced to throw away a complete lunch to get chocolate milk and actually encouraged to do that so someone can make their quota. It&rsquo;s all about money&rdquo;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-21bd09b5-15d2-103d-de8b-cc3df2ad6f9d">About half of the money for each meal goes to food service company Aramark, which receives $1.31 for each lunch taken.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-21bd09b5-15d2-103d-de8b-cc3df2ad6f9d">Kellogg mom Emily Lambert says students are getting mixed messages, right when they&rsquo;re in the middle of a food drive.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-21bd09b5-15d2-103d-de8b-cc3df2ad6f9d">&ldquo;My son is coming home every day asking to take food to school to give food to people who don&rsquo;t have it, while in the lunchroom they&#39;re throwing it away,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;They understand that it&rsquo;s wrong to throw away food that you have and you aren&rsquo;t going to eat.&rdquo; &nbsp;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-21bd09b5-15d2-103d-de8b-cc3df2ad6f9d">The USDA is also in the middle of its own campaign to reduce food waste by 50 percent in 15 years.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><em><span id="docs-internal-guid-21bd09b5-15d2-103d-de8b-cc3df2ad6f9d">Monica Eng is a WBEZ food and health reporter. Contact her at </span><a href="mailto:meng@wbez.org">meng@wbez.org</a> or follow her on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/monicaeng">@monicaeng</a></em></p></p> Tue, 17 Nov 2015 05:17:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/national-policy-school-milk-boosting-lunchtime-waste-113813 Did the language you speak evolve because of the heat? http://www.wbez.org/news/did-language-you-speak-evolve-because-heat-113687 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/worldlanguagehaet.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>English bursts with consonants. We have words that string one after another, like angst, diphthong and catchphrase. But other languages keep more vowels and open sounds. And that variability might be because they evolved in different habitats.</p><div id="res455002843"><div id="responsive-embed-map-language-20151105">&nbsp;</div><p data-pym-src="http://apps.npr.org/dailygraphics/graphics/map-language-20151105/child.html">&nbsp;</p><script src="http://apps.npr.org/dailygraphics/graphics/map-language-20151105/js/lib/pym.js" type="text/javascript"></script></div><p>Consonant-heavy syllables don&#39;t carry very well in places like windy mountain ranges or dense rainforests, researchers say. &quot;If you have a lot of tree cover, for example, [sound] will reflect off the surface of leaves and trunks. That will break up the coherence of the transmitted sound,&quot; says&nbsp;<a href="http://www.unm.edu/~ianm/index.html">Ian Maddieson</a>, a linguist at the University of New Mexico.</p><p>That can be a real problem for complicated consonant-rich sounds like &quot;spl&quot; in &quot;splice&quot; because of the series of high-frequency noises. In this case, there&#39;s a hiss, a sudden stop and then a pop. Where a simple, steady vowel sound like &quot;e&quot; or &quot;a&quot; can cut through thick foliage or the cacophony of wildlife, these consonant-heavy sounds tend to get scrambled.</p><p>Hot climates might wreck a word&#39;s coherence as well, since sunny days create pockets of warm air that can punch into a sound wave. &quot;You disrupt the way it was originally produced, and it becomes much harder to recognize what sound it was,&quot; Maddieson says. &quot;In a more open, temperate landscape, prairies in the Midwest of the United States [or in Georgia] for example, you wouldn&#39;t have that. So the sound would be transmitted with fewer modifications.&quot;</p><div id="res454932115"><div><div data-flash-url="anon.npr-mp3/npr/specials/2015/11/20151105_specials_georgian.mp3" data-html5-url="http://pd.npr.org/anon.npr-mp3/npr/specials/2015/11/20151105_specials_georgian.mp3" data-id="454932115" data-pause-metric-action="Pause Audio" data-pause-metric-category="Secondary Audio" data-play-metric-action="Play Audio" data-play-metric-category="Secondary Audio"><div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><h3><iframe frameborder="0" height="290" scrolling="no" src="http://www.npr.org/player/embed/454853229/454932115" title="NPR embedded audio player" width="100%"></iframe></h3></div></div></div></div></div><div id="res454998084" previewtitle="The open, temperate terrain of eastern Georgia would make fast-changing sounds like 'str' in 'strength' easier to hear."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="The open, temperate terrain of eastern Georgia would make fast-changing sounds like 'str' in 'strength' easier to hear." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/11/06/georgia_wide-b3c9b5a78ab72913eafca3939990c5f46459984a-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 349px; width: 620px;" title="The open, temperate terrain of eastern Georgia would make fast-changing sounds like 'str' in 'strength' easier to hear. (Sebastian Preuber/Flickr)" /></div><div><div><p>Other scientists have noticed that habitats can affect the way different bird species sing. &quot;Say you&#39;re a bird in a forest, and some guy&#39;s going &#39;Stree! Stree! Stree!&#39; But because of the environment, what you hear is &#39;Ree! Ree! Ree!&#39; &quot; says&nbsp;<a href="http://homepage.univie.ac.at/tecumseh.fitch/">Tecumseh Fitch</a>, a linguist at the University of Vienna in Austria who was not involved in the study. &quot;Well, because you&#39;re learning the song, you&#39;ll sing &#39;Ree! Ree! Ree!&#39; &quot;</p></div></div></div><p>Since bird species living in rain forests tend to sing songs with fewer consonant-like sounds, Maddieson thought maybe the same would apply to human languages. Over time, people living in different climates would adapt their speech to communicate more efficiently.</p><p>In a&nbsp;<a href="https://asa2015fall.abstractcentral.com/s/u/Se1Hr1xy6XQ">presentation</a>&nbsp;on Wednesday at the Acoustical Society of America fall meeting, Maddieson showed that consonant-thick languages like Georgian are more likely to develop in open, temperate environments. Meanwhile, consonant-light languages like Hawaiian are more likely to be found in lush, hot ecologies.</p><div id="res454997029"><div><div data-flash-url="anon.npr-mp3/npr/specials/2015/11/20151106_specials_hawaiiangreeting.mp3" data-html5-url="http://pd.npr.org/anon.npr-mp3/npr/specials/2015/11/20151106_specials_hawaiiangreeting.mp3" data-id="454997029" data-pause-metric-action="Pause Audio" data-pause-metric-category="Secondary Audio" data-play-metric-action="Play Audio" data-play-metric-category="Secondary Audio"><div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><h3><iframe frameborder="0" height="290" scrolling="no" src="http://www.npr.org/player/embed/454853229/454997029" title="NPR embedded audio player" width="100%"></iframe></h3></div></div></div></div></div><div id="res454997955" previewtitle="A vowel sound like &quot;e&quot; can still sound clear through the dense vegetation in Hawaii."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="A vowel sound like &quot;e&quot; can still sound clear through the dense vegetation in Hawaii." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/11/06/hawaii_wide-a13dfd35d319530c2792c3276cddf3a5adfa6ee1-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 349px; width: 620px;" title="A vowel sound like &quot;e&quot; can still sound clear through the dense vegetation in Hawaii. (Daniel Ramirez/Flickr)" /></div><div><div><p>Fitch says it&#39;s a tantalizing hypothesis, but still unproven. People who live nearby are usually related, so their languages could be too. Hawaiian and Maori are light on consonants and developed in hot, tropical climates, but they also both came from an ancestor Eastern Polynesian language. That could confound the results of Maddieson&#39;s study. Until that&#39;s sorted out, Fitch says, it&#39;s hard to know how strong the data are.</p></div></div></div><p>And the environmental effect only accounts for some of the variation in birdsongs. That&#39;s probably true for our tongues too. &quot;There are many reasons why some languages have more vowels or more consonants, and this is just one of them,&quot; Fitch says.</p><p>Other researchers say this is just the beginning of a line of research into how nature rules our speech. &quot;This is the first of its kind, and there are several others coming now. It&#39;s becoming increasingly clear that the way we speak is shaped by external forces,&quot; says&nbsp;<a href="http://www.mpi.nl/people/roberts-sean">Sean Roberts</a>, a researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in the Netherlands who was not involved in the study.</p><p>In his own work, Roberts found that arid, desertlike places are&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pnas.org/content/112/5/1322.abstract">less likely to have tonal languages</a>&nbsp;like Mandarin or Vietnamese. And he once analyzed a decades&#39; worth of Larry King transcripts. &quot;I carried the proportion of consonants to vowels that he was using and matched that to the actual humidity on the day he recorded those things,&quot; Roberts says. The longtime TV pundit used a few more consonants on dry days.</p><p>And the language you&#39;re reading now evolved in a cold, gloomy climate prone to light mist and drizzle. Fitch says: &quot;English is quite a consonant-heavy language, and of course it didn&#39;t develop in a rain forest.&quot;</p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/11/06/454853229/did-the-language-you-speak-evolve-because-of-the-heat" target="_blank"><em>via NPR</em></a></p></p> Fri, 06 Nov 2015 15:55:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/did-language-you-speak-evolve-because-heat-113687 EcoMyths: Nutrients pollution in the Great Lakes http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths/ecomyths-nutrients-pollution-great-lakes-114729 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/EcoMyths-Great Lakes.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-d1bb12dd-b31c-386c-48e6-c8cbc3807f42">Our relatively &ldquo;clean&rdquo; drinking water in the U.S. leads many to believe that the best place to clean our water may be at the local treatment plant. But EcoMyths Alliance says that may not be the case and that this year has seen &ldquo;a sea change in how we understand and begin to better address nutrient pollution in the Great Lakes.&rdquo; Kate Sackman from <a href="http://ecomyths.org/">EcoMyths Alliance</a> will talk about what she calls the &nbsp;&ldquo;war on nutrient pollution&rdquo; with Joel Brammeier, executive director at <a href="http://www.greatlakes.org/">Alliance for the Great Lakes</a> and Paul Botts, executive director of <a href="http://www.wetlands-initiative.org/">The Wetlands Initiative</a>.</span></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/230364493&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="100%"></iframe>This year has seen a sea change in how we understand and begin to better address <a href="http://www2.epa.gov/nutrientpollution">nutrient pollution</a> in the Great Lakes. We&#39;ll discuss the new updates in the war on nutrient pollution, beginning with the basics of the problem and then exploring unfolding solutions&mdash;from two complementary perspectives.</p><p><strong>Outcome: </strong>Busted. The most effective place to stop nutrient pollution is to stop it before it goes off the farmland in the first place. Anything else is like a band-aid.</p><p><strong>Nutrient Pollution 101</strong></p><p>Huge swaths of the Gulf of Mexico and the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River system are choked with nutrient pollution, that is: over-abundance of nitrogen and phosphorus in water is creating anoxic conditions</p><p>Why? Factories they may <em>look</em> like the polluters, (ie ,those smokestacks in Gary), but today agricultural runoff is #1 source, at least in the Midwest/Farm Belt. &quot;Agricultural nutrient pollution is arguably the biggest water-quality issue of our time and place,&quot; says Botts. We&#39;re growing more food than ever, plus more effective fertilizer and field tiling means more nutrients running off into water, without strong requirements from the Clean Water Act to keep it in check.</p><p>Problems of this are becoming more evident, from public health to economic to environmental. Many Great Lakes residents all too familiar with notices of water that&#39;s unsafe to swim in or even drink, and fishing and tourism industries have taken a hit.</p><p>Impact is local&mdash;and beyond. Midwestern agricultural nutrient pollution runs two different ways, with huge but differing impacts through the Great Lakes system and Mississippi River basin.</p><p><strong>&quot;Sea Change&quot; in last year</strong></p><p>Big algal blooms in last year around the region, including S. Illinois, when people were being told not to go in the water, and of course Toledo&#39;s infamous drinking water disaster last summer, continue to make headlines.</p><p><u>The good news</u> is farmers are listening, and TWI has noted a sea change in their interest in helping, as well as public interest in the topic. Toledo/Pelee Island was a wake-up call, as was a recent lawsuit in Des Moines against some of the farm communities.</p><p>&middot;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Rising costs for cities to treat polluted water: evidenced by Des Moines lawsuit against rural farms</p><p>&middot;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Toledo/Pelee Island water crisis last summer</p><p>&middot;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Ontario, MI and OH <a href="http://windsorstar.com/uncategorized/ontario-michigan-and-ohio-pledge-40-phosphorus-cut-to-reduce-algal-blooms">pledged to cut phosphorus by 40%.</a></p><p>&middot;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; More visible pollution, such as the massive algal bloom seen this summer in Southern Illinois</p><p><strong>The sensitive topic of farmers: A note</strong></p><p>Farms are causing this, but as Botts says, but they also don&#39;t want to be the villains. They consider themselves stewards of the land. Challenges they face are: it&#39;s expensive to change, it&#39;s risky to change, and, often, the problems seem so far they may simply not connect their practices to the pollution problems further downstream.</p><p>For example, Illinois, Iowa and Indiana are numbers 1, 2 and 3 as sources of the excessive nutrients flowing out of the mouth of the Mississippi to create a <a href="http://ecomyths.org/2009/07/01/what-happens-and-pollutes-in-chicago-stays-in-chicago/">Dead Zone</a>. Meanwhile in W. Lake Erie, the polluting farms are as much as 200 miles away from the people in Toledo being affected by the drinking water crisis.</p><p><strong>Solutions</strong></p><p>Millions of tons of pollutants won&#39;t clean themselves up. We have to stop it at the source&mdash;which in this region&#39;s case, means stopping it at the farm through a suite of tactics that can include:</p><ul><li>Wetland development &ndash; with the right landscape, other factors (eg: TWI&#39;s constructed wetland time-lapse <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GoHvnTtouEg&amp;feature=youtu.be">video</a>)</li><li>Buffer strips</li><li>Smart fertilization&hellip;ie, how, how much and when you apply</li><li>Regionally apt solutions, eg, Ohio banned the spreading of the manure on frozen ground</li><li>Federal and state policy, such as A4GL-supported 40% bill</li><li>Public and private partnerships, such as TWI and farm-growers</li></ul><p><strong>One Green Thing</strong></p><p>Explore your local river.</p><p>Joel: just getting in a canoe &ndash; in a creek downstate is an act of support for clean water. Paul can reco tributaries if desired!</p></p> Tue, 27 Oct 2015 09:48:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths/ecomyths-nutrients-pollution-great-lakes-114729 Residents in Little Village worry about pollution from Hellmann's plant expansion http://www.wbez.org/news/residents-little-village-worry-about-pollution-hellmanns-plant-expansion-113414 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/15058048097_027327821b_z.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>In May, the Chicago City Council approved an expansion to the Hellmann&rsquo;s plant in Little Village. Ald. Ricardo Munoz (22nd) said Hellmann&rsquo;s parent company, Unilever, plans to donate land to a nearby school, Zapata Elementary.</p><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s some significant community benefits,&rdquo; said Munoz. &ldquo;As a result of the 40 to 60 jobs being created.&rdquo;</p><p>But it&rsquo;s the plant&rsquo;s proximity to the elementary school that worries Kimberly Wasserman. She&rsquo;s with the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization. She&rsquo;s concerned about the additional pollution that could come with extra diesel trucks traveling through the neighborhood. Wasserman said there&rsquo;s another option, if Unilever wants to take it on.</p><p>&ldquo;Changing the dirty diesel to a system that doesn&rsquo;t pollute,&rdquo; said Wasserman, who noted other area companies have retrofitted their vehicles. &ldquo;Or ones that pollute very little.&rdquo;</p><p>There&rsquo;s no word on whether Unilever will do that. Along with Hellmann&rsquo;s, Ben &amp; Jerry&rsquo;s, Dove and Lipton among the company&rsquo;s brands. Unilever did not respond to requests for comment.</p><p>An air quality monitor to test pollution levels was set up in the area for a two-week period in September. The results will be ready in January.</p><p><em>Follow WBEZ reporter Yolanda Perdomo on Twitter <a href="http://twitter.com/yolandanews" target="_blank">@yolandanews&nbsp;</a></em></p></p> Mon, 19 Oct 2015 18:12:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/residents-little-village-worry-about-pollution-hellmanns-plant-expansion-113414 Dentist who killed Cecil the Lion escapes prosecution http://www.wbez.org/news/dentist-who-killed-cecil-lion-escapes-prosecution-113321 <p><p>The Minnesota dentist who killed Cecil the black-maned lion in Zimbabwe last summer, generating international outrage, won&#39;t face charges and can return to the country, government officials said.</p><p>Zimbabwe officials announced last summer that they would try to extradite Walter Palmer, the big-game hunter who killed Cecil in a bow-hunt, after allegedly paying $50,000 for the &quot;privilege.&quot; But after reviewing the case, they decided Palmer hadn&#39;t broken any hunting laws.</p><p>Environment, Water and Climate Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri told reporters in Harare that Palmer&#39;s &quot;papers were in order&quot; and that he is free to return to the country &quot;as a tourist.&quot;</p><p>Not so lucky are two men who arranged the hunt, including Theo Bronkhorst, who has been charged with allowing an illegal hunt.</p><p>Authorities say Cecil was lured from Hwange National Park, a protected habitat, to a nearby farm, where he was killed.</p><p>The killing sparked an enormous outcry around the world, and Palmer was so vilified he was forced to close his dental practice temporarily. Several airlines said they would no longer transport hunting trophies as a result. Some Zimbabweans, in turn,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/05/opinion/in-zimbabwe-we-dont-cry-for-lions.html">expressed dismay</a>&nbsp;over the amount of attention given the lion&#39;s death.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/gettyimages-487278812_sq-333d41679f00402d98c14a36f708d8eef9910769-s1400.jpg" style="height: 300px; width: 300px; float: right; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px;" title="Dentist Walter Palmer, left, in short sleeves, walks into his clinic with private security and members of the media last month in Bloomington, Minn. Protests over his killing of a lion in Zimbabwe had forced him to temporarily close his practice. Now officials say they will not prosecute him. Dentist Walter Palmer (left, in short sleeves) walks into his clinic with private security and members of the media last month in Bloomington, Minn. Protests over his killing of a lion in Zimbabwe had forced him to temporarily close his practice. Now officials say they will not prosecute him." /></div><p>The decision to clear Palmer of wrongdoing was criticized by the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force, which says it still plans to pursue legal action against him in U.S. courts.</p><p>The task force&#39;s head, Johnny Rodrigues, said, &quot;The fact is the law was broken. We are going to get our advocates in America to actually see what they can do to bring justice to him.&quot; The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has previously said it was investigating Palmer.</p><p>Jeff Flocken, North American Regional Director for&nbsp;<a href="http://www.ifaw.org/united-states">the International Fund for Animal Welfare</a>, said it was &quot;not a surprise that Palmer won&#39;t be prosecuted, since hundreds of Americans kill imperiled lions for fun every year.&quot; He added:</p><blockquote><em>&quot;The U.S. has a real opportunity to make the death of Cecil&mdash;and the hundreds of other lions needlessly slain&mdash;not be in vain. They can list African lions as Endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act, and make sure Americans like Palmer cannot continue to go kill lions for fun and bring their grotesque trophies back to the U.S. The U.S. does not need to be a party to this type of senseless killing.&quot;</em><div>&nbsp;</div></blockquote><p>Palmer, who declined to comment on the government&#39;s decision, has previously expressed regret about the lion&#39;s death, but has said he<a href="http://www.startribune.com/walter-palmer-speaks-hunter-who-killed-lion-will-resume-dental-practice-tuesday/325185401/">&nbsp;did not know&nbsp;</a>the lion he shot was the beloved Cecil.</p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/10/13/448321072/dentist-who-killed-cecil-the-lion-escapes-prosecution?ft=nprml&amp;f=448321072" target="_blank"><em>via NPR</em></a></p></p> Tue, 13 Oct 2015 15:45:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/dentist-who-killed-cecil-lion-escapes-prosecution-113321 Morning Shift: August 6, 2015 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-08-06/morning-shift-august-6-2015-112582 <p><p>It&rsquo;s the 70th anniversary of one of the most horrific events in world history...the day the atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan and instantly killed 70,000 people. We explore the role the University of Chicago in building the first nuclear bomb.</p><p>We also get a Buddhist perspective on our warming planet. The recent Buddhist Declaration on Climate Change says: &ldquo;There has never been a more important time in history to bring the resources of Buddhism to bear on behalf of all living beings.&rdquo; In light of President Obama&rsquo;s Clean Power Plan and leaders from many world religions speaking up about environmentalism in recent months, we talk to a local Buddhist priest.&nbsp;</p><p>We also bring you up to speed on the card game of bridge as the World&rsquo;s Largest Bridge Tournament kicks off today in Chicago. Our guest says it&rsquo;s not JUST for the retired set.</p><p>And we discuss the myth of the low level offender and why releasing them from prison may not do much to reduce the prison population.</p></p> Thu, 06 Aug 2015 10:58:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-08-06/morning-shift-august-6-2015-112582 Environmentalism is second nature for Chicago Buddhists http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-08-06/environmentalism-second-nature-chicago-buddhists-112580 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/buddhist Flickr ancientdragonzengate.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>In recent months, leaders of the world&rsquo;s major religions have been speaking up more and more about the dangers of climate change. And just this week, President Obama talked about it when he released his Clean Energy Plan, saying,&rdquo; We only get one planet...there is no Plan B.&quot;</p><p>In June, Pope Francis released a papal encyclical where he warned that a warming world would hit the poor the hardest. And he talked more broadly about environmentalism in pretty stark terms. He wrote, &ldquo;The world, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth.&rdquo; The Dalai Lama has also been vocal about global warming and the environment for years, and this spring released a statement about how much carbon dioxide should be in the atmosphere.</p><p>Of course, it&rsquo;s not just world religious leaders, but local leaders as well. One person that signed on to the Dalai Lama&rsquo;s recent statement is Taigen Dan Leighton, a Buddhist priest here in Chicago at Ancient Dragon Zen Gate, a temple in North Center. And he joins us to talk about the Buddhist perspective on climate change and the environment.&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 06 Aug 2015 10:48:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-08-06/environmentalism-second-nature-chicago-buddhists-112580