Environment

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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

An earthquake struck northern Oklahoma early Saturday morning, rattling houses and waking residents in the region around Pawnee, about 74 miles north of Oklahoma City. Preliminary measurements show the quake had a magnitude of 5.6 — believed to be one of the strongest in state history.

The quake was felt in five states, according to the U.S. Geological Survey: Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas and Texas. It struck just after 7 a.m. local time, at a depth of 6 kilometers (3.7 miles).

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PETER SAGAL, HOST:

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

It wasn't meant for the bees.

The pesticide raining down from the sky in Dorchester County, S.C., was meant to kill mosquitoes — for the sake of safety, the county says. Mosquitoes, after all, can carry West Nile and Zika, and four cases of Zika were recently confirmed in the county.

But on Sunday morning, from 6:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m., as the county conducted aerial spraying, the bees fell by the millions.

From the air, it looks like a 2,300-square-mile field of submerged doughnuts on the ocean floor.

The limestone circles amount to a second, deeper reef behind the Great Barrier Reef, researchers say. The scientists who discovered it off the coast of northern Australia say they're surprised by its vast size — and by the strange shapes.

Susan Bence

9-year-old Raya El-Hajar had an exciting summer. She won the 2016 Healthy Lunchtime Challenge. Then, First Lady Michelle Obama welcomed Raya and 55 fellow chefs from around the country to the White House last month to celebrate their achievements.

The 5th annual challenge was designed to encourage 8 to 12 year olds to create an original, healthy, tasty and affordable lunch recipe. More than 1200 applications flowed in for review.

In the ferocious, sprawling brawl over genetically modified crops, one particular question seems like it should have a simple factual answer: Did those crops lead to more use of pesticides, or less?

Sadly, there's no simple answer.

In Idaho, a wildfire has burned nearly 250 square miles of forest and is growing quickly. About 157,000 acres are currently on fire in Boise National Forest in the western part of the state, northeast of Boise.

The blaze, known as the Pioneer Fire, has been burning for several weeks, but hot, dry weather this week caused the wildfire to get much larger.

Scott Graf of Boise State Public Radio reports for NPR's Newscast Unit:

Susan Bence

This year's Milwaukee Film Fest will feature the documentary Almost Sunrise, which chronicles the journey of two Milwaukee area natives as they struggle with deep emotional scars after tours of duty in Iraq.

Tom Voss and Anthony Anderson set off from the Milwaukee County War Memorial on October 30, 2013 to walk across the country.

Just over a month ago, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague issued two important rulings. One soundly rejected Beijing's extensive claim of sovereignty in the South China Sea. The other focused on whether China had caused environmental damage as it constructed artificial islands in the region to help prop up its claim.

Against the backdrop of the picturesque Lake Tahoe, President Obama said environmental conservation is a key part of fighting the impact of global warming.

Obama spoke on the first of a two-day environmental tour at an annual summit designed to keep the health of Lake Tahoe a priority for the federal government and the states it borders, Nevada and California.

A $7 million, comprehensive census of African elephants has found that the population decreased by nearly a third between 2007 and 2014.

The Great Elephant Census was conducted over three years, and set out to effectively count every savanna elephant in 18 countries in Africa, accounting for 93 percent of the savanna elephants in those countries. The conclusion — that the population declined by 144,000 animals in just seven years — is sobering.

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It's been four years since scientists first started accusing a class of pesticides called neonicotinoids, or neonics for short, of killing bees. These pesticides are used as seed coatings on most corn and soybean seeds.

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