Front Range Fracking // Planet+Human Health

Karley Robinson with her son outside their home in Windsor. Photo credit: Ted Wood

Karley Robinson with her son outside their home in Windsor. Photo credit: Ted Wood

Today’s show offers two features:
Oil & Gas Impacts (start time: 1:05) Proposition 112, which would require oil and gas wells to be at least 2,500 feet from homes, schools, parks and other buildings, has highlighted mounting public concerns about the health, social and other impacts of extensive drilling along Colorado’s Front Range.  Weld County is  center stage for the latest oil and gas boom; nearly half of Colorado’s 55,000 active wells are located there. Jason Plautz, a Denver-based journalist, discussed with host Susan Moran the science and politics surrounding drilling activities, and whether explosions such as the one in Windsor last December could happen in many other locations. Plautz and Daniel Glick wrote a feature article that has just been published in High Country News.

healthy_planet-imageHealthy Planet+Healthy Humans? (start time: 14:46) Matthew Burgess has been immersed in thinking about and studying how we humans, and the planet we inhabit, can both remain intact—in fact, can both thrive–well into the future. What’s he smok’in, you might ask? In fact, he is a serious environmental scientist at the University of Colorado Boulder. Dr. Burgess and nearly two dozen colleagues authored a recently published scientific paper that applies models to show how we can meet demands of increased populations and economic growth in 2050, while simultaneously achieving bold and effective conservation and climate goals set forth by the United Nations. Dr. Burgess is an assistant professor in Environmental Studies, with an additional appointment in Economics. And he works at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Science (CIRES), the collaboration between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the University of Colorado. He discusses the paper and its implications with hosts Susan Moran and Joel Parker.

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

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Junk Raft // The Green Reaper

Junk RaftJunk Raft (starts 6:20) Marcus Eriksen discusses what can and cannot be done about the “plastic smog” of microscopic debris permeating the world’s ocean, from the state-sized floating islands of plastic in the Pacific, to the microscopic debris that sinks all the way down the the deepest parts of the Pacific, OR gets eaten and into the food chain.  Eriksen is author of the book Junk Raft, recounting his adventures when he sailed the Pacific from L.A. to Hawaii on a raft made of garbage to bring attention to the issue.

Green Burial imageThe Green Reaper (starts 19:10) Elizabeth Fournier, a mortician from Oregon, is known to some as “The Green Reaper.” She offers and advocates for natural burial services for those who want to extend their environmental ethos from life on into death.

Host/Producer/Engineer: Chip Grandits
Executive Producer:  Beth Bennett

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Geoengineering the Climate

Image credit: Daily Sun

Image credit: Daily Sun

Hacking the Planet (start time: 10:24):
It’s tough to wrap one’s mind around just how monumental and consequential the problem of climate change is. So dire that scientist and engineers for years have been exploring ways to “hack” the planet–to manipulate the global climate system enough to significantly reduce planet-warming gases or increase the Earth’s ability to reflect solar radiation. This audacious scheme, called geoengineering, only exists because many scientists think that human behavioral change, industry regulations, international treaties and national legislation, have not done enough — can not do enough – to keep us from careening toward climate catastrophe.
Our guests today have given this huge challenge a lot of thought and some research. 
Dr. Lisa Dilling is an associate professor of Environmental Studies at CU Boulder and a fellow at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, or CIRESDr. David Fahey is a physicist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA.  He directs the Chemical Sciences Division at NOAA’s Earth System Research Lab in Boulder.

Some relevant materials on geoengineering:
2017 study on public perception of climate change;
2015 National Research Council committee evaluation of proposed climate-intervention tchniques.

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

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The Unnatural World

the-unnatural-world-9781476743905_lgThe Unnatural World (start time: 6:58): It’s an audacious topic for a book: the planet, and audacious individuals who are working to save — actually, to remake — human civilization and our home on Earth. David Biello is the science curator at TED and a contributing editor at Scientific American. His debut book, The Unnatural World: The Race to Remake Civilization in Earth’s Newest Age (Scribner), will be out in paperback next month. It explores how we have altered “nature” in so many ways, from burning fossil fuels and warming the oceans and atmosphere, to tearing down tropical rain forests, to killing off so many species. In this newest epoch, dubbed by many the Anthropocene, humans are not just messing things up; they are also inventing solutions, as Biello notes. Daring optimists in his book include Elon Musk and his Tesla electric cars and trucks.

Hosts: Chip Grantis, Susan Moran
Producer: Susan Moran
Engineer: Chip Grantis
Executive Producer: Beth Bennett
Additional Contributions: Joel Parker

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Committed Warming

Committed warming as a function of transient climate response, courtesy of Nature Climate Change.

Committed warming as a function of transient climate response, courtesy of Nature Climate Change.

Much of current climate science research focuses on understanding how the climate is changing and what type of climate we will have in the near future. But to understand where the climate is going, we need to understand where the climate has been. It is especially important to understand how the climate has responded to the rise of the modern, industrial world, which has emitted greenhouse gases that warm the climate. Because many of these gases will last for a long time in the atmosphere, some of this warming has already been set in motion and will happen regardless of future greenhouse gas emissions. This change is known as “committed warming”.

Determining how much committed warming has occurred in the climate is important to understand the future path of our climate. How on Earth speaks with Dr. Robert Pincus, a co-author of a new study published in Nature Climate Change that provides an estimate of committed warming using a global database of surface temperatures. Dr. Pincus is a Research Scientist at the Earth System Research Laboratory at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Hosts: Alejandro Soto
Engineer: Alejandro Soto, Shelley Schlender
Producer: Shelley Schlender
Additional Contributions:  Beth Bennett, Joel Parker
Executive Producer:  Alejandro Soto

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2017 Graduation Special (part 1)

diploma-and-graduation-hatWith graduation season is upon us, or in many cases in the rearview mirror, today’s edition of How on Earth is the first of a two-part “Graduation Special”. Our guests in the studio today are scientists who recently graduated with – or soon will receive – their Ph.D.  They talk about their thesis research, their grad school experiences, and what they have planned next.

morganMorgan Rehnberg – CU Boulder, Department of Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences
Topic: Small-Scade Structure in Saturn’s Rings

davidDavid Horvath – Colorado School of Mines, Department of Geophysics
Topic: Planetary Hydrology: Implications for the Past Martian Climate and Present Titan Lake Hydrology Using Numerical Models of the Hydrologic Cycles on Titan and Mars

josephJoseph Lee – CU Boulder, Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences
Topic: Wind Energy and Interactions between Wind Turbines and the Atmosphere

Host / Producer / Engineer : Joel Parker
Executive Producer: Susan Moran

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Quantum Dot Antibiotics // Shrinking Ozone Hole

Quantum Dot Antibiotics (c Shelley Schlender)

Quantum Dot Antibiotics (c Shelley Schlender)

Quantum Dot Antibiotics (starts 1:00) This programmable antibiotic might keep pace with quickly evolving superbugs.  Unlike most drugs – it’s not derived from biological sources.  It’s a tiny version of the semiconductors in everything from TVs to iphones to solar panels.  This “antibiotic” is made of nanoparticles, known as quantum dots.  CU Biofrontiers scientists Prashant Nagpal and Anushree Chatterjee explain their new invention.

South Pole ozonesonde (balloon) launch. c NOAA

South Pole ozonesonde (balloon) launch. c noaa

Shrinking Ozone Hole – (starts 15:24) The ozone hole is finally growing smaller – we’ll find out why and how long it will take to completely “heal” the ozone hole from Birgit Hassler, a researcher with the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES), a partnership between the University of Colorado Boulder and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

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

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2016 Graduation Special (part 2)

diploma-and-graduation-hatIn this follow-up episode of our “Graduation Special” we talk with three more guests graduating with science Ph.D.’s from the University of Colorado in Boulder.  They join us to talk about their thesis research, their grad school experiences, and what they have planned next:

CarleighSamson_headshotCarleigh SamsonEnvironmental Engineering Program
Topic: Modeling Relationships between Climate, Source Water Quality and Disinfection Byproduct Formation and Speciation in Treated Drinking Water

 
View More: http://americanchemicalsociety.pass.us/headshotsPatrick BarbourDepartment of Chemistry and Biochemistry
Topic: Property-Guided Synthesis of Tricyclic Indolines to Confront Antibiotic Resistance in Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus

94938Greg ThompsonDepartment of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences
Topic: Advances in a Microphysics Parameterization to Predict Supercooled Liquid Water and Application to Aircraft Icing

Host / Engineer : Shelley Schlender
Producer : Joel Parker
Executive Producer : Shelley Schlender

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2016 Graduation Special (part 1)

diploma-and-graduation-hatThe graduation season is upon us and our guests in today’s show will be graduating with science Ph.D.’s from the University of Colorado in Boulder.  They join us to talk about their thesis research, their grad school experiences, and what they have planned next:

greg_banditGreg SalvesenDepartment of Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences
Topic: Rethinking Accretion Disks Around Black Holes

 
small_headshotJesse NusbaumerDepartment of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences
Topic: An Examination of Atmospheric River Moisture Transport and Hydrology Using an Isotope-enabled Climate Model

Odessa ReunionOdessa GomezEnvironmental Engineering Program
Topic: Characterizing Responses of Primary Biological Aerosols to Oxidative Atmospheric Conditions

 

Host / Producer / Engineer : Joel Parker
Executive Producer: Shelley Schlender

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Prairie Wildfire // Predicting Heat Waves // Mapping Nitrogen Pollution

credit Karen McKinnon - Pacific ocean and atmosphere can predict a heat wave in the Eastern US.

credit Karen McKinnon – Pacific ocean and atmosphere can predict a heat wave in the Eastern US.

Prairie Fire (start time: 0:57) Journalist and Megafire expert Michael Kodas discusses the raging Kansas prairie fire and how it compares to wildfires in Colorado.

Pacific Temperatures Predict New York Heat Waves (start time: 6:58) Climatologist Karen McKinnon says it’s possible to use precise monitoring of Pacific Ocean surface temperatures to predict heat waves on the East Coast 50 days in advance.

Mapping Nitrogen Pollution (start time: 15:45)  CU scientist Sam Simkin explains how human-caused nitrogen pollution  may be killing off plant diversity throughout the US . . . and his maps show where.

Hosts: Shelley Schlender, Susan Moran
Producer: Shelley Schlender
Engineer: Shelley Schlender
Additional Contributions: Tom Yulsman
Executive Producer: Joel Parker

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