COP25 Global Climate Summit

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Tashiana Osborne launching weather balloons in Ukiah, Calif. Photo credit: Maryam Asgari-Lamjiri

COP25 & Climate Change (start time: 1:07): Next month (Dec. 2-13), the United Nations global climate change summit, known as COP25, will take place in Madrid. Many scientists, environmental nonprofits, students, activists will also attend side events related to the UN sustainable development goals (SDG). The goal of COP over the years has been to reduce emissions of planet-warming gases. The talks stem from the landmark 2015 Paris Agreement, which essentially is a mix of pledges from about 200 nations to dramatically cut their greenhouse emissions. The countries are not legally bound to meet their targets, but they are supposed to report their progress to the UN. Under the Obama administration, the U.S. vowed to reduce emissions about 28 percent below 2005 levels, by 2025. But earlier this month, the Trump administration announced that it will begin a year-long process to withdraw the U.S. from the international accord. The stakes are extremely high.

How On Earth’s Susan Moran and guest-host Tom Yulsman discuss COP25 and what’s at stake with Gillian Bowser, an ecologist and research scientist at Colorado State University who has studied international climate and biodiversity conventions and has attended several COP summits; and Tashiana Osborne, a PhD candidate at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, who is studying the effects of atmospheric rivers, and who will attend COP25. Tom Yulsman, a CU Boulder journalism professor and blogger, offers his expertise as a climate-focused science journalist.

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

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A Walking Life // MOSAIC Arctic Expedition

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Photo from Alfred Wegener Institute

In the first feature (start time 1:00) KGNU’s Maeve Conran speaks with Antonia Malchik, author of A Walking Life.  This book  explores the relationship between walking and our humanity, how we have lost it through a century of car-centric design, how we can regain it and more.  This part of the interview, produced especially for How On Earth, focuses on the science behind what makes us able to walk.  For a pedestrian, walking is a simple as putting one foot in front of another, right?  Well from a scientific perspective, there’s quite a bit to it.

In the second feature (start time 13:10), Chip Grandits speaks with Dr. Detlev Helmig, Associate Research Professor at the Institute for Arctic and Alpine Research.  He is one of several Boulder area climate scientists preparing for The MOSAIC expedition, the largest ever Central Arctic research expedition.  In September 2019 A German research icebreaker the Polarstern will head northeast from Tromsø, Norway where it will spend an entire year caught up in the shifting Arctic ice.  Dr. Helmig talks about the need to improve climate models of the poles, what motivates a such complex, expensive and dangerous expedition and what motivates scientists to take a 2 month stint on board the Polarstern trapped in the Arctic ice.

Host: Chip Grandits
Producer: Chip Grandits
Engineer: Chip Grandits
Additional Contributions: Maeve Conran
Executive Producer: Joel Parker

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The Nuclear Option for Decarbonization

BrightFuture-coverIn this week’s show, Beth interviews Joshua Goldstein. He and co-author Steffan Qvist wrote eloquently about how nuclear energy can replace fossil fuels – a vital necessity in a rapidly warming world. A new generation of nuclear plants reduces waste and completely eliminates CO2. In Sweden, France and Ontario, these plants have allowed these countries to eliminate their reliance on fossil fuels and significantly reduce their carbon footprints.
Host: Beth Bennett
Producer: Beth Bennett
Engineer:Maeve Conran
Additional Contributions: Joel Parker
Executive Producer: Joel Parker
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HOLOSCENES / Little Boxes: Science On a Sphere

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HOLSCENE Still. Photo courtesy of Early Morning Opera and NightLight Labs

Spend some time at the intersection of art, engineering and science; we’ll hear about the world premier of HOLOSCENES / Little Boxes February 20, 7:00 PM at Fiske Planetarium in Boulder. Get a glimpse of how cutting edge visual artists team up with world class scientists using the latest technology to complement a rational understanding of climate change with visceral images to inspire empathy with the hope to engender action and change.  In this episode hear Chip Grandits speak with Marda Kirn, director of EcoArts Connections, Shilpi Gupta software engineer at CIRESfor NOAA Science On a Sphere and Dr. Elizabeth Wetherhead a climate scientist and expert in climate forecasting and modeling, recently retired from CU Boulder and CIRES and now working at climate forecasting for Jupiter Intelligence.

     Host: Chip Grandits
Producer: Chip Grandits
Engineer: Chip Grandits
Executive Producer: Beth Bennett

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Composting & Carbon Farming

Eco-Cycle truck dumping organic waste at a compost facility. Photo credit: Dan Matsch

Eco-Cycle truck dumping organic waste at a compost facility. Photo credit: Dan Matsch

Why Compost? (start time: 7:01) Many of us may feel a little less guilty letting fruits and vegetables go bad, because we figure that this waste, thanks to curbside compost pickup, will be turned into nutritious food for crops, lawns or grasslands down the road. And landfills will spew less methane, a greenhouse gas far more potent than carbon dioxide. The story of food waste and reuse is a complicated one. Our two guests are working on getting composting right — and ultimately on how to make our food-production and consumption systems more sustainable, starting here on the Front Range.  Dan Matsch directs the compost department for Eco-Cycle, the nonprofit recycler that works with cities along the Front Range. He also directs Eco-Cycle’s Center for Hard-to-Recycle Materials (CHaRM). Mark Easter is an ecologist at Colorado State University’s Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory.  Matsch and Easter discuss with host Susan Moran the journey of a rotten zucchini, how composting is tied to the emerging practice of carbon farming, and how we all do our part.

Calendar advisory: Join KGNU and Eco-Cycle on Thursday, January 31, at the Longmont Museum (6:30 to 8:00 P.M) for a special community conversation on plastic waste–challenges and solutions. The event will include representatives from Eco-Cycle, the Inland Ocean Coalition, and local business and sustainability leaders. For more info, go to this website.

Hosts: Susan Moran, Chip Grandits
Producer: Susan Moran
Engineer: Chip Grandits
Executive Producer: Beth Bennett
Additional contributions: Beth Bennett

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National Assessment on Climate Change

coverClimate Change (starts at 6:30)  Volume II of the fourth National Assessment on Climate Change was released on the day after Thanksgiving. The findings are stark. It is already too late to prevent major long term effects of climate change.  The scientific community has now turned to predicting and quantifying those effects and how human civilization can respond to mitigate what might be catastrophic results. Today we talk with one of the co-authors of the chapter on Transportation,  Professor Paul Chinowksy, of the CU Department of Civil, Environmental and Architectural Engineering.  He elaborates on the findings of the report and his frustration at the lack of a serious response by the federal government.

Host, Producer, Engineer: Chip Grandits
Executive Producer: Susan Moran

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Cricket Chorus // Foliage Science

This week’s How On Earth features the following two segments:

Snowy Tree Cricket. Photo credit: Scott Severs

Snowy Tree Cricket.
Photo credit: Scott Severs

Late-summer Cricket Chorus (start time: 1:02) One of the most poetic sounds of the end of summer is …. no, not your kids kicking and screaming because summer is over. It’s the sound of crickets, katydids and other melodic insects “chirping” at night. Our focus here is Snowy Tree Crickets in Colorado. They are called “temperature” crickets because you can calculate what the temperature is outside based on how many times these crickets “chirp” in a certain time period. How On Earth’s Shelley Schlender took a stroll recently with two Boulder naturalists — Steve Jones and Scott Severs — to learn more about how, and why, crickets in general make their chirping sound, and why we hear so many of them in the evenings this time of year. Some resources about crickets and their brethren: 1)  http://songsofinsects.com/  2) biology and recordings of nearly all singing Orthopterans (crickets, grasshoppers, katydids), at  Singing Insects of North America (SINA)  http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/Walker/buzz/.

Big Blue Canyon, Colo. Photo credit: Jeff Mitton

Big Blue Canyon, Colo. Photo credit: Jeff Mitton

The Science of Aspen (and other) Foliage (starts: 9:40) One of the most iconic images of Colorado is aspen groves quaking in early fall in their brilliant yellow, orange and even red hues. This year, the aspen, and many other plants, are changing colors earlier than normal. Due largely to the extended warm and dry conditions, many aspen leaves are fading and shriveling without turning bright colors. Dr. Jeff Mitton, an evolutionary biologist and a professor emeritus at the University of Colorado Boulder, talks with host Susan Moran about what dictates the timing and intensity of foliage. Dr. Mitton also writes a bimonthly column, called Natural Selections, in the Daily Camera. Here’s one (of many) on crickets.

Hosts: Maeve Conran, Susan Moran
Producer: Susan Moran
Engineer: Maeve Conran
Contributions: Shelley Schlender
Executive Producer: Susan Moran

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Saving Summer: The National Wildlife Federation Report

NWF LogoThe National Wildlife Federation just released its report, Safeguarding Summer: From Climate Threats to Iconic Summer Experiences. This report chronicles the latest scientific findings on these trends and shows how we can engage on these issues to save our summers now and for future generations. This week Beth interviews the lead author, Frank Szillosi, about the findings and predictions. You can find the entire report at the NWF website, https://www.nwf.org/Home/Latest-News/Press-Releases/2018/08-15-18-Safeguarding-Summer.
Hosts: Beth Bennett and Maeve Conran
Producer: Beth Bennett
Engineer: Maeve Conran
Additional Contributions: Susan Moran & Joel Parker
Executive Producer: Beth Bennett
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Ocean Conservation: MPAs

Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument Credit: James Watt/NOAA

Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument
Credit: James Watt/NOAA

This week’s show brings you the following feature interview:
Protecting Ocean Biodiversity (start time: 2:42) In honor of World Environment Day (today), World Oceans Day (Friday) the March for the Ocean (Saturday), and Capitol Hill Ocean Week (all week), we examine one of the biggest marine conservation tools: Marine Protected Areas. What’s working? What’s not, and why? And what does this have to do with residents of landlocked states such as Colorado? A lot. Hoe On Earth hosts Susan Moran and Sadie Babits interview Dr. Kirsten Grorud-Colvert, an assistant professor of marine ecology at Oregon State University. This interview expands our series called The Ocean Is Us. For info on this week’s local March for the Ocean events, go to Colorado Ocean Coalition. National events and resources at Capitol Hill Ocean Week, March for the Ocean, and Blue Frontier Campaign.

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

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Astrobiology and the Anthropocene

http://www.adamfrankscience.com/

Astrophysicist Adam Frank.

As part of the Conference of World Affairs, which is being held this week at the campus of the University of Colorado, Boulder, we are speaking today with astrophysicist Adam Frank. Frank is a professor at the University of Rochester, where he studies the final stages of evolution for stars like the sun. He is also the author of an upcoming book, “Light of the Stars: Alien Worlds and the Fate of the Earth”, which will be published in June of this year. We spoke with Frank about ideas from this new book, including how the science of astrobiology can provide insights into how humanity can address planetary scale challenges like climate change.

Host: Alejandro Soto
Producer: Alejandro Soto
Engineer: Maeve Conran
Executive Producer: Joel Parker

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