Environment

Thursday marks the start of Eid al-Adha, the holiest Muslim day of the year. It celebrates the biblical story of Abraham and his willingness to sacrifice his son for God. The moment before the sacrifice, God intervened and sent a goat to take the boy's place.

Muslims around the world celebrate the holiday by sacrificing a goat, then eating it together with family and friends. But for many Muslims in Karachi, Pakistan, that tradition will be harder to follow this year.

Six days after Hurricane Harvey first crossed the Texas coast, Houston is still in rescue mode with people stranded in houses and apartments.

With the authorities overwhelmed by the scope of the flooding, private citizens have been rushing to Houston and towing their own boats to conduct rescues.

Rene Galvan has come to a makeshift boat launch on flooded Highway 90, looking for rescuers. In a soaked, blue hoodie, he sits anxiously in the bow of an aluminum boat, wondering how they're going to get to 14 members of his extended family who have been stranded by rising water.

A friend sent a photo to Jaime Botello's phone Wednesday that confirmed his fears: The house where his family has lived for 30 years is completely flooded.

"All the way to the top," he says.

And like most people in the Houston area, Botello, a welder who was at a shelter with his wife on Wednesday, doesn't have flood insurance. He says he can't afford it.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

Hurricane Harvey is a devastating reminder of how helpless we are when facing nature's human-dwarfing powers.

We dig holes and barricades, build dams and create ingenious systems of canals and levees. We try to pull the brakes on natural forces, or at least tame them. These measures protect us, and we surely would be worse off without them. We have come a long way since our cave dwellings.

Houston's Susceptibility To Flooding

Aug 30, 2017

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

On Sunday morning, as soon as she woke, Jessica Hulsey peeked outside her home in Houston's East End to see the impact of Hurricane Harvey. But it wasn't the rising water that surprised her.

"As soon as I opened the door, the smell hit my nose," she says.

At first she thought she may have left the gas can for her lawnmower out, because she says the smell was kind of like gasoline. But she hadn't. And, as it turns out, her neighbors say they smelled it, too.

"I was just asking myself, 'I wonder where this strong smell is coming from,'" she says.

When Ecuadorean authorities boarded the Fu Yuan Yu Leng 999 earlier this month off the Galápagos Islands, they had little idea what awaited them.

President Trump pledged to rebuild Houston and Texas bigger and better than ever. However, earlier this month, he rescinded an Obama executive order that required flood-damaged property to be rebuilt higher and stronger. Trump also has proposed eliminating federal flood mapping and the federal government's top disaster agency.

Many parts of the United States face dual watery threats. First, giant storms like Harvey, which has dropped nine trillion gallons of water on Texas (enough to cover the lower 48 states with a puddle as deep as the height of three pennies).

SUSAN BENCE

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Secretary Cathy Stepp has accepted an appointment with the Environmental Protection Agency. 

She's been named deputy administrator for Region 7, which includes Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas and Missouri.

Gov. Walker selected Stepp to head the Wisconsin DNR back in 2011 - the first woman to do so. Before that, Stepp and her husband owned a home building business and from 2003 to 2007, she served as a Republican State Senator representing the Racine area.

Updated at 6:06 p.m. ET

President Trump visited Texas on Tuesday to show support for residents reeling from the effects of Hurricane Harvey and to assess the first stages of the federal recovery effort.

It was a lovely late summer afternoon at a beach in southern England. Sun, surf and not a cloud in the sky — until the strange "chemical haze" drifted in off the sea, that is. It was at that point the beachgoers found their eyes streaming tears and their throats growing sore, their gag reflex triggering as some began to vomit.

Then, the professionals in hazmat suits showed up.

More than a day later, authorities still aren't exactly sure what happened to people at Birling Gap beach on Sunday.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

Many people are wondering whether climate change has anything to do with Harvey's size and impact. NPR's science correspondent Christopher Joyce covers climate issues, and he is with us now. Hi, there.

CHRISTOPHER JOYCE, BYLINE: Hi, Kelly.

Pages