Living on Earth

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Hosted by Steve Curwood, the award-winning environmental news program "Living on Earth" delves into the leading issues affecting the world we inhabit. As the population continues to rise and the management of the earth's resources becomes even more critical, "Living on Earth" examines the issues facing our increasingly interdependent world.

"Living on Earth" presents riveting features and commentary on everything from culture, economics and technology to health, law, food and transportation. It covers topics from the small challenges of everyday life to the future state of the environment and the health and well-being of the world's inhabitants.

Curwood and company draw from an impressive array of experts, commentators and journalists, including Neil deGrasse Tyson, director of New York's Hayden Planetarium; Mark Hertsgaard, author of "Earth Odyssey"; Janet Raloff of "Science News"; author Sy Montgomery; and award-winning producer Terry Fitzpatrick.

"Living on Earth" is a truly compelling hour of radio journalism.

Living on Earth Website

The BagShare Project offers a creative and simple solution to the global problem of plastic bags: sewing and sharing handmade, reusable bags from scrap materials. The project is the brainchild of Leni Fried, an artist from Cummington, Massachesetts. She began BagShare in 2007 , and since then, she estimates, volunteers have made about 15,000 bags at community sewing events. Bags are donated to local stores, where customers can borrow them — instead of using disposable bags. “It’s kind of...

The worst smallpox epidemic in Boston history was a turning point for control of the ferocious disease in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. It also helped launch America's first independent newspaper and set the stage for the American Revolution. That's according to a new book called " The Fever of 1721 ," by Stephen Coss.  Until it was finally eradicated, smallpox was the deadliest disease in the world. When it hit a town like Boston, nearly everyone who hadn’t already had the disease would get...

Highly polluted air is bad for your health — and that's particularly true when it's air full of small particles from coal-fired power plants, as studies going back for years have shown. But just how bad? For the first time, there's a study that actually quantifies how many years of life expectancy are lost based on a given amount of particulate exposure. Michael Greenstone, a professor of environmental economics at MIT, recently published a paper that compared two populations in China that...

Living on Earth's explorer-in-residence Mark Seth Lender visited Iceland and found Black-Legged Kittiwake daring to nest right on the cliffs, despite the wild waves lashing the shore below. These are his impressions: Lava works its way down, steams and smokes and spits as it meets cold water. Then, wears away, retreating inland till only the core remains: Black basalt crystalized in octagons like giant’s teeth, a long wall grinning and gnashing towards an ancient sea, while the sea grins back...

Underfunding and low prioritization of wildlife crimes are hampering efforts to clamp down on wildlife poaching in the Pacific Northwest. While poaching of animals like rhinos and elephants makes global headlines, in the US, species with horns are also ripe for targeting. The trophy antlers of a western mule deer can fetch $1,000 or more. In the face of strict limits on hunting, poachers often step in to meet the demand. Mule deer have been in sharp decline and poaching is one reason why. It...

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WildEarth Guardians/Flickr 

Critics have long argued that the royalties coal companies pay for mining on US public lands are well below fair market values. Now, the Department of the Interior has moved to close a major loophole to address this criticism. Leasing public land for coal extraction is a three-step process — and two of those steps are problematic for the public, says Michael Greenstone, a former chief economist for the Obama White House who now teaches at the University of Chicago. In step one, the federal...

The Diablo Canyon nuclear power station in California, which was built in an earthquake zone 30 years ago, is now scheduled to close by 2025. But not far from New York city, the operators of Indian Point, an even older reactor with a history of problems, are resisting calls to shut down. The plans for Diablo Canyon and the conflict over Indian Point illustrate starkly different views about the future of nuclear energy in the US. One side continues to see nuclear energy as safe, clean and...

The next time you’re tooling down the highway somewhere in America, take a look around: Those miles of medians and roadsides along our highways offer unexpected environmental benefits. All those broad, green strips along the nation’s highways turn out be vital habitats for many small critters, as well as pollinators including bees, butterflies and birds. The sum total of the area between the pavement and the right-of-way fence on county, state, and interstate highways is 17 million acres —...

Roundup, the most commonly-used pesticide in the world, faces an existential crisis. Ever since the World Health Organization in 2015 declared glyphosate, Roundup’s active ingredient, a probable carcinogen, European regulatory agencies have been rethinking its future. A key European Union panel renewed glyphosate’s license just days before it was set to expire, but the renewal is for only 18 months, which will continue to keep the product under a cloud of doubt. And while it may be popular...

Forty years ago, the National Audubon Society began Project Puffin, an attempt to restore the threatened seabird to its native nesting islands off the coast of Maine. Today, you can watch their success live on the internet.  From Seal Island National Wildlife Refuge in Maine, a live video stream shows puffins raising chicks in an underground burrow and hanging out on the rocks. These weatherproof cameras provide an intimate look into the homes and lives of puffins. “It’s a remarkable setting...

Environmental activists are urging the US government to “keep it in the ground” — that is, to ban any new leases of public lands to fossil fuel companies. The industry already leases more than 67 million federally-controlled acres. A new study details the benefits that could be achieved from this policy. The Stockholm Environment Institute, based in Sweden, finds that the US could reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 100 million metric tons of CO2 per year in 2030 if it banned extraction...

China Grows More Trees

Jun 4, 2016

After major flooding in 1998, China introduced a national logging ban called the Natural Forest Conservation Program to help protect against erosion and rapid runoff. A recent study in Science Advances of 10 years of satellite data found significant recovery in some Chinese forests. But Andrés Viña, an author of the paper, explains to host Steve Curwood that this reforestation in China is probably shifting deforestation elsewhere. (published June 3, 2016)
From Living on Earth ©2016 World...

Coping with Massive Forest Fires

Jun 4, 2016

Fire is natural in the northern boreal forests, but Canadian wildfire expert Mike Flannigan says it has become more prevalent with global warming and puts more communities at risk of massive blazes, like the one that ravaged Fort McMurray in Alberta recently. Flannigan tells host Steve Curwood what communities and homeowners in the midst of fire-prone forests need to do to minimize their risk. (published June 3, 2016)
From Living on Earth ©2016 World Media Foundation

Living on Earth: June 3, 2016

Jun 4, 2016

Coping with Massive Forest Fires / Beyond the Headlines / Climate Change and the National Parks / China Grows More Trees / Iron-eating Bacteria / Heart of a Lion
From Living on Earth ©2016 World Media Foundation

Climate Change and the National Parks

Jun 4, 2016

The director of the National Parks recently said that climate disruption represents the greatest threat to the integrity of the park system. National Park Service scientist John Gross tells host Steve Curwood how park managers are rethinking many of their management strategies. (published June 3, 2016)
From Living on Earth ©2016 World Media Foundation

Iron-eating Bacteria

Jun 4, 2016

We revisit a report by Ari Daniel, who traveled into the field with microbiologists to report on some strange bacteria that consume iron and may help filter water in the future. (published June 3, 2016)
From Living on Earth ©2016 World Media Foundation

Garden in the Woods is one of Boston’s local treasures. It aims to recreate the diversity of the region’s different habitats, from bogs to ponds, floodplains to sand plains.  Garden in the Woods is “one of the most beautiful, and one of the oldest, naturalistic gardens in eastern North America,” says Elizabeth Farnsworth, the senior research ecologist for the New England Wild Flower Society at its 30-acre woodland garden. “It has a wonderful selection of native plants that you can use in your...

Climate Change and the National Parks

Jun 3, 2016

The director of the National Parks recently said that climate disruption represents the greatest threat to the integrity of the park system. National Park Service scientist John Gross tells host Steve Curwood how park managers are rethinking many of their management strategies. (published June 3, 2016)

China Grows More Trees

Jun 3, 2016

After major flooding in 1998, China introduced a national logging ban called the Natural Forest Conservation Program to help protect against erosion and rapid runoff. A recent study in Science Advances of 10 years of satellite data found significant recovery in some Chinese forests. But Andrés Viña, an author of the paper, explains to host Steve Curwood that this reforestation in China is probably shifting deforestation elsewhere. (published June 3, 2016)

Coping with Massive Forest Fires

Jun 3, 2016

Fire is natural in the northern boreal forests, but Canadian wildfire expert Mike Flannigan says it has become more prevalent with global warming and puts more communities at risk of massive blazes, like the one that ravaged Fort McMurray in Alberta recently. Flannigan tells host Steve Curwood what communities and homeowners in the midst of fire-prone forests need to do to minimize their risk. (published June 3, 2016)

Heart of a Lion

Jun 3, 2016

Mountain Lions have been considered extinct in the Eastern U.S. for decades, but one trekked from his home in the Dakotas to just a few miles outside of New York City. Host Steve Curwood talks with author William Stolzenburg, whose new book, Heart of a Lion, carefully documents this creature’s extraordinary two-thousand-mile journey. (published June 3, 2016)

Beyond the Headlines

Jun 3, 2016

In this week’s trip beyond the headlines, Peter Dykstra talks to host Steve Curwood about a possible upgrade to the giant panda’s endangered status in China, state officials in Texas trying to hide photos of oil spills caused by recent flooding, the Australian government trying to obscure coral bleaching, and the Arsenic Act of 1851 in England, one of the earliest laws on toxic substances. (published June 3, 2016)

Living on Earth: May 27, 2016

May 28, 2016

Trump’s Other Wall / Local Impacts of Exxon’s Alleged “Climate Deceit” / Kids Win Another Landmark Climate Ruling / Saving the Bay Area / SunEdison Falters; Solar Still Sunny / Beyond the Headlines / BirdNote®: Eastern Wood-Pewee

Trump’s Other Wall

May 28, 2016

Republican Presidential candidate Donald J. Trump says he’ll build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border to block undocumented immigrants. Now Trump is planning to build another wall, this one to hold back rising seas at his luxury golf resort in Ireland. POLITICO’s Ben Schreckinger tells host Steve Curwood how the Trump Organization specifically cites climate change as a reason to build this wall, despite the real estate mogul’s avowed climate skepticism. (published May 27, 2016)

Saving the Bay Area

May 28, 2016

In June, San Francisco Bay Area residents will vote on Measure AA, a proposed tax that would fund wetland restoration. Bringing back wetlands would provide habitat for many bird species, and could help save the Bay Area from the rising seas expected from global warming. But some argue the funding mechanism is unfair. Emmett Fitzgerald reports. (published May 27, 2016)

As investigations into ExxonMobil’s public versus private communication about climate change continue, the Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) is pursuing another legal avenue to hold ExxonMobil accountable. CLF President Brad Campbell tells host Steve Curwood his organization has taken steps to sue the company for polluting the Mystic River at Everett, Massachusetts and for failing to prepare its Everett storage facility for rising sea levels and other climate impacts. (published May 27, 2016)

SunEdison Falters; Solar Still Sunny

May 28, 2016

Solar behemoth SunEdison’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing disappointed its investors, yet the industry as a whole is booming, says Nat Kreamer, CEO of Spruce Finance. Mr. Kreamer explains to host Steve Curwood why one company fell so far within a soaring market, and how public-private partnerships could help the growing solar industry take our energy grid to a low-carbon future. (published May 27, 2016)

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