Elemental: Covering Sustainability

A multimedia collaboration between public radio and public television stations in Colorado, Arizona and California.

Climate Change Is Decimating Bird Populations in the Mojave Desert

LOS ANGELES – We found out last year that hotter, drier weather due to climate change is likely causing bird populations in the Mojave Desert to collapse at an alarming rate. A new study suggests one big reason why: Birds are having a hard time staying hydrated, which means they’re having a hard time staying ...

Oct. 21, 2019
McSally Urged to Oppose Trump’s Rollback of Obama Fuel Economy Standards

PHOENIX – Two Democratic legislators want Sen. Martha McSally to oppose the Trump administration’s plan to relax fuel economy standards implemented to reduce fossil fuel use and air pollution. The Environmental Protection Agency, which regulates emissions and fuel efficiency standards for cars, trucks and motorcycles, has proposed reducing standards set by the Obama administration. Those ...

Oct. 21, 2019
Arizona’s Groundwater Replenishment Program Facing an Uncertain Future

PHOENIX — A key water management tool that sustains housing development in central Arizona does not have a rosy future, according to a new report from Arizona State University. The report looks at the Central Arizona Groundwater Replenishment District, which the Legislature established in 1993 to assure the replenishment of groundwater that’s tapped for development. ...

Oct. 21, 2019
Climate Whiplash: Four Corners Residents and Ranchers Adapting to Weather Extremes

MANCOS, Colo. – Climate change has been called the new normal. But after the past two years, residents in some parts of the Southwest say there’s nothing normal about it. Communities in the Four Corners – where Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and Arizona meet – have been bouncing between desperate dryness and record-breaking moisture since ...

Oct. 21, 2019
‘Asthma Alley’: Long Beach Ranks Worst in U.S. for Air Quality

LONG BEACH, Calif. – At least every other day, Selene Zazueta has to tell her 8-year-old daughter that she can’t play outside with her friends. As upsetting as that is, the girl has asthma, and the family lives just off Interstate 710 in Long Beach, in an area known as “Asthma Alley.” “It’s a nightmare,” ...

Oct. 21, 2019
‘Many Lives at Risk’: What Pollution Rollbacks Could Mean for California and Arizona

LOS ANGELES – At the turn of the 20th century, Southern California’s oil industry was booming, with refineries belching black smoke. It got so bad that one day in 1903, Los Angeles residents woke up to skies so dark they thought was a solar eclipse. It wasn’t an out-of-this-world event. It was smog. And Southern ...

Oct. 4, 2019
Beachside Experiment: The Dunes are Alive Along the Santa Monica Coast

LOS ANGELES – We covered a lot of ground during our recent special series on climate change, including the grim fate of our beaches. As our science reporter Jacob Margolis put it: based on the latest research, the beaches from Santa Monica to Malibu could be unrecognizable by the end of the century. One of ...

Oct. 4, 2019
Bye-Bye Beaches: How Parts of SoCal’s Iconic Coast Could Disappear in Our Lifetime

LOS ANGELES – The stretch of coast from Santa Monica to Malibu is iconic and quintessentially Californian. It’s also ridiculously beautiful — and it’s clear, based on the latest science, it could be unrecognizable by the end of the century. As the planet warms, sea levels will continue to rise, threatening some of our most ...

Sept. 26, 2019
The Changing Climate of the American West: A Regional Call-In Special

LOS ANGELES – Rising sea levels along the California coast. Severe droughts in Nevada. Record heat in Arizona. Climate change is having an undeniable impact in the West. These new realities will alter the way we live in almost every way. As the country gears up for the 2020 presidential election, all major Democratic candidates ...

Sept. 20, 2019
Inherit the World: Young Climate Activists Get Ready for Global Protest

TEMPE, Ariz. – Thousands of young people in Arizona are expected to strike Friday in defense of the planet. In Phoenix, Tucson and Flagstaff, they plan to protest inaction on policies that could reduce greenhouse gas emissions and stop the globe’s destructive rise in temperatures. Earlier this month, students ranging from middle school to college ...

Sept. 19, 2019
Topography Can Mitigate Climate Impacts on Saguaros, Research Shows

PHOENIX – The long lifespans of saguaros – up to 200 years – can complicate scientists’ attempts to understand their population patterns. Now, researchers from the University of Arizona and the U.S. Geographical Survey have used a 48-year data set to see how topography can influence how climate affects the majestic symbol of the West. ...

Sept. 19, 2019
Extreme Weather Galvanizes Believers of Climate Change but Doesn’t Persuade Skeptics

SMITH ISLAND, Md. – The Eastern Shore of Maryland, where crab pots line the docks and boats are stored in backyards, is one of most vulnerable places in the U.S. to the effects of rising seas, climate scientists say. But like many Americans, only about 40% of people living along the Chesapeake Bay believe global ...

Sept. 17, 2019
Millennials Use Technology to Ensure the Future of Arizona Ranching and Farming

PHOENIX – The median age of a farmer or rancher in Arizona is 55 to 64. It’s part of a nationwide trend as fewer young people go into agriculture. But three Arizona millennials are hoping to use their passion and the technology they grew up with to ensure the future of the state’s agribusinesses, which ...

Sept. 15, 2019
Electric Vehicle Chargers at Grand Canyon Reduce ‘Range Anxiety’ for Park Visitors

PHOENIX – Electric vehicle owners can now drive to Grand Canyon National Park without worrying about dead batteries, thanks to new charging stations on the South Rim that opened to the public in late August. Park visitors can now charge their EVs at six stations located around the park, including Yavapai Lodge, Canyon Village Market ...

Sept. 15, 2019
A ‘Climate of Fear’ Accelerates Existing Labor Shortages on California’s Farms

Gilbert Castellanos said he remembers when people “would fight each other to work in the fields.” Today, Castellanos struggles to find enough workers to complete the harvest on his 300 acres of oranges, stone fruits, and grapes in California’s Central Valley. He has abandoned plots because he couldn’t find enough workers to harvest them. “Now ...

Sept. 15, 2019
Remember The First Time Colorado Tried Fracking With A Nuclear Bomb?

DENVER – On Sept. 10, 1969, six and a half miles south of Rulison, Colorado, a 40-kiloton nuclear bomb exploded in the subterranean depths of the Piceance Basin. The device, more than twice as powerful as the weapon at Hiroshima and with muscle equivalent to 40,000 tons of TNT, was an unorthodox tool in a ...

Sept. 15, 2019
Unquenchable Thirst: Groundwater Bill Could Shift California’s Water Management Approach

LOS ANGELES – The latest salvo is California’s long-running water wars, SB307, has the potential to emerge as one of the most important pieces of water regulation in recent years. Although its target was narrow — it was designed to undercut the capacity of Cadiz, Inc. to pump annually upwards of 16 billion gallons of ...

Sept. 15, 2019
50 Grades of Shade: Researchers Study Best Ways to Combat Extreme Heat

TEMPE, Ariz. – A cart clattered down one of the many concrete walkways in Kiwanis Park in early July, laden with scientific equipment. Its name is MaRTy, and the information it gathers has the potential to change the way policymakers think about, understand and plan for extreme heat. If you ask Ariane Middel, assistant professor ...

Aug. 30, 2019
‘Like the Chain Saw’: Drones Have Become a Lifesaving Tool for Fighting Wildfires

MIAMI, Ariz. – The whir of aerial drones provided a distinct soundtrack to the month it took to contain the Woodbury Fire, which ranks as the fifth-largest wildfire in Arizona history. The fire burned nearly 124,000 acres of the Superstition Wilderness and the Tonto National Monument, difficult terrain that made putting firefighters on the ground ...

July 31, 2019
As Southwest Water Managers Grapple with Climate Change, Can a ‘Grand Bargain’ Work?

BOULDER, Colo. – Water managers on the Colorado River are facing a unique moment. With a temporary fix to the river’s scarcity problem recently completed, talk is turning toward future agreements to better manage the water source for 40 million people across the Southwest. Climate change, growing populations and fragile rural economies are top of ...

July 31, 2019

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