We offer two feature interviews on this week’s show:
Health Impacts of Wildfire Smoke (start time: 4:22) It’s peak wildfire season. Smoke from forest and grass fires contains particulates that can irritate eyes, throat and lungs — especially in children, the elderly, and people already suffering from asthma, allergies, heart disease. How On Earth host Susan Moran interviews Anthony Gerber, MD/PhD, a pulmonologist and an associate professor of medicine at National Jewish Health and the University of Colorado, Denver, about the medical risks of breathing smokey air and what people can do to minimize the impact. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment also offers info and warnings on air quality in Colorado.
Detained Migrant Children Suffer Medically (start time: 17:02) Since April, when the Trump administration’s controversial zero-tolerance policy went into effect to crack down on families crossing the border illegally, more than 2,300 migrant children have been separated from their parents and detained in government detention centers. More recently, about 200 of the children have been reunited with their parents, but bulk of them have not. As a result, many of the children suffer from physical and mental health problems. Colleen Kraft, a pediatrician and president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, talks with host Susan Moran about the medical impacts on migrant children.
Hosts: Susan Moran, Joel Parker Producer: Susan Moran Engineer: Joel Parker Executive Producer: Beth Bennett
Habitat Exchanges (starts at 3:00): The greater sage grouse is ruffling feathers all the way to Washington. September 30th is the deadline for the US Fish & Wildlife Service to determine whether to list the grouse under the Endangered Species Act. More than a third of the sage grouse’s shrinking range is on private land. Which is why many ranchers, oil and gas developers and other landowners have been scrambling to keep the grouse from getting listed. Listing would mean tighter restrictions on land use. The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) is one of several environmental organizations that are trying to help come up with ways to preserve the sage grouse and its habitat without cramping the livelihood of ranchers and other land owners. One of the newest voluntary tools is what is called a habitat exchange, a marketplace with buyers and sellers of conservation credits. How On Earth’s Susan Moran talks with Eric Holst, associate vice president of EDF’s working lands program, about these exchanges.
More Frequent Wildfires (starts at 15:30): This summer, fires have raged across much of the Northwestern U.S. The towering blazes, many of which are nowhere near being contained, have already charred more than two million acres of land. It’s a story that’s becoming increasingly common. Big fires like these are erupting more often than they did just decades ago, scientists say, and many place the blame on climate change. On today’s show, Brian Harvey, a forest ecologist at the University of Colorado Boulder who studies the causes and consequences of extreme fires, talks with us about why wildfires have grown more frequent in recent years — and what that means for the recovery of the nation’s forests.
Hosts: Susan Moran, Daniel Strain Producer: Joel Parker Engineer: Joel Parker Headline Contributors: Joel Parker, Daniel Strain Executive Producer: Susan Moran
For the Sept. 3rd How On Earth show we offer two features:
Wildfires Threaten Water Supplies: (start time 5:45) The wildfire burning in and around Yosemite National Park is now the fourth-largest in California’s history. Covering nearly 350 square miles, the Rim Fire is threatening the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, which supplies residents in the San Francisco Bay Area with most of their water and power. It’s a lot like the 2012 High Park Fire—which sent ash and debris into the water supply of Fort Collins. These fires offer lessons on the risks wildfires pose to reservoirs. Dr. Bruce McGurk, a former water manager for Hetch Hetchy and a water consultant, speaks with How On Earth contributor Brian Calvert about the risks and future prospects.
Comet ISON Cometh: (start time 12:50) Comets have fascinated humans for millenia. Aristotle argued comets were hot, dry exhalations gathered in the atmosphere and occasionally burst into flame. Some people thought that comets replenished Earth’s air. Still others believed they were a source of disease. Scientists today study comets because some are thought to be relatively pristine leftover debris from the formation of the solar system. And studying what comets are made of can provide us a glimpse back to the beginning of the solar system 4 billion years ago. Comet ISON, as scientists call it, is one that scientists predict will be relatively easy to view later this year. Dr. Carey Lisse, a senior research scientist at the Johns Hopkins Institute Applied Physics Laboratory in Maryland, speaks with co-host Joel Parker about comet ISON and its fascinating tails. For more information on ISON, go to NASA’s ISON toolkit, and this cool interactive model.
Hosts: Susan Moran, Joel Parker Producer: Susan Moran Additional contribution: Brian Calvert Engineer: Jim Pullen Executive Producer: Susan Moran
Feature #1: If you live on the Front Range, or just about anywhere else in Colorado, you don’t have to go far to notice huge swaths of rusty brown that have replaced green conifer forests. By now, many people are familiar at least with the devastating effects of the mountain pine beetle. But far fewer may understand just how these voracious insects actually make their living, or that this epidemic — and its causes and triggers — are far more nuanced, and controversial, than meets the eye. How On Earth co-host Susan Moran talks with Canadian journalist Andrew Nikiforuk about the beetles that have been gorging with impunity on lodgepole pine, spruce and other forests from British Columbia down nearly to Mexico. His new book is called The Empire of the Beetle: How Human Folly and a Tiny Bug Are Killing North America’s Great Forests.Previously, he wrote a best-selling book called Tar Sands.
Feature #2: Sharks have a special place in the human psyche. Perhaps it is a combination of the mystery of the depths of the ocean and natural fear and awe of powerful beasts that can kill humans with a single bite. But these predators also are key players in the ocean’s ecosystem. The science and legends of sharks are the subject of a new book called “Demon Fish: Travels Through the Hidden World of Sharks” by Juliet Eilperin, the environmental science and policy reporter for The Washington Post. How On Earth’s Joel Parker talks with Juliet about her book. Listen to the extended interview here.
Hosts: Susan Moran and Joel Parker Producer: Susan Moran Engineer: Joel Parker
Tom McKinnon interviews, via phone, Peter Asmus of Pike Research about Virtual Power Plants. This emerging information technology may help to integrate more renewable power onto the gird. And even save money for customers who are willing to turn down their energy demand when the grid is stressed.
At the recent Conference on World Affairs, Susan Moran sat down with Peter Hildeband, the director of the Earth Sciences Directorate at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. He talked about how climate change will impact wildfires in the West.
Producer: Tom McKinnon Co-Hosts: Tom McKinnon and Susan Moran Engineer: Ted Burnham