Dan Charles

Dan Charles is an independent writer and radio producer who contributes regularly to NPR's technology coverage. He is currently filling in temporarily as an editor on the National Desk, responsible for coverage of the environment and the western United States. He is author of Master Mind: The Rise and Fall of Fritz Haber, the Nobel Laureate Who Launched the Age of Chemical Warfare (Ecco, 2005). He also wrote Lords of the Harvest: Biotech, Big Money, and the Future of Food (Perseus, 2001), about the making of genetically engineered crops. From 1993 to 1999, Charles was a technology correspondent for NPR.

Charles covers a wide swath of advanced technology, including telecommunications, energy, agriculture, computers, and biotechnology. He's reported for NPR from India, Russia, Mexico, and various parts of Western Europe. Before joining NPR, Charles was a U.S. correspondent for New Scientist, a major British science magazine.

He studied economics and international affairs at American University, graduating magna cum laude in 1982. In 1982-83, he studied in Bonn, West Germany, under a scholarship from the German Academic Exchange Service. He was a guest researcher at the Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy at the University of Hamburg, Germany, in 1986. In 1989-90, he was a Knight Science Journalism fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.



Wed September 28, 2011
The Salt

Water, Water, Everywhere, But Not Enough To Waste

Here's a fact worth pondering: Farming accounts for 70 percent of all the water that's used for any purpose, worldwide. And demand for it is growing, along with the planet's population and our increasing appetite for meat. That's according to the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), which recently published this poster and others in a striking series on the vital role of water in growing our food.

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Fri July 15, 2011

Vermont Town's Food Focus Still A Growing Concept

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 9:41 am

According to a local businessman, there are more organic farms per capita within 10 miles of Hardwick, Vt., than anywhere else in the world.
Photos by Becky Lettenberger NPR

The town of Hardwick, Vt., has been celebrated as the scene of a local food revival. In recent years, lots of small farms have started up nearby.

Tom Stearns, president of a local organic seed company called High Mowing Seeds, says there are more organic farms per capita within 10 miles of Hardwick than anywhere else in the world. There's also a thriving local grocery co-op; a busy farmer's market; even a classy restaurant — Claire's — where almost anything you eat grew or grazed on land nearby.

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Thu June 9, 2011
Latin America

In Heart Of Amazon, A Natural Lab To Study Diseases

A female mosquito acquires a blood meal. This species, Aedes aegypti, carries and transmits the dengue fever virus.
James Gathany CDC

It's summer and mosquitoes are back. We mostly consider these insects merely annoying, but they also can transmit disease, such as West Nile virus. In fact, in parts of Latin America and Asia — and even, to a lesser extent, in the U.S. — mosquito-borne diseases are growing more common.

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Fri March 18, 2011
The Science Of Japan's Nuclear Crisis

At Crippled Reactors, Is Time On Our Side?

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 10:05 am

South Korean passengers watch a broadcast of the situation at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant from a train station. There have been no major changes to the situation at the nuclear power plant in a few days.
Jung Yeon-Je AFP/Getty Images

At the time of this writing, March 18, no new explosions or fires have shaken the reactors at Japan's Fukushima Dai-ichi power station for a couple of days. Yet the situation hasn't really improved, either. The plant's normal cooling systems still are not working. (The Tokyo Electric Power Co. says it may regain power to restart its cooling pumps on March 19.)

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Wed March 16, 2011
Explainers: Inside Japan's Nuclear Crisis

Plutonium In Fuel Rods: Cause For Concern?

Some outside experts are particularly concerned about high levels of plutonium in one of the damaged Japanese reactors. About 6 percent of the fuel rods in reactor No. 3 at the Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant are made from so-called "mixed-oxide" (MOX) fuel, which contains plutonium as well as uranium.

According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, MOX fuel presents particular risks in an accident.

For one thing, it melts at a slightly lower temperature.

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