The Environment in Focus | WYPR

The Environment in Focus

The Environment in Focus is a weekly perspective on the issues and people changing Maryland's natural world.  There's a story behind every bend of the Chesapeake Bay's 11,684 miles of shoreline, in every abandoned coal mine in the Appalachian Mountains, in every exotic beetle menacing our forests and in every loophole snuck into pollution control laws in Annapolis.  Tom Pelton gives you a tour of this landscape every Wednesday at 7:46 a.m. and 5:45 p.m.

Tom Pelton is a national award-winning environmental journalist, formerly with The Baltimore Sun.  He is now director of communications at the Environmental Integrity Project, a nonprofit organization dedicated to holding polluters and governments accountable to protect public health.

The Environment in Focus is independently owned and distributed by Environment in Focus Radio to WYPR and other stations.   The program is sponsored by the Abell Foundation, which is working to enhance the quality of life in Baltimore and in Maryland.  The views expressed are solely Pelton's.  You can contact him at pelton.tom@gmail.com

Full Archive of Environment in Focus

Scientific data collected over three decades proves that upgrading sewage plants and government regulation of fisheries work to improve the Chesapeake Bay.  A report by U.S. Geological Survey and the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science documents the success of clean water and air laws in cleaning up Bay tributaries. 

A few years ago, a massive bull shark was caught in a Chesapeake Bay tributary, creating quite a stir about "Jaws in the Potomac River."

The truth is, however, that sharks are far more likely to be prey than predator when they encounter people.

Overfishing of sharks up and down the East Coast has destabilized the balance of life in the Bay, with cownose rays multiplying -- and eating more oysters -- because there are few sharks left to eat the rays.    (Originally aired Oct. 27, 2010)

(Photo of bull shark courtesy of Buzz's Marina)

Since Darwin's time, most scientists and school children have assumed that the singing of song birds in the spring is an almost exclusively male trait.  But new research by Kevin Omland and Karan Odom of the University of Maryland Baltimore County and colleagues shows that both female and males sing in 71 percent of the surveyed song bird species around the world.

Once nearly extinct in the East, beaver populations are booming.  Their comeback, however, is creating complications for storm water pollution control systems, which beavers love to dam up.

Stephanie Boyles Griffin, director of wildlife response for the Humane Society of the U.S., is convincing governments to use devices called "beaver deceivers." They foil beaver dams in a way that does not kill the animals.

Fourth generation farm owners Mary Anne and Rick Peterman are among the residents of the Eastern Shore of Maryland who would profit from a proposed 50-turbine wind farm that could be the first built on the Delmarva Peninsula. 

A coal waste containment pond owned by the nation’s largest power company, Duke Energy, ruptured in February, spewing almost 40,000 tons of toxic muck into North Carolina's Dan River.

The disaster -- along with a chemical spill into a West Virginia river -- illustrate the need for strong regulatory action by EPA to protect waterways at a time the federal agency is being criticized as unnecessary.   (Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/Steve Alexander)  

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation is using tiny cell-phone like devices in backpacks on osprey to follow the migration of the fish hawks from South America to North America.

Can we engineer Earth's atmosphere to stop global warming?

In a new book, Frankenstein's Cat, author Emily Anthes makes the provocative argument that cloning and genetic engineering could be used as tools to help bring back endangered species and perhaps even to resurrect extinct animals.

Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley pledged to "fully fund" the state's land preservation program when he ran for office, but then diverted $693 million from the dedicated land preservation fund to help solve a budget crisis after the recession hit.  


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