Environment

heipei / Flickr via Creative Commons

A green lawn is as American as apple pie, and for many of us, just as comforting. But as more people move to urban areas, lawns and other manicured spaces are beginning to dominate the landscape. Lawns already cover more land in the United States than any other irrigated crop, and a lawn in Phoenix looks much like a lawn in Boston. Why do we love lawns so? How do they impact the environment? And what could we do differently? Soil scientist and urban ecologist Peter Groffman joins us to discuss. Groffman has studied the ecology of Baltimore and other cities for decades, including their lawns. 

Back in the 80s, the Environmental Protection Agency began requiring power companies to install "scrubbers" in the smokestacks of their coal fired plants to capture pollutants before they got into the air. And that did a reasonable job of cleaning up the air we breathe.

But it damaged the water we drink because all that lead and arsenic and selenium trapped in the smokestacks had to go somewhere. It went, unregulated, into thousands of miles of rivers and streams, making power plants the worst water polluters in the nation.