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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Holiday Sci & Tech Gifts // Eating Your Heart Out?


We take a look at favorite holiday sci-tech gifts, including the SparkFun Inventor’s Kit, Logicomix, Manga Guide to Electricity, Lego Mindstorms,  a fun new novelty for anyone on your list – giant microbes.  After the show, we also voted to add yet one more item to your last-minute gifts – a mesh bag of any size, for . . . what else?  Catching neutrinos.

Also on the show this week,  How on Earth’s Roger Wendell describes a new way to clean irrigation ditches, called, a “Self Cleaning Trash Screen for Irrigation Water (Watch on You Tube).”

Dick Williams (left) and Chip Grandits at KGNU

Local author and scientist Dick Williams talks with How on Earth’s Chip Grandits about Dick’s new book:  Eating Your Heart Out?  Williams, with coauthors Binx Selby and Linda Fong.  In his book, Dick writes, “For over a half-century, careful scientific researchers have known what a good balanced diet really means, yet most of us have largely ignored this important information. We have preferred to continue in our culturally determined ruts, eating ourselves to death. Major research projects have noted how some peoples in the world have lived healthy lives past the 100-year mark in communities, such as the Inuit living above the Arctic circle, and the traditional villages of the island, Crete, in the Mediterranean, where cardiac events are completely unknown. ”

Producer: Shelley Schlender
Co-Hosts: Tom McKinnon & Beth Bartel, with special reports from Roger Wendell and Chip Grandits.
Engineer: Shelley Schlender
Executive Producer: Tom McKinnon

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Incentives for Renewable Energy//Climate Change and Biodiversity

In last month’s election, Boulder voters gave the go-ahead for the city to move forward on municipalizing the electrical utility.  The chief motivation for that decision was to put more renewable energy on the grid.  There are a large number of policy options to incentivize renewable energy – so many that it’s hard to keep them all straight.  John Farrell, a Senior Researcher at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, joined us by phone to explain the situation.  (interview begins at 6:25)

Mountainous areas like the Rockies are hotspots for plant and animal biodiversity but as the climate warms many of these species – including Colorado’s iconic pica — are under threat.  Much research has focused on the effects of temperature change, but less has focused on the interactions of temperature and precipitation in a changing climate.  University of Colorado biologist Christy McCain is closely examining those inter-relationships.  She’s been studying patterns of diversity for plants and critters on mountains around the world. She co-authored a paper that was recently published in the journal Ecology Letters about how precipitation changes appear to be far more risky than temperature change. And it doesn’t bode well for many species. (interview begins at 14:58).

Producer: Tom McKinnon
Co-Hosts: Susan Moran and Tom McKinnon
Engineer: Jim Pullen
Executive Producer: Tom McKinnon


Future of Electric Vehicles//Diet and Acne

Jim Motavalli joins us by phone from his home in Fairfield, Connecticut.  Jim is the author of a new book titled “High Voltage: The Fast Track to Plug In the Auto Industry” and helped us sort out some of the issues around EVs.  Mr. Motavalli is an auto journalist who writes for the New York Times, Car Talk, the Mother Nature Network and  Jim has been covering the emerging electric vehicle industry for the last decade.   He reported that if he finds some extra money in his sofa cushions he’ll be buying a Tesla Roadster.   Rodale Press has donated some copies of “High Voltage” as premiums for new and renewing members.  Give us a call at 303-449-4885 and you’ll be reading Jim’s book faster than you can charge up your Nissan Leaf. (Motavalli interview starts at 4:39).

Shelley Schlender visited with Colorado State University Scientist and Paleolithic Lifestyle expert Loren Cordain to talk about acne prevention.    Cordain asserts that the best “prescription” for preventing acne is to eat the foods that have always helped traditional cultures be acne-free.  That means lots and lots of vegetables, along with some fruit.  Meanwhile, kick out modern foods–especially high glycemic foods . . . that means avoid sugary and starchy modern stuff  — you know, sodas, candy, bread and pasta.  Cordain also says to eliminate dairy.  (Cordain interview starts at 16:05).

Producer: Tom McKinnon
Co-Hosts: Breanna Draxler and Tom McKinnon
Engineer: Ted Burnham
Executive Producer: Tom McKinnon


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