Living On Earth

News & Information: Sat • 10am-11am
  • Hosted by Steve Curwood

An in-depth exploration of the latest scientific, political and social elements related to environmental change. 

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Brittany H./Flickr 

Experts estimate traffickers in illegal wildlife take in about $19 billion dollars each year. Many species face extinction unless the illegal activity is stamped out. That’s the aim of CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.

CITES meets every two or three years, and delegates from 182 countries recently met in Johannesburg, South Africa. 

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Forests contain much more than meets the eye, according to German forester, and now author, Peter Wohlleben.

In his thought-provoking book, The Hidden Life of Trees, Wohlleben writes that within the roots of trees are active, brain-like processes that allow trees to communicate with and learn from other trees.

Daxtell/Wikimedia Commons

To reduce pollution in Paris, the city recently introduced new regulations that ban cars built before 1997 from the city center during workdays. The move is expected to reduce emissions of particulate matter and nitrous oxide, a major public health issue in the city.

The city's car ban, which began on July 1, extends to everything from motorcycles to heavy goods vehicles and is in effect Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. The goal is to remove all older, polluting vehicles used for commuting. People can still drive older cars during the weekend.

 Penn State/Flickr 

In a wide-ranging interview with Living on Earth’s Steve Curwood, Dr. Jill Stein, the 2016 Green Party nominee for president of the United States, discusses her “Green New Deal” to avert a climate emergency, why she participated in the Dakota Access Pipeline protests and her plans to scale back military spending.

CURWOOD: What are the Green Party’s core values, and why was it created?

Thomas Hawk/Flickr

The US Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating whether ExxonMobil Corporation properly values its assets in a way that takes into account the regulatory risks associated with climate disruption and drastically reduced oil prices.

The war over wine, water and fuel in New York’s Finger Lakes

Oct 11, 2016
<a href="">tthaas</a>/<a href="">CC BY-SA 3.0</a>. Image cropped.

With the glut of natural gas from the fracking boom, the energy industry is digging deep for new ways to store it.

There are already over 400 underground storage facilities across the US in places such as old mines and depleted aquifers. But still more storage is needed — and now, some residents and businesses in the Finger Lakes area of New York have found themselves tangled in a long-term standoff with Crestwood Equity Partners, which owns a vast underground storage facility in the region.

NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

President Barack Obama has created the Atlantic Ocean's first national marine monument. The new Northeast Canyons and Seamounts monument, which lies 130 miles off Cape Cod, has the same status as a national park — so it’s perhaps fitting that within its nearly 5,000 square miles of ocean are canyons deeper than the Grand Canyon, four large underwater mountains and rich swaths of biodiversity.

<a href="">NOAA News, April 30, 2014</a> /<a href="">CC BY 2.0</a>.

Earth’s atmosphere isn’t the only place taking the heat of our carbon dioxide emissions.

Thirty percent of the carbon dioxide we put into the atmosphere is actually absorbed by the Earth’s oceans, spurring a chemical reaction that makes the seawater more acidic.

And while changes in seawater pH can be harmful to many types of marine life, scientists are especially concerned about organisms like shellfish and coral, whose calcium carbonate structures dissolve in acid.

<a href="">Mariel Carr/Chemical Heritage Foundation</a>. <a href="">CC BY-SA 3.0</a>. Image cropped.

The White Mountains of New Hampshire contain an unusual patch of woods known as the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest. While its nearly 8,000 acres of hemlock, red spruce, sugar maple and other trees may not visually distinguish it from neighboring landscapes, Hubbard Brook has been home to some of the past half-century’s biggest discoveries in forest science, particularly around acid rain and clear-cutting. What is it about the Hubbard Brook forest that makes it so valuable for research?

Comfort Farms

Veterans coming back from conflict often struggle with the transition to civilian life. They have higher rates of depression and suicide, and they’re more likely to be unemployed. On top of that, service members must often wait months for appointments at Veterans Affairs health facilities.

So, a combat vet in Georgia has founded a farm designed to immerse returning soldiers in the restorative rigors of working the land.

Baltimore Tree Trust

In the predominantly black and low-income neighborhoods of Baltimore, violent crime is all too commonplace along bleak asphalt and concrete streets. But there is now an effort to green these neighborhoods and uplift residents by putting them to work planting trees.

Joe Brusky/Flickr&nbsp;

The Obama Administration’s decision to override a federal judge and temporarily halt construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline could mark a turning point in what has become a mass movement for Native American rights.

For years, Native Americans have seen their ancestral lands mined, flooded and appropriated, resulting in the desecration of holy ground, grave sites and artifacts. When the US Army Corps of Engineers approved a pipeline route through sites revered by the Standing Rock Sioux Nation, the action ignited protest, with thousands demonstrating and blocking construction.

How Hwee Young/Reuters

The United State and China, the two nations with the most global warming emissions, have now ratified the landmark Paris Agreement, with other countries expected to follow suit.

US President Obama and Chinese President Xi formally ratified the Paris climate agreement as heads of state gathered at the G20 meeting in China earlier this month.

Alden Meyer of the Union of Concerned Scientists, says this is a huge step toward implementation of the Paris Agreement.

Fracking companies in Pennsylvania want to expand their network of pipelines for the export of liquid by-products of natural gas, such as ethane and butane, which are used to make plastics — and to achieve this they are using the legal principle of eminent domain to seize private land.

The worst smallpox epidemic in Boston history was a turning point for control of the ferocious disease in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. It also helped launch America's first independent newspaper and set the stage for the American Revolution.

That's according to a new book called "The Fever of 1721," by Stephen Coss. 

The Future of the Ecological Landscape

Sep 20, 2016

Host Jeff Young looks at the next decade of our planet. Jared Diamond, author of "Collapse," says our "present consumption rates just can't be sustained." But urban farmer Will Allen suggests that mounting food demands can be met by growing food everywhere  ? in vacant buildings, on rooftops, asphalt, and on concrete. And Camille Parmesan, biology professor at University of Texas-Austin, suggests that the survival of wildlife may depend on our willingness to transport creatures out of the path of climate disruption.

Highly polluted air is bad for your health — and that's particularly true when it's air full of small particles from coal-fired power plants, as studies going back for years have shown.

But just how bad? For the first time, there's a study that actually quantifies how many years of life expectancy are lost based on a given amount of particulate exposure.

This is your brain on parasites

Sep 18, 2016
Kathleen McAuliffe

Parasites. They range from microscopic bacteria and viruses to 50-foot long tapeworms. They've been living on and in their host organisms for millions of years. They are rather disgusting to think about, but the world would be a drastically different place without them.

Writer Kathleen McAuliffe’s recent book, "This Is Your Brain On Parasites," describes some of the many ways these creatures manipulate their hosts’ behavior to ensure their survival and successful reproduction.

&nbsp;Louisiana Bucket Brigade

A band of protesters in New Orleans recently tried to block the government auction of oil leases in the Gulf of Mexico. They failed to stop the event, but it turned out the auction was a flop anyway.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management refused to cancel the sale of leases, but only 24 out of 4,400 leases were actually taken up and a record low $18 million in revenue was offered.

Climate disruption is fueling stronger storms

Sep 17, 2016
&nbsp;Jesse Allen / NASA Earth Observatory, using VIIRS data from the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership

Familiar weather patterns are a thing of the past, and the U.S. may face more extremes in the coming decades, says a noted meteorologist.

“I don't recognize the climate anymore,” says Jeff Masters, the director of meteorology for Weather Underground. “I look at the weather maps in the morning, sometimes afraid of what I'm going to see. It's just gotten so insane. The climate of the 20th century is gone. The climate I knew is not here anymore. We're in an entirely new climate regime, and it is extremely intense.”