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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Geoengineering the Climate

Image credit: Daily Sun

Image credit: Daily Sun

Hacking the Planet (start time: 10:24):
It’s tough to wrap one’s mind around just how monumental and consequential the problem of climate change is. So dire that scientist and engineers for years have been exploring ways to “hack” the planet–to manipulate the global climate system enough to significantly reduce planet-warming gases or increase the Earth’s ability to reflect solar radiation. This audacious scheme, called geoengineering, only exists because many scientists think that human behavioral change, industry regulations, international treaties and national legislation, have not done enough — can not do enough – to keep us from careening toward climate catastrophe.
Our guests today have given this huge challenge a lot of thought and some research. 
Dr. Lisa Dilling is an associate professor of Environmental Studies at CU Boulder and a fellow at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, or CIRESDr. David Fahey is a physicist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA.  He directs the Chemical Sciences Division at NOAA’s Earth System Research Lab in Boulder.

Some relevant materials on geoengineering:
2017 study on public perception of climate change;
2015 National Research Council committee evaluation of proposed climate-intervention tchniques.

Hosts: Susan Moran, Joel Parker
Producer: Susan Moran
Engineer: Joel Parker
Contributor: Chip Grandits
Executive Producer: Susan Moran

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Enlightenment Now

Book coverYou may be among many who wistfully harken back to the “golden days” of the past. For some people the past does look rosier, or perhaps the present looks grim, but, according to Steven Pinker, a Harvard University cognitive psychologist, that “golden age” of the past is a reflection of faulty memory.

We — most people in the world, anyway — are actually far better off than we were decades and surely centuries ago. That’s based on many metrics of progress, including literacy, safety, gender equality, lower poverty, and many more. Pinker presents in his new book an abundance of data as evidence of such progress. This progress, he argues, is rooted in the ideals of the Enlightenment some 250 years ago.

Pinker’s book is called “Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress.” Last week we played a couple of segments of an interview that How On Earth host Susan Moran and KGNU journalist Joel Edelstein conducted with Dr. Pinker. In today’s feature, we play that interview in full.

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

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Enlightenment Now // Pledge Drive Teaser

Book coverToday’s pledge-drive show features parts of our recent interview with Steven Pinker.
Enlightenment Now: If you think the world, including the U.S., is falling apart, that the ideal of progress is as quaint as riding to work on a horse and carriage, you’re hardly alone. But you’re wrong, argues  Harvard University cognitive scientist Steven Pinker in his new book. It’s called Enlightenment Now: A Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress. As he shows in many copious charts and graphs from studies and national statistics, most people are living longer, healthier, safer, freer, and happier lives. And while our problems are formidable, the solutions, Pinker claims, lie in the Enlightenment ideal of using reason and science. Provocative? Yes. Pollyannaish? No, says Pinker. Today’s show features two sections of a recent interview that How On Earth host Susan Moran and KGNU host Joel Edelstein conducted with Pinker.

We will play the full interview on our March 20th science show. Meanwhile, Pinker will discuss and sign his book at two events on the Front Range on Saturday, March 17. He will be at Tattered Cover Book Store in Denver (2526 Colfax Ave.) at 4:00 p.m. Then he’ll speak at 7:00 p.m. at Unity of Boulder Church (2855 Folsom St.) Check with Boulder Book Store about tickets.

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

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Urban Air Pollution: A new culprit

Los Angeles Smog. Image Courtesy of Clean Air Coalition

Los Angeles Smog. Image Courtesy of Clean Air Coalition

It’s the endless stream of tailpipes on the L.A. freeway which  causes that unsightly smog, nagging cough and chronic respitory problems, right?  Perhaps not any more, a new scientific study helps build the case that the major culprit may now be purchases made at the corner drug store or hardware store.  Chip Grandits speaks with Dr. Brian McDonald of NOAA about perhaps changing tactics for the next stage in the human race’s campaign to keep the air clean and healthy in both the indoor and outdoor environments of the urban areas many of us call home.

A couple headlines focus on related aspects of the changing climate in our Alpine environment and what it really means.  Does it seem like spring comes earlier every year, or is that just your imagination?  Well, the science says probably not, especially if you live in the Northern latitudes.  Science journalist Tom Yulsman, who writes about climate change and beyond in his blog ImaGeo for Discover magazine,  offers a headline  the declining snowpack in the Rockies.

Producer, Host, Engineer:  Chip Grandits
Contributors: Tom Yulsman, Susan Moran
Executive Producer: Susan Moran

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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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