The Power of Poop (start time: 5:41) This potent byproduct of our digestive system holds the promise of being a big part of the solution to several public health and environmental challenges of our time, such as drinking water scarcity and degraded cropland. In this week’s show, How On Earth’s Susan Moran interviews Dr. Bryn Nelson, a science writer and former microbiologist. His debut book, called Flush: The Remarkable Science of an Unlikely Treasure, recently appeared in paperback.
Host/Producer: Susan Moran Engineer: Alexis Kenyon Executive Producer: Susan Moran
Over the Seawall (start time: 7:33): One of the key things that makes us human is our ability to problem-solve. But often our engineered fixes backfire and even make the problem we’re trying to solve much worse. How On Earth host Susan Moran interviews journalist Stephen Robert Miller about how this applies to massive seawalls, re-engineered rivers, grandiose canals (such as the Central Arizona Project) and other technological fixes that have unintended consequences. Miller’s debut book, due out next week, is called Over the Seawall: Tsunamis, Cyclones, Drought, and the Delusion of Controlling Nature (Island Press). Check out Stephen’s upcoming book talks: Nov. 2 at CU Boulder’s ATLAS 102, 7:00-8:30 p.m.; and Nov. 28 at Boulder Book Store, 6:30 p.m.
Host/Producer: Susan Moran Engineer: Sam Fuqua Executive Producer: Susan Moran Headline contributors: Beth Bennett, Joel Parker, Shelley Schlender
Plastics: From Pollution to Solutions (start time: 0:58) We all want to think that the yogurt tubs, takeout containers and other plastic products that we toss into our kitchen recycling bin will actually get recycled. Chances are, they won’t. Plastic product makers have for many years been deceptively applying the “chasing arrows” recycling symbol on their products, even when those products can not and will not be recycled. But some progress is being made in tackling the enormous plastics-pollution problem, including by forcing producers to truthfully label their plastic products, and passing legislation that holds companies financially responsible for the afterlife of their products. In this week’s show, host Susan Moran interviews Susan Shain, a reporting fellow at the New York Times who recently wrote an article about plastic recycling; and Jennifer Congdon, deputy director of Beyond Plastics, an environmental advocacy project based at Bennington College in Bennington, Vermont.
Host/Producer: Susan Moran Engineer: Shannon Young Executive Producer: Beth Bennett
In this week’s How on Earth, we focus on how cities can foster biodiversity in an effort to mitigate the effects of climate change.
First, we speak with author and journalist Tony Hiss (4:29), who says that while the Earth is rapidly losing species, we can still do something about it. In his latest book, Rescuing the Planet: Protecting Half the Land to Heal the Earth (Vintage), Hiss recounts the numerous ways in which grassroots movements around the world are creating habitats that are allowing biodiversity to thrive, including in least obvious of places — cities.
Next, we discuss how this is being done in Colorado by the nonprofit organization, Denver Urban Gardens (DUG). Creighton Hofeditz (14:37), the Director of Permaculture and Perennials at DUG, tells us how he turns empty city lots into “food forests” — a type of agroforestry — for residents in the metro area. The creation of these gathering spaces for humans also gives nature a place to thrive.
Hosts: Beth Bennett, Benita Lee Producers: Benita Lee, Alexis Kenyon Engineer: Shannon Young Executive Producer: Beth Bennett
Of Bears & Humans (start time: 1:34) If you live on the Front Range or in the mountains, you’ve probably seen a black bear while hiking or in your neighborhood. Black bears are thriving, but most of the other eight remaining bear species are struggling to survive. How On Earth host Susan Moran interviews journalist Gloria Dickie about her just-published debut book Eight Bears: Mythic Past and Imperiled Future (W.W. Norton). It explores conservation efforts to preserve the remaining species. Spoiler alert: the eight bears who inhabit Dickie’s book (and parts of the planet) are the black, brown, panda, moon, sun, sloth, and spectacled bears. Dickie’s work has appeared in many publications, including The New York Times, High Country News and National Geographic. She is currently based in London, as a global climate and environment correspondent for Reuters.
Hosts: Susan Moran, Joel Parker Producer: Susan Moran Engineer: Joel Parker Executive Producer: Shelley Schlender
Water Recycling for Climate Resilience (start time: 7:54) When you poured tap water into your coffee maker this morning, or flushed the toilet, you may not have been thinking about where that water came from, or where it flowed to next. Pegged to World Water Week, on this week’s How On Earth host Susan Moran interviews Austa Parker, PhD, an environmental engineer who is a consultant for the firm Brown and Caldwell on national water-reuse issues. She formerly worked for Denver Water and as an adjunct professor at CU Boulder. Our discussion focuses on direct potable reuse (DPR), the process of transforming treated wastewater, including human effluence, into drinking water. Climate change, intensifying droughts and population growth in the already parched U.S. West are pressuring states and cities to pursue DPR as a means of becoming more climate-resilient. Resource links: WateReuse Colorado WateReuse Association (national) Colorado’s regulations (passed in late 2022) on direct potable reuse
Hosts: Susan Moran, Joel Parker Show Producer: Susan Moran Engineer: Joel Parker Executive Producer: Beth Bennett
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Unruly Planet (start time: 5:31) This week on How On Earth Susan Moran interviews science journalist Madeline Ostrander about her recently published book, At Home On An Unruly Planet: Finding Refuge On A Changed Earth. The author reflects on what it means to reimagine the concept of home, and to literally find a secure home, in this era of upheaval and change. The book, and our conversation today, explore the predicament of climate refugees as well as heroic individuals who are proactively working to preserve and recreate communities.
Hosts: Susan Moran, Joel Parker Producer: Susan Moran Engineer: Joel Parker Executive Producer: Susan Moran Headline Contributors: Beth Bennett, Shelley Schlender
How on Earth’s Beth Bennett talks with authors Ridge Shinn and Lynne Pledger about how regenerative grazing can replace corn-based feedlots, which are responsible for significant climate emissions, nitrogen pollution, and animal suffering. Their book, Grass-Fed Beef for a Post-Pandemic World, outlines a hopeful path out of our broken food system via regional networks of regeneratively produced meat. They talk about how this ancient method of animal husbandry can restore degraded farmland, increase biodiversity, combat climate change by reducing emissions and sequestering carbon and produce nutrient-dense, healthy meat for consumers. More information at Big Picture Beef.
Also, Shelley Schlender talks with Sarah Johnson, a professor of food, science and human nutrition at Colorado State University, about a recent study indicating that in mice prone to artery disease, those that ate belgian endive reduced the instability of artery plaques. That may be important, because in people, unstable plaques can trigger heart attacks.
Hosts: Joel Parker, Beth Bennett Producer: Joel Parker Additional contributions: Shelley Schlender Executive Producer: Susan Moran
Recycling: Obstacles and Progress (start time: 4:35): This week’s How On Earth focuses on the state of recycling and composting in Colorado and well beyond. A newly published report by Eco-Cycle and CoPIRG shows that Colorado ranks well below the national average, and below its own goals, on recycling and composting. But the report also highlights some recently passed legislation that could help dramatically improve the landscape, by holding producers responsible for the waste that their products generate. Host Susan Moran interviews Suzanne Jones, executive director of Eco-Cycle; and Anja Brandon, the U.S. plastics policy analyst at Ocean Conservancy, an environmental nonprofit organization.
Host, Producer: Susan Moran Engineer: Shannon Young Executive Producer: Susan Moran Headline Contributors: Beth Bennett, Shelley Schlender
Today’s show features: Employing Beavers (start time: 11:12): Some consider them pests. Others praise them as saviors of the environment. Whatever your impression of these furry swimming rodents, beavers are gaining more proponents for their ability to make landscapes, and thus humans, more resilient to climate change. Through their dams and lodges, beavers raise water levels, moisten fire-prone forest soil, slow water speed, and thus prevent flooding while storing more water. Host Susan Moran talks with Jessica Doran, a wildlife biologist with EcoMetrics Colorado; and Aaron Hall, senior aquatic biologist with Defenders of Wildlife, about the promises and complexities of employing beavers as ecosystem engineers. Beaver resources: iBeaver (crowdsourcing App from Defenders of Wildlife)
How On Earth 2018 interview with Eager author Ben Goldfarb Rewilding the American West (Ripple et al, BioScience, 2022)
Hosts: Susan Moran, Joel Parker Show Producer: Susan Moran Executive Producer: Beth Bennett Headline contributors: Beth Bennett, Shelley Schlender, Tom Yulsman