Cancer Biology // Oil&Gas Health Impacts

Today’s show offers two feature interviews:
Adaptive Oncogenesis-978-0-674-98596-4-frontcoverNew Theory of How Cancer Evolves Inside Us (start time: 0:58): It is commonly known that cancer afflicts old people more than youth. Conventional wisdom has held we get cancer with age largely because we accumulate lots of genetic mutations over many years, and it’s the mutations that cause cancer. Our guest, Dr. James DeGregori,  deputy director of the University of Colorado Cancer Center, discusses with host Susan Moran his new theory–one that challenges conventional wisdom–about why and how we get cancer. In his new book, called Adaptive Oncogenesis: A New Understanding of How Cancer Evolves Inside Us, DeGregori argues that cancer is as much a disease of evolution as it is of mutation. Mutated cells outcompete healthy ones in the ecosystem of the body’s tissues. Dr. DeGregori is a professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.

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. Photo credit: Ted Wood/The Story Group

Studying Health Impacts of Oil&Gas Wells (start time: 12:54) Many people living all along the Front Range are familiar with the sights and smells of oil rigs operating in fields near their homes and schools.  State regulators argue  that this convergence of people and oil rigs is safe. But many nearby residents and scientists are concerned about the potential health impacts of these drilling operations so close to residential neighborhoods and schools. Our guest, Dr. Lisa McKenzie, is the lead author on a new study that adds some critical evidence to back concerns of residents. It found that for people living within 500 feet of a well, the risk of their getting cancer over the course of their lifetime is eight times higher than the upper acceptable levels established by the federal EPA. Dr. McKenzie is an assistant research professor at the Colorado School of Public Health at the University of Colorado Anshutz Campus. She discusses the study and its implications with hosts Daniel Glick and Susan Moran. (Here is our interview with Dr. McKenzie a year ago about a related study.)

Hosts: Daniel Glick, Susan Moran
Producer: Susan Moran
Engineer: Maeve Conran
Executive Producer: Joel Parker

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Methane Emissions From Natural Gas

Oil and gas wells in Four Corners region. Credit: NASA

Methane Madness (start time: 2:20)  More than a decade ago, scientists noted that the area where Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and Utah meet, known as Four Corners, appeared to be emitting a curiously large amount of methane. In a new study, a team of scientists have traced the source: more than 250 gas wells, storage tanks, pipelines and processing plants associated with oil and gas development in the San Juan Basin. The basin is one of many places where new drilling technologies, including horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, have propelled a boom in natural gas extraction. The boom has transformed the U.S. energy mix. Our two guests discuss with hosts Daniel Glick and Susan Moran the science and public health aspects of this study as well as the human side of living near natural gas wells in Colorado. Dr. Colm Sweeney co-authored the recent Four Corners study. He is the lead scientist for NOAA’s Earth System Research Lab Aircraft Program, and he is a research scientist with the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, or CIRES, at the University of Colorado Boulder. Our other guest, Dr. Christopher Clack, is a physicist and mathematician with CIRES whose research focuses on renewable electricity. He shares his personal experience with and documentation of natural gas extraction.

Hosts: Daniel Glick, Susan Moran
Producer: Susan Moran
Executive Producer: Susan Moran
Engineer: Maeve Conran
Contributor: Joel Parker

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Impacts of Fracking

A natural gas rig near Rifle, Colorado. © AP Photo/David Zalubowsk

A natural gas rig near Rifle, Colorado.
© AP Photo/David Zalubowsk

In Colorado, a boom in methane development over the past few years has raised questions about whether the environmental impacts are outpacing scientists’ ability to measure them. Shelley Schlender and Daniel Glick discuss the current state of the science looking into fracking’s impacts.  Here is a compendium of scientific, medical, and media findings demonstrating risks and harms of fracking.

Hosts: Daniel Glick, Shelley Schlender
Producer: Joel Parker
Engineer: Shelley Schlender
Headlines: Beth Bennett, Natalia Bayona, Joel Parker
Executive Producer: Susan Moran

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Beyond Cop21Paris: Climate Science & Policy

Today, Dec. 8, we offer the following feature:

Waleed Abdalati

Waleed Abdalati, photo credit David Oonk/CIRES

Changing Climate, Changing Policy (start time: 7:06): As political leaders are still hammering out an accord at the UN Climate Summit, or COP21, in Paris, to rein in global warming, today we discuss the underlying scientific facts about climate change, and the policy promises and challenges for our future. Hosts Susan Moran and Daniel Glick interview two Colorado scientists at the intersection of science and policy. Dr. Waleed Abdalati is a geoscientist and director of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES), a partnership between the University of Colorado-Boulder and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Lisa Dilling with CIRES at the University of Colorado Boulder. (Photo by Casey A. Cass/University of Colorado)

Lisa Dilling, photo credit Casey A. Cass/University of Colorado

Dr. Lisa Dilling is an associate professor of environmental studies, also at CIRES, who brings expertise in science policy related to climate issues. She directs The Western Water Assessment, a NOAA program that provides information for policy makers throughout the Intermountain West about the region’s vulnerabilities to climate change impacts. Contributing host Daniel Glick was an editor of the 2014 National Climate Assessment, and his team has produced videos on the immediate and human impacts of climate change.

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

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