It's been called a crisis in amphibian biology: more than a third of amphibian species are at risk of extinction. Habitat loss and climate change are both causes, but so is an invasive disease that's been called the smallpox of the amphibian world. Researchers from D.C., Virginia, and Maryland recently traveled to Panama to try to help limit the effects of the disease.
The sewer and water commission for the Washington suburbs of Maryland says sewage overflows are down sharply following a 2005 court settlement with federal and state environmental regulators and environmental groups.
The Canadian oil company TransCanada plans to expand a pipeline to transport crude oil from Alberta to Texas through the central U.S. The proposal has sparked debate on both sides of the border about energy security, the environment and safety.
The coral reefs off Florida have become infested with another invasive species: lionfish. Originally from the Pacific Ocean and popular as aquarium fish, lionfish are colorful and sport venomous spiky tentacles. They're also voracious predators — posing a threat to the small fish that thrive around coral reefs. To control this marine pest, conservation groups are encouraging fishermen to catch lionfish and eat them. Groups are holding competitions — including a recent one in Key Largo — where hundreds of fish are being culled and eaten.
Melissa Block speaks with Hugh Willoughby, meteorology and research professor at Florida International University, about why it is so hard to predict the intensity of hurricanes. He says it's much easier to make a good prediction about where a storm will go than it is to predict how strong it will be. He says one thing that will make hurricane predictions better in the future is the steady march toward more powerful computers.
Overnight, Hurricane Irene pounded the East Coast from North Carolina to New Jersey. The National Hurricane Center reports there will still be heavy winds and rain for the remainder of the day, although the storm is weakening. As many as 3 million people are without power. Guest host John Ydstie and NPR's Joe Palca discuss the causes and aftereffects of Hurricane Irene.
Irene hit North Carolina Saturday as a category 1 hurricane. That's far less powerful than orecasters had expected, yet even so, Irene hit the area as a massive storm. NPR's Greg Allen reports that in North Carolina, Irene left hundreds of thousands of people without power and many communities flooded.
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