Environment

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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.

The lush, green canopy that is Bialowieza Forest spans 350,000 acres between Poland and Belarus. It's a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is home to a variety of endangered species like the European bison, which is slightly larger and leaner than its American cousin.

It also has some of the last old-growth forest in Europe, untouched by human hands, and there is a great deal of international interest in preserving the forest's delicate ecology.

The Department of Homeland Security announced Tuesday that it would waive environmental and other laws to ensure the "expeditious construction" of barriers and roads near the U.S.-Mexico border in the San Diego region. Environmentalists have warned that extending the border wall could damage ecosystems and threaten wildlife habitats.

Updated at 4:50 p.m. ET

The Department of Homeland Security announced Tuesday that it will use its authority to bypass environmental laws and other regulations to "ensure the expeditious construction of barriers and roads" near the U.S.-Mexico border south of San Diego.

Rachel Morello

Governor Scott Walker is floating a bill crafted to speed up the construction of Foxconn's facility in Wisconsin. Critics say the proposal puts environmental protections in a tailspin.

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