Today’s show features the following interviews, by How On Earth’s Susan Moran and guest host Ted Wood.
Audubon’s Climate Watch (start time: 4:03) Starting on Jan. 14, the Audubon Society will launch a month-long citizen science program to better understand how birds are responding to climate change. This comes at a time when, according to a 2019 Audubon report, up to two-thirds of North American birds are vulnerable to extinction due to climate change. But the Climate Watch program is one of many opportunities to protect birds. Alison Holloran, executive director of Audubon Rockies, discusses the program and how you can get involved.
Conservation on the Edges (start time: 13:26) Charismatic predators like polar bears, grizzlies, and tigers, get lots of attention, and for good reason. But many lesser known species, particularly those living in extreme environments–including muskoxen, wild yaks, takins and saigas–are also important species. They have been the research focus of Joel Berger, a professor of wildlife conservation at Colorado State University. He’s also senior scientist at Wildlife Conservation Society. Berger’s latest book is Extreme Conservation: Life at the Edges of the World.
Hosts: Susan Moran, Ted Wood Producer: Susan Moran Engineer: Maeve Conran Executive Producer: Beth Bennett Additional Contributor: Beth Bennett
Why Compost? (start time: 7:01) Many of us may feel a little less guilty letting fruits and vegetables go bad, because we figure that this waste, thanks to curbside compost pickup, will be turned into nutritious food for crops, lawns or grasslands down the road. And landfills will spew less methane, a greenhouse gas far more potent than carbon dioxide. The story of food waste and reuse is a complicated one. Our two guests are working on getting composting right — and ultimately on how to make our food-production and consumption systems more sustainable, starting here on the Front Range. Dan Matsch directs the compost department for Eco-Cycle, the nonprofit recycler that works with cities along the Front Range. He also directs Eco-Cycle’s Center for Hard-to-Recycle Materials (CHaRM). Mark Easter is an ecologist at Colorado State University’s Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory. Matsch and Easter discuss with host Susan Moran the journey of a rotten zucchini, how composting is tied to the emerging practice of carbon farming, and how we all do our part.
Calendar advisory: Join KGNU and Eco-Cycle on Thursday, January 31, at the Longmont Museum (6:30 to 8:00 P.M) for a special community conversation on plastic waste–challenges and solutions. The event will include representatives from Eco-Cycle, the Inland Ocean Coalition, and local business and sustainability leaders. For more info, go to this website.
Hosts: Susan Moran, Chip Grandits Producer: Susan Moran Engineer: Chip Grandits Executive Producer: Beth Bennett Additional contributions: Beth Bennett
This week’s How On Earth offers two features: Work-Email Anxiety (start time: 7:58) If you’re wondering why you often feel anxious on Monday mornings, despite having spent time with your family and friends over the weekend, you might recall the amount of time you spent glued to your smart phone or laptop, checking email because you worried that your boss would be expecting you to be virtually on hand. You’re hardly alone. Samantha Conroy, an assistant professor of business management at Colorado State University, discusses with How On Earth host Susan Moran a new survey-based study (under review) that she co-authored. It found that not only employees but their partners at home suffer from high anxiety when the employee feels pressured to be virtually available via email after hours.
Fixing Food Waste (start time: 17:59) We’re all guilty of it: waste. Tossing out peaches, broccoli and other food that has gone bad in the fridge. Or leaving pasta on our plate untouched at an Italian bistro. More than one-third of all food that is produced in the United States is wasted – in the field, at restaurants, in our own kitchens. The conservation organization World Wildlife Fund recently published a report on the huge environmental and health impacts of food waste, and on what can be done to reduce waste, and ultimately preserve grasslands and other natural habitat. Monica McBride, manager of Food Loss & Waste at World Wildlife Fund, co-wrote the report, called “No Food Left Behind.” She shares the findings and recommendations with Susan Moran. Check out these resources at WWF on what you can do: A Food Waste Quiz and tips on reducing waste.
Hosts: Chip Grandits, Susan Moran Producer: Susan Moran Engineer: Chip Grandits Headline Contributions: Beth Bennett, Joel Parker, Shelley Schlender Executive Producer: Beth Bennett
This week’s show offers two features: Global Biodiversity (start time: 1:22): Scientists, NGOs and government representatives from nearly 200 countries have been gathering in Cancun, Mexico, for the UN Biodiversity Conference, known as COP13. They’re meeting to promote protocols and strategic actions related to biological diversity, climate change, food security, and even citizen science. Gillian Bowser, a research scientist at Colorado State University, has studied international climate and biodiversity conventions, while working on issues such as women in sustainability, as well as citizen science. She discusses with host Susan Moran the importance of COP13, and the impact of citizens in scientific studies, such as identifying and tracking butterflies, birds and other species.
Scientists’ Letter to Trump (start time: 12:09) Last week roughly 800 earth and planetary scientists, as well as energy experts, sent an open letter to president-elect Donald Trump, urging him to take six concrete steps to address climate change and to help protect “America’s economy, national security, and public health and safety.” Trump has called global warming a concept created by China to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive, and he has picked a climate change denialist to lead the Environmental Protection Agency. Many scientists fear that a Trump administration will drastically decrease federal funding for climate research. Indeed, the Trump transition team has already issued a questionnaire to the Department of Energy to identify employees and contractors who have worked on climate change research. Alan Townsend, an ecologist at the University of Colorado Boulder and one of many Colorado scientists who signed the letter, discusses these issues with hosts Maeve Conran and Susan Moran.
Hosts: Maeve Conran, Susan Moran Producer: Susan Moran Engineer: Maeve Conran Executive Producer: Beth Bennett
Our Microbes, Ourselves, Dec. 31, 2015: Roughly one hundred trillion bacteria are living, and gorging, in our gut–all the more so during the indulgent holidays. Microbes influence our health and well-being, by affecting our gut directly, as well as the crops we eat and the soils in which we grow crops. These microbial communities – called the gut microbiome — have been linked to many disorders, including obesity, inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes, cancer, immune disorders, and even mental illness. We are just at the dawn of a new era of microbial treatments for many illnesses. After a recent How On Earthshow generated so much interest, we decided to bring our guest, Amy Sheflin, back for an hour-long call-in show on A Public Affair on KGNU. Amy is a doctoral student at Colorado State University in food science and human nutrition. She studies how the food we eat alters the microbial communities in our gut, and how those microbes in our bodies influence our overall health. For more info on the gut microbiome, check out Amy’s favorite books on the topic: The Good Gut, by Justin and Erica Sonnenburg; and The Inside Tract, by Gerard Mullins. Also check out the American Gut Project.
Mighty Microbes (start time: 5:45): Microbes – fungi and bacteria and probably viruses — are essential to life on Earth. They’re found in soil and water and inside the human gut. There’s a lot happening these days in microbiology, as scientists try to better understand what role these invisible powerhouses play in our health and that of the planet. Amy Sheflin, a PhD candidate at Colorado State University in the department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, speaks with host Susan Moran about her and others’ research into how microbial communities an enhance the health of our human gut, soils and crops.
Hosts: Susan Moran, Joel Parker Producer: Susan Moran Engineer: Joel Parker Executive Producer: Beth Bennett
Today, April 29th, we offer two features: Baseball Vision (starts at 5:42): The major league baseball season is now in full “swing.” Fans may take it for granted that these professional athletes are in top physical condition. What’s less known is how important it is for baseball players to have perfect eyesight. Batters in particular have some of the best vision in the world. To find out how scientists know this, and study it, and even make it better, How on Earth’s Shelley Schlender last month headed down to spring training in Arizona. There, she caught up with two of the nation’s top experts on the science of vision, and sports.
Emerald Ash Borer (starts at 11:21): It’s been called the most destructive looming pest blight to hit Colorado in ages. The perpetrator in question is the emerald ash borer, a small shimmery green beetle. It is believed to have hitchhiked to the U.S. and Canada on cargo ships, or airplanes, from its native Asia, in 2002. Since then it has wiped out millions of ash trees in many states. Last September, the ash borer was first found in Colorado. Ash trees have had no time to develop resistance against the exotic invader. And meanwhile, the ash borer has no predators here to keep it in check. Dr. Whitney Cranshaw, an entomologist at Colorado State University, talks with host Susan Moran about what we should know about the emerald ash borer.
Hosts: Susan Moran, Joel Parker Producer: Susan Moran Engineer: Joel Parker Executive Producer: Joel Parker
Feature #1 (starts 05:25): A sweeping new report on the state of climate change and its current and future impacts in the United States was recently released in draft form. It’s called the National Climate Assessment. It comes at a time when major storms and wildfires are increasing in many areas. And last year the continental U.S. experienced its hottest year ever recorded. How On Earth co-host Susan Moran interviews one of the participating authors of the report, Dr. Dennis Ojima. He’s a professor at Colorado State University in the Ecosystem Science and Sustainability Department, and a senior research scientist in the Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory. Dr. Ojima co-wrote the chapter on the Great Plains.
Feature #2 (starts 16:30): Paul D. Miller, a.k.a. DJ Spooky, says the pallet of a 21st-century artist is data. That’s certainly the approach he took after visiting Antarctica in 2007—Miller used scientific data from ice cores and other Antarctic sources to create musical motifs representing the southern continent, then blended them with live performers and his own hip-hop beats. Co-host Ted Burnham speaks with Miller about the process of “remixing” the frozen Antarctic landscape, and about how music and art offer new ways to make scientific topics such as climate change accessible and meaningful.
Producer: Susan Moran Co-Hosts: Ted Burnham, Susan Moran Engineer: Ted Burnham
Additional Contributions: Shelley Schlender
Feature #1: (start time 5:09) Did you know that Colorado, and for that matter most states, have their own “state climatologist” – an expert who keeps tabs on the changing climate and its impacts in the state. In Colorado’s case it’s Nolan Doesken. He’s based out of the Colorado Climate Center at Colorado State University. Mr. Doesken also heads a nationwide citizen-science project called the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network. How On Earth co-host Susan Moran interviews Mr. Doesken about the network, as well as a recently released Colorado River Basin Water Supply & Demand Study, which suggests we’ll be thirstier and thirstier in the future.
Feature #2: (start time 16:00) Water is such an essential — perhaps the essential — resource for life that it is considered as a key ingredient for life anywhere in the universe. No surprise, then, that it has become a battleground, especially in the Western states like Colorado that are dealing with drought conditions and higher demand for clean water to support a ever-increasing population. Dr. Mark Williams, professor of geography at CU Boulder talks with co-host Joel Parker about his research into the environmental and human health impacts of energy development and mining on the quality of water in our aquifers.
Hosts: Susan Moran, Joel Parker Producer: Susan Moran| Engineer: Jim Pullen Executive Producer: Jim Pullen