Nate Rott

Nathan Rott is a correspondent on NPR's National Desk, where he focuses on environment issues and the American West.

Based at NPR West in Culver City, California, Rott spends a lot of his time on the road, covering everything from breaking news stories like California's wildfires to in-depth issues like the management of endangered species and many points between.

Rott owes his start at NPR to two extraordinary young men he never met. As the first recipient of the Stone and Holt Weeks Fellowship in 2010, he aims to honor the memory of the two brothers by carrying on their legacy of making the world a better place.

A graduate of the University of Montana, Rott prefers to be outside at just about every hour of the day. Prior to working at NPR, he worked a variety of jobs including wildland firefighting, commercial fishing, children's theater teaching, and professional snow-shoveling for the United States Antarctic Program. Odds are, he's shoveled more snow than you.

Agnes Boisvert, an ICU nurse at St. Luke's hospital in downtown Boise, Idaho, spends every day trying to navigate between two worlds. One is a swirl of beeping monitors, masked emotion and death; the other, she says, seems oblivious to the horrors occurring every hour of every day.

Tens of millions of Americans experienced at least a day last year shrouded in wildfire smoke. Entire cities were blanketed, in some cases for weeks, as unprecedented wildfires tore across the Western U.S., causing increases in hospitalizations for respiratory emergencies and concerns about people's longer-term health.

A new study finds those concerns are well founded.

Somewhere near his fifty-sixth straight hour of chasing flames, CalFire Captain Matt Newberry and his crew were hitting a wall. They'd been dispatched to the wildfire days earlier in the middle of the night. By the next morning, the fire had already ripped across 11,000 acres of Napa County, tearing even through the night the way fires do now.

Despite everything they'd done, hundreds of homes were in smolders.

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President Joe Biden's historic pick to manage the nation's public lands and natural resources promised to strike a balance between fossil fuel and renewable energy development during her confirmation hearing, Tuesday.

Congresswoman Deb Haaland would be not just the first Native American Interior Secretary, but also the first in a presidential cabinet. She faced tough — and, at times, misguided — questioning from Republican lawmakers worried about the president's climate goals.

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Updated at 2:30 p.m. ET

In an effort to slow the nation's contribution to climate change, President Biden has signed an executive order to begin halting oil and gas leasing on federal lands and waters.

The much-anticipated move is one of several executive actions the president took on Wednesday to address the worsening climate crisis and the broader decline of the natural world, but it won't come without pushback.

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Updated 5:45pm Eastern Time

In one of his first acts in the Oval Office, President Joe Biden signed an executive order to have the United States rejoin the Paris climate agreement, the largest international effort to curb global warming.

Updated at 9:37 p.m. ET

In a historic first, President-elect Joe Biden will nominate Rep. Deb Haaland to lead the Department of the Interior, his transition team announced Thursday evening.

If confirmed by the Senate, Haaland, a member of the Laguna Pueblo in New Mexico, would be the country's first Native American Cabinet secretary. Fittingly, she'd do so as head of the agency responsible for not only managing the nation's public lands but also honoring its treaties with the Indigenous people from whom those lands were taken.

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Signs posted at the entrance to the grocery store in northwest Montana told customers to wear a mask. Public health officials in Flathead County urged the same. Coronavirus infection rates here are among the highest in the state. Infection rates in the state are among the highest in the United States.

And still, Craig Mann walked out of the grocery store, past the signs and toward his truck, maskless and resolute.

The pandemic that everyone's talking about?

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Gray wolves, a species that has long been vilified and admired, will no longer receive federal protections under the Endangered Species Act in the Lower 48 U.S. states, the Trump administration announced Thursday.

Despite the cascade of other crises this year, climate change has emerged as a key election issue.

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Ariel Kinzinger had a headache. Clark Brinkman coughed and wheezed. LaNesha Collins, feeling physically fine, was frustrated by another day mostly trapped inside looking out at a sepia sun, in Portland, Ore.

"I've never been in the thick of smoke like this," said Collins, an Oregonian like the others. "It's insane."

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It's become a near-annual occurrence. A massive wildfire forces thousands of people to flee their homes. Exhausted firefighters warn of its speed and intensity. Smoke smothers cities and states hundreds of miles away.

Human activities have caused the world's wildlife populations to plummet by more than two-thirds in the last 50 years, according to a new report from the World Wildlife Fund.

The decline is happening at an unprecedented rate, the report warns, and it threatens human life as well.

"The findings are clear," the report states. "Our relationship with nature is broken."

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The upshot of climate change is that everyone alive is destined to experience unprecedented disasters. The most powerful hurricanes, the most intense wildfires, the most prolonged heat waves and the most frequent outbreaks of new diseases are all in our future. Records will be broken, again and again.

But the predicted destruction is still shocking when it unfolds at the same time.

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