Living On Earth

News & Information: Sat • 12pm-1pm
  • Hosted by Steve Curwood

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

Corn, also known as maize, is the world’s most-produced food crop. But it could be headed for trouble as the Earth warms.

As immigration issues along the US southern border continue to roil the country, one driving force of migration from troubled Central American countries has received relatively little notice: climate change.

The 2018 farm bill stirs conflict and controversy

Jul 14, 2018

The US Congress took almost two years to negotiate the 2014 Farm Bill. The 2018 Farm Bill is shaping up to be possibly even more divisive.

The humpback whale population is recovering

Jul 14, 2018

Rapidly melting Antarctica ice poses a threat to coastal cities, but there is at least one species that is benefiting: Humpback whales are flourishing these days, due to an abundance of krill.

Nineteenth-century commercial whaling killed the vast majority of the world’s whales, so this current revival of the humpback whale should be celebrated as a conservation victory, says University of California, Santa Cruz, researcher Ari Friedlaender. Nevertheless, there are questions about how long the krill boom might last.

The organic food market in the US has been growing rapidly, around twenty percent per year. Yet data from the US Department of Agriculture indicates that US farmers aren’t meeting the demand for organics, so much of the supply is imported from outside the US.

The feast-or-famine life of lobstering in Maine

Jul 8, 2018

The lobster industry has always been a rollercoaster of a profession — with lobstermen (and women) risking their lives to bring in the biggest catches.

In recent years, though, global warming has heightened the rhythm of this already delicate dance: Warmer ocean temperatures lead to a glut of lobsters flooding the market, but water that is too warm can lead to dead lobsters at the bottom of the sea.

To someone living in the Earth’s Northern Hemisphere, ice loss in Antarctica may seem like a distant area of concern.

Not true, says Andrew Shepherd.

Shepherd, a professor of Earth observation at the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom, recently led a group of 80 researchers stationed across the planet to collect data, observations and insights into the ice loss of the Antarctic Ice Sheet.

For many Americans, the summer months mark a time of exploration on vacations that take people down the road, across the country or even around the world. Most travelers, though, would never think of taking the time to go on a trek that Craig Childs recently took.

Childs has published more than a dozen books that explore the intersections of adventure, science and the wild outdoors, but one of his recent journeys may have been his most ambitious to date.

“Canada is back.” Justin Trudeau said those words shortly after being elected prime minister of Canada in 2015. He talked about how the country was ready to step up its efforts to become more of a player in the global marketplace, as well as a change agent for minimizing the impact of global warming. 

EPA weakens oversight of toxic chemicals

Jun 30, 2018

In 2016, Congress strengthened the Toxic Substances Control Act to give the EPA power to review thousands of chemicals for safety. Now the agency has decided to narrow that mandate —  and will begin disregarding the potential effects of exposure caused by the presence of chemicals in the air, soil and water.

Recognizing the serious threat climate change poses to public health, the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health recently launched C-CHANGE: Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment.

The new center’s director is former EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. Speakers at a launch event included John Holdren, former science advisor to President Barack Obama; and John Kerry, former US secretary of state and a key architect of the Paris climate agreement.

Nuclear energy gets a 'green' boost in New Jersey

Jun 24, 2018

After eight years of environmental rollbacks under former Republican Governor Chris Christie, recently-elected Democratic Governor Phil Murphy is embracing greener policies.

Mr. Murphy has signed bills to promote offshore wind and higher renewable portfolio standards for power companies and rejoined the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). But probably his most controversial measure commits New Jersey ratepayers to spending $300 million a year to keep two aging nuclear power plants alive.

Nine-year-old Izerman calls his home, the Marshall Islands, "the only place that I would ever live in if I had to choose.”

That line could come from any one of the approximate 25,000 people under the age of 18 who live there.

Hair products that for years have been targeted at the African American community may be causing health problems for its customers.

Researchers at the Silent Spring Institute, working with epidemiologist Tamarra James-Todd at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, measured the concentrations of chemicals in 18 of these products. What they found was that each product contained four to 30 types of chemicals.

When delegates at the United Nations Climate Change Conference left Paris in December of 2015, they did so with the international pact to allow temperatures to raise no more than two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels — in what later became known as the Paris Agreement.

There was also an established consensus, though, that allowing only a one-and-a-half degree increase would be ideal.

In the 1960s, just about all of the beaches on Long Island Sound in Connecticut were off-limits to people of color. Then Ned Coll came along.

In his book, "Free the Beaches: The Story of Ned Coll and the Battle for America’s Most Exclusive Shoreline," historian Andrew Kahrl describes Coll’s creative protests to smash the color bar and open the beaches to all children wanting to cool off on hot days.

The human dilemma of climate change is front and center in Alaska.

The far north is warming much faster than the rest of the world, causing permafrost to melt and forcing coastal Alaskans to retreat from the sea. Yet, $9 out of every $10 in state coffers come from the North Slope production of petroleum, which accelerates climate disruption when it’s burned.

The most toxic town in America

Jun 9, 2018

The Environmental Protection Agency named Kotzebue, Alaska, the worst industrially polluted town in the United States earlier this year. The not-so-bragworthy distinction came from an annual EPA data set called the Toxics Release Inventory. 

No refuge for wildlife in some US wildlife refuges

Jun 9, 2018

A new report from the Center for Biological Diversity finds that chemical pesticides, totaling half a million pounds, are sprayed annually within some United States national wildlife refuges.

About 560 national wildlife refuges cover more than 150 million acres across the country, with some areas completely off-limits to humans and others open for hunting and fishing. But a number of national wildlife refuges also allow commercial agriculture, which exposes migrating birds and other wildlife in those refuges to yearly spraying of pesticides.

Could lava one day be used to store excess CO2?

Jun 3, 2018

Can there possibly be an upside to the disaster unfolding in Hawaii, as the Kilauea volcano continues to spew lava and ash? Certainly not right away; but perhaps in the long-term some of that lava might serve a useful purpose.

Scientists believe that solidified lava and magma could perhaps safely store large amounts of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide and help combat global warming.

Pages