About Beth Bartel

Beth Bartel has written 17 articles so far, you can find them below.

Facing the Wave // Pandora’s Lunchbox

Facing the Wave (starts at 04:50) Yesterday marked the two-year anniversary of the devastating earthquake and tsunami that rocked and partially devoured the northeastern coast of Japan. Although prone to earthquakes, the Tōhoku event hit a magnitude of 9.0, tying it for fourth largest earthquake on record according to the United States Geological Survey—a magnitude greater than scientists thought possible for this region.

Last month, co-host Beth Bartel spoke with author Gretel Ehrlich about her recently published book “Facing the Wave: A Journey in the Wake of the Tsunami.” When asked about her motivation to write this book, Ehrlich, a long-time traveler to Japan, said simply that she went to see the effects of the wave because she had to. (Go to our extended interview for more about how the disaster spurred activism in Japan.)

Pandora’s Lunchbox (starts at 14:38) Did you ever think how long that energy bar you ate while skiing recently would last in tact beyond the expiration date? Or that bag of Oreo cookies  you devoured last night? Melanie Warner, a local journalist and former staff writer at the New York Times, started thinking about it so much that she began experimenting with leaving some processed foods out way beyond their expiration date. What she found was shocking, and led her to explore deeply into the “processed food industrial complex.” The result is a new book called “Pandora’s Lunchbox: How Processed Food Took Over the American Meal.” Co-host Susan Moran interviews Warner about the creators and health impacts of many iconic foods in the American diet.

Hosts: Susan Moran, Beth Bartel
Producer: Beth Bartel
Engineer: Jim Pullen
Executive Producer: Shelley Schlender

Listen to the show:


Facing the Wave – extended interview with Gretel Ehrlich

This is an extended version of the interview we broadcast on March 12, 2013, featuring author Gretel Ehrlich discussing the aftermath of the March 11, 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami in Japan.


Big Waves // Omega 3 Fatty Acids

University of Colorado applied mathematics researchers Mark Ablowitz and Douglas Baldwin stand with photographs of an "x wave" on an Oregon beach.

University of Colorado applied mathematics researchers Mark Ablowitz and Douglas Baldwin with photos of an "X wave" on an Oregon beach.

Big Waves (start time 4:39):  When does one plus one not equal two? When waves behave non-linearly, according to CU researchers Mark Ablowitz and Douglas Baldwin.  The two have been researching how multiple water waves can add together to form a wave with a height much greater than twice the height of either wave. The mathematicians refer to these as X and Y waves, which sounds mathematical but actually just refers to the shape of the wave front as seen looking down on the wave from above. Rather than being rare, these waves are readily observable and may be the reason that some tsunamis are much larger than anticipated.  We spoke yesterday with the pair to find out more about these interesting waves.

Fish Oil Pills (from Wiki Commons)

Omega 3 Fatty Acids (start time 14:49): It’s widely accepted that Omega 3 supplements are good for many things, especially your heart, and that fish oil is high in Omega 3. But earlier this month, Greek researchers made a splash with a meta-analysis that concluded that fish oil supplements do not help your heart. They came to this conclusion even though, in their analysis, people taking fish oil pills or eating fish had 9 percent fewer deaths from heart disease and 11 percent fewer heart attacks than people who don’t. Fans of Omega 3 shot many other harpoons into the study, and we look at one of their most compelling complaints – it’s that the amount of Omega 3 that people’s bodies absorb depends on many things, and the Greek scientists did not examine studies that checked Omega 3 fatty acids levels where they count the most. That’s in people’s blood.  To find out more about why blood levels of Omega 3’s might matter, How On Earth’s Shelley Schlender talks with Doug Bibus. Bibus is part of the team that years ago basically discovered Omega 3s. He’s a two-time winner of the American Chemical Society’s Award in Analytical Chemistry.  Bibus says that most Americans have very low levels of Omega 3s, and they’d be healthier if their levels were higher.

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


Volcanoes & the Atmosphere // Traffic in Beijing

Nabro volcano

(Image compliments of NASA.)

Volcanoes & the Atmosphere (start time 6:17): We’ve known for a long time that volcanic particles and gases can travel around the world, often affecting climate.  The 1815 eruption of the Indonesian volcano Tambora chilled New England and Europe, resulting in what came to be known as “the year without a summer.”  More recently, the 1991 eruption of Pinatubo in the Philippines cooled temperatures throughout the Northern Hemisphere by up to 0.6 degrees Celsius. Those were both sizable eruptions.  Co-host Beth Bartel talks with Bill Randel, division director of the Atmospheric Chemistry Division at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, about what a mid-sized eruption in the horn of Africa can tell us about atmospheric circulation.

Traffic in Beijing

(Image compliments of Flickr user hldpn.)

Traffic in Beijing (start time 15:13): A new study shows that China gets a gold medal for dramatically reducing carbon dioxide emissions during the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Yes, that’s Beijing, one of the most polluted cities in the world. The new study shows that China severely restricted auto traffic in the city, leading to a major reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, it could be enough to make a dent in curbing climate change if similar efforts were to be made in cities around the world, and on a sustained basis. Co-host Susan Moran discuss the new paper and its implications with Helen Worden of the National Center of Atmospheric Research.

Hosts: Beth Bartel and Susan Moran
Producer: Beth Bartel
Engineer: Jim Pullen
Additional contributions: Shelley Schlender
Executive Producer: Susan Moran


Engineering Happiness // The Effects of Black Holes

Book cover for Engineering Happiness: A New Approach for Building a Joyful LieEngineering Happiness (start time 05:09): You may think the key to happiness lies in money, or love, or more vacation days.  But what it really comes down to is math — a mathematical formula, actually. At least that’s according to a recently published book, called “Engineering Happiness: A New Approach for Building a Joyful Life.” It’s co-authored by two business and economics professors: Manel Baucells and Rakesh Sarin. How On Earth co-host Susan Moran interviews Dr. Sarin, a professor at UCLA.

Active Galactic Nuclei (AGN)

Image courtesy of NASA.

The Effects of Black Holes (start time 14:33): Active Galactic Nuclei, or AGNs for short, are vast black holes at the centers of galaxies. But as big as the AGNs are, galaxies are much, much bigger. Regardless, the AGNs do seem to hold some sway. CU-Boulder astronomer Jason Glenn is part of an international team that is beginning to sort out why, and talks with How On Earth’s Jim Pullen.

Hosts: Beth Bartel and Susan Moran
Producer: Beth Bartel
Engineer: Jim Pullen
Additional contributions: Jim Pullen
Executive Producer: Joel Parker

Listen to the show:


Boulder Robotics // Compassion

Image courtesy of Boulder is for Robotics


Boulder is for Robotics (start time 4:00). “It starts really with the fact that a lot of robotics materials, sensors and manufacturing are here in Colorado.” Boulder as a hub for robotics? You bet. KGNU’s Tom McKinnon reports from the first Boulder is for Robotics meetup, which drew over 100 participants. Learn about some local projects, from robots for agriculture to robots for kids.


Photo courtesy of Flickr user gelinh, used under Creative Commons

The Neurology of Compassion (start time 12:50). “Someone on the street asks you for money. Do you give or not? What drives that decision?” Researchers Jessica Andrews-Hanna and Yoni Ashar from University of Colorado’s Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience Lab talk to us about the causes and effects of compassion. The first of their studies on compassion looks at charitable giving. What determines whether a person will decide to donate part of their earnings? They also talk to us about their current study, which involves using brain scans to evaluate the effect of compassion meditation.

Hosts: Tom McKinnon & Beth Bartel
Producer: Beth Bartel
Engineers: Jim Pullen and Shelley Schlender
Additional contributions: Breanna Draxler & Susan Moran
Executive producer: Shelley Schlender

Listen to the show:


Wild Turkeys // Light Pollution

Wild turkeys in Utah

Merriam's turkey, courtesy of Flickr user "Fool-On-The-Hill."

In celebration of Thanksgiving, Beth Bartel interviews Stan Baker of the National Wild Turkey Federation about wild turkeys in Colorado. You may be surprised at the story of the wild turkey in North America and just how different the wild turkey is from the domestic turkeys we’re used to. There’s a reason Benjamin Franklin wanted the turkey, not the bald eagle, to be our national bird.

Can light pollution at night lead to air pollution during the day? Jim Pullen talks with researcher Harald Stark of the Cooperative Institute for Research in the Environmental Sciences (CIRES) to find out. Stark’s work has taken him over Los Angeles to measure the chemistry of the night sky. What he is learning increases our understanding of ground-level ozone, which is a major pollutant of our urban air.

Photo of L.A. at night

Los Angeles, courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

Hosts: Joel Parker & Beth Bartel
Producer: Beth Bartel
Engineer: Ted Burnham
Executive Producer: Tom McKinnon

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