The ATLAS Institute //Firefighters and Climate Change

btu_900w_DSC07621_72Today we are joined in the studio with Mark Gross of the Alliance for Technology, Learning and Society institute at CU and Alicia Gibb Director of The Blow Things Up Lab, one of the spaces part of the ATLAS department.
ATLAS was formed in 1997 as a university wide initiative to integrate information technology into social endeavour.

ATLAS events: http://atlas.colorado.edu/wordpress/?page_id=99

BTU Lab: http://www.btulab.com/about

 

Snowy frigid weather here in February may put wildfires way on the back burner for many of us here in Colorado. But as fire managers have been telling us, wildfire season has become a year-round phenomenon.

In the last decade or so wildfires have been getting more intense, and more dangerous, and more frequent.  No one knows this better than the firefighters themselves. Climate change—making the region hotter and drier—has a lot to do with it. But so does fire management—namely, fire suppression over recent decades. And humans living in houses in the so-called wildland-urban interface is another culprit. A new documentary that will be screened in Boulder this week documents the changes taking place with wildfires and the impact they’re having. The film is called “Unacceptable Risk: Firefighters on the Front Lines of Climate Change.” One of the film’s creators, journalist Dan Glick, joins us in the studio. Dan was also the science editor of the National Climate Assessment that came out last year. Our other guest is Don Whittemore, a long-time firefighter. He was incident commander on the massive Fourmile Canyon Fire of September 2010.

More about the film can be found at unacceptableriskfilm.org.

Hosts: Kendra Krueger and Susan Moran
Executive Producer, Producer and Engineer: Kendra Krueger
Additional Contributions: Beth Bennett and Jane Palmer

 

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Arctic Frontiers // Wind Forecasting

Sami and reindeer in Finnmark, Norway. Photo credit: Thomas Nilsen/The Barents Observer

Sami and reindeer in Finnmark, Norway. Photo credit: Thomas Nilsen/The Barents Observer

Arctic Dispatch (starts at 2:18): There is no question that the Arctic is thawing faster than anywhere on the planet, except the western Antarctic Peninsula. But there are still so many unknowns regarding how things are actually changing in different places, and to what effect. How On Earth’s Susan Moran recently attended the Arctic Frontiers conference in Tromso, Norway. Among the scientists who discussed research on how the receding and thinning ice in the Arctic will likely affect different species was  George Hunt, a research professor of biology at the University of Washington. Aili Keskitalo, an indigenous Sami from Finnmark, Norway and president of the Sami Parliament, discussed how energy projects, including windmill parks, are negatively affecting reindeer and Sami culture. Hunt and Keskitalo discussed these issues with Moran.

Wind turbines, Photo credit: National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Wind turbines, Photo credit: National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Wind forecasting (starts at 10:40): The wind industry in the U.S. faces several hurdles, including a technical one: discovering how the wind is going to blow near the mountains. For power systems to be reliable, operators must know when to expect the blustery gusts or when to expect a still breezeless calm day.  That means they need accurate wind forecasts.  The Department of Energy has just given a substantial grant to a coalition of organizations in Colorado to help improve wind energy forecasting in mountain and valley regions. Julie Lundquist, a professor of atmospheric and oceanic sciences at the University of Colorado, discusses the current and planned research with co-host Jane Palmer.

Hosts: Susan Moran, Jane Palmer
Producer: Susan Moran
Engineer: Kendra Krueger
Executive Producer: Kendra Krueger

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Coral Climate Clues // Tropical Carbon Sink

On today’s show we offer three feature interviews, including a short opening interview.

martini

Credit: Russell Kane, Creative Commons

Alcohol and weight gain (starts at 3:34): Science journalist Jill Adams shares the latest science on the connection between alcohol and weight gain. The science is murky, as she states in her recent column in the Washington Post.

 

Scientists drilling a coral sample from Jarvis Island. Photo credit: Julia Cole

Scientists drilling a coral sample from Jarvis Island. Photo credit: Julia Cole

Climate Clues in Coral (starts at 9:02): Despite certain appearances and rumors to the contrary, global warming has not been on holiday for the past decade. But increases in temperature at the Earth’s surface have slowed down, prompting scientists to work hard to figure out why. It seems that a lot of heat that has been building up in our planet’s climate system due to greenhouse gas emissions has winded up deep in the Pacific Ocean. Why? Diane Thompson, a post-doctoral scientist at NCAR and lead author on a new study, discusses with HOE’s Tom Yulsman how a sample of coral from a remote atoll in the tropical Pacific revealed some important answers.

Tropical forest in the Serra do Mar Paranaense in Brazil. Photo credit: Deyvid Setti e Eloy Olindo Setti via Wikimedia Commons

Tropical forest in the Serra do Mar Paranaense in Brazil. Photo credit: Deyvid Setti e Eloy Olindo Setti via Wikimedia Commons

Tropic forests love CO2 (starts at 16:04) It’s been known for some time that tropical forests are not only rich in biodiversity, but they also absorb a lot of carbon dioxide that humans spew into the atmosphere.  But just how much greenhouse gases—namely CO2–these forests take up, say, compared with temperate and boreal forests, has been eluding researchers.  Britton Stephens, an atmospheric scientist at NCAR, discusses with HOE’s Susan Moran a new study he co-authored. It suggests that tropical forests may be absorbing far more CO2 than many scientists had previously thought.

Hosts: Susan Moran, Tom Yulsman
Producer: Susan Moran
Engineer: Shelley Schlender
Executive Producer: Kendra Krueger

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Science of Booze // Rosetta Mission

Booze coverProof: The Science of Booze (starts at 8:09): Science journalist Adam Rogers, who claims to have taken a liking to single-malt whiskey when he reached drinking age, has immersed himself further into alcohol–particularly, the history and science of making booze, tasting it, and enjoying–or suffering—the effects of it. Booze is a big story: Indeed, making it was a key piece of the dawn of human civilization, as Rogers, who is articles editor at Wired magazine, shows in his inaugural book, called  Proof: The Science of Booze. Rogers talks with How On Earth host Susan Moran about fascinating fungi, sugar molecules and other key ingredients, as well as our human taste buds for alcohol. We have a couple of copies of Proof from our recent pledge drive, so call KGNU (303-449-4885) this week and pledge at least $60 to get your own copy.

Joel Parker standing in front of an image of the Rosetta spacecraft with the jet coming off it. Photo credit: Joel Parker

Joel Parker (SwRI) is the Deputy Principal Investigator of the “Alice” ultraviolet spectrograph instrument on the Rosetta spacecraft.
Photo credit: Joel Parker

Rosetta’s Rendezvous (start time: 17:40): How On Earth’s own Joel Parker, whose “real” job as a planetary scientist is a director at the Southwest Research Institute, a collaborating partner on the Rosetta Mission. The mission last week successfully became the first to land a craft on a comet flying through our solar system. It was a well earned landing: Rosetta left earth in March of 2004 and has traveled about 3 billion miles to rendezvous with this moving target. To learn more, read this recent Q&A with Joel in the New York Times.

Also, Shelley Schlender offers a special headline (starts at 3:39), an interview with CU-Boulder’s Dr. Kenneth Wright, an integrative physiologist, about his new study offering new clues about why shift work can lead to extra weight.

Hosts: Susan Moran, Kendra Krueger
Producer: Susan Moran
Engineer: Kendra Krueger
Additional contributors: Beth Bennett, Shelley Schlender
Executive Producers: Kendra Krueger, Jane Palmer

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Do Fathers Matter Pt. 2 // Mercury in Water

fathers1Do Fathers Matter? (start time: 3:07) If you’re a father or a son or daughter – which pretty much covers everyone – this interview should hit home.  Science journalist Paul Raeburn’s latest book — “Do Fathers Matter? What Science Is Telling Us About the Parent We’ve Overlooked” – explores  what seems like a no-brainer question. But the answers he discovers surprised even him. After last week’s pledge drive teaser, we now offer the extended version of host Susan Moran’s interview with Raeburn.

Ryan 2011-06 With Jack Webster Four Mile Canyon Burn Continuing Ed Catalog

Joe Ryan (left) with Jack Webster.
Credit: CU Boulder

Mercury in Waterways (start time: 15:20) Next time you take a sip of mountain spring water or catch a wild trout, you might be getting a bit more than you bargained for. Scientists have found mercury in Colorado waterways and in the fish that swim in them. And recent research shows that wildfires in recent years may have added to the problem.  How on Earth’s Jane Palmer talked with Joe Ryan, an environmental engineering professor at the University of Colorado. Dr. Ryan also directs AirWaterGas, a project studying the impacts of oil and gas drilling on the environment.

Hosts: Ted Burnham, Susan Moran
Producer: Susan Moran
Engineer: Ted Burnham
Executive Producers: Jane Palmer and Kendra Krueger

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Do Fathers Matter?

fathers1Do Fathers Matter? (start times: 9:55 and 20:58) Today’s How on Earth show is part of the KGNU fall membership pledge drive. During this show we preview an upcoming feature of the book: “Do Fathers Matter? What Science Is Telling Us About the Parent We’ve Overlooked” by science journalist Paul Raeburn.  It may seem obvious that fathers matter. And of course, they do. But just how they are affected by parenthood, and how they in turn affect their kids, is not so obvious, as Raeburn shows.  He looks at the latest research in anthropology, animal behavior, neuroscience and genetics to uncover many surprises.

Hosts: Joel Parker,  Susan Moran, Kendra Krueger, Shelley Schlender
Producer and Engineer: Joel Parker
Executive Producers: Jane Palmer and Kendra Krueger

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Living Planet Report // Finding Exoplanet Water

WWF_LivingPlanetLiving Planet Report (starts at 5:50): The environmental organization World Wildlife Fund just released its science-based biennial Living Planet Report.  It doesn’t paint a rosy picture overall; WWF shows that, for instance, wildlife populations across the globe are roughly half the size they were 40 years ago.  And although rich countries show a 10 percent increase in biodiversity, lower-income countries are suffering a drop of nearly 60 percent. The report also ranks the ecological footprints of 152 nations, and warns that the world is living beyond its means. But there are bright spots in the report, too. Even in the absence of national legislation and international treaties, some cities in the U.S., including Boulder, and around the world are making progress toward sustainability and greenhouse gas reductions. Co-host Susan Moran interviews Keya Chatterjee, director of WWF’s renewable energy and footprint outreach program.

Finding Exoplanet Water (starts at 18:15): For the first time, scientists have detected water vapor on a cold exoplanet the size of Neptune. Previously, it had only been possible to measure the atmospheres of larger, Jupiter-sized exoplanets, but these findings from the Hubble and Spitzer Telescopes bring scientists a significant step closer to studying the atmosphere of Earth-sized planets orbiting other stars. Understanding the atmosphere of exoplanets may tell us more about their evolution and formation – Eliza Kempton, assistant professor of physics at Grinnell College in Iowa, explains in this report from Roland Pease of the BBC’s Science In Action.

Executive Producer: Joel Parker
Producer: Ted Burnham
Co-Hosts: Susan Moran, Ted Burnham
Engineer: Ted Burnham
Headlines: Beth Bennett, Jane Palmer

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The Meaning of Wilderness // The Ocean Is Us #5: Living Underwater

Dr. M. Sanjayan Photo credit Ami Vitale

Dr. M. Sanjayan
Photo credit Ami Vitale

The Meaning of Wilderness (starts 4:30): Fifty years ago last week, President Lyndon Johnson signed into law the Wilderness Act. It was then, and remains today, one of the most significant pieces of environmental legislation. It has protected millions of acres of land. And it established a legal definition of wilderness: “an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.” Today, many are questioning what conversation should look like hardly a square inch of land around the world is truly “untrammeled.” Co-host Susan Moran discusses wilderness then and now with Dr. M. Sanjayan, a senior scientist at Conservation International. He was a correspondent on the  Showtime series on climate change, called Years of Living Dangerously. His next  TV series, which will air next February, is called Earth — A New Wild. Dr. Sanjayan will speak this Friday at 4 pm MT at Americas Latino Eco Festival. (www.americaslatinoecofestival.org)

Fabien Cousteau in the Aquarius underwater lab. Photo courtesy Kip Evans.

Fabien Cousteau in the Aquarius underwater lab.
Photo courtesy Kip Evans.

Living Underwater (starts 13:50): This segment continues our series, “The Ocean is Us,” exploring how we all, even in land-locked Colorado, are connected to the ocean, and what’s at stake. Co-host Susan Moran interviews Fabien Cousteau, grandson of Jacques-Yves Cousteau, the late oceanographic explorer who opened a window into the ocean for millions of people worldwide in the 1960s through his revolutionary scuba diving and underwater-living adventures. Fabien, an aquanaut, oceanographic explorer, and documentary filmmaker, discusses Mission 31, his recent 31-day underwater-living experiment (one day longer than Jacques-Yves’ expedition a half century ago).

All features in the “The Ocean Is Us“  series can be found here.  Also, check out KGNU’s year-long series on Colorado water issues. It’s called Connecting the Drops. It’s at kgnu.org and yourwatercolorado.org. To learn more or become active in preserving our watershed and the oceans, go to Colorado Ocean Coalition.

Executive Producer: Joel Parker
Producer: Ted Burnham
Co-hosts: Susan Moran, Ted Burnham
Engineer: Ted Burnham
Additional Contributions: Jane Palmer, Beth Bennett

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The Ocean is Us #4: Sustainable Seafood

MSC-certified "Chilean sea bass" filets and other fish displayed at a Whole Foods market in Boulder, Colo.  Photo courtesy Susan Moran

MSC-certified “Chilean sea bass” filets and other fish displayed at a Whole Foods market in Boulder, Colo.
Photo courtesy Susan Moran

Sustainable Seafood: (start time 5:10) This is the fourth feature interview in The Ocean Is Us series, which explores how we in land-locked states are connected to the oceans and what’s at stake.  Today we discuss sustainable seafood, which to some critics is an oxymoron, given that some 90% of large fish already have been wiped from the sea. To discuss prospects for feeding 9.6 billion people by mid-century, the developments in wild-caught fisheries and aquaculture, and the role of retailers and consumers, we have two guests. John Hocevar is a marine biologist who directs the Oceans Campaign at Greenpeace. Carrie Brownstein develops standards to guide seafood purchasing for the Whole Foods markets throughout the United States, Canada, and the U.K.

All features in The Ocean Is Us  series can be found here. Also, check out KGNU’s year-long series on Colorado water issues. It’s called Connecting the Drops. It’s at kgnu.org and yourwatercolorado.org. To learn more or become active in preserving our watershed and the oceans, go to Colorado Ocean Coalition.

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

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Earth-friendly Landscaping

novak salvia darcyii and bee close upSummer is a time to celebrate our bursting gardens. But you may be wondering why your neighbor’s garden seems to be attracting all the butterflies, honeybees and hummingbirds, while yours seems to be attracting mostly aphids and raccoons. Our guest, Alison Peck, owner of Matrix Gardens in Boulder, talks with How On Earth host Susan Moran about how we make our gardens beautiful, biologically diverse, homes for native wildlife. She’s a landscape designer specializing in xeriscape, native plant and other earth-friendly landscapes.
Some resources for gardening for wildlife:
* Xeres Society’s pollinator resource guide.
* Xeres Society’s book, Attracting Native Pollinators.
* Bio-Integral Resource Center, Berkeley, Calif.
* National Wildlife Federation’s “Garden for Wildlife” Program.

Hosts: Susan Moran and Joel Parker
Additional Contributions: Kendra Krueger
Producer, Engineer, Executive Producer: Joel Parker

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