GMOs & Health: The Loss of Small Farms and the Rise of Immune Disorders

We look at the strange rise in autoimmune diseases, allergies and asthma, with experts from the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center and with National Jewish Health Immunlogist Andy Liu  in Denver.  And, we explore whether genetically modified crops might be increasing our chance of getting ill, with Agricultural Scientist, Charles Benbrook of The Organic Center.

In this report, Shelley Schlender takes a look at genetically modified crops and other modern farming techniques, and how they might, or might not be, connected to the dramatic rise in immune disorders.  As part of this report, she’ll look into the strange case of a bacteria in GM corn that was NOT supposed to get into human bloodstream.  Recent research indicates that it does.  And she’ll discuss the hygiene hypothesis with  health experts who suggest that our society has become so “clean” that, in some ways, it makes us sick.

Go here for extended interviews with Charles Benbrook, Andy Liu, Carol Shilson, Stefano Guandalini.

Co-hosts: Susan Moran and Joel Parker
Engineer: Tom McKinnon
Executive Producer: Susan Moran
Show Producer: Shelley Schlender

Play
Share

Nitrogen pollution // Electric vehicles

On today’s show we offer two interview features.
Feature #1:

Gulf of Mexico hypoxic zone, caused by excess nutrients, mainly nitrogen from fertilizer

Last week the Environmental Protection Agency published a seminal report about nitrogen, which is an enormous environmental and public health problem that some scientists put on par with the carbon imbalance. Nitrogen is essential for all life, including ours, but excess nitrogen in the environment is turning out to be a predicament of crisis proportions. It kills fish, creates “dead zones” in places like the Gulf of Mexico, contaminates drinking water, and causes human illnesses.
Co-host Susan Moran interviews Dr. Hans Paerl, who has served on the EPA science advisory board and co-authored the report.   He’s a professor of Marine and Environmental Sciences, at the UNC-Chapel Hill Institute of Marine Sciences.

Tesla Roadster

Feature #2:
Our reliance on petroleum-fueled vehicles can be blamed, at least in part for a wide range of problems we face today, from local air pollution to global warming, the balance of payments deficit to political instability on a global scale.  One possible solution is to shift from a reliance on gasoline to the use of electricity for transportation.  Co-host Tom McKinnon interviews John Gartner, a senior analyst at Pike Research in Boulder, to discuss the electric vehicle outlook in the U.S.

Hosts: Susan Moran, Tom McKinnon
Producer: Susan Moran
Engineer: Ted Burnham

Play
Share

Pluto’s Moons // Wildlife Preservation

(credit: NASA, ESA, M. Showalter, Z. Levay)”]Pluto and its moons [click to enlarge] (credit: NASA, ESA, M. Showalter, Z. Levay)Feature #1:
Last month, astronomers working on the Hubble Space Telescope announced the discovery of another, fourth moon around Pluto; this moon is so small that it could fit easily inside Boulder County (a pretty tricky thing to find at a distance of three and a half billion miles). The researchers who found the new moon were making observations in support of NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, which is en route to fly by and study Pluto in 2015, and continue onward to explore the mysterious region beyond Pluto’s orbit known as the Kuiper Belt. How On Earth’s Ted Burnham recently met with Alan Stern, principal investigator on New Horizons, to talk about what the discovery means for that mission. [An extended version of the interview also is available.]

Harvey Locke  in Jasper National Park, Canada.  Jasper is part of the Yellowstone to Yukon corridor (Photo credit: Marie-eve Marchand)

Harvey Locke in Jasper National Park, Canada. Jasper is part of the Yellowstone to Yukon corridor (Photo credit: Marie-eve Marchand)

Feature #2:
The significant loss of species on Earth is primarily due to human destruction of habitats, forests and other wild nature, to make room for new development and agriculture. Climate change is also accelerating the rate of species extinction. Among the efforts worldwide to protect wilderness and nature so wild animals can survive is a Boulder-based nonprofit called The WILD Foundation. Harvey Locke is the organization’s vice president for conservation strategy and he helped launch the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative (Y2Y) several years ago and oversees a global campaign called Nature Needs Half. Y2Y’s goal is to create a continuous 2,000-mile corridor for wildlife from Yellowstone National Park in the U.S. to the Yukon in Northern Canada. Harvey joins us in the studio to talk about that campaign and the science behind wildlife preservation targets.

Co-hosts: Susan Moran and Joel Parker
Engineer: Joel Parker
Executive Producer: Susan Moran
Show Producer: Joel Parker

Play
Share

Lean Deli Meat vs A Big Fat Steak . . . and Water in Outer Space

We talk with one of the nation’s leading nutrition scientists  . . . whose opinions about food and health might not be popular with the American Salt Institute . . . OR with the USDA.  Dariush Mozaffarian is with the Harvard School of Public Health, in the department of epidemiology.  Current projects include leadership of the Nutrition in Chronic Diseases Expert Group of the Gates Foundation.   He’ll explain data that indicates processed lean turkey meat and processed lean ham are a greater risk factor for diabetes and heart disease than eating an equal size serving of fresh, fat, juicy steak.  Mozaffarian talks with Shelley Schlender.  (and for an extended version of the interview, click here)

And we talk with CU astronomer Jason Glenn.   He’s one of the principal investigators on the Z-Spec telescope, operated out of Hawaii.  Recently, Glenn’s team has discovered an enormous cloud of water hanging in space—12 billion light-years away.  Astronomers have never before found water from that far back into the early universe. Glenn talks about the finding with Ted Burnham.

Also in this week’s show, we talk with Janos Perczel about a new design for an invisibility cloak. (and for an extended version of the interview, click here)

Co-hosts:  Joel Parker and Ted Burnham
Engineer: Shelley Schlender
Executive Producer: Susan Moran
Producer: Shelley Schlender

Play
Share

Tech aspects of Boulder utility municipalization

In November Boulder will be asking the voters to approve the conversion of the electrical utility from one run by Xcel Energy to one run by the city.  While there are many, many political issues associated with this vote, there are technical ones as well.  We have on our show today Ken Regelson.  Ken is a sustainable energy consultant and member of the steering and tech modeling committees of RenewablesYes.org.  He holds a masters degree in electrical engineering.  And he tells us he’s available to speak on Boulder’s clean energy future at your neighborhood group, business, or at your next dinner party.

Link to the Trojan Asteroid animation.

Co-hosts:  Chip Grandits and Tom McKinnon
Engineer: Ted Burnham
Executive Producer: Susan Moran
Producer: Tom McKinnon

Play
Share

Email troubles (science [a] kgnu.org)

Today it came to our attention that our show email address, science@kgnu.org, was not reliably forwarding messages for the last month or so. We know of at least a few people who tried to contact us via that address and whose messages were swallowed up by the internet. To them—and to the ones we don’t yet know about—we are deeply sorry for the trouble you experienced!

The problem has been fixed, but unfortunately we cannot recover messages that failed to go through.

If you emailed us after June 13th, please resend your message ASAP—especially if it was a submission to our theme song contest! We had no idea we were missing out on your amazing music, and we very much want you to be considered in the contest. Though tonight is the official deadline, we will of course accept any submissions that were lost due to this email issue, provided they are resubmitted in a timely fashion.

Again, to all our listeners, we’re sorry for any anxiety or inconvenience we have caused. Thanks for bearing with us and, as always, thanks for listening!

Share

Music producer Tom Wasinger comments on HOE theme song entries

 

Tom Wasinger in his Boulder studio

Grammy Award-winning music producer Tom Wasinger comments on the entries to the How on Earth theme song contest.  Give us comments on your favorite theme song here.  The winner will be announced on August 12, 2011.

Co-hosts:  Ted Burnham and Tom McKinnon
Engineer: Tom McKinnon
Executive Producer: Susan Moran
Producer: Tom McKinnon

Play
Share

Green Tech Author // NCAR Climate Scientist

energy comics, courtesy greentechhistory.com

This week’s How On Earth offers two features:
Co-host Susan Moran interviews Alexis Madrigal, a senior editor for The Atlantic magazine and author of the new book, Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. Madrigal spins tales of the bicycle boom in the 1800s and how it paved the way for cars, ironically; of a time when gasoline emerged as a waste product of kerosene for lighting; and when crude oil was what you might call the environmentally sound alternative to oil from whales, which were nearly hunted to extinction.  Madrigal also pays tribute to Colorado’s National Renewable Energy Lab and its deep history of spawning renewable energy and surviving budget cuts. And he honors green-tech (and fossil fuel) inventors and beacons of yesteryear, as he looks forward to what a greener future could be.

In the second feature, Shelley Schlender interviews Warren Washington, a ground-breaking climate scientist at the National Center of Atmospheric Research in Boulder. He’s a world leader in using computers to model climate.  Last year he was awarded the National Medal of Science by President Obama. Dr. Washington’s autobiography is  Odyssey in Climate Modeling, Global Warming, and Advising Five Presidents.

Hosts: Susan Moran, Ted Burnham
Producer: Susan Moran
Engineer: Shelley Schlender

Play
Share

Ocean Acidification // Citizen Science

 

 

Top Image: Ocean Acidification process. Bottom Image: New Horizons spacecraft flies by a Kuiper belt object.

 

Feature #1: Many problems plague the oceans and the fish and other species that inhabit them: overfishing, pollution, and much more. But perhaps the greatest threat to sea life – and possibly to humans – is ocean acidification.  That’s when the chemistry of the ocean changes and causes seawater to become more acidic because the ocean is absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. This increase in ocean acidity makes it difficult for many plants and animals in the ocean to make or maintain their shells or skeletons.  The head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Jane Lubchenco, recently said that the ocean is becoming more acidic at rates not seen for at least 20 million years, and that’s due mostly to increases in CO2 in the atmosphere.  The threat is so grave that NOAA recently created a distinct Ocean Acidification Program. In May, Dr. Libby Jewett was appointed the first director of the program. We talk with Dr. Jewett find out more about the problem and what she aims to do about it.

Feature #2: Some sciences have a tradition of fruitful interactions between professional researchers and amateurs, and this has been made even more accessible with data being able to be shared over the internet across the world.  Dr. Pamela Gay, an Astronomer at Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville, is the architect and participant in many such collaborations. In addition to her teaching and research, she does extensive public outreach to share the excitement of astronomy (such as her podcast AstronomyCast.com) and even finds ways to let anyone with an internet connection make new scientific discoveries and find new worlds that will be visited by spacecraft (IceHunters.org).  We talk with Dr. Gay about the Zooniverse and her hunt for of icy objects in the outer solar system.

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

Listen to the show:

Play
Share

Science Education, Evolution & Creationism

the book “Why Evolution Works (and Creationism Fails)" by Matt Young and Paul Strode

At its most basic level, science can be considered as non-political or at least politically neutral: science is dedicated to the collection of facts and interpreting them to help us understand the universe and how it works. For that reason, many people – one may even say our culture in general – places a high value in being scientifically literate. Or at least we pay lip service to that idea. But when the results of science end up contradicting and conflicting with other ideals such as religious beliefs, personal behaviors, or vested interests, then science can become very political. Perhaps the two most visible examples of this politicization of science are in the areas of climate change and evolution, where the discussion ranges from the White House and Congress to local school boards and textbooks. Our guest today has front line experience in several aspects of science and education. Dr. Paul Strode is a biology teacher in the Boulder Valley School District, and has been an instructor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Colorado. Dr. Strode is co-author of the book: “Why Evolution Works (and Creationism Fails)” – also available and reviews here and here.

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

Listen to the show:

Play
Share

Support KGNU


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.

Podcast

Subscribe via iTunes
 
How On Earth episodes can be downloaded as podcasts via iTunes, or streamed to a mobile device via Stitcher or Science360 Radio.
 
Listen on Stitcher
 
Listen on Science360 Radio
 
For more info about podcasting, and more subscription options, visit our Podcast page.