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A U.N. treaty outlawing nuclear weapons went into effect on Friday, having been ratified by at least 50 countries. But the ban is largely symbolic: The U.S. and the world's other nuclear powers have not signed the treaty.

"For the first time in history, nuclear weapons are going to be illegal in international law," Elayne Whyte, Costa Rica's former U.N. ambassador who oversaw the treaty's creation, tells NPR's Geoff Brumfiel.

The impacts of climate change could prompt millions of Americans to relocate in coming decades, moving inland away from rising seas, or north to escape rising temperatures.

Judith and Doug Saum have moved already, recently leaving their home outside Reno, Nev.

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Last year, as pandemic lockdowns put travel on hold, wealthy countries reduced their environmentally-harmful emissions in almost every sector of their economies.

There was one exception ... one big, road-hogging, gas-guzzling exception.

President Biden's initial wave of planned executive actions includes an order to reexamine one controversial, but widely used, pesticide called chlorpyrifos. The Trump administration had stepped in to keep the chemical on the market after Obama-era officials tried to ban it.

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In one of his first acts in the Oval Office, President Joe Biden signed an executive order to have the United States rejoin the Paris climate agreement, the largest international effort to curb global warming.

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Well, I don't need to tell you that in this divided nation, there are widely divergent emotions around today's transition of power. NPR's Tovia Smith has been out speaking to voters in Massachusetts. She joins us now.

Hey, Tovia.

President Biden is moving quickly on climate change on his first day in office, saying he plans to sign a sweeping executive order to undo many of the Trump administration's environmental rollbacks.

As part of his ambitious plan to address climate change, President Biden is revoking a key cross-border presidential permit needed to finish the controversial Keystone XL pipeline

This likely means the end of the $8 billion pipeline, a years-long project that would have carried oil sands crude from Alberta, Canada, to the American Gulf Coast. The pipeline has come to signify the debate over whether fossil fuels should be left in the ground in order to rein in greenhouse gas emissions and avoid the worst damage from climate change.

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President-elect Joe Biden is under pressure to walk away from his pledge to block the Keystone XL oil pipeline. On Tuesday, Canadian Prime Minister Justine Trudeau said completing the project is a key priority for him.

Part 4 of the TED Radio Hour episode Breathe

Dinosaurs ruled Earth for 180 million years, but to dominate they had to outcompete a slew of other animals. Paleontologist Emma Schachner thinks their lungs could have been the competitive advantage.

About Emma Schachner

Part 3 of the TED Radio Hour episode Breathe

Journalist Beth Gardiner and activist Yvette Arellano explain the long-term health effects of air pollution. Yvette lives in a Houston neighborhood near the largest petrochemical complex in the U.S.

About Beth Gardiner

As commuters stayed home in 2020 and airplanes remained on the ground, the nationwide slowdown led to a sizable drop in heat-trapping emissions. U.S. greenhouse gas emissions fell by 10 percent, the largest annual drop since World War II, according to a report by the Rhodium Group.

Still, the climate diet isn't likely to stick. The reductions were largely due to temporary changes during lockdown orders. By the end of the year, Americans were already back to driving and flying more.

Updated at 9:28 p.m. ET

Former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder was charged Wednesday for his role in the Flint water crisis, an environmental disaster that contaminated the majority Black city's drinking water with lead nearly seven years ago.

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A coalition of progressive groups say they are organizing a sweeping network to mobilize around climate change, racial and environmental justice, making a new unified push as President-elect Joe Biden is days away from taking office with Democrats set to control both the House and the Senate.

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The Trump administration is trying to push through a last-minute rule that could force banks to offer loans to gun-makers and oil exploration companies or to finance high-cost payday lenders.

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Updated at 7:54 pm ET

One of the Trump administration's biggest environmental rollbacks suffered a stunning setback Wednesday, as a decades-long push to drill for oil in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge ended with a lease sale that attracted just three bidders — one of which was the state of Alaska itself.

Alaska's state-owned economic development corporation was the only bidder on nine of the parcels offered for lease in the northernmost swath of the refuge, known as the coastal plain. Two small companies also each picked up a single parcel.

Chris Wilkerson used to get phone calls in the middle of the night about poop.

Wilkerson, who was part of Seattle Public Utilities' Spill Response Team, says the calls were usually from the public. Typically, he says, the caller would tell him, "Hey, there's a puddle of poo" in the street. And many times, the excrement would be coming from a recreational vehicle.

Just two weeks before President-elect Joe Biden takes office, the Trump administration is trying to lock-in oil and gas drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge with a hastily scheduled and controversial lease sale.

The event, January 6, marks a major moment in a 40-year fight over whether to develop the northernmost slice of the refuge's coastal plain, home to migrating caribou, birds and polar bears.

On Hawaii's Big Island, Kilauea volcano erupted Dec. 20 for the first time in more than two years.

Lava spewed from a fissure in the northwest wall of Halemaʻumaʻu crater and cascaded into the deepest part of the crater, boiling away a water lake. There's now a growing lava lake, nearly 600 feet deep.

The U.S. Geological Survey has been documenting the eruption. Here, in photos and video, is how Kilauea's newest eruption is continuing — and changing the landscape.

Back in the spring, farmers who raise pigs were in a panic. Many major customers, such as food service companies that supply restaurants, weren't buying pork. Prices had fallen sharply. Some hog farmers had no place to ship their animals because so many workers in pork processing plants got sick from COVID-19.

"Our folks need a lifeline," said Nick Giordano, top lobbyist for the National Pork Producers Council, on a call with journalists in May. "Unless there is a large cash infusion from the federal government, we're going to lose a lot of producers."

In an effort to boost natural gas exports, the Trump administration has reversed longstanding federal policy and approved transport of gas by rail anywhere in the country. Opposition has come from Hollywood stars, state attorneys general and local residents who worry about the danger this poses.

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