Health Impacts of Oil/Gas Drilling

A well site next to Silver Creek elementary school in Thorton, Colo. Photo credit: Ted Wood/The Story Group

A well site next to Silver Creek elementary school in Thorton, Colo.
Photo credit: Ted Wood/The Story Group

Drilling’s Health Impacts (start time: 7:50): A pressing question on the minds of many Colorado residents, health experts, and others amidst a surge of oil and gas activity is this: Does living near an oil and gas well harm your health? A scientist at the forefront of exploring such questions is Dr. Lisa McKenzie, a professor of environmental epidemiology at the Colorado School of Public Health at the University of Colorado Anschutz. She is the lead author on a recently published study that examines the potential impact of nearby oil and gas drilling on childhood cancer rates. The study’s important findings were challenged by the state Health Department, whose recent assessment concludes that nearby oil and gas operations poses minimal risk to residents. Dr. McKenzie  talks with How On Earth’s Susan Moran about her study, and the complex science of risk, correlation and causation.

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

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Your Baby’s Microbiome

Your Baby's Microbiome book coverYour Baby’s Microbiome (start time 6:13): This week on How on Earth Beth Bennett interviews Toni Harmon, author of Your Baby’s Microbiome, a look into the role the maternal micro biome plays before and after birth. For a newborn, the biological defenses to diseases and the environment come from the mother. Harmon talks about how the birth process and interactions between the newborn and the mother help build up the immunities that a young child requires.

Hosts: Beth Bennett and Alejandro Soto
Producer: Alejandro Soto
Engineer: Beth Bennett
Additional contributions: Susan Moran
Executive Producer: Joel Parker

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Nature Fix 2 // Case Against Sugar

Case-Against-Sugar-BookThe Nature Fix.  (starts 1:50)  In this spring pledge drive show, we revisit the science show interview about the benefits of getting out in nature.

The Case Against Sugar. (starts 9:40) Best-selling science writer Gary Taubes discusses his new book, which explains what happens when industry funds science . . . and controls the strings to science.  It’s a not so sweet story with some bitter truths.  Taube’s new book shares some cloak and dagger moments, such as when a researcher in the Denver Metro area uncovered a load of documents from the mid-20th century about tooth decay.  The documents showed how the sugar and processed food industry funded dental studies – – and worked with national dental associations to  publish research that determined that sugar does not cause cavities.  Additionally, Taubes’s new book includes well-documented reasons he argues that it’s sugar consumption, not salt, that leads to high blood pressure.  And Taubes contends that sugar consumption, not eating fat, leads to obesity and diabetes. 

Hosts: Shelley Schlender and Susan Moran
Producer: Shelley Schlender
Engineer: Shelley Schlender
Executive Producer: Joel Parker

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Eclipse 2017

NSO eclipse announcementEclipse 2017 (start time 5:56): This summer America will experience its first total solar eclipse in almost 30 years. How on Earth’s Alejandro Soto speaks with Dr. Claire Raftery from the National Solar Observatory (NSO) about the upcoming eclipse. Dr. Raftery talks about the science and history of eclipses, the best ways to view the eclipse in August, and how to safely look at an eclipse. Fortunateley, viewing the eclipse only requires a few simple steps and some inexpensive tools, so anyone can experience this exciting event — as long as they can drive to a place in the path of the eclipse. Dr. Raftery also talks about the NSO’s webseries about the eclipse and our Sun. Finally,  there is the opportunity to participate in solar science research by taking part in the Citizen Cate program, a citizen science project that uses telescopes scattered along the path of the eclipse to collaboratively monitor the entire eclipse event.

Hosts: Alejandro Soto and Joel Parker
Producer: Alejandro Soto
Engineer: Joel Parker
Additional contributionsBeth Bennett
Executive Producer: Joel Parker

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Of Wasps and Figs

511tQZJac7L._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_Today’s feature has How on Earth’s Beth Bennett talking with Dr. Mike Shanahan, a biologist who has a degree in rainforest ecology.  He has lived in a national park in Borneo, bred endangered penguins, and investigated illegal bear farms.  His writing has appeared in The Economist, Nature, and The Ecologist, and he also was the illustrator for the book: Extraordinary Animals: An Encyclopedia of Curious and Unusual Animals.  His interests delve into what people think about nature and our place in it.  Beth had a chance to talk with Dr. Shanahan about his new book: Gods, Wasps and Stranglers: The Secret History and Redemptive Future of Fig Trees.

Host: Joel Parker
Producer, Engineer, Executive Producer: Joel Parker
Additional contributions: Beth Bennett, Shelley Schlender

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The Nature Fix

NatureFix_2 with frame.jpgYour Brain on Nature (start time: 5:49): You may think it’s a no-brainer: that nature is good for your mental and physical health. After all, a walk in the woods or even an urban park brightens your outlook on life, at least for a little while. Turns out, the notion that being outside in nature boosts our mood, and even our creativity, has historical roots at least as deep as Aristotle.  A new book by  journalist Florence Williams explores the history of our biophilia, and particularly emerging neuroscience that reveals just how our bodies and minds are affected by getting out in the natural world. The book is called The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative (Norton, 2017). The book stemmed from an article Williams wrote in National Geographic. A former Boulder resident, Williams will return to Boulder to give a talk about her book on Tuesday, February 28th, at the Boulder Book Store, at 7:30 p.m. She’ll also speak in Denver, on Wednesday, March 1st, at Tattered Cover Book Store, at 7:00 p.m.

Hosts: Maeve Conran, Susan Moran
Producer: Susan Moran
Engineer: Maeve Conran
Executive Producer: Joel Parker
Additional contributions: Beth Bennett, Joel Parker, Shelley Schlender

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Citizen Science

Citizen ScienceCitizen Science (start time: 5:32): For those who would love to track birds and other creatures or to test drinking water quality in their community, for instance, but think it would require a degree in science to contribute to important scientific discoveries, our guest today aims to set the record straight. Dr. Caren Cooper is an associate professor of Forestry and Environmental Resources at North Carolina State University. An ornithologist, she studies bird ecology, conservation and management through the use of citizen science. She wrote a recently published book called Citizen Science: How Ordinary People are Changing the Face of Discovery. It highlights many examples of inspiring and important citizen science projects, including a meteorological-forecasting program and some others here in Colorado. Dr. Cooper is also director of research partnerships at SciStarter.com, which connects interested volunteers to a diverse range of research projects that they can work on. Additional citizen science programs can be found at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Audubon Society’s Rockies chapter.

Hosts: Susan Moran, Alejandro Soto
Producer: Alejandro Soto
Engineer: Joel Parker
Additional contributionsBeth Bennett
Executive Producer: Joel Parker

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Clinical Trials Test MDMA as PTSD Treatment

Artwork credit: MDMA trial participant Allison Heistand-Phelps

Artwork credit: MDMA trial participant Allison Heistand-Phelps

This week on How on Earth host Susan Moran interviews two investigators of FDA-approved clinical trials testing the efficacy and safety of the illegal drug MDMA — known in an altered form as Ecstasy or Molly — as a treatment (along with psychotherapy sessions) for Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome. Our guests are Marcela Ot’alora and Bruce Poulter, investigators of the Colorado trial. Marcela is a licensed psychotherapist and Bruce is a registered nurse with a masters degree in public health

PTSD is an anxiety disorder that affects up to one in 12 people in the United States, and it’s at least as common in some other countries. It is a serious, and costly, public health problem. If the trials are successful,  MDMA, which has its critics, could become commercially available as a medically prescribed treatment by 2021. The trials are being funded by a nonprofit organization, the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), which promotes careful and beneficial uses of psychedelics and marijuana.

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

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Secret Life of Fat

Secret Life of Fat Book CoverWhen Sylvia Tara had more trouble fitting into her skinny jeans than her friends, she decided to learn why she was prone to being fat.  Her new book is –  The Secret Life of Fat: The Science Behind the Body’s Least Understood Organ and What It Means for You.

Host: Shelley Schlender
Producer: Shelley Schlender
Engineer: Shelley Schlender
Executive Producer: Joel Parker

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American Gut Project

american-gut-project-stepsamerican-gut-project-steps-151029The American Gut project is the largest crowd-sourced project ever: to date, over 80.000 participants have contributed fecal, skin, or oral samples. The ambitious goal is to characterize the microbiota of as many individuals as possible to identify the diverse species living in and on us. Beth interviews Dr Embrietta Hyde, Project Manager of the Gut project about results and progess.
Host: Beth Bennett
Producer: Beth Bennett
Engineer: Maeve Conran
Executive Producer: Joel Parker
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