This week on How on Earth, Beth interviews author Judith Schwartz. In her new book, the Reindeer Chronicles, she takes the reader on a tour of some of the most wounded places on earth, and stories of how a passionate group of eco-restorers is leading the way to their revitalization. This optimistic book describes solutions to seemingly intractable problems that can restore local water, carbon, nutrient, and energy cycles.
Host: Beth Bennett Producer: Beth Bennett Engineer: Sam Fuqua Additional contribution: Joel Parker Executive Producer: Beth Bennett
This week’s How On Earth features the following two segments:
Late-summer Cricket Chorus (start time: 1:02) One of the most poetic sounds of the end of summer is …. no, not your kids kicking and screaming because summer is over. It’s the sound of crickets, katydids and other melodic insects “chirping” at night. Our focus here is Snowy Tree Crickets in Colorado. They are called “temperature” crickets because you can calculate what the temperature is outside based on how many times these crickets “chirp” in a certain time period. How On Earth’s Shelley Schlender took a stroll recently with two Boulder naturalists — Steve Jones and Scott Severs — to learn more about how, and why, crickets in general make their chirping sound, and why we hear so many of them in the evenings this time of year. Some resources about crickets and their brethren: 1) http://songsofinsects.com/ 2) biology and recordings of nearly all singing Orthopterans (crickets, grasshoppers, katydids), at Singing Insects of North America (SINA) http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/Walker/buzz/.
The Science of Aspen (and other) Foliage (starts: 9:40) One of the most iconic images of Colorado is aspen groves quaking in early fall in their brilliant yellow, orange and even red hues. This year, the aspen, and many other plants, are changing colors earlier than normal. Due largely to the extended warm and dry conditions, many aspen leaves are fading and shriveling without turning bright colors. Dr. Jeff Mitton, an evolutionary biologist and a professor emeritus at the University of Colorado Boulder, talks with host Susan Moran about what dictates the timing and intensity of foliage. Dr. Mitton also writes a bimonthly column, called Natural Selections, in the Daily Camera. Here’s one (of many) on crickets.
Hosts: Maeve Conran, Susan Moran Producer: Susan Moran Engineer: Maeve Conran Contributions: Shelley Schlender Executive Producer: Susan Moran
With graduation season is upon us, today’s edition of How on Earth is the second of a two-part annual “Graduation Special”. Our guests in the studio today are scientists who will receive their Ph.D. in a STEM-related field. They talk about their thesis research, their grad school experiences, and what they have planned next.
HyunJoo Oh – CU Boulder, ATLAS Institute
Topic: Computational Design Tools and Techniques for Paper Mechatronics
Beth interviews Dr Sarah Spaulding, of the Institute for Arctic and Alpine Research here in Boulder. Sarah studies microscopic single celled algae, creatures that photosynthesize but aren’t plants. She discusses their ecological roles in numerous ecosystems as well as challenges in identifying them and her long term goals in studying these elusive but ubiquitous creatures. See more at https://westerndiatoms.colorado.edu/ Host: Beth Bennett Producer: Beth Bennett Engineer: Maeve Conran Executive Producer: Shelley Schlender
Listen to the show:
Host Beth Bennett interviews Bob Crifasi, author of A Land Made of Water (starts at 4’55”). Bob works in water management and planning and is an environmental scientist with over 25yr experience. He was the Water Resources Administrator for the city of Boulder’s Open Space and Mountain Parks Dept. He has served on board of directors of 11 ditch companies and as the president of several, supervising all aspects of ditch operation.
GMOs (start time 5:35) An interview with Dr Sharon Collenge, an ecologist at the University of Colorado. Dr Collenge is an advocate of using new genetic technologies to make slight modifications to plant genomes which can increase yield, protect against disease and reduce pesticide use.
Hope On Earth (starts 7:08): Few people have thought as critically and deeply about the state of Earth and our role on it than Paul Ehrlich. Over the course of several decades, the Stanford University biologist and ecologist has written many books, including 1968’s controversial The Population Bomb, in which he predicted that hundreds of millions of people would starve to death in the 1970s due to overpopulation and limited resources.
He has just come out with a new book, which he co-wrote with Michael Charles Tobias, an ecologist, filmmaker, book author and animal rights advocate. The book is called Hope On Earth: A Conversation. And indeed, it is a conversation between Ehrlich and Tobias. In fact, their conversation –many of them — took place here in a research outpost just outside of Crested Butte.
Both men join us by phone to discuss the book and the most pressing environmental issues of the day that it explores.
Producer: Ted Burnham
Co-Hosts: Ted Burnham, Susan Moran
Engineer: Ted Burnham Executive Producer: Joel Parker
On Tuesday, Nov. 5, How On Earth brings you one short report and two features:
Feature 1 – Salt Lake City’s Drier Future (start time 4:25): Guests Laura Briefer and Tim Bardsley talk with How On Earth’s Jim Pullen about how science is helping water management planners in Salt Lake City prepare for an uncertain—and drier—future. Briefer is the water resource manager for Salt Lake City’s Department of Public Utilities and Bardsley is a hydrologist working with Salt Lake City via University of Colorado’s Western Water Assessment.
Feature 2 – Spruce Beetle Outbreak (start time 15:12): We continue with the climate theme, but bring it away from the cities and into the forests. Picture this: Up high, in the mountains of Colorado, a small beetle, about the size of a grain of rice, works its way into the bark of a spruce tree, where it burrows in to find some tasty morsels—the tree’s reproductive tissues. Here it will feast, and, under the right conditions, kill the tree. This is not the more familiar mountain pine beetle, but a spruce beetle. Same idea, different tree. And the scale of a current spruce beetle outbreak in our state is being referred to by CU researchers as “massive.” University of Colorado ecologist Sarah Hart tells How On Earth’s Beth Bartel more about Colorado’s spruce beetle outbreak and the drought that’s causing it.
Short Report – Animal Tagging (start time 1:07): Does tagging animals affect the very behavior scientists are trying to study? Susan Moran reports on how one study finds that even small tags and equipment can drag marine creatures down. For more information, check out NOAA’s Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center page and photos or, better yet, videos of model (mock?) turtles and their wind tunnels.
Hosts: Beth Bartel, Jim Pullen Producer: Beth Bartel Engineer: Jim Pullen Executive Producer: Beth Bartel Additional Contributions: Susan Moran
Snowshoe Hare Faces Uncertain Future (start time 6:35). They don’t get much cuter than bunnies. One of the cutest of them all is the snowshoe hare. It’s elusive, and well camouflaged, so you may well never have seen one. To survive, these hares change their coats with the seasons – white in the snowy winter and rusty brown in the summer. So now, some hares’ fur turns white before the snow covers the ground. Think what it’d be like to be naked in public, an easy meal for eagles and other predators. Whether these fragile hares can evolve and adapt to their changing homes fast enough is a question some biologists are studying hard. Hillary Rosner, a local science journalist and author, wrote about the plight of the snowshoe hare in the current issue of High Country News and now talks with How on Earth’s Susan Moran.
Cubelets Robotics (start time 15:00) is an award-winning modular robotics kit created and made in Boulder. The concept is simple: you take these magnetic blocks and snap them together to make an endless variety of robots with no programming and no wires. You can build robots that drive around on a tabletop, respond to light, sound, and temperature, and have surprisingly lifelike behavior. But instead of programming that behavior, you snap the cubelets together and watch the behavior emerge like with a flock of birds or a swarm of bees. To find out more, How on Earth’s Shelley Schlender talks with Modular Robotics Design Director, Eric Schweikardt. Cubelet theme song by Blorp Corp.
Hosts: Joel Parker, Susan Moran Contributor: Breanna Draxler Producer: Shelley Schlender Engineer: Shelley Schlender Executive Producer: Shelley Schlender