Tackling Ozone Pollution

Denver ozone pollution

Ozone pollution over Denver Photo credit: CDPHE

Tackling ozone pollution in Colorado (starts at 3:55): Cooler fall weather might soon bring back the bluebird skies we all love. But last year ozone levels in the Denver metropolitan area were high enough to prompt state health officials to issue ozone action alerts an average of once a week. (This summer has fared somewhat better.) During these ozone alerts, health officials recommend that children, the elderly and people with compromised lungs do not exercise outdoors. Hosts Daniel Glick and Susan Moran interview John Putnam, the environmental programs director for Colorado’s Department of Public Health and Environment, about the science, the sources (the largest being oil and gas operations), the health impacts, and policy approaches to ozone pollution. Governor Jared Polis named Putnam to tackle, among other things, a longstanding problem with the state’s air quality: parts of the state have been out of compliance with federal Clean Air Act standards for more than a decade. Last year, the Environmental Protection Agency upped the ante. It  declared that parts of Colorado are in “serious” non-compliance of federal air quality standards for ozone, which we all know as “smog.”
For more info on health impacts, read Susan’s article. For info on in intricacies of the state’s oil and gas rules, read this article by Daniel. And the CDPHE features ongoing info on ozone here.
For info on the “climate strike” this Friday and climate activities over the next week, look here.

Hosts: Daniel Glick, Susan Moran
Producers: Daniel Glick, Susan Moran
Engineer: Joel Parker
Executive Producer: Beth Bennett

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Toxic Air’s Health Risks

Air pollution over Denver. Photo credit: NCAR

Air pollution over Denver. Photo credit: NCAR

Air Pollution, Possible Solutions
(start time: 2:36) It is ubiquitous and essential to our life. It it is also the cause of some 7 million premature deaths around the world every year, ranking just behind diet, cancer and tobacco as a health risk. That’s the air we breath. Beijing, New Delhi, and London are among the smoggiest, but the Denver metro area isn’t faring so well either. Yet many countries and cities have taken positive steps that have dramatically reduced emissions, from vehicles, smokestacks, crop and animal production, and other sources. Our two guests today have been researching air pollution—its sources, impacts and solutions–and they share their insights and data with How On Earth’s Susan Moran and guest host, journalist Jason PlautzBeth Gardiner, an environmental journalist based in London, authored the recently published book Choked: Life and Breath in the Age of Air Pollution. And Dr. Frank Flocke is an atmospheric scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, and an author of a major study of air pollution sources on the Colorado Front Range.

Hosts: Susan Moran, Jason Plautz
Producer: Susan Moran
Engineer: Joel Parker
Executive Producer: Joel Parker

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Wildfire Health Impacts // Detained Immigrant Children Suffer Medical Woes

We offer two feature interviews on this week’s show:

Wildfire-induced hazey Denver skyline Photo credit: Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

Wildfire-induced hazey Denver skyline
Photo credit: Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

Health Impacts of Wildfire Smoke (start time: 4:22) It’s peak wildfire season. Smoke from forest and grass fires contains particulates that can irritate eyes, throat and lungs — especially in children, the elderly, and people already suffering from asthma, allergies, heart disease. How On Earth host Susan Moran interviews Anthony Gerber, MD/PhD, a pulmonologist and an associate professor of medicine at National Jewish Health and the University of Colorado, Denver, about the medical risks of breathing smokey air and what people can do to minimize the impact. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment also offers info and warnings on air quality in Colorado.

Migrant children at detention center in Texas, Photo credit: Women News Network

Migrant children at detention center in Texas, Photo credit: Women News Network

Detained Migrant Children Suffer Medically (start time: 17:02) Since April, when the Trump administration’s controversial zero-tolerance policy went into effect to crack down on families crossing the border illegally, more than 2,300 migrant children have been separated from their parents and detained in government detention centers. More recently, about 200 of the children have been reunited with their parents, but bulk of them have not. As a result, many of the children suffer from physical and mental health problems. Colleen Kraft, a pediatrician and president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, talks with host Susan Moran about the medical impacts on migrant children.

Hosts: Susan Moran, Joel Parker
Producer: Susan Moran
Engineer: Joel Parker
Executive Producer: Beth Bennett

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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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Toward Sustainable Agriculture

Corn fields in Illinois

Corn fields in Illinois

Sustainable Agriculture (starts 3:06): We couldn’t feed the planet without nitrogen, a vital nutrient for crops. But most soils don’t produce enough of it to feed anywhere near our 7 billion-plus humans on the planet. So, for nearly a century we’ve been applying synthetic fertilizer—mainly nitrogen and phosphorus — to grow crops for animals and people. But we have overindulged, creating vast amounts of waste, in the form of nitrogen pollution of waterways and the atmosphere. State and federal regulations have pressured growers to dramatically reduce fertilizer runoff from their fields. But it’s not been enough. Another approach – call it the carrot versus the stick – is also taking hold. Major food retailers, wholesalers, and producers, such as Walmart, United Suppliers and Unilever are transforming their whole supply chains, making food production less carbon- and nitrogen-intensive. Suzy Friedman, a sustainable agriculture expert with the Environmental Defense Fund, discusses with host Susan Moran how programs such as SUSTAIN help large food companies shrink their environmental footprint.

Hosts: Natalia Bayona, Susan Moran
Producer: Susan Moran
Engineer: Tim Russo
Executive Producer: Susan Moran

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Himalayan Glacial Lakes

dec20Himalayan Glacial Lakes (starts at 5:20) Some scientists conduct their experiments in a laboratory — think clean white walls, artificial lighting, A.C. and a convenient coffee pot not far away. Not so for Ulyana Horodyskyj, a graduate student at the University of Colorado. For the last few years she’s been looking at glaciers and the lakes on top of them in Nepal. Last year she spent a year looking at how pollution affects glaciers high in the Himalayan Mountains. She hoped to set up the ultimate high-altitude laboratory on the oxygen-thin slopes of Mount Everest, but a fatal accident intervened. On this edition of How on Earth, she talks about her latest research, Himalayan glaciers and what it is like to do science at the top of the world.

Hosts: Jane Palmer, Joel Parker
Producer, Engineer: Joel Parker
Executive Producers: Jane Palmer, Kendra Krueger
Additional Contributions: Beth Bennett, Shelley Schlender

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Nitrogen pollution // Electric vehicles

On today’s show we offer two interview features.
Feature #1:

Gulf of Mexico hypoxic zone, caused by excess nutrients, mainly nitrogen from fertilizer

Last week the Environmental Protection Agency published a seminal report about nitrogen, which is an enormous environmental and public health problem that some scientists put on par with the carbon imbalance. Nitrogen is essential for all life, including ours, but excess nitrogen in the environment is turning out to be a predicament of crisis proportions. It kills fish, creates “dead zones” in places like the Gulf of Mexico, contaminates drinking water, and causes human illnesses.
Co-host Susan Moran interviews Dr. Hans Paerl, who has served on the EPA science advisory board and co-authored the report.   He’s a professor of Marine and Environmental Sciences, at the UNC-Chapel Hill Institute of Marine Sciences.

Tesla Roadster

Feature #2:
Our reliance on petroleum-fueled vehicles can be blamed, at least in part for a wide range of problems we face today, from local air pollution to global warming, the balance of payments deficit to political instability on a global scale.  One possible solution is to shift from a reliance on gasoline to the use of electricity for transportation.  Co-host Tom McKinnon interviews John Gartner, a senior analyst at Pike Research in Boulder, to discuss the electric vehicle outlook in the U.S.

Hosts: Susan Moran, Tom McKinnon
Producer: Susan Moran
Engineer: Ted Burnham

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