Environmental Almanac

Weekly commentaries on the environment and appreciating the natural world, by Rob Kanter from the School of Earth, Society, and Environment at the University of Illinois.


Eine durchschnittliche Folge dieses Podcasts dauert 4m. Bisher sind 162 Folge(n) erschienen. Dies ist ein wöchentlich erscheinender Podcast

Contemplating courtship rituals

Whether or not you planned well for it, Valentine’s Day is here. I won’t comment on the human behavior associated with this holiday, but I can provide a bit of diversion and give suggestions about where to see animal courtship spectacles in Illinois. Consider, suggests May Berenbaum, who is head of the UI Department of Entomology, the bizarre (to us) behavior of some pyralid moth males. In the process of courtship they beat females over the head with the tip of their abdomen...


 2016-02-11  3m

Birding abroad

The city of Dakar, which is the capital of the West African nation of Senegal, is not a birding destination. Some two and a half million people live there, and the streets are crowded with traffic that includes everything from people on foot and horse drawn carts, to motor scooters, taxis, private cars, and a variety of buses, among them the colorful and jam-packed cars rapide...


 2016-02-06  4m

Earth materials in buildings—don’t take’m for granite [from the archive]

Teachers and learners alike value opportunities for field observation. There’s just something about seeing things in the wild that’s hard to replicate in a classroom. Teaching Shakespeare? See a play. Teaching ornithology? Step outside. Teaching geology in east central Illinois? “We’re working under a real handicap here,” says Eileen Herrstrom. “Nearly all of our rock is covered by 300-foot deep glacial deposits...


 2016-01-29  3m

Wildlife moments from 2015

As regular listeners know, I take great pleasure in observing wildlife, whether I’m out for the specific purpose of doing that, or I’m just going from one place to another in the course of a normal day. As you also know, I enjoy looking into questions that arise from my observations, and sharing my findings. In today’s commentary I look back at some things I saw for the first time in 2015 and tell what I learned in my follow up investigations...


 2016-01-21  4m

2016 is the year for rooftop solar in Champaign County

I’ve got a confession to make. I’m sometimes very, very slow to act on my good intentions--especially when my good intentions involve home improvement.  To wit. In the past, I’ve written about projects by local people to reduce or eliminate the need for fossil fuel at home through combinations of efficiency, conservation and solar power...


 2016-01-14  4m

Deer management program yields multiple benefits at Allerton

As someone who values the U of I’s Allerton Park and Retreat Center—especially for the natural areas—I’m happy to report this week on an ongoing effort that has really paid off there, the deer management program begun in 2004. “Deer management” here refers primarily to reducing the number of deer inhabiting the natural areas through carefully regulated hunting...


 2015-12-10  4m

Restoration agriculture as a path to land health

Prior to the release of his book Restoration Agriculture in early 2013, Wisconsin farmer Mark Shepard’s agent reassured him: “You’ll tour and do some signings for five or six months, but after that sales will taper off and demands on your time will be negligible.” That’s not how things have turned out. Instead, sales of the book have increased from one quarter to the next...


 2015-12-04  4m

Celebrating the return of wild turkeys in Illinois

With all of the Thanksgiving press devoted to domesticated turkeys—how many we’re going to eat next week, how best to cook them, etcetera—you probably weren’t aware of this fact, but we’re living in the age of the wild turkey. That’s according to Patrick Hubert, who was formerly a wildlife ecologist at the Illinois Natural History Survey, and who I spoke with on this topic some years back...


 2015-11-19  4m

Are we really in Illinois?

One of the most enjoyable aspects of my work at the U of I is teaching a one-credit-hour field course that runs during the first half of the fall semester. The course provides students who are new to the Earth, Society, and Environmental Sustainability major an introduction to the types of work done by faculty in the Departments of Geology, Atmospheric Sciences and Geography and Geographic Information Science. It culminates in a trip to far southern Illinois, which is where I was last weekend...


 2015-10-15  4m

October a month of dramatic change in central Illinois

Although the bright sunshine and warm days of this week make it tempting to think otherwise, the month of October promises dramatic changes for the natural world in central Illinois. In urban areas, the acorns and walnuts that have already fallen add new challenges walking and cycling. Grey squirrels are in a constant frenzy, trying to figure out how to store the surplus of food available to them now...


 2015-10-01  4m