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.
In 2014, astronomers discovered a new dwarf planet on the edge of our solar system. This discovery has changed scientists’ understanding of what exists in the solar system beyond the more well known dwarf planet, Pluto. The new planet is a pink ball of ice, and scientists believe there could be an unseen and undiscovered planet larger than Earth in the far reaches of our solar system.
As nations look for clean energy alternatives many are turning to wind and solar, but Indonesia is turning to its volcanoes. Indonesia has 130 active volcanoes. These volcanoes generate geothermal heat that is releases through vents and hot springs throughout the country. Power companies are learning to harness and redirect this heated steam into power plants in order to generate electricity. Indonesia’s geothermal energy potential is huge, but start up costs and oil subsidies might prevent this burgeoning clean energy from taking off.
To lower dependency on fossil fuels, some Americans have installed solar panels on their homes to produce their own clean energy. This decision involves a cost-benefit analysis of cost value and environmental impact. In some regions this cost-benefit ratio has been upset by fracking, and the cheap natural gas that it produces. How does supply and demand impact the cost of energy? How does the cost of energy impact people seeking alternatives such as solar energy? Listen to learn how one family has dealt is dealing with this shifting energy landscape.
The Grand Canyon has amazed visitors and scientist alike since it was discovered. The debate over what created this geologic wonder has been reignited in recent years. Is the Grand Canyon 6 million years old or 70 million? Listen to learn more about this debate between two geologists who have very opposing viewpoints.
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.
Current Event February 12, 2015
New England has been hit hard by snow in the last month. Storm after storm has left unprecedented amounts of snow to be removed from the streets in cities like Boston, Massachusetts. Where does all of this snow go and what happens to it? Listen to hear how the City of Boston is dealing with mounds of snow.
Current Event February 3, 2015
Going to the movies can be entertaining, but for some young people it can also be life changing. Short documentaries showing young people working to protect the planet are inspiring other youth to take action and stand up for change. Listen to learn more about these documentaries and the efforts they have inspired.
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 February 1, 2015
The demand for electricity in India is rising, but India relies on coal for the majority of their power. The hope of a new deal with the United States is to help India transition from dirty coal to cleaner nuclear energy. U.S. companies will sell nuclear technology to Indian power companies so they can transition to a cleaner energy source. This might be good for the earth, but what about for security? Listen to learn about the pros and cons of this international energy deal.
Current Event January 6, 2015
NASA’s Curiosity Rover has found unexpected bursts of methane in the Martian atmosphere. Scientists don’t know where the methane is coming from but some see these bursts as evidence that there are or once were living microbes on the red planet. Listen to learn more about this important gas and the implications of its discovery on Mars.
Current Event December 11, 2014
Since the end of the space shuttle program and the beginning of independently funded space exploration, NASA hasn’t been launching many new spacecrafts. This is changing with a recent test flight for NASA’s new spacecraft Orion, which is designed to carry astronauts into deep space. Listen to this public radio story to learn more about Orion’s design and goals.
Current Event November 16, 2014
Man has made it to the moon, rovers have made it to Mars, and now a lander is on a comet. On Wednesday, November 12th the European Space Agency landed a probe on comet 67P, which is 300 million miles from Earth. Sticking the landing was a huge achievement and gives scientists an opportunity to better understand comets and their role in providing the foundations for life.
Current Event October 29, 2014
California is in the middle of a four year drought. The city of Santa Cruz has stepped up its conservation efforts with tough water restrictions. Water use is rationed by household, pushing residents to conserve in every way possible. This public radio story takes you to Santa Cruz and sheds light on how the city uses high penalties and water school to get people on board with water conservation.
Current Event October 15, 2014
India successfully sent a spacecraft and probe to orbit Mars in September. The United States also has a probe orbiting Mars- but their mission costs ten times as much as the India mission. Why is that? From spacecraft, to orbit shape, to payroll - this public radio story explores why these price tags were so different.
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 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 September 16, 2014
A month ago, earthquakes below a volcano in Iceland alerted scientists that an eruption was beginning. Various eruptions have created ash, fire and lava at the Bardarbunga volcano. This spouting lava creates rolling fields of lava that scientists have had an opportunity to study up close. When you listen to this public radio story you will hear the sounds of the volcano recorded by a scientist who recently visited the Bardarbunga volcano.