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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

Beyond the Headlines

Air Date: Week of

The Kissimmee River Restoration project has helped restore more than 40 square miles of the Florida river’s ecosystem. (Photo: South Florida Water Management District, Flickr, CC BY-ND 2.0)

This week, Living on Earth contributor Peter Dykstra joins Host Aynsley O’Neill to share the rewilding of a river in the Florida Everglades. Plus, a study finds that the warming climate is creating better conditions for home runs in baseball. And in history, they mark the birthday of Aaron Burr, well known for his deadly duel with Alexander Hamilton. He also launched the first New York City water utility.


DOERING: It’s Living on Earth, I’m Jenni Doering.

O”NEILL: And I’m Aynsley O’Neill

It's time now for a look beyond the headlines with Peter Dykstra our living on Earth contributor. Peter joins us from Atlanta, Georgia. Hey, Peter, what do you have for us this week?

DYKSTRA: Kind of a weird good news story out there about something that our tax dollars paid for that turned out to be no good. And then our tax dollars paid to fix it, talking about the Kissimmee River in Florida, sort of the heart and the start of the Florida Everglades. Back starting in the 1940s, there was a push by cattle ranchers and citrus farmers who are taking up more and more lands in Central Florida to have some flood control on the Kissimmee. And so the Army Corps of Engineers took all the bends of the slow moving river, put it in a culvert that was as much as 30 feet deep so that water would race through the area north of Lake Okeechobee instead of slowing down and flooding all this prime farm and grazing land.

O'NEILL: Alright, so that was the first step of our tax dollars at work and what was the second step?

DYKSTRA: The case was made that it was ecologically damaging to much of Florida's ecosystem, particularly the Everglades. And so a court ordered that the bends be put back in the river and that the Kissimmee river be returned as much as possible to its original condition. And there's been a wonderful if somewhat costly restoration project. What's happened is the ecosystem has been restored. It's estimated that taxpayers have contributed a billion dollars or more in the process of doing the damage and undoing it.

According to new research, an increase in home runs in Major League Baseball games could be attributed to warming which makes the air less dense so baseballs can travel farther. (Photo: Josh Hemsley, Unsplash)

O'NEILL: Alright, Peter, what else do you have for us today?

DYKSTRA: There's a study that came out last week in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society analyzed 100,000 Major League games, and attributed over 500 home runs increase in the last decade to warming caused by climate change. That's about a 1% jump, did have a guy Aaron judge who hit 62 homeruns, an American League record.

O'NEILL: Wow, that's a lot of homeruns. How did the study explain the correlation between these home runs and climate change?

DYKSTRA: This new study says that because warmer air is less dense than cooler air, as the air warms, there will be a few additional homeruns attributable to global warming.

O'NEILL: Well, I guess baseball fans should expect more home runs this season. But what I'm expecting from you now Peter is a trip through the history books. And I believe you have something from our home state of New Jersey.

On April 17, 1799, Aaron Burr founded The Manhattan Company to provide fresh water to New York City amidst a widespread yellow fever epidemic. That company has since evolved into J.P. Morgan Chase. (Photo: John Vanderlyn, Wikimedia Commons, public domain)

DYKSTRA: Well, we're both from Jersey, and one of the most famous people from Jersey is our history subject today because on April 17 1799, Aaron Burr born in Newark, and some of his colleagues launched the Manhattan company. It was the first New York City water utility. Now Aaron Burr, who of course was also an early Vice President had been developing a rivalry with another banker named Alexander Hamilton and his Bank of New York. And within five years, Burr went from founding the water company to being vice president to shooting Hamilton in a duel in Weehawken, New Jersey. He's the only vice president to ever successfully win a duel.

O'NEILL: Well, Peter, I always appreciate your New Jersey stories. Peter Dykstra is a living on Earth contributor. Thank you again and we'll talk to you soon.

DYKSTRA: All right, Aynsley. Thanks. Talk to you soon.

O'NEILL: And there's more on these stories on the living on Earth website. That's loe dot org.



National Geographic “Deep in Florida, an ‘ecological disaster’ has been reversed—and wildlife is thriving”

Smithsonian “Climate Change Is Making Home Runs Easier to Hit”

Museum of American Finance “Dirty Water”


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