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
This week’s show brings you the following feature interview: Protecting Ocean Biodiversity (start time: 2:42) In honor of World Environment Day (today), World Oceans Day (Friday) the March for the Ocean (Saturday), and Capitol Hill Ocean Week (all week), we examine one of the biggest marine conservation tools: Marine Protected Areas. What’s working? What’s not, and why? And what does this have to do with residents of landlocked states such as Colorado? A lot. Hoe On Earth hosts Susan Moran and Sadie Babits interview Dr. Kirsten Grorud-Colvert, an assistant professor of marine ecology at Oregon State University. This interview expands our series called The Ocean Is Us. For info on this week’s local March for the Ocean events, go to Colorado Ocean Coalition. National events and resources at Capitol Hill Ocean Week, March for the Ocean, and Blue Frontier Campaign.
Hosts: Sadie Babits, Susan Moran Producer: Susan Moran Engineer: Joel Parker Executive Producer: Joel Parker
Hacking the Planet (start time: 10:24): It’s tough to wrap one’s mind around just how monumental and consequential the problem of climate change is. So dire that scientist and engineers for years have been exploring ways to “hack” the planet–to manipulate the global climate system enough to significantly reduce planet-warming gases or increase the Earth’s ability to reflect solar radiation. This audacious scheme, called geoengineering, only exists because many scientists think that human behavioral change, industry regulations, international treaties and national legislation, have not done enough — can not do enough – to keep us from careening toward climate catastrophe.
Our guests today have given this huge challenge a lot of thought and some research. Dr. Lisa Dilling is an associate professor of Environmental Studies at CU Boulder and a fellow at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, or CIRES. Dr. David Fahey is a physicist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA. He directs the Chemical Sciences Division at NOAA’s Earth System Research Lab in Boulder.
Some relevant materials on geoengineering:
2017 study on public perception of climate change;
2015 National Research Council committee evaluation of proposed climate-intervention tchniques.
Hosts: Susan Moran, Joel Parker Producer: Susan Moran Engineer: Joel Parker Contributor: Chip Grandits Executive Producer: Susan Moran
This week on How on Earth Beth interviews two NOAA scientists who study climate change. Joanie Kleypas is a marine ecologist who investigates how rising atmospheric carbon dioxide affects marine ecosystems. She is a self-described optimist who is committed to finding solutions to the “coral reef crisis.” Pieter Tans he has led the Carbon Cycle Greenhouse Gases group at NOAA since 1985. This group has maintained NOAA’s Global Greenhouse Gas Reference Network, producing the most widely used data of atmospheric CO2, CH4, and several other greenhouse gases and supporting measurements. Host: Beth Bennett Producer: Beth Bennett Engineer: Maeve Conran Additional Contributions: Susan Moran Executive Producer: Beth Bennett
Listen to the show:
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
Electric Car Road Trips (starts 3:42): We go on a road trip with How on Earth’s Shelley Schlender to see how all-electric vehicles are exceeding “range anxiety” by driving coast to coast, all on electricity. Along the way we talk with Boulder Nissan’s Nigel Zeid about regional plans to help more drivers “plug in” and with Hunter Lovins, head of Natural Capitalism Solutions.
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
Arctic Dispatch: (start time: 1:02) Co-host Susan Moran returns from Tromso, Norway, with a dispatch from the Arctic Frontiers conference, which addressed the human health and environmental impacts of a rapidly thawing Arctic. Lars Otto Reierson, executive secretary of the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program within the Arctic Council, discusses the transport and impacts of contaminants on the Arctic food web and the indigenous people who depend on it. And Michael Tipton, a physiologist at the University of Portsmouth in the U.K., speaks about the risks of and physiological responses to extreme cold environments. Read Susan’s article in Popular Science for more about the thawing Arctic.
Atmospheric methane spikes: (start time: 9:39) Dr. Ed Dlugokencky, an atmospheric chemist with NOAA’s Earth Systems Research Laboratory, speaks with co-host Jim Pullen about a paper he co-authored in Science about a recent spike in atmospheric concentrations of methane, which is 30 times more effective than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas. The graph to the right shows globally averaged methane (blue) and its de-seasonalized trend (red) determined from NOAA’s global cooperative air sampling network. To learn more about KGNU’s coverage of fracking issues, visit our fracking blog!
Bonobo Conservation Success: (start time: 16:11) Author Deni Bechard speaks with Susan Moran about his new book, Empty Hands, Open Arms: The Race to Save Bonobos in the Congo and Make Conservation Go Viral. The book highlights the success that a nonprofit is having in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in sparing the animals from extinction while economically benefiting local communities.
Hosts: Susan Moran, Jim Pullen Producer: Susan Moran Engineer: Jim Pullen Executive Producer: Jim Pullen
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