Climate engineering // Jamie Williams

The Wilderness Society

Jamie Williams (start time  5:40). Today on How On Earth we speak with Jamie Williams about land conservation. It’s safe to say that Williams should take credit for large swaths of land in the West that have been preserved as wilderness. He has served as The Nature Conservancy’s director of landscape conservation for North America as part of a 20-year career at the organization.

During that time he helped forge unlikely partnerships between ranchers, other landowners and environmentalists. And he led major efforts to garner funding in Congress for conservation, including the largest conservation purchase of private land ever – of 500 square miles of forest in northwest Montana.

Williams helped develop the large landscape focus within the Obama administration’s America’s Great Outdoors Initiative, which aims to connect especially young kids to the outdoors.

Today, Williams takes the helm of another major conservation organization, the Wilderness Society.

Climate engineering (start time 18:12). Geoengineering means large scale, intentional manipulation of the climate to counter the effects of global climate change. Advocates have proposed ideas like placing giant shields in space to block the sun’s rays from striking the earth, and seeding the ocean with iron particles to speed up the removal of carbon from the atmosphere. Critics cite a host of social, moral, and technological problems.

Climate engineering may be a solution of last resort, but the time for last resorts may be rapidly approaching as we spew more and more carbon into the air.

We  speak with Dr. Doug Ray about the readiness of climate engineering. Ray is an expert on energy and atmospheric carbon removal science and technology and is an Associate Lab Director at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

Hosts: Joel Parker and Susan Moran
Producer: Jim Pullen
Engineer: Jim Pullen
Headlines: Jim Pullen
Additional contributions: Maeve Conran
Executive Producer: Joel Parker

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Ron Krauss: Saturated Fat and Red Meat? It Depends

Photo from wikimedia

We look at the health effects of saturated fat and red meat with one of the world’s leading scientists in the field – Ron Krauss.  His recent studies show that replacing saturated fat with carbohydrates INCREASES heart disease risk.  But combining high saturated fat with moderate carbs and then adding red meat — think cheeseburger on a bun — is yet another story.   For the extended version, go here.

Hosts: Joel Parker and Jim Pullen
Producer: Shelley Schlender
Engineer: Shelley Schlender and Jim Pullen
Executive Producer: Joel Parker

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Communicating with dolphins

Dolphins are intelligent and communicative creatures within their own species and with the other animals native to their waters. Still, a hundred million years of evolutionary history and pressures imposed by radically different environments separate dolphins and humans. Can that enormous chasm be crossed? Can we have a conversation with an alien, a different and intelligent species? Twenty-seven years ago, Dr. Denise Herzing first slipped into the warm and clear Bahaman waters in a quest to answer those questions. And every spring since then, she has gathered the crew, the equipment, the money, the courage and the patience to return to work cooperatively with them, unfettered in the wild. Dr. Herzing believes that first we have to understand dolphin society and give them the freedom to choose to communicate with us. This week on How On Earth, Jim Pullen talks with Dr. Herzing about how she communicates with Atlantic Spotted dolphins (start at 6:48).

Hosts: Breanna Draxler and Beth Bartel
Producer: Jim Pullen
Engineer: Jim Pullen
Additional contributions: Shelley Schlender
Executive Producer: Joel Parker

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Kinetic Sculptures Refocus the Human Perspective

Jeff Lieberman's art redefines the way people see themselves and their world. Image courtesy of Jeff Lieberman.

Jeff Lieberman is a jack of all science trades, and many non-science trades too, actually.  He is a mechanical engineer, a design consultant, a photographer, composer and kinetic sculptor. He hosts the Discovery Channel’s “Time Warp” TV show, has performed at Carnegie Hall, and gave a TedX talk at Cambridge.  But the common thread that runs through Lieberman’s various endeavors is his use of technology to elicit a sense of wonder.  His science/art combination challenges and shifts human perspectives on the universe (start time 6:05).

Hosts: Breanna Draxler and Beth Bartel
Producer: Breanna Draxler
Engineer: Jim Pullen
Additional contributions: Shelley Schlender and Jim Pullen
Executive Producer: Joel Parker

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Bees and Pesticides // Radiometers and Weather

Bees and Pesticides (start at 6:40). Two studies published last week in the journal Science (here and here) make a strong case for beekeepers who worry that a new class of pesticides called “neonicotinoids” hurts honeybees and bumblebees.   In recent years, honeybee populations have rapidly declined, in part due to a phenomenon known as Colony Collapse Disorder. Bumblebee populations have been suffering as well. Researchers have proposed many causes for these declines, including pesticides, but it’s been unclear exactly how pesticides cause damage. Both of the new studies looked at the effects of neonicotinoid insecticides, which were introduced in the early 1990s and have now become one of the most widely used crop pesticides in the world. One study, from the United Kingdom, shows that the pesticides reduce a bee’s ability to store enough food and to produce new queens.  In a second study, French researchers tied tiny radios to honeybees then exposed them to low levels of the pesticides; a high number of the bees lost their sense of direction and died away from the hive.  These two new studies add to concerns raised in January by a Purdue University study, which indicated that neonicotinoids persist, as poisons, in both plants and soil for much longer than thought, increasing the chance of the pesticide to harm bees and other insects.  Despite the increasing number of studies calling into question the safety of these pesticides, the EPA has done little to restrict their use.  Local beekeeper Tom Theobald talks with How on Earth’s Shelley Schlender that when it comes to honeybees, these are dangerous pesticides.  You can hear the extended version of this interview on this website.

Radiometers and Weather (start at 12:50). Predicting the weather is a tough job, and climate change is bringing unseasonal conditions that make it even more difficult to predict.  But a monitoring device produced here in Boulder may be able to improve local weather forecasts significnatly.  These radiometers work by creating 3-D profiles of the moisture in the air, which is a key element for meteorologists and climate modelers alike.  They are now being put to various weather-related uses all over the planet.  Stick Ware is the founder and lead scientist of the Boulder-based company, Radiometrics, and he’s here in the studio with us today to give us the scoop on these radiometers.

Hosts: Joel Parker, Breanna Draxler
Producer: Joel Parker
Engineer: Jim Pullen
Headline Contributors: Susan Moran, Jim Pullen
Executive Producer: Joel Parker

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Pesticides, Bees and Niwot Honey Farm’s Tom Theobald [extended version]

This is an extended interview with Niwot Beekeeper Tom Theobald about three new studies that have recently been published regarding the ways that neonicotinoids harm bees.  The studies include one from Purdue, and two from Europe, and all three indicate that these new pesticides are causing more harm to bees than previously thought.

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The Science of Habit Formation

The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg

The Power of Habit: If you’re like most of us you’ve tried over and over again to break a bad habit —  be it procrastinating, gorging on chocolate chip cookies every night, or watching TV rather than exercising.  And you know how hard it is to “kick” bad habits.  This week on How On Earth we offer one full-length feature (start at 7:57). Co-host Susan Moran interviews New York Times reporter Charles Duhigg, author of a new book titled The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life and Business. Duhigg sheds light on why our brains form habits, how they serve (or don’t)  individuals, as well as companies and societies, and how we can turn bad habits into positive ones once we understand what scientists call the habit “loop.” You can also hear an extended version of that interview by clicking here.

Hosts: Susan Moran, Joel Parker
Producer: Susan Moran
Engineer: Jim Pullen
Executive Producer: Shelley Schlender

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The Science of Habit Formation [extended version]

The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg

This is the extended version of the interview by How On Earth host Susan Moran of New York Times reporter Charles Duhigg, author of a new book titled The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life and Business.  The interview first aired on March 27, 2012

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The Accelerating Expansion of The Universe // Pine Bark Beetles

The Accelerating Expansion of The Universe (start at 5:11).   Have you ever had the feeling that things are moving faster and faster these days?  Well, maybe it’s not your imagination.  Proof that the universe is not just expanding but is accelerating garnered a Nobel Prize last year.   To help explain what’s going on, we talk to Dr. Adam Riess, a professor of physics and astronomy at the Johns Hopkins University and is a scientist at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore.   When he was a research fellow at the University of California, Berkeley, from 1996 to 1999, Dr. Riess and his colleagues conducted the research that was to win him a share of the 2011 Nobel Prize in physics.  The citation for the prize stated it was: “for the discovery of the accelerating expansion of the Universe through observations of distant supernovae.”  In today’s show, Dr. Riess translates what that means and the implications about the ultimate fate of the universe.

Pine Bark Beetle - photo by Jeff Mitton

Pine Bark Beetles (start at 19:22).  The tree-killing pine bark beetles used to breed once a year.  Warming annual temperatures now allow them to breed twice, resulting in 60 times more offspring.  Hungry, tree-eating offspring.  University of Colorado biologists Jeff Mitton and Scott Ferrenberg have just published their findings that the doubled-up breeding season explains why the recent pinebark beetle epidemic has killed so many trees.  And it’s not over yet.  How on Earth’s Shelley Schlender talks with the scientists about which trees are the most vulnerable to pinebark beetles.  You also can hear the extended version of that interview.

Hosts: Joel Parker, Beth Bartel
Producer: Joel Parker
Engineer: Jim Pullen
Headline Contributor: Susan Moran
Executive Producer: Shelley Schlender

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Pine Bark Beetles – Extended Interview with Jeff Mitton and Scott Ferrenberg

Pine Bark Beetle - photo by Jeff Mitton

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