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A new report says rescuing shellfish from the rising acidity in Puget Sound will require a wide-ranging response -- from curbing greenhouse gases to controlling water pollution.
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Next up in OPB's The Switch series, we'll be looking at ways individual conservation factors into Oregon's energy mix. After all, the most basic way to cut greenhouse gases is to use less energy. But can the light bulbs we use and the windows installed in our homes really make a difference when it comes to halting, or at least slowing, wide-scale climate change?
San Francisco's done it. So has China. Now Oregon Senators Mark Hass and Jason Atkinson want Oregon to become the first US state to restrict the use of plastic bags. Their bill is up for a hearing next week during the legislature's short session. It would forbid Oregon stores of all types from offering plastic bags at checkout. The proposal brings up a range of environmental and economic issues. Anti-plastic activists say bag bans are appropriate because plastic bags are made from a non-renewable resource, end up in landfills and harm wildlife. Opponents of plastic bag bans, like SaveThePlasticBag.com say environmental opposition to the plastic bag is misplaced — and that without plastic bags, people are more likeley to use paper bags, which take energy to produce and create more greenhouse gases.
Editor's Note: This show will be broadcast live on OPB Plus as well as OPB Radio. Oregon State University professor Desiree Tullos first visited China's Nu River to study what effect several proposed large dams would have on the environment and people of the region. When she arrived, though, she saw that the region already had an extensive overlooked hydropower system in place: more than 100 small-scale dams on the tributaries of the Nu River. Tullos's team began a five-year-long study of the effect of the small dams on the areas. They discovered that in certain environments, the damage done by many small dams can be cumulatively worse than the effect of a single large dam. Among other issues, small dams often divert the entire flow of a river, and governmental regulation can be lax. While media attention is focused on the large dam projects on the Nu River and elsewhere in China, Tullos's work cautions that the smaller projects may be more destructive than we realize. And with small hydropower projects discussed as possible energy solutions in the Northwest, Tullos believes those projects should be carefully scrutinized. Here's a look at life in the Nu River Valley, along with some photos of the Xiowan Dam on the Mekong River. That dam, one valley over from the Nu River, could offer a glimpse of what the Nu will look like when the main stem dams are completed: Photo credits:Desirée Tullos, Phil Brown, and Darrin Magee
This week's U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the EPA's regulation of mercury may have lasting impact climate change policy.
The Obama administration announced plans to cut coal power plant emissions by 30 percent by 2030. What legal challenges will the rules face?
Last week the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ruled for the first time that carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases are health-harming pollutants. It's a watershed move that that some say might open the door for greater regulation of coal — a top carbon emitter when burned — as a source of electricity. So what does this mean for Oregon, where about 40 percent of our electricity is generated by coal, one of the cheapest and most plentiful, if dirtiest, sources of energy? This is our first contribution to The Switch, the OPB News series about the future of energy in the northwest.
Editor's Note: This show will be broadcast live on OPB Plus television as well as OPB Radio. Back in 1988, James Hansen testified in front of the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee about a phenomenon called global warming. From the New York Times coverage at the time:
Today Dr. James E. Hansen of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration told a Congressional committee that it was 99 percent certain that the warming trend was not a natural variation but was caused by a buildup of carbon dioxide and other artificial gases in the atmosphere. Dr. Hansen, a leading expert on climate change, said in an interview that there was no ''magic number'' that showed when the greenhouse effect was actually starting to cause changes in climate and weather. But he added, ''It is time to stop waffling so much and say that the evidence is pretty strong that the greenhouse effect is here.'Twenty-five years later, the country still lacks consensus on climate change. Recent polls show more than half of Republicans and some Democrats do not believe the earth is getting warmer. James Hansen retired this month from his position as Director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies to devote himself full time to his climate activism. Topping his list of retirement activities: testifying against the U.S. and state governments that he says have failed to limit carbon emissions. Hansen's work has drawn some criticisms from fellow scientists for his work. Some claim he should not be quite so outspoken, and others question his methods.