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A look at our changing environment.

Earth Wise

    • Dec 2, 2021 LATEST EPISODE
    • weekdays NEW EPISODES
    • 365 EPISODES

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    Latest episodes from Earth Wise

    Bomb Cyclones | Earth Wise

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 2, 2021 2:00

    It seems like we are hearing about new weather phenomena pretty frequently these days.  One name that has popped up lately is “bomb cyclones.”  Bomb cyclones, it turns out, are storms that undergo “bombogenesis.”  What that means is a low-pressure area (in other words, a storm) that undergoes rapid strengthening and can be described as […]

    Large Solar Projects In The U.S. | Earth Wise

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 1, 2021 2:00

    The United States now has over 108 gigawatts of total solar generating capacity, which is enough to power about 19 million homes.  There are more than 3 million solar installations across the country, the majority of which are residential systems. The growth in solar power has been enormous over the past 13 years.  In 2008, […]

    Eating To Help The Planet | Earth Wise

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 30, 2021 2:00

    Agriculture accounts for more carbon dioxide emissions than transportation.  Producing our food is one of the largest contributors to climate change.   Experts agree that the world cannot achieve net zero emission targets without changing our diets.  Be that as it may, we still have to eat.  According to experts from Oxford University, there are things […]

    Drought And U.S. Hydropower | Earth Wise

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 29, 2021 2:00

    The ongoing severe drought in the western U.S. has led to low water levels in the rivers and reservoirs that feed hydroelectric power systems.  The Energy Information Administration is projecting a 13.9% decrease in hydroelectric generation this year compared to 2020. Water levels in Lake Powell have fallen so low that it may not be […]

    Perennials To Attract Pollinators | Earth Wise

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 26, 2021 2:00

    There has been a decline in the abundance of insect and other animal pollinators in many ecosystems worldwide that began being observed at the end of the 20th century.  Pollinators and their health have become growing concerns for the public and many states have enacted legislation related to pollinator decline. In many places, the pollinator […]

    The Energy Storage Boom | Earth Wise

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 25, 2021 2:00

    Global energy storage deployment is increasing at a very rapid pace.  According to recent industry forecasts, there will be 12.4 gigawatts of new energy storage capacity online in 2021 breaking the previous annual record of 4.9 gigawatts set last year. To understand these numbers, the world only reached 1 gigawatt of new capacity in a […]

    Reducing COVID-19 Spread With UV Light | Earth Wise

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 24, 2021 2:00

    New research published by the University of Colorado Boulder analyzes the effects of different wavelengths of ultraviolet light on the SARS-CoV-2 virus.   The research found that a specific wavelength of UV light is not only extremely effective at killing the virus that causes COVID-19, but also that this wavelength is safer for use in public […]

    Decarbonizing The Most Polluting Heavy Industries | Earth Wise

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 23, 2021 2:00

    The production of steel, cement, and ammonia accounts for about 20% of the carbon dioxide humans pour into the atmosphere.  Modern cities are largely constructed from concrete and steel and most of our food is grown using fertilizer made from ammonia.  The most widely discussed solutions to decarbonizing these industries are green hydrogen and carbon […]

    Could Lyme Disease Be Eradicated? | Earth Wise

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 22, 2021 2:00

    Tiny ticks are a big problem.  Measuring only three to five millimeters in size, ticks are widely distributed around the world.  They are external parasites, feasting on the blood of birds, reptiles, amphibians, and mammals – including humans. According to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, ticks infect an estimated 476,000 people […]

    Reducing Emissions From Shipping And Aviation | Earth Wise

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 19, 2021 2:00

    The global marine shipping and aviation industries are each responsible for about 3% of greenhouse gas emissions.  These are relatively small numbers, but as other industries decarbonize, the contributions from shipping and aviation will loom larger and larger. In October, both of these industries made commitments to reach net zero emissions by 2050.  How can […]

    Greenhouse Gas Removal And Net Zero | Earth Wise

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 18, 2021 2:00

    Reducing the amount of greenhouse gas emissions can slow the progress of global warming but only reaching and sustaining net zero global emissions can halt the progress of climate change. The move to renewable power and the use of electric transport are substantial and essential ways to reduce emissions.  But even if these transitions take […]

    A Solar-Powered Steel Mill | Earth Wise

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 17, 2021 2:00

    The steel industry is an essential part of modern society.  Economically, the U.S. steel industry produces goods valued at more than $100 billion a year and employs more than 80,000 people.  The steel industry is also a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.   On average, 1.85 tons of CO2 are emitted for every ton of […]

    The Coastal Northeast Is A Hotspot | Earth Wise

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 16, 2021 2:00

    Global warming is, obviously, a world-wide phenomenon.  When the concept of a 2 degrees Celsius temperature rise is discussed, it refers to the average global temperature and the effects that would have on such things as sea level rise and weather patterns.  But the effects of the changing climate are not homogeneous.  Very different things […]

    Iron Flow Batteries | Earth Wise

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 15, 2021 2:00

    Lithium-ion batteries power computers, cell phones, and increasingly, automobiles.  They started out being rather expensive but have become dramatically cheaper over the last decade, with prices dropping about 90%.  Batteries are needed to store clean power from wind and solar generation and lithium-ion batteries are increasingly being used for that purpose as well. Utility-scale energy […]

    Banning Gas Cars | Earth Wise

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 12, 2021 2:00

    The transition to electric vehicles from gas-powered vehicles is essential for reducing greenhouse gas emissions as well as air pollution in general.  Currently, transportation is responsible for 30% of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. There is no doubt that there is surging interest in electric cars.  There are now millions of them being […]

    Manatees And Pollution | Earth Wise

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 11, 2021 2:00

    Manatees are large, gentle, and curious marine mammals measuring up to 13 feet long and weighing up to 3,300 lbs.  There are three living species of manatees:  The Amazonian Manatee, the West African Manatee, and the West Indian Manatee, which is commonly found in Florida and the Gulf Coast.  Manatees inhabit the shallow, marshy coastal […]

    Wireless EV Charging | Earth Wise

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 10, 2021 2:00

    Michigan, historically the focus of the American auto industry, has announced a new initiative to develop the nation's first wireless charging infrastructure on a public road.  The Inductive Vehicle Charging Pilot is a partnership between the Michigan Department of Transportation and the Office of Future Mobility and Electrification. The idea is to deploy an electrified […]

    Deadly Urban Heat On The Rise | Earth Wise

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 9, 2021 2:00

    According to a new study by the Columbia Climate School, exposure to deadly urban heat has tripled since the 1980s.  The increase is the combined result of both rising global temperatures and booming urban population growth. The study looked at more than 13,000 cities worldwide and found that incidents of extreme heat and humidity have […]

    Roads And Chimpanzees | Earth Wise

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 8, 2021 2:00

    The chimpanzee is a species of great ape native to tropical regions of Central and West Africa.  Chimpanzees are highly social animals and can live to be over 50 years old.  In fact, chimpanzees are our closest cousins.  We share about 98% of our genes with chimpanzees.  According to the African Wildlife Federation, it's estimated […]

    Vineyard Wind Prepares For Construction | Earth Wise

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 5, 2021 2:00

    Vineyard Wind 1 will be the first utility-scale offshore wind energy project in the United States.  It will be located 15 miles off the coast of Massachusetts and will consist of an array of 62 wind turbines, spaced one nautical mile apart.  It will generate 800 megawatts of electricity, enough to power over 400,000 homes. […]

    Marine Heatwaves And Fish | Earth Wise

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 4, 2021 2:00

    Marine heatwaves are periods of abnormally high temperatures in the ocean that can trigger devastating impacts on ecosystems, including coral bleaching, toxic algal blooms, and mass mortality events.  Marine heatwaves can occur in any ocean and in any season.  They are defined based on the differences between actual and expected temperatures for the location and […]

    The Earth Is Dimming | Earth Wise

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 3, 2021 2:00

    According to a new study published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, warming ocean waters have caused a drop in the brightness of the earth. Researchers measure the earth's albedo by observing the light reflected from earth that illuminates the surface of the moon as well as with satellite measurements. The earth reflects about 30% […]

    A New Low For Lake Powell | Earth Wise

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 2, 2021 2:00

    Lake Powell is the second largest reservoir by capacity in the United States.  It straddles the border of southeastern Utah and northeastern Arizona and was created by the Glen Canyon Dam, completed in 1963.  The reservoir serves as a bank account of water that is drawn upon in times of drought and has made it […]

    Weather Disasters On The Rise | Earth Wise

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 1, 2021 2:00

    It seems like the news is always filled with stories about storms, heatwaves, drought, and forest fires.  This is because these things are happening with unprecedented frequency. According to a new report from the World Meteorological Organization, weather disasters have become five times more common since 1970, in large part a result of climate change.  […]

    Wildfires And Giant Sequoias

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 28, 2021 2:00

    Two massive California wildfires that erupted during a lightning storm on September 9 have continued to threaten groves of giant sequoia trees in the southern Sierra Nevada mountains.  As of the beginning of October, flames from the KNP Complex fire had burned in or passed through 11 sequoia groves, including the famed Giant Forest in […]

    The Spotted Lantern Fly Is A Big Problem | Earth Wise

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 27, 2021 2:00

    The spotted lanternfly is an invasive pest from Asia that arrived in the United States seven years ago.  It is a handsome and colorful insect, but it feeds on the sap of more than 70 plant species, leaving them susceptible to disease and destruction from other natural antagonists.  It destroys fruit crops, trees, and plants […]

    Clean Energy In Rochester | Earth Wise

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 26, 2021 2:00

    New York's largest community choice clean energy program has been activated in the City of Rochester.   The program, offered by Rochester Community Power, offers 57,000 residences and small businesses access to clean energy from hydropower and wind sources.  It requires customers to opt out rather than enroll in order to provide clean energy to the […]

    Right Whales And The Warming Atlantic | Earth Wise

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 25, 2021 2:00

    The warming of the Atlantic Ocean has driven the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale population from its traditional and protected habitat.  This has exposed the whales to more lethal ship collisions, increased entanglements with commercial fishing gear, and greatly reduced calving rates. Since 2010, the calving rate has declined, and the right whale population […]

    Wastewater And Ammonia | Earth Wise

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 22, 2021 2:00

    Ammonia is the second most produced chemical in the world.  More than half of it is used in agriculture to produce various kinds of fertilizer, to produce cotton defoliants that make cotton easier to pick, and to make antifungal agents for fruits.  Globally, ammonia represents more than a $50 billion a year market. Current methods […]

    Major Funding For Novel Energy Storage | Earth Wise

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 21, 2021 2:00

    The accelerating adoption of wind and solar energy is driving a growing interest in energy storage technologies.  An electric grid dominated by intermittent power sources will need large-scale energy storage.  Grid-scale energy storage is expected to increase at least 10 times over the next decade and this will require nearly $300 billion in investments over […]

    Emissions From Global Computing

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 20, 2021 2:00

    A recent study from Lancaster University in the UK has concluded that global computing is likely to be responsible for a greater share of greenhouse gas emissions than previously thought and that share is continuing to grow. Previous calculations of the contributions from information and communications technology (or ICT) estimated that globally it accounts for […]

    Giant Wind Turbines | Earth Wise

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 19, 2021 2:00

    Wind turbines keep getting bigger and bigger.  The reason is that the power a wind turbine can theoretically generate is proportional to the disk-shaped area swept out by its blades.  So, the bigger the blades, the more power can be produced by a single turbine. That being said, real-world turbines don't achieve their theoretical power […]

    Coral Reefs And Ecosystem Services

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 18, 2021 2:00

    A new study led by the University of British Columbia provides the first comprehensive look at what climate change, overfishing, and habitat destruction of coral reefs mean for their ecosystem services.  For humans, this means how the global decline in coral reefs has affected their ability to provide essential benefits including food, livelihoods, and protection […]

    Direct Air Capture | Earth Wise

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 15, 2021 2:00

    There is a lot of interest in carbon capture and sequestration (or CCS) in the context of trapping the carbon dioxide emissions from power plants and industrial facilities.  The fossil fuel industry is especially enthusiastic about the potential for continuing to burn fuels without harming the environment.  Apart from the technical challenges, there is the […]

    Global Light Pollution

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 14, 2021 2:00

    Light pollution is excessive or obtrusive artificial light. It's a consequence of industrial civilization.  Too much artificial light can cause a host of problems, including disrupting ecosystems, causing adverse health effects, and wasting energy.  According to a new study led by researchers from the University of Exeter in the U.K., global light pollution has increased […]

    Solar Power In Australia | Earth Wise

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 13, 2021 2:00

    Historically, the electricity sector in Australia has been dominated by coal-fired power stations.  Even now, coal accounts for about 60% of Australia's electricity generation.  But since 2005, wind power and rooftop solar have led to a fast-growing share of renewable energy in total electricity generation. Australia is the second-largest exporter of coal in the world […]

    Wildfires And Algal Blooms

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 12, 2021 2:00

    Australia is no stranger to wildfires. But the 2019-2020 season proved to be particularly severe: wildfires destroyed 3,100 homes, displaced 65,000 people, and burned more than 72,000 square miles – roughly the same size as Washington State. The season is colloquially referred to as the Black Summer. According to a new study recently published in […]

    Drought And Desalination | Earth Wise

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 11, 2021 2:00

    The Western US is currently experiencing what might be the worst drought in over 1,000 years.   The region has seen many droughts in the past, but the changing climate is making dry years drier and wet years wetter.   Diminishing snow-packs mean that rivers, streams, reservoirs, and soil are not replenished enough in the spring and […]

    Wind Power Update | Earth Wise

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 8, 2021 2:00

    The Department of Energy recently released three reports showing record growth in land-based wind energy, a growing number of offshore wind projects, and the continuing reduction in the cost of wind power. The U.S. installed a record amount of land-based wind energy in 2020.  In total, 16,836 MW of new utility-scale land-based wind power capacity […]

    Electrifying The Federal Fleet | Earth Wise

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 7, 2021 2:00

    The federal government owns and operates about 645,000 vehicles.  Among them are about 200,000 passenger vehicles, 78,000 heavy-duty trucks, 47,000 vans, 847 ambulances, and three limousines.   About 225,000 vehicles are operated by the Postal Service.   Each year, these vehicles are driven about 4.5 billion miles and use about 400 million gallons of gasoline, producing 3.5 […]

    Bitcoin And Energy Use | Earth Wise

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 6, 2021 2:00

    In recent years we've heard more and more about cryptocurrencies.  They are digital currencies managed by a decentralized network of users.  No country, person, or other entity controls the value of a cryptocurrency.  Some people think that they will ultimately replace traditional currencies. The eventual status of cryptocurrencies can be debated endlessly but there is […]

    The Benefits Of No-Till Farming | Earth Wise

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 5, 2021 2:00

    No-till farming is not new.  In fact, it was used as far back as 10,000 years ago.  But during the 18th and 19th centuries, tilling became popular because it allowed farmers to plant seeds more efficiently. Tilling (or ploughing) is the process of preparing the soil for the cultivation of seeds by overturning the soil.  […]

    A Record Low For Lake Mead | Earth Wise

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 4, 2021 2:00

    Lake Mead is the reservoir that was formed by the Hoover Dam on the Colorado River.  The lake spans the Arizona-Nevada border.  It is the largest reservoir in the United States in terms of water capacity.  The lake is part of a system that supplies water to at least 40 million people in seven states […]

    The Most Powerful Tidal Turbine Is Generating Power | Earth Wise

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 1, 2021 2:00

    The movement of waves, tides, and currents in the ocean carry enormous amounts of energy that in principle could be harnessed and converted into electricity to help power our homes, buildings, and cities.  Oceans cover nearly three-quarters of our planet, and the most populated areas of the world are located near oceans. Ocean energy technologies […]

    Electric Cars Are Coming Sooner Than Expected | Earth Wise

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 30, 2021 2:00

    It is widely believed that electrification is the future for vehicles.  The only question is how long the transition will take.  Predictions are all over the map, but the recent trend is to revise those predictions to say it will happen sooner than previously thought. A recent report from the international accounting firm Ernst & […]

    Reducing Agriculture's Carbon Footprint | Earth Wise

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 29, 2021 2:00

    Agriculture is responsible for about 10% of greenhouse gas emissions.  Those emissions come from livestock such as cows, the disturbance of agricultural soils, and activities like rice production. Recent research from Texas A&M University presents sustainable solutions for grazing agriculture.  According to the research, published in the Journal of Soil and Water Conservation, ruminant animals […]

    Harnessing The Smell Of Fear | Earth Wise

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 28, 2021 2:00

    Plant-eating insects present a major problem for farmers and home gardeners.  Aphids, for example, are a highly destructive pest to many crops.  Their large numbers and ability to transmit plant pathogens make them a persistent problem for growers. Pesticides are chemical substances that are commonly used to prevent, destroy, repel or mitigate pests.  They include […]

    Wastewater As A Freshwater Source | Earth Wise

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 27, 2021 2:00

    Water covers three-quarters of our planet, but freshwater – the water we drink, bathe in, and irrigate crops with – comprises only 3% of the world's water and much of that is frozen in glaciers or otherwise unavailable.  Nearly 3 billion people suffer from water scarcity for at least some of the year. Natural freshwater […]

    Wildfires And The Climate | Earth Wise

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 24, 2021 2:00

    Scientists from the National Center for Atmospheric Research recently published a study analyzing the events that influenced the world's climate in 2020.  Among these were the pandemic-related lockdowns that reduced emissions and resulted in clearer air in many of the world's cities. While this was a significant event, the study found that something entirely different […]

    People And The Earth's Increasing Heat | Earth Wise

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 23, 2021 2:00

    A new study by Princeton University and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration had found clear evidence that human activity is the primary cause of the significant increase in heat stored in our planet.  In fact, the study found that there is less than a 1% chance that natural variability is the sole cause of […]

    Wine And Wildfire Smoke | Earth Wise

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 22, 2021 2:00

    Rising global temperatures have made droughts and heatwaves more common and intense, leading to larger and more destructive wildfires.   In 2020, wildfires in California blackened more than 4 million acres, the largest wildfire season on record.   With its continuing drought, California has already had 1.5 million acres burned by wildfires this year, and the fires […]

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