Current Event September 13, 2018
Places without any human-made sound are rapidly disappearing. The “One Square Inch of Silence” project aims to preserve one such place in the Hoh River Valley, located in Washington’s Olympic National Park. Listen to a sound specialist guide a trek into the rainforest to experience natural silence.
Current Event June 1, 2018
Many police departments already use basic facial recognition software, but more advanced technology in this area is raising new questions about what information law enforcement should or should not be able to instantly access. The latest software can rapidly identify people in all sorts of poses and situations, making it appealing for both businesses and law enforcement. If implemented, experts worry that it could make remaining anonymous in day-to-day life virtually impossible. Listen to this story about real-time facial recognition software and debate: Should police use facial recognition?
Current Event May 10, 2018
Over the past 125,000 years, mammals on Earth have become smaller. Ten thousand years ago the average mass of a mammal was 200 pounds and today the average mass is about 15 pounds. After dinosaurs became extinct, mammals became larger and new species developed. But when ancient humans evolved, they began hunting bigger animals. Eventually, in all areas populated by humans, the size of mammals became smaller and led to extinction in many cases. Listen to hear more about the effects humans have had on the size of mammals.
Current Event March 30, 2017
Researchers have completed a study that documents the environmental impact of producing a loaf of bread. They determined the amount of greenhouse gas emissions at each stage of bread production—from wheat farming to transportation—and added up the total. They found that 2.6 million tons of greenhouse gases are emitted each year in the U.K. as a result of bread production. The study’s authors hope the findings will lead to more efficient and sustainable production methods. Listen to learn more about the environmental footprint of a loaf of bread and how consumers can help make a difference.
Current Event March 28, 2017
The latest research shows that humans are the leading cause of wildfires in the United States. As global warming leads to longer fire seasons and larger wildfires, human activity is causing wildfires to happen at times of the year when they would not be happening naturally. Human activity has also extended the normal fire season in the U.S. by three months, and ecologists worry that without action taken on this issue, wildfires will become even larger and more frequent. Listen to learn more about humans’ role in increasing wildfires, and what ecologists believe must be done to reverse this trend.
Current Event January 10, 2017
A week of high pollution levels in Paris has brought strict restrictions on driving. The Paris mayor is making public transportation free in an effort to reduce the pollution particles in the air. There are also health concerns if people breathe this air for more than an hour, so some school sports and outdoor activities were banned temporarily. Listen to hear more about how Paris is managing this pollution crisis.
Current Event June 11, 2016
Beginning 200 years ago, many of Vermont’s rivers were straightened for agriculture, logging and to power turbines. Today one of three river miles in Vermont has been straightened, causing the waters to run deeper and faster – and erode away people’s property and roads. Vermont has experienced three 100-year floods in the past 30 years. Traditionally, the state and property owners have built expensive barriers to keep the rivers in line. Now the state is thinking about taking a new approach to floods: creating zones along the riverbanks where no new construction is allowed to let the rivers flow where they naturally want. Listen to this VPR News story and then use the questions below to discuss the issues it raises.
Current Event June 2, 2016
Two recent incidents at Yellowstone National Park highlight a problem. In one incident, visitors walked off the boardwalk at a hotspring, and in another, visitors put a bison calf in their trunk to keep it warm. There are record numbers of visitors to National Parks and educating them all about wildlife and safety is a huge task. Regardless of visitor’s intentions, park officials are hoping to reduce the numbers of incidents. Listen to hear more about managing visitors’ behavior at National Parks.
Science High School
The glaciers in the European Alps started melting rapidly in the 1860s. But that didn’t correspond with the warming of the European climate at the end of what is known as the Little Ice Age. That warming didn’t occur until the 1910s. To understand the causes of the glacial melt, scientists considered the possible impact of the Industrial Revolution, which began in the 1840s. The recent melting in the Rocky Mountains of America could be caused by the same reasons. Listen to this story to learn about the theory that dust and soot are contributing to how quickly glaciers are melting.
Current Event November 6, 2015
Every spring and fall Americans turn the clocks back or forward one hour to make the best use of the daylight. It’s called Daylight Savings Time. When the clocks are turned back in the fall, it will be brighter in the mornings as we go to school and to work. New research shows this time change has a big downside: an increase in crime. By looking at crime patterns, researchers discovered that robbery rates increase when it's darker for a longer time in the evenings. Listen to this story and have students gather evidence for a debate about whether or not we should keep Daylight Savings Time.
Current Event October 29, 2015
The Amazon in the north of Brazil is being deforested, and it is estimated that 80% of the wood harvested is illegal. Many environmental groups are fighting deforestation on the basis of its effects on global warming. But there’s one group of indigenous people in Brazil is fighting back against illegal loggers. This tribe is trying to preserve the trees because they are central to their way of life. They surround and warn illegal loggers and then drive them away with bows and arrows. There are many other issues with big business and corruption that affect this forest. Listen to this story to hear about some local efforts to protect the Amazon Forest.
Current Event August 21, 2015
Peregrine falcons are making skyscrapers in many large cities their new homes. By living in urban areas and nesting on tall bridges and skyscrapers instead of cliffs, they have plentiful food and safe nesting areas. In Massachusetts, there are now about 35 pair of these previously endangered birds, more than there have ever been. The population rebounded after the birds shifted their habitat. Some are nesting in skyscrapers in downtown Boston. Listen to this story about three fledgling peregrine falcons who are learning to fly from their nest on the 19th floor of Boston University housing tower.
Current Event April 22, 2015
When did humans begin to shape the earth? This is the debate happening among geologists who are determining whether the official timeline of the Earth should have a name for the current period of human domination. The concept of the “anthropocene” or the human era first emerged 15 years ago and a working group of scientists is determining whether to adopt it officially and when it should begin. Listen to learn more about the lively debate that surrounds this decision.
Science High School
Discussion of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) emissions often occur at the national level. Nations promise to lower emissions and scientists look for alternative energy sources. But new software is providing data for this emission reduction discussion at a local level. The software allows people to have a view into their carbon emissions on the level of a city, neighborhood, block and even household. Listen to learn how scientists and local officials are working together to track and understand emissions at the local level.
Science High School
Scientists say it’s nearly certain that human activity and fossil fuels are warming the planet. The mainstream discussion focuses on alternative energy and reducing fossil fuel emissions. But the field of geoengineering is looking for more large scale and proactive things we can do to offset warming. Some see this as an exciting way to help the planet, others as a threat. Listen to learn about the strategies geoengineers are exploring to prevent further global warming.
Science High School
Scientists are using computer computations to link cases of extreme weather to global warming. Scientists set out to link major flooding in England and Wales in the fall of 2000 to climate change. This task was undertaken by scientists and citizens alike - running thousands of computer simulations and comparing the result in a world with climate change and one without it. Listen to learn what these simulations found.
Science High School
A United Nations report in 2014 shows that human activities are changing the planet. The scientists are more confident in their conclusions that humans are causing global warming. There are rising sea levels, higher temperatures and impacts on wildlife. This conversation with a public radio reporter looks at the long term trend in global temperatures and what humans can do to reverse the trend.
Science Middle School
The "cash for clunkers" program was a limited federal government program in the U.S. that gave people credits to trade in their old, gas guzzling, polluting cars for newer ones. The goal was to get older cars off the road to improve pollution. Because the “cash for clunkers” program did not allow the re-sale of old car engines, junkyards were forced to turn the cars into scrap metal. Listen to learn what this scrap metal can be turned into.
Science Middle School
There is debate whether fish like the bluefin tuna are going to go extinct. Some argue that the decline in bluefin results from excessive fishing. However, long time bluefin fishers like Eric Stewart, disagree with this stance as he sees an increasing population of bluefin. Listen to hear from both sides, and how one bluefin tuna can swim across the entire ocean.