Colorado & Oceans // Nitrogen & Snails

Feature #1 (time mark 5:30)  When people think of Colorado, they usually don’t think about “oceans”.  After all, Colorado doesn’t have much of a coastline these days, though it was definitely had oceanfront property a few hundred million years ago.   However, being in a landlocked state doesn’t mean that there isn’t any thing we can do to impact the health and ecology of the ocean and marine biology.  Co-host Joel Parker talks with  Vicki Goldstein, founder and president of the Colorado Ocean Coalition about the “Making Waves in Colorado” symposium and what all of us around the world (leaving near or far from oceans) do that impact and can help oceans.

Feature #2 (time mark 14:10)  Nitrogen – we can’t live without it, but you can have too much of a good thing. In its gaseous form nitrogen is harmless and makes up nearly 80 percent of the atmosphere. The worldwide population never would have reached 7 billion people without nitrogen, in the form of chemical fertilizer. But excess nitrogen –from fertilizer runoff, manure, human sewage and other sources is wreaking havoc on the environment.  Co-host Susan Moran talks with John Mischler, a PhD student at CU Boulder, who is researching worms and snails in Colorado and Africa. He talks about how excess nutrients in ponds, lakes and elsewhere can lead to the spread of parasitic disease from trematodes to snails to us.

Hosts: Susan Moran, Joel Parker
Headlines: Breanna Draxler, Tom Yulsman, Susan Moran
Engineer: Joel Parker
Producer: Joel Parker
Executive Producer: Tom McKinnon

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Urban Parks // Pythons and Heart Disease

Today, November 1, we offer two features.

Central Park is also nature

Feature #1: Co-host Susan Moran interviews Jonathan Jarvis, director of the National Park Service, who discusses NPS’ quest to lure more people to urban parks, not just the iconic national parks such as Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon. These “threshold” experiences can lead people to appreciate, and help preserve, nature, including national parks. He also speaks of the NPS’ efforts to save the most threatened national parks, especially the Everglades.
Listen to the extended version of the interview here.

Python, courtesy CU-Boulder

Feature #2: A python’s remarkable ability to quickly enlarge its heart and other organs during digestion is leading scientists at the University of Colorado in Boulder to uncover potential new therapies for heart disease. Their research was recently published in the journal Science. The new study also offers clues to how a special combination of fats found in normal foods just might end up as a powerful drug someday for helping a failing heart. How on Earth’s Shelley Schlender reports on the CU team’s research.

Hosts: Breanna Draxler, Susan Moran
Producer: Susan Moran
Engineer: Tom McKinnon

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National Parks: Extended interview with Jonathan Jarvis

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National Perspective on Municipalization//Science of Fall Colors

Tom McKinnon and Peter Asmus of Pike Research discuss electrical utility municipalization from a national perspective.  Peter adds an interesting statistic — the photovoltaic industry already has created more jobs than coal mining even though at present it produces much less power.

Shelley Schlender interviews Bill Hoch of Montana State University about why leaves turn colors in the fall.  Bill punches some holes in the conventional wisdom on the topic and notes that the color change is a critical step in the trees retaining important nutrients.

Hosts: Tom McKinnon & Ted Burnham
Producer: Tom McKinnon
Engineeer: Ted Burnham
Headlines: Beth Bartel
Executive Producer: Tom McKinnon

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How On Earth now available via Stitcher

The latest episodes of How On Earth are now available through Stitcher!

Stitcher is a free-to-download, free-to-use mobile app (available for iOS, Android, Blackberry and Palm devices) that lets you build customized radio stations out of your favorite shows and podcasts. The newest episodes of each show will be streamed to your device and “stitched” together into a seamless listening experience. Add How On Earth to your Stitcher lineup and take us on the go.

Please note: Stitcher does include advertising, which is inserted between episodes. Ad revenues support the app developer, not How On Earth or KGNU.

Of course you can still also subscribe to our podcast feed through iTunes or other podcast reading software, as well as listen online here at howonearthradio.org.

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Extended Interview: Richard Dawkins, The Magic of Reality

On today’s pledge drive show we played excerpts from an interview with evolutionary biologist and author Richard Dawkins about his new book, The Magic of Reality: How We Know What’s Really True. The book was also featured as a promotional gift for listeners who chose to support KGNU, the independent community radio station that makes shows like How On Earth possible. We now bring you an extended version of that interview.

The Magic of Reality is something of a departure for Dawkins. It’s a science book, of course, but aimed at an adolescent readership—though certainly adults will enjoy it too. Essentially, the book is about how human beings understand the world, and what we do and do not know.

While examining a dozen seemingly simple questions (What is a rainbow? Why are there so many different kinds of animals?) Dawkins explores both human cultural history—how various cultures have used religious stories and mythmaking to explain the world—and the scientific method—how observation and experimentation can show us what’s really happening. His message throughout is that reality has its own poetic magic that rivals or exceeds even the best-spun tales.

What’s more, The Magic of Reality is full of gorgeous, full-color illustrations by artist Dave McKean. His imaginative visual style brings Dawkins’ clear, simple prose to life and illuminates the magical power that resides in even the simplest of scientific explanations.

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Post-Wild Nature//LED Lighting

Nature means something different to everyone. It’s a towering old-growth redwood forest to some.  Deep silent canyons to others. And urban community gardens to others. Defining what is “pristine nature” is even more dicey. Just ask conservation biologists trying to figure out the best ways to preserve ecosystems and their flora and fauna.
Co-host Susan Moran interviews Emma Marris, whose new book called “Rambunctious Garden: Saving Nature in a Post-wild World” sheds light on how notions of wilderness preservation are evolving to accommodate the ever-changing natural world, and our own role in it.

Tom McKinnon interviews Jeff Bisberg of Albeo Technologies about the new lighting revolution in solid-state LEDs.

Hosts: Tom McKinnon & Susan Moran
Producer: Tom McKinnon
Engineeer: Shellely Schlender

Executive Producer: Tom McKinnon

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Wildfire Science

Researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey collect samples of ash and burned soil after the Fourmile Canyon fire. Photo credit: Gregg Swayze, USGS

 

October is Wildfire Awareness Month, so on today’s show we look back at the Fourmile Canyon wildfire and hear from local researchers about some of the scientific opportunities that the fire afforded over the last year. Jim Roberts, an atmospheric chemist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, tells us about some of the unexpected compounds that have recently been found in the smoke of wildfires. And Deborah Martin, a hydrologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, describes how post-fire runoff from rainstorms affects the forest landscape.

Hosts: Ted Burnham & Breanna Draxler
Producer: Ted Burnham
Engineeer: Shellely Schlender

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We Breathe Microbes with Noah Fierer

Noah Fierer

We explore the world microbes, and how they’re everywhere, and how the University of Colorado at Boulder has scientists such as Noah Fierer who are trying to track all those microbes down and figure out which ones help us and which ones don’t, and how they interact.  These scientists have studied the microbes on a human hand, the microbes in the air from dog feces, and they’re lastest project is known as Miasma.  That stands for Mapping and Integrated Analysis of Microbes in the Atmosphere.

Hosts: Ted Burnham and Breanna Draxler

Producer: Shelley Schlender
Engineer: Shelley Schlender
Headlines: Tom Yulsman
Executive Producer: Susan Moran

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Pine Beetle Kill // Plight of Sharks

"Empire of the Beetle" by Andrew Nikiforuk

Feature #1: If you live on the Front Range, or just about anywhere else in Colorado, you don’t have to go far to notice huge swaths of rusty brown that have replaced green conifer forests. By now, many people are familiar at least with the devastating effects of the mountain pine beetle. But far fewer may understand just how these voracious insects actually make their living, or that this epidemic — and its causes and triggers — are far more nuanced, and controversial, than meets the eye.  How On Earth co-host Susan Moran talks with Canadian journalist Andrew Nikiforuk about the beetles that have been gorging with impunity on lodgepole pine, spruce and other forests from British Columbia down nearly to Mexico. His new book is called The Empire of the Beetle: How Human Folly and a Tiny Bug Are Killing North America’s Great Forests.Previously, he wrote a best-selling book called Tar Sands.

"Demon Fish" by Juliet Eilperin

Feature #2:  Sharks have a special place in the human psyche.  Perhaps it is a combination of the mystery of the depths of the ocean and natural fear and awe of powerful beasts that can kill humans with a single bite.  But these predators also are key players in the ocean’s ecosystem. The science and legends of sharks are the subject of a new book called “Demon Fish: Travels Through the Hidden World of Sharks” by Juliet Eilperin, the environmental science and policy reporter for The Washington Post.  How On Earth’s Joel Parker talks with Juliet about her book. Listen to the extended interview here.

Hosts: Susan Moran and Joel Parker
Producer: Susan Moran
Engineer: Joel Parker

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How On Earth is produced by a small group of volunteers at the studios of KGNU, an independent community radio station in the Boulder-Denver metro area. KGNU is supported by the generosity and efforts of community members like you. Visit kgnu.org to learn more.

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