Current Event July 19, 2017
Earth’s largest living organism, the Great Barrier Reef, has had record losses of coral in the last few years. A team of scientists estimate that an average of one-third of the corals along the entire Great Barrier Reef died between March and November of 2016. The global rise in greenhouse gas emissions has made ocean temperatures rise and has contributed to the number of coral that is dying, which is devastating for thousands of species that depend on the reef. Listen to hear more details about the loss of coral and the causes.
Current Event June 14, 2017
President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the Paris Climate Accord. The accord is an international agreement signed by more than 190 countries who have agreed to address climate change by trying to keep global temperature rise this century below 2 degrees. Trump says that the Paris Agreement would have been bad for U.S. workers and their businesses. The U.S. produces the second highest greenhouse gas emissions and is only topped by China, who remains committed to the agreement. Listen to learn more why Trump decided to leave the agreement and what it might mean for the future.
Science Middle School
The phrase “no two snowflakes are alike” is actually scientifically accurate. Snow forms high in the atmosphere, and despite its uniform appearance, each snowflake is different based upon where and how it was formed. Although snowflakes are non-living, they grow and change from the time they are formed to the time they reach the ground. Listen to learn how snow is formed, and why it exists in some places but not others.
Current Event May 8, 2017
Recently, severe weather struck Texas, the South, and the Midwest bringing thunderstorms, tornadoes, and floods that led to multiple deaths. The storms killed 15 people in East Texas, Arkansas, Missouri, and Mississippi and caused the rivers in Missouri to swell to levels not seen in a century. Listen to learn more about the human impact of this extreme weather.
ELA Middle School
News about water shortages and drought have inspired a new trend in dystopian books and movies. Water scarcity has been a source of conflict in places like Africa and the Middle East, but also in America’s own history. Some believe that water scarcity is only going to get worse in the decades to come. This audio story features writers and filmmakers who have imagined what life might be like in a waterless world. Listen to learn more about what these storytellers imagine, and what audience they hope to reach.
Current Event April 13, 2017
Southwestern Pennsylvania is coal country, though most of the mining and steel jobs are long gone. A reporter talked with a father and daughter who have very different outlooks on life. The father is skeptical about climate change. His daughter is in college with plans to be an engineer and work on environmental issues. Their first conversation about climate change happened a year ago and was revisited recently. Listen to hear the common ground and differences in opinion between this father and daughter.
Current Event October 31, 2016
Climate change and energy policy are issues that are important to millions of Americans, but the issue has not been front and center in the presidential election. Both candidates, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, have said they want to make the country energy-independent but their views on how to do that are very different. Listen to hear how Trump and Clinton differ sharply on topics such as coal, renewable energy and the Paris climate agreement.
Current Event September 2, 2016
New Delhi, India has some of the the most polluted air in the world. Levels of pollution reached hazardous levels many days of the year. For the people of New Delhi, this has meant an increase in health problems such as asthma and other sicknesses. As India’s growth continues, it consumes more energy, which creates pollution. This story illustrates the balance between economic growth and the health threats of pollution produced by all this growth.
Current Event April 6, 2016
The severe drought in California resulted in a state-wide mandate of 25% reduction in water use last year. This affects many residents, especially those who make a living in farming and agriculture. The snowpack in the Sierra Nevada mountains feeds water into the state’s reservoirs, which supplies about 30% of the state’s water needs. Last year the snowpack was 5% of average. This year, it’s about 95%. Even though it’s just below average, this is a great improvement. However, most growers remain cautious about whether the drought is really over.
Current Event March 19, 2016
Recent hurricanes, along with ongoing climate change, are washing away an old, capped landfill on Block Island. As the land erodes, pieces of trash and debris are falling onto the beach and into the sea. Local residents and visitors are troubled by the contamination of the beautiful island. Engineers are trying to design solutions to the local problem, while leaders around the world are fighting against climate change. Listen to hear more about the environmental threats to Block Island.
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 February 16, 2016
Last summer, President Obama laid plans for fighting climate change. The Clean Power Plan includes Environmental Protection Agency standards on carbon pollution from U.S. power plants. Twenty-seven states sued over the proposal. Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court put a hold on the Clean Power Plan by a vote of 5-4. Environmentalists say this ruling threatens progress on global warming. In some states, coal companies and Republican politicians are cheering this decision. Listen to hear from supporters and opponents, and what this may mean for regulating coal.
Current Event December 4, 2015
Scientists say the results will be devastating if we don’t address global warming. The Climate Summit in Paris this month will bring countries together to agree on a plan to slow climate change. People call the Amazon rainforest the “lungs of the world.” Most of Europe and America have already cut down their trees in favor of agriculture and industry. Is it fair to ask Brazil to sacrifice its interests to preserve the rainforest for the rest of the globe? Listen to this story and have students choose a side in this debate: Should rich nations pay to preserve the rainforest?
Current Event December 3, 2015
The population of monarch butterflies has declined dramatically in recent years. The milkweed population has also declined, and less milkweed equals fewer monarch butterflies. Monarchs lay their eggs exclusively on milkweed and it’s the only thing the larvae will eat. Some reasons for the decline in milkweed include loss of forestland in Mexico where monarchs winter and an increased use of herbicide. Regardless of the reasons, these are big changes. Listen to hear more about what is being done to restore the monarch butterfly population and how that also helps other insects.
Current Event November 30, 2015
In Paris, France, 200 countries will gather to create an agreement to limit climate emissions and slow climate change. The goal is to produce a document that all countries, developed and non-developed, agree on. The meeting is a step in the right direction, with 160 countries that have already set targets for emissions. In the United States, politics are involved. Congress wants to roll back the clean emissions bill, and not everyone agrees on how to address climate change. There are some who think immediate events deserve more attention than longer-term issues such as climate change. Listen to hear more about this global Climate Conference.
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.
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.