Stem Cell Science // Decoding Science

Stem-Cell

Stem cell science v. hype (start time: 00:57) Clinics offering stem cell therapies and other forms of so-called regenerative medicine are cropping up in many states, including Colorado. Practitioners of stem cells, are touting them as repairing damaged cartilage, tendons and joints, and even treating diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. While the science looks promising, it seriously lags the marketing of stem cell therapies. Last year the FDA, which has yet to regulate the clinics, issued a warning about stem cell therapies.
Laura Beil, a science journalist and producer of the podcast Bad Batch, recently wrote a cover article in Science News about the hype and the latest science of stem cells. She talks with host Susan Moran about her reporting. (For more info, check out this new BBC program on stem cell “hope and hype.”)

cover image Craft of Science WritingScience for the Rest of Us (start time: 16:38)  At a time our own government leaders vilify science and reinvent facts, it seems as important as ever that journalists and the public at large grasp and  translate scientific research. A new book, The Craft of Science Writing, offers tips on how to find credible experts (whether on the corona virus or vaccines or climate change), separate truth from spurious assertions, and make sense of scientific studies. The book is aimed at science writers, but it can be a guidepost for anyone who wants to make science more accessible.   Alex Witze, a science writer who co-authored the book Island On Fire: The Extraordinary Story of a Forgotten Volcano, is a contributor to the new book. She discusses the art of decoding and appreciating science with hosts Susan Moran and Joel Parker.

 

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

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Climate Watch // Extreme Conservation

Today’s show features the following interviews, by How On Earth’s Susan Moran and guest host Ted Wood.

Photo credit: Mike Fernandez/Audubon

Photo credit: Mike Fernandez/Audubon

Audubon’s Climate Watch (start time: 4:03) Starting on Jan. 14, the Audubon Society will launch a month-long citizen science program to better understand how birds are responding to climate change. This comes at a time when, according to a 2019 Audubon report, up to two-thirds of North American birds are vulnerable to extinction due to climate change. But the Climate Watch program is one of many opportunities to protect birds.  Alison Holloran, executive director of Audubon Rockies, discusses the program and how you can get involved.

cover image U ChicConservation on the Edges (start time: 13:26) Charismatic predators like polar bears, grizzlies, and tigers, get lots of attention, and for good reason. But many lesser known species, particularly those living in extreme environments–including muskoxen, wild yaks, takins and saigas–are also important species. They have been the research focus of Joel Berger, a professor of wildlife conservation at Colorado State University. He’s also senior scientist at Wildlife Conservation Society.  Berger’s latest book is Extreme Conservation: Life at the Edges of the World. 

Hosts: Susan Moran, Ted Wood
Producer: Susan Moran
Engineer: Maeve Conran
Executive Producer: Beth Bennett
Additional Contributor: Beth Bennett

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Climate (COP25) Summit Review

At COP25, Tashiana Osborne (far right), Sarah Whipple (2nd from right), CSU Prof. Gillian Bowser (2nd from left) and colleagues. Photo credit: Adewale Adesanya

At COP25, Tashiana Osborne (far right), Sarah Whipple (2nd from right), CSU Prof. Gillian Bowser (2nd from left) and colleagues. Photo credit: Adewale Adesanya

COP25 Postmortem (start time: 3:35) Earlier this month many nation’s leaders, as well as scientists, environmental activists, companies and others gathered in Madrid for a two-week United Nations climate summit. The conference, called COP25, is rooted in the 2015 Paris Agreement, which is a blend of pledges from about 200 nations to dramatically slash their planet-warming emissions. Next year’s meeting is when signatory nations will update their actual commitments. So, what happened at the recent climate summit, and what’s next? How On Earth host Susan Moran today interviews two scientists who attended COP25.  Tashiana Osborne is a PhD candidate in atmospheric and oceanic science at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, at UC San Diego. And Sarah Whipple is a PhD candidate in ecology at Colorado State University.

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

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COP25 Global Climate Summit

Field_Work_Weather_Balloon-Osborne

Tashiana Osborne launching weather balloons in Ukiah, Calif. Photo credit: Maryam Asgari-Lamjiri

COP25 & Climate Change (start time: 1:07): Next month (Dec. 2-13), the United Nations global climate change summit, known as COP25, will take place in Madrid. Many scientists, environmental nonprofits, students, activists will also attend side events related to the UN sustainable development goals (SDG). The goal of COP over the years has been to reduce emissions of planet-warming gases. The talks stem from the landmark 2015 Paris Agreement, which essentially is a mix of pledges from about 200 nations to dramatically cut their greenhouse emissions. The countries are not legally bound to meet their targets, but they are supposed to report their progress to the UN. Under the Obama administration, the U.S. vowed to reduce emissions about 28 percent below 2005 levels, by 2025. But earlier this month, the Trump administration announced that it will begin a year-long process to withdraw the U.S. from the international accord. The stakes are extremely high.

How On Earth’s Susan Moran and guest-host Tom Yulsman discuss COP25 and what’s at stake with Gillian Bowser, an ecologist and research scientist at Colorado State University who has studied international climate and biodiversity conventions and has attended several COP summits; and Tashiana Osborne, a PhD candidate at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, who is studying the effects of atmospheric rivers, and who will attend COP25. Tom Yulsman, a CU Boulder journalism professor and blogger, offers his expertise as a climate-focused science journalist.

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

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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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Plastic Pollution & Solutions

Marine debris, Hawaii photo courtesy: NOAA

Marine debris, Hawaii
photo courtesy: NOAA

Tackling Plastic Pollution (starts at 3:09):  It is, sadly, common for beachcombers around the world to see, along with clam shells and sand dollars, plastic bottles, bottle caps, cigaret filters and fish nets washed up on shore. According to estimates by World Economic Forum, our oceans will be populated by more pounds of plastic waste than fish by 2050. About a third of all plastic that is produced does not get properly collected; instead, much of it ends up floating in the ocean, or clogging the guts of innocent albatross, other birds and sea mammals. It could take 450 years, or forever, for plastic to completely biodegrade. Plastic waste just breaks down (photo-degrades) into tiny bits, causing harm to wildlife and, potentially, humans. How On Earth host Susan Moran and contributing host Jeff Burnside interview two guests who are working in different ways to assess the extent of the problem and its impacts, to educate people about it, and to effect positive change. Dr. Jenna Jambeck, an associate engineering professor at the University of Georgia, lead-authored a seminal paper in 2015 that estimated how much plastic waste is in the ocean. She will soon co-lead an all-female National Geographic expedition to study plastic pollution in India and Bangladesh.  Laura Parker is a staff writer at National Geographic magazine covering climate change and ocean environments. She won the Scripps Howard award for environmental reporting her June 2018 National Geographic cover article titled “Planet or Plastics?”

Hosts: Susan Moran, Jeff Burnside
Producer: Susan Moran
Engineer: Evan Perkins
Executive Producer: Joel Parker

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Pesticides and Health Impacts

kale photoA Consumer’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce (starts  7:55) You may be wondering if you washed the strawberries, blueberries or kale that you had for breakfast this morning enough to rid them of residue of potentially harmful pesticides. That is, if they were conventionally, not organically, grown. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, more than 200 different pesticides remain in some form on popular fruits and vegetables that Americans eat every day. And before testing all the produce, the USDA thoroughly washes and peels them. Such tests show that simply washing produce does not remove all pesticides. In a recently released report, as part of its “Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce,” The Environmental Working Group ranked the pesticide contamination of 47 popular fruits and vegetables. Its analysis, which was based on results of nearly 50,000 samples of produce that the USDA tested, found that 70 percent of produce contains pesticide residues. But don’t despair: There is also good news in the report. Sydney Evans, a science analyst at EWG, and Liza Gross, an independent investigative reporter, speak with host Susan Moran about the EWG report and the broader societal and environmental implications of pesticides. See Liza Gross’ articles on pesticides and other issues.

Hosts: Maeve Conran, Susan Moran
Producer: Susan Moran
Engineer: Maeve Conran
Additional Contributors: Chip Grandits, Beth Bennett, Gretchen Wettstein
Executive Producer: Joel Parker

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The Goodness Paradox – Full Interview

cover-Goodness ParadoxThe Goodness Paradox (Starts 5:22): On this week’s show we play the full interview with Richard Wrangham, a primatologist at Harvard University, about his new book, The Goodness Paradox: The Strange Relationship Between Virtue and Violence in Human Evolution.  Wrangham discusses with How On Earth hosts Susan Moran and Chip Grandits how, and why, homo sapiens evolved to be both peaceful and violent (less reactively aggressive and more proactively aggressive, like our bonobo ancestors), and what it bodes for the future of human civilization. On the pledge-drive show last week we played short snippets of the interview. And thanks to our listeners who pledged, some of whom received a copy of The Goodness Paradox. And thanks again to Pantheon Books for donating them.

Hosts: Shelley Schlender, Susan Moran
Producer: Shelley Schlender
Engineer: Shelley Schlender
Executive Producer: Beth Bennett

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The Goodness Paradox // Pledge Drive

cover-Goodness ParadoxThe Goodness Paradox (Teaser): Today’s spring pledge-drive show features brief clips from a recent interview with Richard Wrangham, a primatologist at Harvard University, about his new book, The Goodness Paradox: The Strange Relationship Between Virtue and Violence in Human Evolution.  Wrangham discusses with How On Earth hosts Susan Moran and Chip Grandits how, and why, homo sapiens evolved to be both peaceful and violent (less reactively aggressive and more proactively aggressive, like our bonobo ancestors), and what it bodes for the future of human civilization. We will air the full interview on the March 19 science show. Thanks to Pantheon Books for offering KGNU several copies of Wrangham’s book. And thank you to listeners who pledged and received a copy of the book, and to those who have helped power this community radio station for years. If there are any copies of The Goodness Paradox remaining next Tuesday you can call in then and become a member for $60 or more. Or go to kgnu.org and pledge, or increase, your support. We couldn’t do it without you!

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

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