Current Event September 15, 2015
New government climate change regulations, which aim to limit the demand for coal, are threatening to cause layoffs, bankruptcies and impact the livelihood of many U.S. coal town families. Coal is the number one contributor to climate change and 40% of the coal mined in the United States is on federal land, land belonging to the public. Coal mining companies pay the government to lease this land, as a part of the federal coal program. Debates have sparked hearings this summer in Wyoming, Colorado, Montana, and New Mexico. In Wyoming, where 84% of the coal mined on federal land comes from, coal miners are fighting for their jobs. Listen to different perspectives on coal mining.
Current Event August 9, 2015
NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, called 2014 the hottest year on record and cited the changing climate as the cause of extreme storms, droughts and floods around the world. Slowing climate change is a top priority of President Obama, who unveiled his Clean Power Plan on August 3rd. The Plan would limit the carbon that power plants can release, cutting emissions by a third over 15 years, as well as boost the use of renewable energy. China and the U.S. are the top contributors of carbon emissions, and Obama wants the U.S. to lead the way and encourage other countries to set limits as well. He faces significant political opposition to the Clean Power Plan, even though two of three Americans support the idea.
Current Event May 22, 2015
Greenhouse gas emissions in March were some of the highest ever recorded on the planet in millions of years. Carbon dioxide emissions have built up over time and increased the saturation of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere up to 400 parts per million. Listen to learn about how scientists are able to determine past levels of carbon dioxide and measure this current trend.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Current Event January 11, 2015
Solar power is becoming an attractive alternative to traditional electric as solar panels become more affordable. This shift away from traditional electricity is worrying utilities companies that provide energy and the electric grid itself. Listen to learn how this battle between electric and solar is playing out in sunny California and Colorado.
Current Event December 22, 2014
College students are turning to a new way to fight global warming. They are encouraging their universities to take a stand against climate change and remove the school’s money from investments in fossil fuel companies - like coal and oil. Listen to hear from students at Harvard University why they are fighting for divestment.
Current Event October 13, 2014
The Seattle City Council is launching a mandatory composting program to stop people from throwing food waste in the trash. Mandatory recycling has expanded from yard waste, to normal recyclables, and now to compostable food waste. With the addition of a third trash bin, the city hopes to collect 100,000 tons of food waste a year. Listen to this public radio story to hear about the motivations, logistics, and goals of the program.
Current Event October 8, 2014
In recent years natural disasters have highlighted the dangers of living along the coast in a time of rising sea levels and unpredictable weather. People with homes on the coast face a difficult decision as their homes lose value. Should they try and sell their homes and move, or stay and hope for the best? State governments and environmental groups are increasingly supporting people moving away, so that land can be reclaimed as a storm buffer. Listen to this public radio story to hear from homeowners who are in this difficult position.
Current Event October 7, 2014
Nearly two years ago Hurricane Sandy devastated communities on the New Jersey coast, leaving governments, scientists, architects, and citizens looking for innovative solutions to protect against natural disasters. This public radio story looks at the design and thinking behind the New Meadowlands Project in New Jersey. From the appeal of a new Central Park, to the protection wetlands provide neighboring communities from flooding, this story will get your students thinking about the benefits and challenges of implementing big environmental protection projects.
Current Event September 29, 2014
Last week NASA’s MAVEN probe began orbiting Mars in an effort to measure and map the Martian atmosphere. Today, Mars, known as the red planet, is bone dry and it’s atmosphere is being broken down by the sun’s solar winds, but evidence shows that it was once much more like Earth. From liquid channels to lake beds, there is clear evidence that Mars once had water as well as a magnetic field. So what happened to this water? These are the answers the MAVEN is searching for by mapping Mars’ current atmosphere. Listen to learn more about this important mission.
Current Event September 26, 2014
In 1845 two ships led by Sir John Franklin left England searching for a northern route across the globe, known as the Northwest Passage. They never returned. 169 years later, a helicopter pilot found a clue that led the Canadian government to one of the missing ships. From sonar imaging to video cameras on submarines, archaeologists have confirmed that this is one of the abandoned ships from the famous expedition. Listen to hear about the haunting story this discovery has unearthed.
Current Event September 23, 2014
A recent report shows carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere rose at a record rate in 2013. Humans aren’t the only species affected by these changes. A new report by the National Audubon Society makes it clear that bird species in the U.S. and Canada are at risk of losing their habitats and potentially their lives due to climate change. Listen to this public radio story with your class to learn more about the links between changing temperatures and bird habitat and survival.
Current Event August 19, 2014
Lakes, rivers,and oceans are places we normally see water, but most of the water on Earth is actually stored underground. This groundwater supply is vital to food production and providing drinking water for American cities. A new study shows that the groundwater of the Colorado River Basin is disappearing at a shocking rate. Listen to this public radio story to learn more about the impacts of this disappearing water supply and the ways that it can be slowed.
Global warming is expected to increase summer temperatures making cities even hotter. As concrete and asphalt within cities retain heat, it can increase health risks. The sun mixes with city pollution to create ozone that can irritate people's lungs, especially if they have breathing problems such as asthma. Listen to learn how public health officials are trying to help those living in the hottest areas.
Manatees, the vegetarian aquatic mammals that inhabit the waters of Florida, depend on natural warm water springs to survive the winter. However, those warm water sources have diminished over the years due to an increase in development around the area. Listen to learn how local power plants are maintaining the warm water to try to help the manatees.
As the ocean rises, some island nations might disappear and the coastlines change. This is critical for some island nations that are at risk of slipping under water as sea levels rise. Political, economic and personal consequences are factors in how the climate problems in these nations are dealt with. Listen to learn what can be done to prevent these catastrophic changes in our geography.
A geologist has turned decades worth of data into music. He created a multitrack sequencer for data instead of music. The data and music show a tight correlation between the amount of carbon dioxide and the amount of ice on the earth. Listen to hear what climate change sounds like and how it is helping scientists understand how humans affect our climate.