Elemental: Covering Sustainability

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

Hot Weather Means Unhealthy Air, Even With Shutdown

Earlier this month we celebrated Southern California’s great air quality — with many caveats — but now, according to the South Coast Air Quality Management District, it’s “Very Unhealthy” in some spots, even though we still have widespread shutdowns. As you can see, as of midafternoon on April 29, people living in Rancho Cucamonga experienced ...

May 7, 2020
Yosemite’s Pandemic Shutdown Allows Wildlife a Respite From Mankind

Coyotes are roaming empty campsites. Deer are grazing on empty fields. Rivers are rushing as the ice melts. Yosemite National Park is virtually empty of humans. For weeks now, wildlife has been allowed to move freely about the park since officials closed the mountains and valleys to humans to stem the COVID-19 pandemic. “I can ...

May 6, 2020
Plan to ‘revive’ Uranium Mining Called Unneeded, Unwanted by Advocates

PHOENIX – Environmentalists are blasting a Trump administration call for “bold action to revive and strengthen the uranium mining industry,” an industry whose history they say has left a “toxic trail” through the Grand Canyon. They are responding to a report last week by the Department of Energy’s Nuclear Fuel Working Group, which called for ...

May 5, 2020
Worse Air Quality In Phoenix Communities Of Color Could Mean Higher COVID-19 Risk

CRONKITENEWS · KJZZ: Worse Air Quality In Phoenix Communities Of Color Could Mean Higher COVID-19 Risk As coronavirus spreads across the country, it’s hitting certain demographic groups disproportionately hard, and air quality is likely playing a role on which communities are hit hardest. COVID-19 is riskiest for people who have underlying health conditions such as ...

May 4, 2020
‘Borrowing from the future’: What an Emerging Megadrought Means for the Southwest

PHOENIX – It’s the early 1990s, and Park Williams stands in the middle of Folsom Lake, at the base of the Sierra Nevada foothills in Northern California. He’s not walking on water; severe drought has exposed the lakebed. “I remember being very impressed by the incredible variability of water in the West and how it’s ...

May 1, 2020
Feeding Sea Urchins Could be One Way to Restore the West Coast’s Vital Kelp Forests

LOS ANGELES – Considered a delicacy around the globe, sea urchins please the palates of the wealthy, showing up on sushi bars and swirled into pasta at fine restaurants. However, these spiny creatures in recent years have plowed through forests of bull kelp along coasts around the world. Sea urchins pose a problem to kelp ...

April 27, 2020
A Lot Of You Had Questions About Coronavirus In The Water. We Have Some Answers.

The coronavirus pandemic is so new to us that things that seemed so certain — like the safety of our water supply — are suddenly raising questions. Among the nearly 1,500 questions our newsroom has fielded since the outbreak of COVID-19, some have been about water. They usually go something like this: Can a person ...

April 21, 2020
Myth is Reality: Discovery of Bald Eagles Nesting in a Saguaro Confirms Longtime Speculation

PHOENIX – For eight decades, biologists have speculated that bald eagles build their nests in large saguaros. This week, that speculation became reality. The Arizona Game & Fish Department on Wednesday announced the discovery of the first bald eagle nest in a saguaro since before World War II. “It was absolutely amazing when I got ...

April 20, 2020
Prescott’s Bid to Draw More Groundwater Could Threaten Verde River

The Verde River, one of the few perennial rivers in Arizona, is known for its fishing and recreation, but it also provides water to Prescott and metro Phoenix. The more than 170-mile long river flows from its headwaters near Flagstaff south to the Salt River. Along the way, the Verde supplies water to the Little ...

April 17, 2020
Traffic, Emissions Reduced As Arizonans Stay Home

Arizonans staying home amid the pandemic are making a measurable impact on road congestion and air quality. Weekday vehicle traffic volume is down by a third since early March, according to the Maricopa Association of Governments. More Valley workers are telecommuting than ever before, and if some workers continue to do their jobs from home ...

April 13, 2020
Higher Air Pollution Is Linked To A Higher COVID-19 Death Rate, A New Study Finds

Long-term exposure to high levels of air pollution increases the risk of death related to COVID-19, according to a new study from Harvard University. That’s especially concerning in Southern California, where Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties regularly rank among the worst in the nation for long-term particulate matter pollution, or PM2.5. And, as ...

April 8, 2020
COVID-19 fears close Grand Canyon National Park after weeks of pressure

PHOENIX – The National Park Service abruptly closed Grand Canyon National Park on Wednesday, bowing to weeks of pressure after health officials expressed “extreme concern” about the potential for spread of COVID-19 in the park. The park has been open with reduced services – and no entry fee – for two weeks as the number ...

April 6, 2020
Why the Air in Metro Phoenix is Fresher These Days

PHOENIX – The Phoenix area is famous for its warm spring days and wealth of outdoor activities, but it’s also known for something less flattering: some of the worst air quality in the country. The American Lung Association ranked the Phoenix-Mesa area as the seventh worst for ozone pollution, behind Los Angeles, San Diego and ...

April 2, 2020
Lessons Learned From Mexico City’s Ban On Single-Use Plastic Bags

MEXICO CITY — In the global environmentalist battle, Mexico City started fighting single-use plastic bags this year. But the impact and results from the ban still are debated by citizens, business people and nature preservationists. Starting this year, Mexico City implemented a change in their waste management law, and now single-use plastic bags are banned. ...

April 1, 2020
Lower carbon-capture costs could entice businesses to address climate change

PHOENIX – The Environmental Plan proposed by Republican lawmakers looks to make permanent tax breaks for companies that reduce emissions through carbon capture and other means. The updated proposal, co-sponsored by Rep. David Schweikert of Arizona, comes as more Arizonans are calling for greater action on climate change. Last week, youth activists gathered in front ...

March 30, 2020
Most Arizona parks and trails remain open, but for how long?

PHOENIX – Saguaro National Park in Tucson has temporarily closed restrooms and visitor centers and halted public events, but that hasn’t stopped throngs of people from visiting the park during the COVID-19 outbreak. Andy Fisher, chief of interpretation and a spokesperson for the park, said the trails last weekend were packed. “We had a couple ...

March 29, 2020
Groundwater Aquifers Can Expect A Boost From March Rains

March rain has left Salt River Project reservoirs as full as they’ve been in a decade. The company is discharging water to make room for the runoff, providing a boost to the underlying aquifers. The utility says the Salt and Verde river systems are at a combined 94% of capacity, almost 20 points higher than ...

March 27, 2020
Plants, Animals Share Similar Relationships To Climate Niches

It seems plants and animals should react differently to changes in their climate niches, the temperature and precipitation conditions under which they live. After all, animals can move to find food, water or shade, while plants mostly must sit and take what comes. But a new study of more than 2,000 plant and animal species ...

March 26, 2020
Why Palo Verde, the country’s largest nuclear plant, is cutting its wastewater use

PHOENIX – There’s something in the Buckeye groundwater – a high mineral and salt content – that makes it hard to use, but the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station wants to tap into that source to reduce the amount of more valuable wastewater it now uses to cool the plant’s three reactors. The plant uses ...

March 25, 2020
Grand Canyon lodging, food services shuttered in face of coronavirus

WASHINGTON – Grand Canyon National Park is still open, but the same cannot be said for lodging and food services in the park that will be shuttered for the next two months by concerns over the novel coronavirus. Grand Canyon Lodging on Thursday announced the “difficult decision” to suspend operations beginning at noon Friday and ...

March 23, 2020

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