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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The Starmus Festival

news-placeholder-Starmus-e1517313691450Woodstock.  Lallapalooza. Lilith Fair.  Coachella.  Burning Man.  All famous music and art festivals.  What about…science festivals?  Perhaps a festival with all the “rock stars” of science and space exploration, and while you’re at it, throw in a few music rock stars as well?  Well, that describes the Starmus Festival.  Starmus is the brain child of Dr. Garik Israelian, an astrophysicist who led the team that found the first observational evidence that supernova explosions are responsible for the formation of stellar mass black holes. We talk with Dr. Israelian about the past, present, and future of Starmus.

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

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Spaceport Earth

Spaceport Earth by Joe Pappalargo

Spaceport Earth. This week on How on Earth, we speak with Joe Pappalardo about his book “Spaceport Earth”. With the successes of Space-X and Blue Origin, private and commercial spaceflight is a fast growing business. Pappalardo talks with us about this new space industry and the advances and setbacks that have been faced. In particular, Pappalardo shares his knowledge about the spaceports, new and old, that are part of the new space endeavours. We also talk about how these new launch opportunities provide new ways to support the scientific exploration of both Earth and space.

Hosts: Alejandro Soto, Joel Parker
Producer: Alejandro Soto
Engineers: Joel Parker
Contributers: Shelley Schlender
Executive Producer: Susan Moran

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Science on Tap

24991528_1121359964633876_8235555632401660665_nBoulder, Colorado has a rich culture of science, as the home for serveral prestigious national laboratories, a thriving technology industry, the flagship campus of the University of Colorado and various joint ventures between them.  As a science enthusiast, where might you go to find a community of like minded people? Must you work in a lab? Teach at a university? Enroll as a student?   Well now Boulder has Science On Tap, a monthly opportunity for science enthusiasts and beer lovers to come together and discover the latest and greatest research in science and technology that is happening along the Front Range.  With us in the studio is Chelsea Thompson who was instrumental in bringing Science On Tap to Boulder.

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

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2017 Look Back – 2018 Look Forward

2017For this end-of-the-year/start-of-the-year  How on Earth show, we look back to 2017 with clips from some of our features from the past year: selections about tracking methane leaks, ketogenic diets, using MDMA to treat PTSD, gravitational waves, the solar eclipse, space missions, and the politicization of science.  Those are just a few of the topics we covered in 2017, which also included: the continuation of the Our Microbes, Ourselves series, global warming and climate change, research about aging, mutant proteins, how humans have altered nature, future technologies, nuclear tests and the Van Allen belts, biofuels, extinctions following an asteroid impact, monorails, life expectancy in America,  observing stellar occultations by objects in the distant solar system, space shields for satellites, virtual colonoscopies, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI), chronic fatigue syndrome, protecting pollinators, testing our drinking water, cancer, the Long Now foundation, citizen science, fracking, and more!

Hosts: Joel Parker, Susan Moran
Producer, Engineer: Joel Parker
Additional Contributions: Beth Bennett, Shelley Schlender
Executive Producer: Susan Moran

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The Cassini Mission to Saturn

pia03883-nohuygensThe Cassini mission to Saturn launched 20 years ago, on October 15, 1997.  It took seven years to reach Saturn, and has been orbiting and intensely studying Saturn ever since…until last week when the mission ended in a final dive into Saturn’s atmosphere.  The mission studied Saturn, its famous rings, and its many moons using a suite of instruments that observed a broad range of wavelengths from ultraviolet, to visible, infrared, and radio as well as examining dust, charged particles, and magnetic fields.  It also delivered the Huygens probe that descended through the atmosphere of Saturn’s giant moon, Titan.

In this edition of How on earth, we have two scientists from the Cassini mission team.  Dr. Larry Esposito is a Professor at the Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences department at the University of Colorado at Boulder and member of the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at CU.  Dr. Carly Howett is a planetary scientist and manager at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder.  They share with us some of the science from Cassini-Huygens and experiences working on such a long-term and successful space mission.

Host / Producer / Engineer: Joel Parker
Additional Contributions: Beth Bennett, Shelley Schlender
Executive Producer: Alejandro Soto

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Biofuels Tradeoffs

corn-field-farm-vertical-PA
Biofuels Tradeoffs (start time: 8:27): In this week’s show David DeGennaro, an agriculture policy specialist with the National Wildlife Federation and author of a report called “Fueling Destruction,”  talks with host Susan Moran about the environmental consequences of biofuels, and about possible solutions. The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed maintaining record support for biofuels, namely corn. Last week the EPA ended an open public comment period leading up to a decision to maintain, increase or scale back its current support of biofuels as part of the Renewable Fuels Standard, a federal mandate to blend corn-based ethanol and other renewable fuels into conventional gasoline. NWF and some other environmental organizations, along with former California Congressman Henry Waxman, have been urging the EPA and Congress to reduce biofuels mandates. Increased demand for corn has led to the conversion of millions of acres of habitat-rich grasslands and into croplands — all without significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Hosts: Susan Moran, Joel Parker
Producer: Susan Moran
Engineer: Joel Parker
Executive Producer: Alejandro Soto
Additional contributions: Alejandro Soto

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Climate Change and Extinctions Following an Asteroid Impact

asteroid_impactClimate Change and Extinctions Following an Asteroid Impact (starts at 8:45) It has been hypothesized that the dinosaurs were killed off by a large asteroid that struck the Earth. The details of how the impact of a 10 kilometer diameter asteroid led to global scale extinction have remained elusive. Recently, climate researchers from the Boulder area published new climate model results that show how the asteroid impact ultimately leads to widespread cooling in the atmosphere and increased exposure to ultraviolet radiation. These drastic and rapid changes to the climate due to the asteroid impact may explain the global scale extinction.

Two of the authors join us today to talk about this new research. Dr. Charles Bardeen works as a scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, and is the lead author of the new paper. Joining Dr. Bardeen is Professor Brian Toon, a co-author of the new research and a professor at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

Hosts: Alejandro Soto & Joel Parker
Producer and Engineer: Joel Parker
Additional Contributions: Susan Moran, Beth Bennett, Chip Grandits
Executive Producer: Alejandro Soto

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Stay Young – If You’re a Worm

Age

Age

This week on How on Earth, Beth spoke with Dr Gordon Lithgow, a researcher at the Buck Institute for Aging in California who studies aging in nematode worms. Stress actually keeps us young by activating systems that repair and maintain cells. These stresses can be things like caloric restriction and exercise. Eventually the molecular bases of these stresses will be identified and may lead to interventions to slow aging.

Hosts: Beth Bennett & Joel Parker
Producer: Beth Bennett
Engineer: Joel Parker
Additional Contributions: Beth Bennett
Executive Producer: Alejandro Soto

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