Tackling ozone pollution in Colorado (starts at 3:55): Cooler fall weather might soon bring back the bluebird skies we all love. But last year ozone levels in the Denver metropolitan area were high enough to prompt state health officials to issue ozone action alerts an average of once a week. (This summer has fared somewhat better.) During these ozone alerts, health officials recommend that children, the elderly and people with compromised lungs do not exercise outdoors. Hosts Daniel Glick and Susan Moran interview John Putnam, the environmental programs director for Colorado’s Department of Public Health and Environment, about the science, the sources (the largest being oil and gas operations), the health impacts, and policy approaches to ozone pollution. Governor Jared Polis named Putnam to tackle, among other things, a longstanding problem with the state’s air quality: parts of the state have been out of compliance with federal Clean Air Act standards for more than a decade. Last year, the Environmental Protection Agency upped the ante. It declared that parts of Colorado are in “serious” non-compliance of federal air quality standards for ozone, which we all know as “smog.”
For more info on health impacts, read Susan’s article. For info on in intricacies of the state’s oil and gas rules, read this article by Daniel. And the CDPHE features ongoing info on ozone here.
For info on the “climate strike” this Friday and climate activities over the next week, look here.
Hosts: Daniel Glick, Susan Moran Producers: Daniel Glick, Susan Moran Engineer: Joel Parker Executive Producer: Beth Bennett
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+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
Today’s show offers two feature interviews: New Theory of How Cancer Evolves Inside Us (start time: 0:58): It is commonly known that cancer afflicts old people more than youth. Conventional wisdom has held we get cancer with age largely because we accumulate lots of genetic mutations over many years, and it’s the mutations that cause cancer. Our guest, Dr. James DeGregori, deputy director of the University of Colorado Cancer Center, discusses with host Susan Moran his new theory–one that challenges conventional wisdom–about why and how we get cancer. In his new book, called Adaptive Oncogenesis: A New Understanding of How Cancer Evolves Inside Us, DeGregori argues that cancer is as much a disease of evolution as it is of mutation. Mutated cells outcompete healthy ones in the ecosystem of the body’s tissues. Dr. DeGregori is a professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.
Studying Health Impacts of Oil&Gas Wells (start time: 12:54) Many people living all along the Front Range are familiar with the sights and smells of oil rigs operating in fields near their homes and schools. State regulators argue that this convergence of people and oil rigs is safe. But many nearby residents and scientists are concerned about the potential health impacts of these drilling operations so close to residential neighborhoods and schools. Our guest, Dr. Lisa McKenzie, is the lead author on a new study that adds some critical evidence to back concerns of residents. It found that for people living within 500 feet of a well, the risk of their getting cancer over the course of their lifetime is eight times higher than the upper acceptable levels established by the federal EPA. Dr. McKenzie is an assistant research professor at the Colorado School of Public Health at the University of Colorado Anshutz Campus. She discusses the study and its implications with hosts Daniel Glick and Susan Moran. (Here is our interview with Dr. McKenzie a year ago about a related study.)
Hosts: Daniel Glick, Susan Moran Producer: Susan Moran Engineer: Maeve Conran Executive Producer: Joel Parker
Methane Madness (start time: 2:20) More than a decade ago, scientists noted that the area where Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and Utah meet, known as Four Corners, appeared to be emitting a curiously large amount of methane. In a new study, a team of scientists have traced the source: more than 250 gas wells, storage tanks, pipelines and processing plants associated with oil and gas development in the San Juan Basin. The basin is one of many places where new drilling technologies, including horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, have propelled a boom in natural gas extraction. The boom has transformed the U.S. energy mix. Our two guests discuss with hosts Daniel Glick and Susan Moran the science and public health aspects of this study as well as the human side of living near natural gas wells in Colorado. Dr. Colm Sweeney co-authored the recent Four Corners study. He is the lead scientist for NOAA’s Earth System Research Lab Aircraft Program, and he is a research scientist with the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, or CIRES, at the University of Colorado Boulder. Our other guest, Dr. Christopher Clack, is a physicist and mathematician with CIRES whose research focuses on renewable electricity. He shares his personal experience with and documentation of natural gas extraction.
Hosts: Daniel Glick, Susan Moran Producer: Susan Moran Executive Producer: Susan Moran Engineer: Maeve Conran Contributor: Joel Parker
Changing Climate, Changing Policy (start time: 7:06): As political leaders are still hammering out an accord at the UN Climate Summit, or COP21, in Paris, to rein in global warming, today we discuss the underlying scientific facts about climate change, and the policy promises and challenges for our future. Hosts Susan Moran and Daniel Glick interview two Colorado scientists at the intersection of science and policy. Dr. Waleed Abdalati is a geoscientist and director of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES), a partnership between the University of Colorado-Boulder and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Dr. Lisa Dilling is an associate professor of environmental studies, also at CIRES, who brings expertise in science policy related to climate issues. She directs The Western Water Assessment, a NOAA program that provides information for policy makers throughout the Intermountain West about the region’s vulnerabilities to climate change impacts. Contributing host Daniel Glick was an editor of the 2014 National Climate Assessment, and his team has produced videos on the immediate and human impacts of climate change.
Hosts: Daniel Glick, Susan Moran Producer: Susan Moran Engineer: Maeve Conran Executive Producer: Beth Bennett Additional contributions: Joel Parker, Shelley Schlender