Nature and Health

Photo: Jennifer Miller

Photo: Jennifer Miller

Nature is good for you.
It can be a walk in the woods that helps to calm your nervous system and spark novel ideas, or a wilderness retreat that helps to reduce symptoms of PTSD or ADHD.  But little is actually understood about how nature offers healing effects. What are the mechanisms? How much nature is enough, and to do what? And how enduring are the effects?  “Nature” isn’t only limited to places like Yellowstone or Rocky Mountain National Park.  Nature abounds in some cities, as well.  City parks, tree-lined neighborhoods, your own garden – these are slices of nature that can have huge benefits to your physical and mental health.  However, many cities and neighborhoods that lack a healthy tree canopy, and produce a lot of air pollution from vehicle traffic are plagued by high rates of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity, among other illnesses, among residents.  At a time when humans around the globe are migrating to cities at rates never seen before, it is critical that cities increasingly become part of the solution, not just a major culprit behind environmental degradation and human disease.

Today’s show is the first in a series we’ll offer on the connections between nature and human health. It’s called “Nature Rx.”

Our three guests today are working in the nexus between environmental conservation and human health, to make cities part of the solution:

  • Dr. Ted Smith, director of the Center of Healthy Air, Water and Soil, at the University of Louisville’s Envirome Institute.
  • Christopher Hawkins, Urban Conservation Program Manager at The Nature Conservancy.
  • Janette Heung, principal and owner of JWG Global, a management consulting and research think tank in Colorado focusing on environmental conservation and public health.

Read more in the Colorado Outdoor Rx report and the UN Environment Programme report on air pollution.

Hosts: Susan Moran, Joel Parker
Producer and Engineer: Joel Parker
Executive Producer: Susan Moran
Contributors: Beth Bennett, Shelley Schlender

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Living in a World of Thinking Machines

solomonscodebookimg

Book Cover: Solomon’s Code by Olaf Groth and Mark Nitzberg, published by Pegasus Books, November 2018

It has been 50 years since the original 2001, A Space Odyssey, where movie viewers first heard Captain Powers asking, “Open the pod bay doors, HAL” and found HAL thought differently about whether that was a good idea.  For most of that half-century, artificial intelligence still seemed a long way off, but in the last decode, it has permeated our every day life with unexpected swiftness and thoroughness.

Do we currently live in a world of thinking machines?  Is it just around the corner? Far off? Never?  And what will that really be like for us humans (I’ll assume for the moment your not a machine reading this…)   This is the subject  of Solomon’s Code: Humanity in a World of Thinking Machines by Olaf Groth and Mark Nitzberg.  With the recent backlash against Facebook, fake news algorithms or headlines about Cambridge Analytica and Russian bots, this book’s release on November 6 could not be more well timed.  The book covers economic, social, personal and political implications of living in a world of thinking machines.  For this edition of How On Earth, we spoke with co-author Mark Nitzberg, Executive Director of the Center for Human compatible Artificial Intelligence at UC Berkeley and principal at Cambrian.ai.  Dr. Nitzberg studied AI at M.I.T. and completed his PhD at Harvard university.  His co-author Olaf Groth is Professor of Strategy, Innovation and Economics at Hult International business School, and founder and CEO of Cambrian.ai.  The name Cambrian.ai is taken from a metaphor from biological evolution and the Cambrian Geological Period, where most of the major groups of animals first appeared in the fossil record; an event sometimes also known as the “Cambrian Explosion.”

Are we now at a similar point in the evolution of artificial intelligence?  Is the metaphor fanciful or very accurate.  Chip Grandits talks with Mark Nitzberg co-author of Solomon’s Code to find out what are the forms of AI, if they are different from their progenitors, and whether they really can think.

Host: Chip Grandits
Producer: Chip Grandits
Engineer: Chip Grandits
Executive Producer: Susan Moran

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Front Range Fracking // Planet+Human Health

Karley Robinson with her son outside their home in Windsor. Photo credit: Ted Wood

Karley Robinson with her son outside their home in Windsor. Photo credit: Ted Wood

Today’s show offers two features:
Oil & Gas Impacts (start time: 1:05) Proposition 112, which would require oil and gas wells to be at least 2,500 feet from homes, schools, parks and other buildings, has highlighted mounting public concerns about the health, social and other impacts of extensive drilling along Colorado’s Front Range.  Weld County is  center stage for the latest oil and gas boom; nearly half of Colorado’s 55,000 active wells are located there. Jason Plautz, a Denver-based journalist, discussed with host Susan Moran the science and politics surrounding drilling activities, and whether explosions such as the one in Windsor last December could happen in many other locations. Plautz and Daniel Glick wrote a feature article that has just been published in High Country News.

healthy_planet-imageHealthy Planet+Healthy Humans? (start time: 14:46) Matthew Burgess has been immersed in thinking about and studying how we humans, and the planet we inhabit, can both remain intact—in fact, can both thrive–well into the future. What’s he smok’in, you might ask? In fact, he is a serious environmental scientist at the University of Colorado Boulder. Dr. Burgess and nearly two dozen colleagues authored a recently published scientific paper that applies models to show how we can meet demands of increased populations and economic growth in 2050, while simultaneously achieving bold and effective conservation and climate goals set forth by the United Nations. Dr. Burgess is an assistant professor in Environmental Studies, with an additional appointment in Economics. And he works at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Science (CIRES), the collaboration between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the University of Colorado. He discusses the paper and its implications with hosts Susan Moran and Joel Parker.

Hosts: Susan Moran, Joel Parker
Producer: Susan Moran
Engineer: Joel Parker
Executive Producer: Susan Moran

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Ketotarian & Pledge Drive Show

Featured book

Featured book

This week on How on Earth Beth interviews author Will Cole, functional medicine physician, about his new book, Ketotarian. He proposes a novel ketogenic diet, which has typically derived its high fat content from meat and dairy. The book describes the ketogenic approach and illustrates vegetarian, vegan, and pescatarian alternatives. Also hear Beth and Chip plug the show and the station in the fall pledge drive!
Hosts: Beth Bennett & Chip Grandis
Producer: Beth Bennett
Engineer: Chip Grandis
Executive Producer: Susan Moran
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Regenerative Medicine #1: Primer

regen med imageRegenerative Medicine (start time: 7:30): We begin our series on regenerative medicine with a discussion of scientific advancements, promises, caveats, regulations, and challenges of regenerative medicine therapies for orthopedic applications, such as stem cell, prolo therapy and PRP (platlet-rich plasma) therapy. Together, these therapies aim to regenerate or replace injured, diseased, or defective cells, tissues, or organs with the goal of restoring or establishing function and structure.  Hosts Susan Moran and Beth Bennett interview Jason Glowney, MD, founder of Boulder Biologics, which focuses on regenerative and integrative medicine.

Hosts: Beth Bennett, Susan Moran
Producer: Susan Moran
Engineer: Beth Bennett
Executive Producer: Susan Moran

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Eager Beavers

Eager- Secret Life of BeaversBeth talks with author Ben Goldfarb about his new book, amusingly titled Eager: The Surprising, Secret Life of Beavers and Why They Matter. You’ll gain a better understanding of beavers’ myriad skills, and want to restore beaver populations in our local environments. Spoiler alert, we’ll have copies of his book available during the pledge drive show on Oct. 16.
Host: Maeve Conran
Producer: Beth Bennett
Engineer
: Maeve Conran
Executive Producer:  Susan Moran
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How Skin Begins // Dr. Dan

Yi_4_epidermis_dermis

Images of Epidermis and Dermis using fluorescent tags. Courtesy of Rui Yi, CU Department Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology

Boulder researchers have discovered a key mechanism by which skin begins to develop in embryos, shedding light on the genetic roots of birth defects like cleft palate and paving the way for development of more functional skin grafts for burn victims.  We bring you an interview with lead researchers, Associate Professor Rui Yi of CU Department of Molecular, Cellular and Development Biology, who explains some of the secrets he has been uncovering about “How Skin Begins” [3:27]

 

 

 

 

 

drdan

Doctor Dan

How do you reconcile a flair for competition and performance with a penchant for science and learning.  We’ll hear from Doctor Daniel Rudnicki, who’s first career was as a competitive and professional figure skater, then after getting an undergraduate degree in Biochemistry and PhD in Organic Chemistry from CU he then founded a biotech company.  But still needing an outlet for his urge to perform he has created the persona of Doctor Dan to bring enthralling and flashy science presentations to local schools. [19:08]

Host: Chip Grandits
Producer: Chip Grandits
Engineer: Chip Grandits
Executive Producer: Beth Bennett

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Cricket Chorus // Foliage Science

This week’s How On Earth features the following two segments:

Snowy Tree Cricket. Photo credit: Scott Severs

Snowy Tree Cricket.
Photo credit: Scott Severs

Late-summer Cricket Chorus (start time: 1:02) One of the most poetic sounds of the end of summer is …. no, not your kids kicking and screaming because summer is over. It’s the sound of crickets, katydids and other melodic insects “chirping” at night. Our focus here is Snowy Tree Crickets in Colorado. They are called “temperature” crickets because you can calculate what the temperature is outside based on how many times these crickets “chirp” in a certain time period. How On Earth’s Shelley Schlender took a stroll recently with two Boulder naturalists — Steve Jones and Scott Severs — to learn more about how, and why, crickets in general make their chirping sound, and why we hear so many of them in the evenings this time of year. Some resources about crickets and their brethren: 1)  http://songsofinsects.com/  2) biology and recordings of nearly all singing Orthopterans (crickets, grasshoppers, katydids), at  Singing Insects of North America (SINA)  http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/Walker/buzz/.

Big Blue Canyon, Colo. Photo credit: Jeff Mitton

Big Blue Canyon, Colo. Photo credit: Jeff Mitton

The Science of Aspen (and other) Foliage (starts: 9:40) One of the most iconic images of Colorado is aspen groves quaking in early fall in their brilliant yellow, orange and even red hues. This year, the aspen, and many other plants, are changing colors earlier than normal. Due largely to the extended warm and dry conditions, many aspen leaves are fading and shriveling without turning bright colors. Dr. Jeff Mitton, an evolutionary biologist and a professor emeritus at the University of Colorado Boulder, talks with host Susan Moran about what dictates the timing and intensity of foliage. Dr. Mitton also writes a bimonthly column, called Natural Selections, in the Daily Camera. Here’s one (of many) on crickets.

Hosts: Maeve Conran, Susan Moran
Producer: Susan Moran
Engineer: Maeve Conran
Contributions: Shelley Schlender
Executive Producer: Susan Moran

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Saving Summer: The National Wildlife Federation Report

NWF LogoThe National Wildlife Federation just released its report, Safeguarding Summer: From Climate Threats to Iconic Summer Experiences. This report chronicles the latest scientific findings on these trends and shows how we can engage on these issues to save our summers now and for future generations. This week Beth interviews the lead author, Frank Szillosi, about the findings and predictions. You can find the entire report at the NWF website, https://www.nwf.org/Home/Latest-News/Press-Releases/2018/08-15-18-Safeguarding-Summer.
Hosts: Beth Bennett and Maeve Conran
Producer: Beth Bennett
Engineer: Maeve Conran
Additional Contributions: Susan Moran & Joel Parker
Executive Producer: Beth Bennett
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Email Anxiety // Food Waste

Bedtime laptop workThis week’s How On Earth offers two features:
Work-Email Anxiety (start time: 7:58) If you’re wondering why you often feel anxious on Monday mornings, despite having spent time with your family and friends over the weekend, you might recall the amount of time you spent glued to your smart phone or laptop, checking email because you worried that your boss would be expecting you to be virtually on hand. You’re hardly alone. Samantha Conroy, an assistant professor of business management at Colorado State University, discusses with How On Earth host Susan Moran a new survey-based study (under review) that she co-authored. It found that not only employees but their partners at home suffer from high anxiety when the employee feels pressured to be virtually available via email after hours.

WWF-Food rpt coverFixing Food Waste  (start time: 17:59)  We’re all guilty of it: waste. Tossing out peaches, broccoli and other food that has gone bad in the fridge. Or leaving pasta on our plate untouched at an Italian bistro. More than one-third of all food that is produced in the United States is wasted – in the field, at restaurants, in our own kitchens. The conservation organization World Wildlife Fund recently published a report on the huge environmental and health impacts of food waste, and on what can be done to reduce waste, and ultimately preserve grasslands and other natural habitat. Monica McBride, manager of Food Loss & Waste  at World Wildlife Fund, co-wrote the report, called “No Food Left Behind.” She shares the findings and recommendations with Susan Moran. Check out these resources at WWF on what you can do: A Food Waste Quiz and tips on reducing waste.

Hosts: Chip Grandits, Susan Moran
Producer: Susan Moran
Engineer: Chip Grandits
Headline Contributions: Beth Bennett, Joel Parker, Shelley Schlender
Executive Producer: Beth Bennett

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