Living on Earth

Sunday 4PM on WSDL 90.7 FM

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

A new book examines 'The Book that Changed America'

Jul 24, 2017

No single book influenced US history more than Charles Darwin’s “On the Origin of Species,” according to a new book by Randall Fuller, professor of English at the University of Tulsa.

Much of the Netherlands is below sea level and major floods have occurred every generation or so for hundreds of years. In a warming world with increased rainfall and sea level rise, the threat from floods is increasing worldwide, and the Dutch are leading the way in water management engineering.  

America’s air carriers have signed on to an international agreement for carbon offsets and reduction, arguing it will prevent unilateral charges over their emissions at foreign airports. But the Trump administration, after pulling out of the Paris Agreement, is reviewing that decision, despite vocal support for it from US airlines.

The Carbon Offsets and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation, or CORSIA, was signed on Oct. 6, 2016, at the UN. It currently has the voluntary support of more than 70 nations, representing nearly 90 percent of international airline activity.

In “New York 2140,” the latest novel from award-winning science fiction writer Kim Stanley Robinson, melting ice sheets and wild storms have added 50 feet to sea level and submerged coastal areas, yet New York City is still a vibrant hub of global capital, with express boats zooming up the avenues and skybridges linking the skyscrapers that still stand.

What kind of interior secretary will Ryan Zinke be?

Apr 16, 2017

When it comes to the federal government’s stewardship of the environment, there is perhaps no more important official than the secretary of the interior. Ryan Zinke, a former Montana Republican congressman, recently took on the job, and he is being watched closely by organizations on both sides of the political divide.

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry is the new US energy secretary. It’s an ironic choice: During his 2012 presidential bid, Perry said the Energy Department could easily be abolished — and some observers have suggested Perry didn’t actually understand the job he was taking when it was offered to him.

Decades ago, London suffocated under poisonous smogs. Now, deadly air is back.

Diesel-burning vehicles are causing record levels of pollution linked to thousands of deaths in the UK, and the British government could face fines from the European Court of Justice if the smog is not controlled.

Conditions in London have become so bad that London Lord Mayor Sadiq Khan now suggests children should be given gas masks to protect their lungs.

Scott Pruitt, the new head of the Environmental Protection Agency, has sued the agency more than a dozen times. What does that mean for the future of the EPA and for environmental protections in the US?

As the attorney general of Oklahoma, Pruitt chaired an organization of Republican attorneys general who opposed many EPA rules and regulations. Perhaps most famously, Pruitt led a group of states and companies in the continuing court fight against the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan — a plan crafted by the agency he now runs.

A group of conservative elder statesman has proposed an ambitious carbon dividend plan that could entice bipartisan support, pay families $2,000 a month and cut greenhouse gas emissions more than Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan.

A report from some of the top minds in environmental policy and economics is recommending a new way of evaluating the "social costs" of carbon pollution to keep up with the best available science.

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.

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. 

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.

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.

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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.

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 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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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 Media Foundation

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

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. 

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)

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