Habitat Exchanges // More Frequent Wildfires

biStateSlideHabitat Exchanges (starts at 3:00)  Whether you’ve laid eyes on a called the greater sage grouse or not, you by now may have heard that this chicken-like bird is ruffling feathers in Washington.  September 30th is the deadline for the US Fish & Wildlife Service to list, or not list, the grouse as endangered or threatened. The bird’s populations have plummeted and it has lost nearly half of its native habitat in the past couple of decades.  More than a third of the sage grouse’s range is on private land. That explains why so many ranchers, oil and gas developers and other landowners have been scrambling to keep the grouse from getting listed. Listing under the Endangered Species Act would slap much tighter restrictions on land use. The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) is one of several environmental organizations that are trying to help come up with ways to preserve the sage grouse and its habitat without cramping the livelihood of ranchers and other land owners. One of the newest and most promising voluntary tools in the toolkit is called habitat exchanges. These are marketplaces with buyers and sellers of conservation credits.  ON today’s show we talk with Eric Holst, associate vice president of EDF’s working lands program, and one of the designers of these exchanges.

IMG_8027 - CopyMore Frequent Wildfires (starts at 15:30)  This summer, fires have raged across much of the Northwestern United States. The towering blazes, many of which are nowhere near being contained, have already charred more than two million acres of land. It’s a story that’s becoming increasingly common. Big fires like these are erupting more often than they did just decades ago, scientists say, and many place the blame on climate change.  On today’s show, Brian Harvey, a forest ecologist at the University of Colorado Boulder who studies the causes and consequences of extreme fires, talks with us about why wildfires have grown more frequent in recent years — and what that means for the recovery of the nation’s forests.

Hosts: Susan Moran, Daniel Strain
Producer: Joel Parker
Engineer: Joel Parker
Headline Contributors: Joel Parker, Daniel Strain
Executive Producer: Susan Moran

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Gold King Spill, Mining Prospects

Animas_RiverHugger_CC-e1439587777279-600x694

Contaminated Animus River following Gold King Mine spill.
Photo credit: RiverHugger/Creative Commons

Science and Politics of Mining (start time: 6:49)  On August 5 an inactive mine named Gold King, which had been leaking toxins for years, spewed more than 3 million gallons of toxic sludge into a creek that feeds into the Animus River in southwest Colorado. Its neon orange path of wastewater was shocking. But also shocking is the long history of acid mine drainage pollution and the lax regulations that allow mining companies to basically walk away from their disasters. Dr. Mark Williams, a professor of geography at CU Boulder, and an expert in mountain hydrology and hydrochemistry., has worked on remediation of several mines in the state. He speaks with How On Earth host Susan Moran about the anatomy of mines, how this disaster happened, what it suggests about the many other precarious mines in the state, and what should be done to prevent such disasters from happening.

Hosts: Susan Moran, Joel Parker
Producer: Susan Moran
Engineer: Joel Parker
Headline Contributors: Kendra Krueger, Joel Parker, Daniel Strain
Executive Producer: Susan Moran

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Global Climate Models & Climate Change

Events like heat waves are more likely with climate change. Image courtesy of Heartlander Magazine

Events like heat waves are more likely with climate change.
Image courtesy of Heartlander Magazine

Beth Bennett speaks with Claudia Tebaldi, a climate scientist at NCAR, about her work analyzing climate models to project climate change in the future. She addressed heat waves and local conditions and how these models can be used to make projections in these areas. Start time approx 5 min.
Host: Beth Bennett
Producer: Beth Bennett
Engineer: Maeve Conran
Additional contributions: Joel Parker
Executive Producer: Susan Moran
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Unprocessed Food // Bee Biodiversity

Unprocessed-book coverReal Food (start time 4:20): What we eat , and how we eat, is inextricably connected to our own health as well as the health of the planet.  Every decision we make—whether to bake a chocolate cake or buy it from Safeway or at a Farmer’s Market—is full of nuances and even contradictions. Megan Kimble is a writer who became obsessed with wondering how she could make a difference in the world by examining her eating habits. Her just-published book, called Unprocessed: My City-Dwelling Year of Reclaiming Real Food, is her personal journey into the scientific, public health, environmental and political issues related to food. Kimble will  speak tonight at the Boulder Book Store, at 7:30, and tomorrow night, July 30, at Tattered Cover in Denver, at 7:00 p.m.

Photo credit: Dan Groege

Palaeorhiza (from Papau New Guinea). Photo credit: USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab

The Buzz About Bees (start time 13:49): Across the United States, buzzing pollinators are key to the growth of countless flowering plants. But many bee species are also disappearing nationwide, due to pesticide use, habitat loss, and other threats.  Dr. Sam Droege is a wildlife biologist who studies this vanishing world. He heads up the U.S. Geological Survey’s Native Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab. For several years he’s also led an effort to photograph bees — very, very close up.  Droege’s bee photos are the basis for a new book called “Bees: An Up-Close Look at Pollinators Around the World.”

Hosts: Susan Moran, Daniel Strain
Producers: Susan Moran, Daniel Strain
Executive Producer: Susan Moran
Headline contributions: Daniel Strain

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Aging//and not aging

Will we be able to reverse aging some day soon?

Will we be able to reverse aging some day soon?

We talk with Dr Thomas Johnson about his long standing interest in aging and how he used a nearly microscopic worm to investigate this process. Recently, he has transitioned into using mice to identify genes influencing the aging process. Some of his findings have identified potential drugs to slow aging and keep us healthier as we live longer.

Executive Producer: Susan Moran

Producer, Co-host: Beth Bennett

Engineer: Maeve Conran

Cohost: Susan Moran

Additional Contributions: Susan Moran,  Beth Bennett

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Birds v. Cats // Humor Science

robin-male-and-fledgling

Robin male and fledgling chick. Photo courtesy Jon Erickson, Creative Commons

Birds v. Cats (start time 4:35): Spring is in full bloom on Colorado’s Front Range. Robins and other birds wake us up before the crack of dawn with their choruses.  This is also a time when many chicks will hatch and then fledge — a time when they are most vulnerable to predators. The biggest single threat to birds is a favorite household pet – yes, cats. Actually, feral and pet cats alike.  Dr. Amanda Rodewald, an ecologist and director of conservation science at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology at Cornell University, discusses with host Susan Moran the various threats to birds and their habitat, and how humans can be part of the solution. Spoiler alert: Keep Felix inside, at least during nesting season. For more info on how you can get involved, go to the American Bird Conservancy‘s Cats Indoors program.

Humor CodeThe Science of Humor (start time: 14:32): Have you ever laughed at something you know you shouldn’t have? Like when someone you know falls down the stairs? Dr. Peter McGraw discusses with How On Earth contributor Daniel Strain the roots of humor — why we find some things funny, and other things not. He’s a quantitative psychologist at the University of Colorado, Boulder where he heads up the Humor Research Laboratory, or HuRL. Yup, HuRL.  He’s also coauthor of the book The Humor Code: A Global Search for What Makes Things Funny. And he will be speaking this Thursday, May 21, at The Science Lounge, a monthly event at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.

Hosts: Susan Moran, Daniel Strain
Producer: Susan Moran
Engineer: Beth Bennett
Executive Producer: Susan Moran
Headline contributions: Daniel Strain

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Polar Bears // Climate Scientists

Climate Scientists (starts at 1:00): Climate scientists (scientists in general)  tend to steer clear of speaking out as activists about concerns that are politically volatile.  But that’s changing. Many climate scientists are stepping out of their research comfort zone to offer personal stories of why they care and what we all can do about the crisis.  A group of scientists launched a video campaign last week. It’s called More Than Scientists.  We speak with Dr. Josh Lawler (University of Washington), who one of the founders of the campaign.

StevenAmstrupPolar Bears (starts at 6:30):  It is well known that, right now, life for polar bears looks bleak.  Warming temperatures mean the season for sea ice cover in the Arctic has become shorter and shorter. As sea ice provides a home and hunting ground for polar bears, both the number of bears and their health has suffered.  There is even talk of them becoming extinct.  But is this something that we should worry about in Colorado and other non-arctic regions around the world? We don’t have bears, right now we don’t have ice, and we have plenty of other concerns.  Dr. Steven Amstrup, the Chief scientist for Polar Bears International, joins us on How on Earth to explain why we should care.  He thinks that polar bears are the sentinels of global health and that they provide advance warning of some of the challenges coming to all species. That includes us humans. But he thinks if we act soon, we can save both the bears and ourselves. 

Dr. Amstrup also will be giving a talk in the Old Main auditorium on the CU Boulder campus on Friday, April 3rd at 4:00 pm.  His talk is titled: “Why Should We Care About Polar Bears?”  More details about the talk can be found at:
http://cires.colorado.edu/news/events/events/dr-steve-amstrup/?eID=163

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

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Rust: The Longest War // The Moral Arc

rust-9781451691597_lgOn today’s spring pledge-drive show we offer segments of two feature interviews. See extended versions also below. Both books are available to those who pledge at least $60 to KGNU. Call 303.449.4885 today.

Rust: The Longest War (start time: 4:25) It is arguably the most destructive natural disaster in the modern world. And it’s the topic of local journalist Jonathan Waldman’s debut book, which has just been published. It’s called Rust: The Longest War. Jonathan talks with How On Earth host Susan Moran about the book, which included fascinating tales of the “smart pig” that inspects the Alaska pipeline, as well as Ball Corp’s Can School in Golden, Colo. Catch Jonathan tonight  7:30 at the Boulder Book Store.

bc_moral_arc_coverThe Moral Arc (start time: 13:21) Author and renowned skeptic Michael Shermer talks with How On Earth contributor Shelley Schlender about his The Moral Arc: How Science and Reason Lead Humanity toward Truth, Justice, and Freedom. The book addresses a wide range of modern issues, including just how science and reasons can help to pave the way toward further reductions in nuclear warheads, toward greater equality for people with different gender and sexual orientations, and toward the abolishment of the death penalty. That’s pretty optimistic for the nation’s best known skeptic!

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

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The ATLAS Institute // Firefighters and Climate Change

btu_900w_DSC07621_72ATLAS Institute Today 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

Firefighters and Climate Change 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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