Christopher Joyce

Scientists have produced a preliminary map of the flooding in Houston from Tropical Storm Harvey.

The map doesn't yet represent all the flooded areas, and for technical reasons, it likely understates the extent of flooding. But even this early analysis shows that flooding from Harvey extended well beyond the traditional flood plains mapped out by the federal government.

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KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

President Trump pledged to rebuild Houston and Texas bigger and better than ever. However, earlier this month, he rescinded an Obama executive order that required flood-damaged property to be rebuilt higher and stronger. Trump also has proposed eliminating federal flood mapping and the federal government's top disaster agency.

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Many people are wondering whether climate change has anything to do with Harvey's size and impact. NPR's science correspondent Christopher Joyce covers climate issues, and he is with us now. Hi, there.

CHRISTOPHER JOYCE, BYLINE: Hi, Kelly.

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Sea levels are rising and climate scientists blame global warming. They predict that higher seas will cause more coastal flooding through this century and beyond, even in places that have normally been high and dry.

But mapping where future floods will strike has barely begun.

Few inventions in modern history have been as successful as plastic. It's in vehicles and building materials and most of our electronic devices. We wrap stuff in it and even wear it.

Now a research team has tallied up how much plastic has been produced and where much of it has gone. Turns out, it's literally almost everywhere.

Here's a puzzle: a giraffe has much longer legs than a cheetah, but it runs only about half as fast.

It seems long legs don't make you the fastest in the land. Yale University biologist Walter Jetz says theoretically, they should. Animals with longer limbs and lots of muscle should be able to cover ground — or water or air — the fastest.

Rule number one in nature: Find a way NOT to get eaten.

You can run or fight or hide--or you can look like something that tastes horrible. It appears that a type of jumping spider takes that to the extreme — it's learned to MOVE like something nasty.

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