Plastic Pollution in Ocean

Photo credit: Conserve Energy Future

Photo credit: Conserve Energy Future

In today’s show we offer two related features:
Plastic Pollution in the Arctic, Green Chemistry  (start time: 7:48) Try to wrap your brain around this statistic: by mid-century the mass of plastic in the oceans will weigh more than the total mass of fish if we continue with ‘business as usual,’ according to the World Economic Forum. Plastic debris, ranging from plastic water bottles to fish nets to invisible fragments, is choking seabirds and mammals all the way up to the Arctic, and quite possibly harming human health. How On Earth host Susan Moran recently attended the Arctic Frontiers conference in Tromso, Norway, where she interviewed one of the speakers, Jenna Jambeck, an environmental engineer at the University of Georgia. Dr. Jambeck directs the Center for Circular Materials Management, where researchers are designing materials and processes that both reduce waste and, like nature itself, reuse waste.

Photo credit: Chris Jordan

Photo credit: Chris Jordan

Grassroots Efforts Curb Plastic Pollution (start time: 20:24) In case you’re wondering what’s land-locked Colorado and your daily life got to do with plastic pollution in the ocean, our guest, Vicki Nichols Goldstein, founder and executive director of the Inland Ocean Coalition, discusses regional and national campaigns to curb plastic waste. The Suck the Straws Out campaign is one of many. You can get involved, starting with attending the Colorado Ocean Coalition‘s Blue Drinks happy hour on Feb. 15 in Boulder.

Hosts: Chip Grandits, Susan Moran
Producer: Susan Moran
Engineers: Maeve Conran, Chip Grandits, Evan Perkins
Executive Producer: Susan Moran

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Arctic Frontiers // Wind Forecasting

Sami and reindeer in Finnmark, Norway. Photo credit: Thomas Nilsen/The Barents Observer

Sami and reindeer in Finnmark, Norway. Photo credit: Thomas Nilsen/The Barents Observer

Arctic Dispatch (starts at 2:18): There is no question that the Arctic is thawing faster than anywhere on the planet, except the western Antarctic Peninsula. But there are still so many unknowns regarding how things are actually changing in different places, and to what effect. How On Earth’s Susan Moran recently attended the Arctic Frontiers conference in Tromso, Norway. Among the scientists who discussed research on how the receding and thinning ice in the Arctic will likely affect different species was  George Hunt, a research professor of biology at the University of Washington. Aili Keskitalo, an indigenous Sami from Finnmark, Norway and president of the Sami Parliament, discussed how energy projects, including windmill parks, are negatively affecting reindeer and Sami culture. Hunt and Keskitalo discussed these issues with Moran.

Wind turbines, Photo credit: National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Wind turbines, Photo credit: National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Wind forecasting (starts at 10:40): The wind industry in the U.S. faces several hurdles, including a technical one: discovering how the wind is going to blow near the mountains. For power systems to be reliable, operators must know when to expect the blustery gusts or when to expect a still breezeless calm day.  That means they need accurate wind forecasts.  The Department of Energy has just given a substantial grant to a coalition of organizations in Colorado to help improve wind energy forecasting in mountain and valley regions. Julie Lundquist, a professor of atmospheric and oceanic sciences at the University of Colorado, discusses the current and planned research with co-host Jane Palmer.

Hosts: Susan Moran, Jane Palmer
Producer: Susan Moran
Engineer: Kendra Krueger
Executive Producer: Kendra Krueger

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Arctic Thaw // Methane Study // Bonobo Conservation

Today’s show offers three features:

Arctic sunset over Tromso, Norway, Photo courtesy Susan Moran

Arctic sunset over Tromso, Norway,
Photo courtesy Susan Moran

Arctic Dispatch: (start time: 1:02) Co-host Susan Moran returns from Tromso, Norway, with a dispatch from the Arctic Frontiers conference, which addressed the human health and environmental impacts of a rapidly thawing Arctic. Lars Otto Reierson, executive secretary of the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program within the Arctic Council, discusses the transport and impacts of  contaminants on the Arctic food web and the indigenous people who depend on it. And Michael Tipton, a physiologist at the University of Portsmouth in the U.K., speaks about the risks of and physiological responses to extreme cold environments. Read Susan’s article in Popular Science for more about the thawing Arctic.

Globally averaged methane (blue) and its de-seasonalized trend (red) determined from NOAA's global cooperative air sampling network. Source: Ed Dlugokencky, NOAA

Source: Ed Dlugokencky, NOAA

Atmospheric methane spikes: (start time: 9:39) Dr. Ed Dlugokencky, an atmospheric chemist with NOAA’s Earth Systems Research Laboratory, speaks with co-host Jim Pullen about a paper he co-authored in Science about a recent spike in atmospheric concentrations of methane, which is 30 times more effective than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas. The graph to the right shows globally averaged methane (blue) and its de-seasonalized trend (red) determined from NOAA’s global cooperative air sampling network. To learn more about KGNU’s coverage of fracking issues, visit our fracking blog!

book coverBonobo Conservation Success: (start time: 16:11) Author Deni Bechard speaks with Susan Moran about his new book, Empty Hands, Open Arms: The Race to Save Bonobos in the Congo and Make Conservation Go Viral. The book highlights the success that a nonprofit is having in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in sparing the animals from extinction while economically benefiting local communities.

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

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