In last month’s election, Boulder voters gave the go-ahead for the city to move forward on municipalizing the electrical utility. The chief motivation for that decision was to put more renewable energy on the grid. There are a large number of policy options to incentivize renewable energy – so many that it’s hard to keep them all straight. John Farrell, a Senior Researcher at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, joined us by phone to explain the situation. (interview begins at 6:25)
Mountainous areas like the Rockies are hotspots for plant and animal biodiversity but as the climate warms many of these species – including Colorado’s iconic pica — are under threat. Much research has focused on the effects of temperature change, but less has focused on the interactions of temperature and precipitation in a changing climate. University of Colorado biologist Christy McCain is closely examining those inter-relationships. She’s been studying patterns of diversity for plants and critters on mountains around the world. She co-authored a paper that was recently published in the journal Ecology Letters about how precipitation changes appear to be far more risky than temperature change. And it doesn’t bode well for many species. (interview begins at 14:58).
Producer: Tom McKinnon Co-Hosts: Susan Moran and Tom McKinnon Engineer: Jim Pullen Executive Producer: Tom McKinnon
Jim Motavalli joins us by phone from his home in Fairfield, Connecticut. Jim is the author of a new book titled “High Voltage: The Fast Track to Plug In the Auto Industry” and helped us sort out some of the issues around EVs. Mr. Motavalli is an auto journalist who writes for the New York Times, Car Talk, the Mother Nature Network and PlugInCars.com. Jim has been covering the emerging electric vehicle industry for the last decade. He reported that if he finds some extra money in his sofa cushions he’ll be buying a Tesla Roadster. Rodale Press has donated some copies of “High Voltage” as premiums for new and renewing members. Give us a call at 303-449-4885 and you’ll be reading Jim’s book faster than you can charge up your Nissan Leaf. (Motavalli interview starts at 4:39).
Shelley Schlender visited with Colorado State University Scientist and Paleolithic Lifestyle expert Loren Cordain to talk about acne prevention. Cordain asserts that the best “prescription” for preventing acne is to eat the foods that have always helped traditional cultures be acne-free. That means lots and lots of vegetables, along with some fruit. Meanwhile, kick out modern foods–especially high glycemic foods . . . that means avoid sugary and starchy modern stuff — you know, sodas, candy, bread and pasta. Cordain also says to eliminate dairy. (Cordain interview starts at 16:05).
Producer: Tom McKinnon Co-Hosts: Breanna Draxler and Tom McKinnon Engineer: Ted Burnham Executive Producer: Tom McKinnon
One often hears people state “I’m not good at math” or that they don’t like math because it they don’t think it has any relevance to their day-to-day life (other than, maybe, to balance a checkbook). However, both of those myths are addressed head-on in a new book titled “Math for Life: Crucial Ideas You Didn’t Learn in School.” The author of that book is Dr. Jeffrey Bennett, an astrophysicist and educator. He has written several text books and books for the general public including the popular series of children’s books (“Max goes to the Moon” and other places around the solar system) and now another new children’s book called “The Wizard Who Saved the World.” We are happy to have Jeff back on our show in this episode to talk about the importance of math to how we make decisions in our personal lives, in our community, and in Congress…and about being a Wizard.
Hosts: Joel Parker, Breanna Draxler Headlines: Breanna Draxler, Beth Bartel Engineer: Joel Parker Producer: Joel Parker Executive Producer: Tom McKinnon
In celebration of Thanksgiving, Beth Bartel interviews Stan Baker of the National Wild Turkey Federation about wild turkeys in Colorado. You may be surprised at the story of the wild turkey in North America and just how different the wild turkey is from the domestic turkeys we’re used to. There’s a reason Benjamin Franklin wanted the turkey, not the bald eagle, to be our national bird.
Can light pollution at night lead to air pollution during the day? Jim Pullen talks with researcher Harald Stark of the Cooperative Institute for Research in the Environmental Sciences (CIRES) to find out. Stark’s work has taken him over Los Angeles to measure the chemistry of the night sky. What he is learning increases our understanding of ground-level ozone, which is a major pollutant of our urban air.
Hosts: Joel Parker & Beth Bartel Producer: Beth Bartel Engineer: Ted Burnham Executive Producer: Tom McKinnon
Susan Moran has a telephone interview with Cynthia Barnett. Cynthia is a journalist and author of Blue Revolution: Unmaking America’s Water Crisis.” She calls the U.S. one of the most “water-wasting places on the planet.” But in her book she also draws from positive examples of water conservation in the country to propose a new “water ethic.” (start – 4:20).
Jeff Branson of the SparkFun Electronics Department of Education joins Tom McKinnon in the Boulder studio to discuss the so-called Maker Movement. In particular, he describes how it is revolutionizing K-12 education. (start 13:20).
Producer: Beth Bartel and Tom McKinnon Co-Hosts: Susan Moran and Beth Bartel Engineer: Ted Burnham Executive Producer: Tom McKinnon
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.