Topic: Human Impacts

Near pebble beach

Current Event April 3, 2019

Teen Diver Discovers Rotting Golf Balls

Environment Animals Geography Sports Ecosystems Human Impacts Oceans conservation

When a young diver found thousands of golf balls underwater, she decided to collect them and ask a scientist about the risks they might pose to the marine environment. They began investigating the situation together. Listen to find out what they learned and why the diver thinks “people would be shocked.”

Read More
Big supernova

Current Event March 13, 2019

Earth's Greatest Threats

Earth and Space Science Space Systems Human Impacts Astronomy

An astronomy writer has written a new book about “hazards to life in our universe,” in which he describes exploding stars, nuclear meltdowns, viral epidemics, natural disasters, and other phenomena with potentially cataclysmic impact on earth. Listen to this interview with the book’s author to hear what he learned from his research about past, present, and future threats to life on earth.

Read More
Sad salton place

Current Event March 6, 2019

Living in One of the Most Polluted Places in California

Environment Human Impacts Air Pollution

While living in California is often associated with beautiful beaches, mountains, and movie stars, millions of Californians actually live in areas with high levels of pollution in both the air and the soil. Imperial County is one of three areas in California that does not meet the federal standards for air quality. This pollution has caused major health issues for its mostly low-income residents. Some who moved there for opportunity now worry about the health of their children. Listen to a family that moved to Imperial County to pursue their own California dream discuss how living in a highly polluted environment has affected them.

This story was produced as part of the California Dream series.The California Dream series is a statewide media collaboration of CALmatters, KPBS, KPCC, KQED and Capital Public Radio with support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the James Irvine Foundation.

Read More
Close up flakes

Current Event January 29, 2019

Catching Snowflakes for Science

Climate Change Weather and Climate Elementary Human Impacts

Scientists from the Desert Research Institute in California are recruiting some very young researchers to help them better understand snow storms. The researchers have opened up data collection to citizen scientists, as they will need many snowflake pictures to answer their questions. The 4th and 5th grade students participating in the “Stories in the Snow” project are learning how to take very detailed pictures of snowflakes. Listen to this story to hear more about what the scientists hope to learn from their snow research, what students are learning from participating, and who will benefit.

Read More
Cali drought

Current Event December 5, 2018

Urgent Climate Change Warning

Earth and Space Science Environment Climate Change Weather and Climate Human Impacts

A new government report on climate change warns of the rapidly increasing negative effects of climate change and offers recommendations to help slow down its adverse impact. The report explains that not only are humans responsible for climate change, but our ongoing actions are making it worse. Listen to this interview with a climate change expert to hear about the urgency of this warning and what makes her hopeful.

Read More
Sahara desert

Current Event November 14, 2018

Preventing Expansion of the Sahara Desert

Earth and Space Science Environment Weather and Climate Human Impacts Energy Earth Systems

The Sahara Desert is expanding due to cycles of drought. A scientist at the University of Maryland who studies the earth’s atmosphere has proposed a solution to this problem involving solar panels and windmills. Listen to learn how her proposed solution could change the future climate of the Sahara region and harness energy at the same time.

Read More
Mexico city v2

Current Event November 7, 2018

Why Mexico City Is Sinking

Environment Human Impacts conservation

Mexico City faces a water shortage because an underground aquifer that stores water is being drained faster than it is being replenished. In addition, the imbalanced drainage of the aquifer is causing the city to sink, leading to all sorts of other issues. Listen to this story to learn about the problems this major metropolis is facing because of high demand on its underground water supply.

Read More
Yosemite valley

Current Event November 6, 2018

Yosemite Experiences Rush Hour Traffic

Environment Animals Human Impacts

Traffic, usually considered an urban problem, has been an issue at Yosemite National Park for a long time. While the park is sometimes shut down to all traffic because of forest fires, when it reopens, hundreds of cars come back to enjoy the majestic natural beauty of the park. Figuring out a solution to this problem has become even more important recently with an increase in bear deaths in the park. Listen to hear about how traffic jams in this popular national park are affecting the wildlife there as well as visitors’ experiences.

Read More
The globe

Current Event October 24, 2018

UN Report Warns about Climate Change

Environment Climate Change Weather and Climate Human Impacts

A recent report by a United Nations panel indicates that if we do not take action immediately to lessen the impact of global climate change, the negative consequences will be severe. A professor who worked on the report explains that global warming is already influencing our lives and the ecosystems that surround us. Listen to hear more about the rapid pace of climate change and what we can do to decrease the potential for disaster associated with it.

Read More
Stumpp

Current Event September 13, 2018

One Square Inch of Silence

Environment Human Impacts Ecology

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.

Read More
10395300185 0453dd6ffb o

Current Event June 1, 2018

Debate: Should Police Use Facial Recognition?

Politics Technology Law Human Impacts

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?

Read More
32552806631 a34450906e o

Current Event May 10, 2018

Humans Hunted Big Mammals

Ancient Civilization Evolution Human Impacts Human origins

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.

Read More
1287053304 af96a76133 z

Current Event March 30, 2017

The Footprint of a Loaf of Bread

Environment Agriculture Human Impacts

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.

Read More
4971832860 8c25345e37 z

Current Event March 28, 2017

Wildfires Caused Primarily by Humans

Human Impacts

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.

Read More
2332687206 788fb4ed0e z

Current Event January 10, 2017

Air Pollution in France Leads to Temporary Ban on Sports

Environment Weather and Climate Human Impacts

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.

Read More
15388176560 c8dbdb62b4 z

Current Event June 11, 2016

Preventing Flooding by Letting Rivers Flow Naturally

Environment Human Impacts

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.

Read More
7647909674 8ecc683591 z

Current Event June 2, 2016

Rules Broken in National Parks

Animals Human Impacts

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.

Read More
9296029630 e787ac95b9 k

Science High School

Pollution from Industrial Revolution Thought to Melt Glaciers

Earth and Space Science Climate Change Human Impacts

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.

Read More
Clock

Current Event November 6, 2015

Debate: Should We Keep Daylight Savings Time?

Space Systems Human Impacts

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.

Read More
5641590542 97041a77c1 b

Current Event October 29, 2015

Indigenous Groups Fight Logging

Environment Law Human Impacts

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.

Read More