How On Earth reporter Kendra Krueger caught up with Gerald Pollack, Bioengineering professor from the University of Washington to talk about the physical chemistry of water. The science of water has a sordid past of controversy and dispute which continues today in our current scientific and layman communities. Why is that? What is so strange about the properties of water? Find out more in this weeks episode of How on Earth
The Yasuni National Park in Ecuador is one of the most biodiverse places on earth, but it is currently at risk from oil development. Some of the park’s inhabitants, however, are trying to forge a more sustainable, and less destructive path out of poverty. These indigenous Kichwa people, who have already been caretakers of the rainforest for hundreds of years, have developed ecotourism in the region, providing all the jobs, schools and healthcare that they need. How did the community find the commitment and tenacity required for such a project? By thinking like Leafcutter ants.
To find out about the award winning model of conservation and sustainability H20 Radio’s Frani Halperin and Jamie Sudler visited the region earlier this year and produced the podcast Want to save the Amazon? Think like an Ant. We play this feature [4:15] on this week’s show and afterward [18:30] talk with Frani and Jamie about the project and what Coloradoan’s can learn from the Kichwa community’s efforts.
Hosts: Jane Palmer, Beth Bennett Producer: Jane Palmer Engineer: Maeve Conran Executive Producers: Kendra Krueger, Jane Palmer
Do Fathers Matter? (start time: 3:07) If you’re a father or a son or daughter – which pretty much covers everyone – this interview should hit home. Science journalist Paul Raeburn’s latest book — “Do Fathers Matter? What Science Is Telling Us About the Parent We’ve Overlooked” – explores what seems like a no-brainer question. But the answers he discovers surprised even him. After last week’s pledge drive teaser, we now offer the extended version of host Susan Moran’s interview with Raeburn.
Mercury in Waterways (start time: 15:20) Next time you take a sip of mountain spring water or catch a wild trout, you might be getting a bit more than you bargained for. Scientists have found mercury in Colorado waterways and in the fish that swim in them. And recent research shows that wildfires in recent years may have added to the problem. How on Earth’s Jane Palmer talked with Joe Ryan, an environmental engineering professor at the University of Colorado. Dr. Ryan also directs AirWaterGas, a project studying the impacts of oil and gas drilling on the environment.
Hosts: Ted Burnham, Susan Moran Producer: Susan Moran Engineer: Ted Burnham Executive Producers: Jane Palmer and Kendra Krueger
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
Colorado Drought Conference (start time 4:35): Experts are meeting at a conference in Denver this week to discuss the implications of prolonged drought conditions here in Colorado. How On Earth’ Susan Moran speaks with biologist Dr. Chad McNutt of the NOAA’s National Integrated Drought Information Center about wthe drought means for the ecosystem, and for Western cities — and how we can start to address the problem.
A More Perfect Heaven (start time 11:50): Joel Parker speaks with Dava Sobel, a science journalist and author who tells the stories of the science and the scientists from the past and how they connect to the present. Those stories reveal that the course of scientific progress is far from orderly — it often takes unplanned twists, has failures that require going back and starting over, and can be driven by the quirks of the personalities of individual scientists.
Today we hear about Sobel’s most recent book, A More Perfect Heaven: How Copernicus Revolutionized the Cosmos. This book also contains the play And The Sun Stood Still, which will be presented in a free staged reading by the Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company this Thursday, September 20th at 6:30 at the Dairy Center for the Arts.
Hosts: Ted Burnham, Joel Parker
Producer: Ted Burnham Engineer: Jim Pullen
Executive Producer: Susan Moran
Feature #1 (time mark 5:30) When people think of Colorado, they usually don’t think about “oceans”. After all, Colorado doesn’t have much of a coastline these days, though it was definitely had oceanfront property a few hundred million years ago. However, being in a landlocked state doesn’t mean that there isn’t any thing we can do to impact the health and ecology of the ocean and marine biology. Co-host Joel Parker talks with Vicki Goldstein, founder and president of the Colorado Ocean Coalition about the “Making Waves in Colorado” symposium and what all of us around the world (leaving near or far from oceans) do that impact and can help oceans.
Feature #2 (time mark 14:10) Nitrogen – we can’t live without it, but you can have too much of a good thing. In its gaseous form nitrogen is harmless and makes up nearly 80 percent of the atmosphere. The worldwide population never would have reached 7 billion people without nitrogen, in the form of chemical fertilizer. But excess nitrogen –from fertilizer runoff, manure, human sewage and other sources is wreaking havoc on the environment. Co-host Susan Moran talks with John Mischler, a PhD student at CU Boulder, who is researching worms and snails in Colorado and Africa. He talks about how excess nutrients in ponds, lakes and elsewhere can lead to the spread of parasitic disease from trematodes to snails to us.
Hosts: Susan Moran, Joel Parker Headlines: Breanna Draxler, Tom Yulsman, Susan Moran Engineer: Joel Parker Producer: Joel Parker Executive Producer: Tom McKinnon
At its most basic level, science can be considered as non-political or at least politically neutral: science is dedicated to the collection of facts and interpreting them to help us understand the universe and how it works. For that reason, many people – one may even say our culture in general – places a high value in being scientifically literate. Or at least we pay lip service to that idea. But when the results of science end up contradicting and conflicting with other ideals such as religious beliefs, personal behaviors, or vested interests, then science can become very political. Perhaps the two most visible examples of this politicization of science are in the areas of climate change and evolution, where the discussion ranges from the White House and Congress to local school boards and textbooks. Our guest today has front line experience in several aspects of science and education. Dr. Paul Strode is a biology teacher in the Boulder Valley School District, and has been an instructor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Colorado. Dr. Strode is co-author of the book: “Why Evolution Works (and Creationism Fails)” – also available and reviews here and here.
Hosts: Susan Moran and Joel Parker Producer & Engineer: Joel Parker
This week co-host Susan Moran speaks with Dr. Doug Kenney, director of the Western Water Policy Program at the Natural Resources Law Center at the University of Colorado, Boulder’s law school. Kenney sheds light on the Colorado River Compact and how population growth, climate change, and water politics, are expected to further threaten our future water supply.
And Ted Burnham interviews skeptic and science writer Michael Shermer. His new book, “The Believing Brain,” presents a counter-intuitive explanation for how we form and reinforce our beliefs. Shermer draws on evidence from neuroscience, psychology and sociology to show that we often form beliefs first, and only then look for reasons to believe.
Hosts: Susan Moran, Joel Parker Producer: Susan Moran Engineer: Joel Parker
Our two features for this week’s show: Susan Moran interviewed Joel Smith, principal at Stratus Consulting in Boulder, who has been helping the city adapt to climate change—in particular, by smartly managing its water supply; and Tom Yulsman interviewed John Troeltzsch, the Kepler mission program manager for Boulder-based Ball Aerospace, which built one of the key instruments for the mission, as well as the spacecraft itself.