Environment

A task force is recommending changes that could loosen protections for the greater sage grouse, a Western bird species renowned for its elaborate mating dance.

The report comes out of a review by the Trump administration of a massive Obama-era conservation plan for the bird which is imperiled by loss of habitat.

The administration says the revisions are aimed at giving states more flexibility. But critics argue that the changes favor mining and petroleum companies and could hurt the bird's long-term prospects.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has proposed spending $275 million to upgrade defenses against an invading force. The enemy? A fish. Specifically, Asian carp that are threatening to break through to the Great Lakes.

German scientist Matthias Schmidt wants to extract rare earth metals from abandoned mines using bacteria. He has an unlikely partner — Nedal Said, a Syrian refugee scientist who escaped Aleppo.

Brittnie Peck

Towering Pines Camp For Boys came to life in 1945. As environmental awareness was on the rise in the 1970s, the northern Wisconsin camp pioneered an environmental immersion program that garnered national attention.

They call it acclimatization.

The campers merge with the natural world – in some unconventional ways. For instance, camp leaders teach the kids what it feels like to navigate the world like a raccoon.

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AILSA CHANG, HOST:

All his life, 56-year-old Jeanpier Marolahy has been growing rice in eastern Madagascar, on the steep hills that slope down from the central highlands toward the Indian Ocean.

The thin, weather-beaten Marolahy knows that rice production is all about water and timing. The grain needs a lot of water at first, but if torrential rains fall at harvest time, they can destroy the crop.

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

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Think of plant pollination and you probably think of bees, summer flowers and bright sunshine.

But nocturnal insects such as beetles and flies also play a key role in the process. A new study sheds light on a previously unknown problem for these lesser-known pollinators, namely artificial lighting.

Susan Bence

As the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative Wednesday announced it would not pursue a lawsuit to stop the City of Waukesha from drawing drinking water from Lake Michigan, other Great Lakes challenges are on the horizon.

The consortium of Great Lakes mayors – representing the U.S. and Canada - believes a balance must to struck to create thriving communities while protecting the Great Lakes.

It has become a rite of summer. Every year, a "dead zone" appears in the Gulf of Mexico. It's an area where water doesn't have enough oxygen for fish to survive. And every year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration commissions scientists to venture out into the Gulf to measure it.

An earthquake of preliminary magnitude 4.2 hit central Oklahoma on Wednesday night, the U.S. Geological Survey said, the sixth earthquake to affect the area in just over 24 hours.

Four hours later, a less intense earthquake of a preliminary magnitude 3.5 struck the area in the early hours of Thursday.

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

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

As a climate change activist, former Vice President Al Gore is used to speaking in front of both hostile and friendly audiences. But there is one individual he has all but given up on.

"I have no illusions about the possibility of changing Donald Trump's mind," Gore says. "I think he has made it abundantly clear that he's throwing his lot in with the climate deniers."

Rising carbon dioxide levels could have an unexpected side effect on food crops: a decrease in key nutrients. And this could put more people at risk of malnutrition.

Karlos Lomsky / fotolia

The Tuesday U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington D.C. ruling protects wolves in Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota.

The ruling comes after years of debate, as well as decades of disagreements over the size and management of the wolf population.

In the early 1900s, Wisconsin instituted a bounty to keep the number of wolves down, in hopes of bolstering a dwindling deer population. By 1960, wolves were declared extirpated from Wisconsin.

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