Elemental: Covering Sustainability

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

‘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
Tourism Tension in Instagram Age: $1 Billion in AZ Taxes, Challenges to Preservation

PHOENIX – Tourism continues to expand in Arizona, a boon for jobs, development and tax revenue, but the growth presents challenges to preserving the natural beauty drawing visitors to the state. “It just really appears that there is a problem as far as people management,” said Alicyn Gitlin of the Sierra Club. “But it’s a ...

July 31, 2019
Lawn Be Gone: Major Western Cities Pay Residents to Ditch Grass to Save Water

DENVER — It’s hard to avoid getting swept up in Wendy Inouye’s enthusiasm when she talks about her garden. “I love it!” she gushes. “I have so much joy from my garden. Every time I come out I always pause and look at it. You know that saying, take time to smell the roses? I ...

July 26, 2019
Ink with Impact: Some Tattoo Artists Opt for Vegan Supplies over Traditional Formulas

PHOENIX – Luis Marrufo, his brown eyes bright but focused, hunched over a client lying on a cushioned table. He pressed the sharp end of the tattoo machine into his client’s forearm, the needle dispensing carbon-colored liquid into his skin in vibrating bursts so quick they’re almost invisible to the naked eye. The low-pitched buzz ...

July 18, 2019
Corridors for Cats: Conservationists Work to Keep At-Risk Jaguar Populations Connected

ALAMOS, Mexico – This is a “pueblo magico” (magic town), rich in beauty and cultural and historic significance. It’s also near an important ecological crossroads in the foothills of the Sierra Madre Occidental. The foothills are home to the northernmost tropical deciduous forest in the Western Hemisphere, and it’s a critical connection point between jaguars ...

July 17, 2019
Big Cats, Cameras and Coexistence: Learning to Live with Jaguars

SAHUARIPA, Mexico – A century ago, jaguars roamed much of the Southwest, including most of Arizona. Today, the only glimpses of the endangered big cats in the United States are caught on cameras just north of the U.S.-Mexico border. In a recovery plan released in April, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said bringing jaguars ...

July 16, 2019

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