Rebecca Hersher

Rebecca Hersher is a reporter on NPR's Science Desk, where she reports on outbreaks, natural disasters, and environmental and health research. Since coming to NPR in 2011, she has covered the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, embedded with the Afghan army after the American combat mission ended, and reported on floods and hurricanes in the U.S. She's also reported on research about puppies. Before her work on the Science Desk, she was a producer for NPR's Weekend All Things Considered in Los Angeles.

Hersher was part of the NPR team that won a Peabody award for coverage of the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, and produced a story from Liberia that won an Edward R. Murrow award for use of sound. She was a finalist for the 2017 Daniel Schorr prize; a 2017 Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting fellow, reporting on sanitation in Haiti; and a 2015 NPR Above the Fray fellow, investigating the causes of the suicide epidemic in Greenland.

Prior to working at NPR, Hersher reported on biomedical research and pharmaceutical news for Nature Medicine.

Humans must drastically alter food production to prevent the most catastrophic effects of global warming, according to a new report from the United Nations panel on climate change.

The panel of scientists looked at the climate change effects of agriculture, deforestation and other land use, such as harvesting peat and managing grasslands and wetlands. Together, those activities generate about a third of human greenhouse gas emissions, including more than 40% of methane.

People across southern Louisiana are spending the weekend worried about flooding. The water is coming from every direction: the Mississippi River is swollen with rain that fell weeks ago farther north, and a storm called Barry is pushing ocean water onshore while it drops more rain from above.

It's a situation driven by climate change, and one that Louisiana has never dealt with, at least in recorded history. And it's raising questions about whether New Orleans and other communities are prepared for such an onslaught.

Federal weather forecasters are predicting a "near normal" number of storms this hurricane season, which runs from June 1 through November 1.

Between nine and 15 named storms, including includes tropical storms, are predicted to form in the Atlantic this year, said Neil Jacobs, acting administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The Mississippi River is rising again as torrential rain falls across much of the Midwest. It's the latest in a series of storms that have flooded major cities and small communities along the length of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers on and off for more than a month.

If they had known, they never would have bought the house on Bayou Glen Road. Sure, it was a beautiful lot, tucked in a bend of the creek, backyard woodsy and wild, the neighbors friendly and the street quiet. A little piece of nature just 20 minutes from downtown Houston. It was exactly what John and Heather Papadopoulos — recently married, hoping to start a family — were looking for in 2007. They didn't think much about the creek that ran along their yard, aside from appreciating the birds it attracted to the neighborhood.

Climate change is already causing more frequent and severe weather across the U.S., and the country is poised to suffer massive damage to infrastructure, ecosystems, health and the economy if global warming is allowed to continue, according to the most comprehensive federal climate report to date.

Hurricanes are dropping more rain and causing more flooding than in the past, and humans are to blame on multiple fronts.

Climate scientists have warned for decades that global warming will cause extreme weather to get more frequent and severe. A pair of studies published today in the journal Nature find that hurricanes are already causing more rain than they used to, and that cities themselves may be making the rainfall from those storms even worse.

Hurricane Florence is moving relentlessly toward the Southeastern U.S. It's a large, powerful cyclone that will likely bring storm surge and high winds to coastal communities.

But climate scientists say one of the biggest threats posed by Florence is rain.

Pete Marovich/Getty Images

Scott Pruitt will no longer lead the Environmental Protection Agency, President Trump announced Thursday afternoon via Twitter.

The Environmental Protection Agency intends to block an Obama-era proposal and effectively shield companies from scrutiny about how they prevent and respond to chemical disasters. At a hearing Thursday, agency officials got an earful from dozens of people who live and work near refineries and chemical facilities across the country.

Hurricanes are moving more slowly over both land and water, and that's bad news for communities in their path.

In the past 70 years, tropical cyclones around the world have slowed down 10 percent, and in some regions of the world, the change has been even more significant, according to a study published Wednesday in the journal Nature.

That means storms are spending more time hanging out, battering buildings with wind and dropping more rain.

The Environmental Protection Agency has removed a toxic waste site flooded by Hurricane Harvey from a special list of contaminated sites that require the personal attention of the agency's leader, because it says there's been significant progress on a cleanup plan.

Juan Flores and his family live in Galena Park, Texas, which is bordered on three sides by pipeline terminals, oil refineries, fertilizer plants and rail yards.

Flores has lived in the town of about 11,000 people just east of downtown Houston since he was 4 years old. For a while, he even served on the City Council.

Shannan Wheeler was born and raised in Baytown, Texas, an industrial suburb east of Houston that is part of the so-called chemical coast.

Houses are tucked between chemical storage tanks. Parks back up to refinery smokestacks.

The floodwaters from Hurricane Harvey had to go somewhere.

Updated at 8:15 p.m. ET

Officials are still trying to confirm whether Texas floodwaters have spread contamination from decades-old toxic waste sites, as water recedes and residents return to homes that, in some cases, were flooded with water that passed over known contaminated areas.

On Monday, the moon will completely eclipse the sun, and people all over the U.S. will watch.

For those who have been boning up on eclipse trivia for weeks, congratulations. For everyone else, here are the things you need to know about the phenomenon.

Where can I see the eclipse?

A partial solar eclipse will be visible everywhere in the contiguous United States, but to see the total solar eclipse, you'll need to be in a sash of land that cuts from Oregon to South Carolina.

The Trump administration is rescinding protections for transgender students in public schools.

The move by the Justice and Education departments reverses guidance the Obama administration publicized in May 2016, which said a federal law known as Title IX protects the right of transgender students to use restrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identities.

Breitbart News editor Milo Yiannopoulos has resigned amid a social media backlash over comments he made that appeared to condone pedophilia.

In a news conference Tuesday, Yiannopoulos said his resignation was effective immediately and praised the website as "a significant factor in my success."

He also explained his views on sex with minors, insisting that he does not condone statutory rape.

Updated at 3:45 p.m. ET

A 23-year-old man who was detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agents in Seattle on Feb. 10 says his constitutional rights have been violated, and he is suing the U.S. government for his release.

Daniel Ramirez Medina, who is currently being held by immigration authorities in Tacoma, Wash., is registered with the U.S. government under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program.

Updated at 4:45 p.m. ET

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has granted an easement allowing the Dakota Access Pipeline to cross under the Missouri River north of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, paving the way for construction of the final 1.5 miles of the nearly 1,200-mile pipeline.

In doing so, the Army cut short its environmental impact assessment and the public comment period associated with it.

Updated at 4:30 a.m. ET Saturday

A federal judge in Seattle has issued a nationwide temporary stay against President Trump's executive order that prevented citizens of seven mostly Muslim countries from entering the United States. Judge James Robart acted to stop implementation of the order while a case brought by the states of Washington and Minnesota is heard.

The White House issued a statement Friday night, saying the Justice Department will appeal the Seattle judge's action:

Updated at 6:55 p.m. ET

A jury has sentenced to death the man who murdered nine people in a Charleston church basement in 2015.

The twelve jurors deliberated for about three hours before sentencing Dylann Roof, 22, to die. To impose the death penalty, they had to reach a unanimous decision.

Updated at 8:00 p.m. ET Saturday

The U.S. Attorney has charged Esteban Santiago, the man in custody for carrying out the deadly shooting at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Florida on Friday afternoon.

At least five people were killed and six others were injured in the shooting, according to the Broward County Sheriff's Office.

A jury in Charleston, S.C., has found Dylann Roof guilty on all 33 counts of federal hate crimes he faced for murdering nine people and attempting to kill three others in the basement of a historically black church.

On Dec. 4, a man named Edgar Welch walked into a Washington, D.C., pizzeria with two loaded guns and demanded to search the premises before firing one of the weapons and, eventually, being arrested.

Dieu Nalio Chery/AP

"Dirty water everywhere."

That's how Jacqueline Charles of the Miami Herald described the situation in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, in an interview with NPR Wednesday morning. "A lot of rain and a lot of wind," she said. "Before [Hurricane] Matthew, the ground was already saturated, so the idea that you could have 25 inches of rain is a very scary thought."

Updated 9:20 p.m. ET

"Dirty water everywhere."

That's how Jacqueline Charles of the Miami Herald described the situation in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, in an interview with NPR Wednesday morning. "A lot of rain and a lot of wind," she said. "Before [Hurricane] Matthew, the ground was already saturated, so the idea that you could have 25 inches of rain is a very scary thought."

Updated at 4:45 p.m. ET with further states of emergency in the U.S.

Hurricane Matthew crashed into southwestern Haiti as a Category 4 storm Tuesday morning, dumping rain and scouring the land with maximum sustained winds of 145 miles per hour.

It is the first Category 4 storm to make landfall in Haiti since 1964, when Hurricane Cleo also hit the island nation's southwestern peninsula.

Updated at 10:00 am:

A coup attempt by factions in the Turkish military crumbled Saturday as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made his way to Istanbul and his government began reestablishing control after a long night of widespread violence.

"The people have taken to the streets and voiced their support for democracy," the acting head of the military, Gen. Umit Dundar, said at a news conference Saturday. "The nation will never forget this betrayal."

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