About Susan Moran


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Susan Moran has written 59 articles so far, you can find them below.


State Climatologist // Water Contamination

Nolan Doesken

Feature #1: (start time 5:09)  Did you know that Colorado, and for that matter most states, have their own “state climatologist” – an expert who keeps tabs on the changing climate and its impacts in the state. In Colorado’s case it’s Nolan Doesken. He’s based out of the Colorado Climate Center at Colorado State University. Mr. Doesken also heads a nationwide citizen-science project called the  Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network. How On Earth co-host Susan Moran interviews Mr. Doesken about the network, as well as a recently released Colorado River Basin Water Supply & Demand Study, which suggests we’ll be thirstier and thirstier in the future.

Mark Williams sampling a groundwater well near Buena Vista.

Feature #2: (start time 16:00) Water is such an essential — perhaps the essential — resource for life that it is considered as a key ingredient for life anywhere in the universe. No surprise, then, that it has become a battleground, especially in the Western states like Colorado that are dealing with drought conditions and higher demand for clean water to support a ever-increasing population. Dr. Mark Williams, professor of geography at CU Boulder talks with co-host Joel Parker about his research into the environmental and human health impacts of energy development and mining on the quality of water in our aquifers.

Hosts: Susan Moran, Joel Parker
Producer: Susan Moran|
Engineer: Jim Pullen
Executive Producer: Jim Pullen

 (Click below to play audio.)

This show was featured January 7th 2013 by Science 360 Radio

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The Dust Bowl / Population Growth

Feature #1: The Dust Bowl (start time 6:53)

Dust Bowl, courtesy Creative Commons

As bad as the drought has been recently in Colorado and other states, it pales in comparison to the nearly 10-year-long drought of the 1930s. Its unrelenting and gargantuan dust storms inspired the name “The Dust Bowl.” In southeast Colorado and other Great Plains states, children died of dust pneumonia. Thousands of cattle died or were slaughtered. Hundreds of thousands of people were forced to flee their homes. It came to be called “the worst man-made ecological disaster in American history.” On November 18th and 19th PBS will air a four-hour documentary called The Dust Bowl. It was directed by Ken Burns and written and co-produced by author Dayton Duncan. How On Earth co-host Susan Moran talks with Duncan about the film and the lessons learned –or not learned — from The Dust Bowl.

Feature #2: Zero Population (start time 15:58)  John Seager, CEO of the nonprofit Population Connection, discusses with How On Earth co-host Ted Burnham about the organization’s efforts to help American citizens and politicians understand the environmental and other implications of the ever-expanding global human population. John will speak this Friday at the CU campus in Boulder. His presentation is titled, “Soaring Past 7 Billion: Population Challenges for a Crowded World.”

Hosts: Ted Burnham and Susan Moran
Producer: Susan Moran
Engineer: Maeve Conran
Executive Producer: Jim Pullen

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Geologic Carbon Sequestration // Clean Technology

Dr. Robert Finley at the ADM injection site

Geologic Carbon Sequestration (Start time 4:53): As carbon dioxide emissions continue to skyrocket, researchers are scrambling to find reliable ways to curb emissions of the most persistent greenhouse gas. One of the experimental approaches is geologic carbon sequestration – trapping CO2 from power plants and other sources and pumping it thousands of feet underground in rock formations. The technology looks promising, but it also had drawn controversy. One of the more unusual research projects is in Decatur, Illinois, where CO2 used in the fermentation process for producing ethanol at Archer Daniel Midland’s corn-processing plant is being injected deep into the Illinois Basin. Co-host Susan Moran talks with Dr. Robert Finley, a geologist with the Illinois State Geological Survey and principal investigator of the Decatur project.

Colorado Clean-tech Industry (Start time 16:14): It’s not news that we are in an economic downturn.  Nor is it news that the world is facing monumental environmental problems.  How about a way to kill two birds with one stone? Co-host Tom McKinnon discusses how with Wayne Greenberg, director of the Fellows Institute, which is sponsored by the Colorado Cleantech Industry Association.  Greenberg was the former president of E Source in Boulder, and he was the associate dean of the Tulane Law School.

Hosts: Tom McKinnon, Susan Moran
Producer: Susan Moran
Engineer: Jim Pullen
Executive Producer: Susan Moran

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Distributed Energy // Pluto’s Occultation

In today’s How On Earth we have two features:
Distributed Energy (start time 5:46): Enjoying the twinkling stars without nighttime light pollution is a luxury for many of us. We can flick on the switch when we return home, after all. But think what would it be like if you were among the 1.5 billion people around the world who lack to centralized electricity. Having no lights at night keeps many of them  poor and illiterate, and it can create a public health and national security crisis. How On Earth co-host Susan Moran interviews two experts in the field of distributed and decentralized energy.  Rachel Kleinfeld is co-author (along with Drew Sloan) of a new book called Let There Be Light: Electrifying the Developing World with Markets and Distributed Energy.” She is CEO of the Truman National Security Project. Stephen Katsaros is  founder of Nokero, a Denver-based startup company that makes solar LED light bulbs.

Marc Buie of SWRI in Chile, photo courtesy of Sky and Telescope

Pluto’s Occultation (start time 16:31): It is a good time these days for watching solar system. Last week there was a solar eclipse, next week is a lunar eclipse and a transit of Venus (where Venus can be seen moving across the disk of the Sun).  Next week there is yet another solar system event of one object moving in front of another, though it’s not visible without the aid of a telescope. On June 4th Pluto will pass in front of a relatively bright star, an “occultation” event that will send teams of astronomers scrambling around the world to observe.  One team member is How on Earth’s own Joel Parker, an astrophysicist with the Boulder office of the Southwest Research Institute. He’ll be deployed to an observatory in New Zealand to observe the occultation.  Joel talks with How On Earth co-host Tom McKinnon on the eve of his adventure about the occultation and why scientists are interested in observing it. (Here’s an article and video about last year’s occulting Pluto.

Hosts: Tom McKinnon, Susan Moran
Engineer: Jim Pullen
Producer: Susan Moran
Executive Producer: Joel Parker

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The Science of Habit Formation

The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg

The Power of Habit: If you’re like most of us you’ve tried over and over again to break a bad habit —  be it procrastinating, gorging on chocolate chip cookies every night, or watching TV rather than exercising.  And you know how hard it is to “kick” bad habits.  This week on How On Earth we offer one full-length feature (start at 7:57). Co-host Susan Moran interviews New York Times reporter Charles Duhigg, author of a new book titled The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life and Business. Duhigg sheds light on why our brains form habits, how they serve (or don’t)  individuals, as well as companies and societies, and how we can turn bad habits into positive ones once we understand what scientists call the habit “loop.” You can also hear an extended version of that interview by clicking here.

Hosts: Susan Moran, Joel Parker
Producer: Susan Moran
Engineer: Jim Pullen
Executive Producer: Shelley Schlender

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Fukushima Anniversary: global impacts one year later

Damaged Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, courtesy Air Photo Service

Fukushima’s impacts a year later: In today’s show we offer a full-length feature (start at 4:57) to mark the one-year anniversary of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant disaster — the worse nuclear meltdown since Chernobyl in 1986. We explore the longer-term impacts on public health, the environment, and the nuclear power industry, both in Japan and in the U.S., Europe and elsewhere. Co-host Susan Moran interviews two nuclear experts: Jeff King, the interim director of the Nuclear Science and Engineering Program at the Colorado School of Mines; and Len Ackland, co-director of the Center for Environmental Journalism at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He is also author of “Making a Real Killing: Rocky Flats and the Nuclear West.”  (King and Ackland also joined us on March 22, last year.)

Hosts: Breanna Draxler, Susan Moran
Producer: Susan Moran
Engineer: Jim Pullen
Executive Producer: Shelley Schlender

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Fukushima Cleanup // Space Debris

Today, Feb. 28, we feature two interviews.

Fukushima Daichi nuclear power plant meltdown, Image courtesy of Yomiuri Shimbun

Fukashima Cleanup (start at 7:23).  A daunting and ongoing cleanup task is that of removing radioactively contaminated material from Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The plant suffered a meltdown in the wake of a massive earthquake and subsequent tsunami on March 11, 2011. The tsunami swallowed whole towns and killed more than 20,000 people. How On Earth Executive Producer Shelley Schlender interviews Steve Rima, vice president of Radiological Services and Engineering at AMEC, in Grand Junction, Colorado.  AMEC is assisting with radiation cleanup in the 500-square-mile Fukushima evacuation area. (Scroll down to previous post to hear extended version of the interview.)

Space debris, image courtesy of Wikipedia

Space Debris (start at 14:10). You thought cleaning your room was a chore. Imagine the problem if your room was the size of, say, the space around Earth where real, full-sized rockets and satellites are in orbit.  Who is going to clean all that up?  Or is it even a problem?  How On Earth cohost Joel Parker interviews Dr. Darren McKnight about this issue of “space junk” or “space debris.”  Dr. McKnight is the technical director at Integrity Applications Incorporated. He has served on the National Research Council’s Committee on NASA’s Orbital Debris and Micrometeoroid Program, and is a member of the International Academy of Astronautics. He is coauthor of the book “Artificial Space Debris.”

Hosts: Susan Moran, Joel Parker
Producer: Susan Moran
Engineer: Jim Pullen
Headline contributor: Breanna Draxler
Executive Producer: Shelley Schlender

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Algae oil omega-3 // Little Ice Age

algae samples growing in a DSM lab; photo courtesy of DSM

Algae Oil Omega-3 (start time 5:28).  Omega-3 dietary supplements are all the rage. Many studies claim that this family of fatty acids benefits your brain, heart and vision, among other things. A non-fish source that already is infused in milk and other foods we consume is oil derived from marine algae. Cohost Susan Moran interviews Dr. Bill Barclay, a microbial ecologist who manages the Boulder division of Martek Biosciences (now DSM). He talks about how he discovered how to produce DHA omega-3 oils from microalgae, and how they can boost our health in an environmentally sustainable way (or at least free of concern about overfishing).

Gifford Miller collecting dead plant samples from beneath a Baffin Island ice cap; photo courtesy of Gifford Miller

Little Ice Age (start time 15:25). Shortly after the Middle Ages, something strange happened.  Suddenly, the entire world got a little cooler.  And then it hung on. The cooling lasted over 500 years, all the way to the 1800s.  Those five cool centuries are known as the Little Ice Age.  How it happened has been a mystery that modern climate scientists have worked hard to figure out, and one they’ve argued about.  Now, a University of Colorado Boulder-led study appears to have finally solved the mystery.  HOE’s Shelley Schlender interviews the lead author of the study, CU-Boulder Professor Gifford Miller.

Hosts: Tom McKinnon, Susan Moran
Contributor: Breanna Draxler
Producer: Susan Moran
Engineer: Shelley Schlender
Executive Producer: Shelley Schlender

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Clean Water Struggles // 2011’s Big Sci-Enviro-Tech Stories

Mining retention pond in Colorado. Image courtesy of the EPA.

Clean Water Struggles. Co-host Susan Moran interviews journalist Judith Lewis Mernit about how small rural communities in the West are struggling to afford complying with federal water-quality standards as they relate to water pollutants. Mernit wrote an article on the topic in High Country News’ Dec. 12 issue. She explores the unintended consequences of complex federal  standards, which place a disproportionately heavy burden on small communities.  A big bone of contention, and a source of a flood of lawsuits, is a provision in the Clean Water Act that forces states to assess their impaired waterways and set maximum limits, or loads, for nitrates and other pollutants in them.

Bastrop, Texas fire. Photo courtesy of Michael Kodas.

2011’s Big Sci-Enviro-Tech Stories. In the second feature co-hosts Susan Moran and Tom Yulsman are joined by How On Earth’s Tom McKinnon and Shelley Schlender, as well as photojournalist Michael Kodas (author of a forthcoming book on megafires) to reflect on 2011’s major science, technology and environment stories. The list includes extreme weather events, record-high carbon dioxide levels, the Fukushima nuclear disaster, Boulder’s November vote to consider municipalizing its electricity, and advancements in proteomics. Stay tuned for plenty more coverage of these topics on How On Earth in 2012. (Scroll down to download the audio file of the show.)

Hosts: Susan Moran, Tom Yulsman
Producer: Susan Moran
Engineers: Tom McKinnon, Shelley Schlender
Executive Producer: Tom McKinnon

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Urban Parks // Pythons and Heart Disease

Today, November 1, we offer two features.

Central Park is also nature

Feature #1: Co-host Susan Moran interviews Jonathan Jarvis, director of the National Park Service, who discusses NPS’ quest to lure more people to urban parks, not just the iconic national parks such as Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon. These “threshold” experiences can lead people to appreciate, and help preserve, nature, including national parks. He also speaks of the NPS’ efforts to save the most threatened national parks, especially the Everglades.
Listen to the extended version of the interview here.

Python, courtesy CU-Boulder

Feature #2: A python’s remarkable ability to quickly enlarge its heart and other organs during digestion is leading scientists at the University of Colorado in Boulder to uncover potential new therapies for heart disease. Their research was recently published in the journal Science. The new study also offers clues to how a special combination of fats found in normal foods just might end up as a powerful drug someday for helping a failing heart. How on Earth’s Shelley Schlender reports on the CU team’s research.

Hosts: Breanna Draxler, Susan Moran
Producer: Susan Moran
Engineer: Tom McKinnon

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