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Living on Earth

Author: World Media Foundation

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As the planet we call home faces a climate emergency, Living on Earth is your go-to source for the latest coverage of climate change, ecology, and human health. Hosted by Steve Curwood and brought to you by PRX.
31 Episodes
Youth Activists Win Stronger Climate Action in Germany / French Climate Bill Disappoints Activists / Under a White Sky: The Nature of the Future / Beyond the Headlines / Note on Emerging Science: Biochar and Irrigation / The Colorado River's Dwindling Water Supply After a trial brought forth by youth climate activists, Germany's highest court recently ruled that present government commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are insufficient to protect future needs. Also, humans have undoubtedly altered the environment. We've reversed rivers, introduced invasive species, and even disrupted the climate. In the new book Under a White Sky: The Nature of the Future, Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Elizabeth Kolbert explores cutting edge and controversial technologies aimed at solving the problems these changes have created. And the Colorado River is parched in a "megadrought," with two key reservoirs expected to drop to record low levels this year and trigger a formal water shortage declaration. Why supply continues to shrink as demand holds steady. Thanks to our sponsor this week: Democracy in Danger, a podcast from the University of Virginia
Fixing America's Water Crises / Beyond the Headlines / Young Climate Activists / Gardening for Abundance and Generosity / Secrets of the Whales In a bipartisan vote the U.S. Senate approves $35 billion to address the public health hazards of lead pipes and overflowing wastewater. Why water infrastructure improvements to protect public health are long overdue and where the money would be spent. Also, as northern springtime advances, gardeners look forward to carefully tending to what's growing in their window boxes, raised beds, and greenhouses. How gardening fosters a spirit of generosity. And a documentary miniseries seeks to unravel the secrets of whale behavior and understand whale cultures of orcas, humpbacks, narwhals, belugas, and sperm whales. "Secrets of the Whales" and more, this week on Living on Earth. Thanks to our sponsors this week: The Crazy Town podcast from the Post Carbon Institute And Christiana Figueres' podcast Outrage + Optimism And Democracy in Danger, a podcast from the University of Virginia
Methane and Swift Climate Action / Senate Votes for Strong Methane Rules / Biden, LOE and Dykstra / Getting Bushmeat Off the Table / "Planet" by Poet Catherine Pierce / Beloved Beasts: Fighting for Life in An Age of Extinction Methane is a very potent greenhouse gas that doesn't last long in the atmosphere, so reducing it can have almost immediate benefits for the climate. But weak Trump administration standards allowed the oil and gas industry to leak massive amounts of methane. Now the U.S. Senate has voted to return to stronger Obama-era regulation of these leaks, and Democratic Senator Martin Heinrich of New Mexico joins us to discuss. Also, the forests of the Congo Basin are among the most biodiverse in the world, but its wildlife is being threatened by huge demand for bushmeat. A new campaign encourages people to cook traditional recipes with protein alternatives to wild meat. And animals like the American Bison, bald eagle, and giant panda have come dangerously close to extinction thanks to our own species. But thanks to some visionary humans, these animals and others have been saved from that fate and are now recovering. Science writer Michelle Nijhuis shares the stories of some conservation heroes. Thanks to our sponsors this week: The Crazy Town podcast from the Post Carbon Institute And Christiana Figueres' podcast Outrage + Optimism And Democracy in Danger, a podcast from the University of Virginia
Greening the Economy / A Living Earth Called "Gaia" / Ecological Conversion and Solidarity As Living on Earth celebrates 30 years on the air, we share an Earth Day special that examines this decisive moment for the human species and our challenging relationship with our planet. We meet people who envision a future reshaped by an emerging energy system and new power structures, as we wean off of fossil fuels. Next we take a big-picture view of Earth as a complex and sustaining organism known as Gaia. Over billions of years life has interacted with the elements of this planet in cycles of constant change and adaptation. With the help of deep ecologists, children, an astronaut and more, we survey our place on this ever-evolving living planet. And while science and policy are vital in building a more sustainable world, they can't convey the values we need as we strive for ecological harmony. Indigenous stories, holy scriptures, East Asian cosmologies, papal encyclicals and divine revelation all shed light on our duties and relationship to each other and to our common home. Thanks to our sponsors this week: The Crazy Town podcast from the Post Carbon Institute And Christiana Figueres' podcast Outrage + Optimism And Democracy in Danger, a podcast from the University of Virginia
Biden's Climate Summit / Beyond the Headlines / "Stooping" Turns Trash to Treasure / When a Gas Plant Moves in Next Door / BirdNote®: The Power Of Albatross Partnerships / Poetry in the Time of Climate Troubles President Biden has invited 40 world leaders to a virtual Leaders Summit on Climate this Earth Day, a key moment in the international effort to address climate change. Also, when people move out or clean up their apartments, many leave discarded items on the stoop or curb for others to claim before it goes to the landfill. The Instagram page Stooping In Queens helps connect this free stuff with new owners. And poet Catherine Pierce grapples with unfolding climate disaster and other 21st century perils, and the ways they reframe parenting. She shares poems from her books Danger Days and The Tornado Is the World, and reflects on finding beauty and calls to action during the Anthropocene. Thanks to our sponsors this week: Giving Multiplier And Christiana Figueres' podcast Outrage + Optimism And Democracy in Danger, a podcast from the University of Virginia
Exploring the Parks: Aniakchak National Monument and Preserve / Why I Wear Jordans in the Great Outdoors / Exploring the Parks: Cactus and Snow in the Desert Sky Islands / Spring Awakening / A Season on the Wind: Inside the World of Spring Migration Some stereotypes about who can be "outdoorsy" can leave people of color out, but a pair of beloved Air Jordan "Bred" 11 sneakers is helping one environmental educator encourage young American people of color to feel that they belong in the outdoors. Also, Arizona's Sky Islands are home to heat and cactus, but also many species that you're more likely to find far north of the desert Southwest - and even considerable snow. And a veteran field guide author discusses the incredible phenomenon that happens every spring and fall, as a journey of thousands of miles begins with a single wing flap. Thanks to our sponsors this week: Giving Multiplier And Christiana Figueres' podcast Outrage + Optimism
Biden Boosts Offshore Wind / The Ocean as Solution, Not Victim / Restoring Life in the Oceans / Beyond the Headlines / Tips for the Casual Gardener Enric Sala's love for the ocean drew him into a career in marine biology. But as he studied damaged marine environments, he began to feel he was writing the "obituary of the ocean." Now he advocates for marine protected areas that support ocean biodiversity and bring big economic benefits. Also, President Biden recently announced a plan to dramatically expand offshore wind power along the East Coast, with 30 gigawatts along the U.S. coasts by 2030, backed up by billions in federal loan guarantees. How this key part of Biden's infrastructure plan may especially help New York City meet its clean energy demands. Also, spring is the perfect time to start gardening -- and growing your favorite fresh produce doesn't have to feel like a chore! Tips for the casual gardener and more. Thanks to our sponsor: Giving Multiplier
Damaged Amazon Adds to Global Warming / Belo Monte Dam Disrupts Amazon Floodplain Balance / Horse of a Different Color / Beyond the Headlines / Prehistoric Magnetic Flip Shook Up Life on Earth / Not Just Maple Syrup: Birch, Beech and Other Sappy Trees The first broad study of all greenhouse gases in the Amazon rainforest reveals that the damaged ecosystem is now a net contributor to climate change, due mostly to warming and other human activities like logging, dam-building, and cattle ranching. Also, Earth's magnetic poles wander around and flip every now and then, and now scientists have evidence for how these flips impact life on Earth. Linking a magnetic pole reversal about 41,000 years ago to megafauna extinctions, climatic changes, and even a rise in ancient cave art. And it's maple syrup season, but these aren't the only sappy trees that can be tapped to make syrup. A trip to a syrup producer in New Hampshire to taste syrups made from birch, beech, walnut, and other trees.
Madam Secretary Haaland / One in Five Deaths from Fossil Fuels / Note on Emerging Science: Oldest DNA Ever Sequenced / Families Sickened by Fracking / Beyond the Headlines / Carbon Bomb Fridges Ultrafine particulate matter produced from fossil fuel combustion is known to cause numerous health issues. A recent study finds that this pollution is responsible for one in five deaths worldwide, or about 350,000 excess deaths in the U.S. every year. Also, the fracking boom transformed rural towns from idyllic to industrial and is threatening the physical and mental health of many inhabitants. The stories of families whose lives have been completely upended by fracking. And when climate reporter Phil McKenna needed a new fridge, he tried to steer clear of any appliance that would use super-potent greenhouse gases to cool his groceries. But he ended up with a "carbon bomb" containing a greenhouse gas thousands of times more potent than CO2. Why industry has made it so hard to find climate-friendly appliances.
Warming Planet Slows Ocean Currents / Beyond the Headlines / 30x30 To Save Species / Protecting Badger-Two Medicine And The Grand Canyon / Regenerative Farming for Soil Health / Regenerative Farming In Action The climates of North America and Europe depend on tropical heat circulated by massive system of currents in the Atlantic Ocean. But research shows that climate change is slowing this thermal conveyor belt, which is currently the weakest it has been in at least a thousand years. Also, President Joe Biden has set an official goal of protecting 30% of US land and ocean for conservation by 2030 to help avert species extinction and fight climate change. We take a look at two conservation campaigns that are being led by Native American tribes: Badger-Two Medicine in Montana and part of the Grand Canyon in Arizona. And regenerative agriculture practices that store carbon in the soil are a "win-win-win" for farmers, the economy and the environment, say advocates. Advocates claim widespread adoption of no-till, cover cropping, and other practices could perhaps store as much carbon as the global transportation sector emits every year.
Radioactive Water Dilemma at Fukushima / The New Climate War / Hard Times for Ginseng Farmers / Beyond the Headlines / Nature and the Beat Despite rising global temperatures and an increase in climate disruption-related natural disasters, climate denial still runs rampant. Renowned climate scientist Michael Mann's latest book describes how fossil fuel companies have spent decades deflecting blame and responsibility in order to delay action on climate change. Also, ten years after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster, Japanese authorities are planning to release some of the contaminated cooling water into the Pacific Ocean. What the release of this water means for marine and human health. And consumers in China and the U.S. prize American ginseng, most of which is grown in just one Wisconsin county, as a health food and traditional medicine. But demand has dried up in the midst of America's ongoing trade war with China, economic impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic and anti-Asian rhetoric, and farmers are struggling.
No Power For The People In Texas / Beyond the Headlines / Note on Emerging Science: Wild Bees a Boost to Crops / A Civilian Climate Corps / Searching for Life on Mars The coldest air to visit Texas in a decade killed dozens, crippled the state's power grid and revealed the risks of extreme deregulation. How America's electric power system has grown more unstable in recent decades. Also, Washington Governor Jay Inslee shares a vision for a climate corps that could aid conservation, combat climate disaster, and save energy while harnessing the energy of youth volunteers in America. And after a spaceflight of over 200 days, NASA's Perseverance rover has landed safely on Mars. Perseverance is the first in a series of missions with the goal of finding signs of ancient life on the red planet, with hopes of returning samples to Earth by the 2030s.
India Climate Activist Jailed / Beyond the Headlines / A New Leader for USDA / The Butterfly Effect: Insects and the Making of the Modern World Amid ongoing massive farmer protests, the Indian government is cracking down on activists including Disha Ravi, the young climate activist who founded Fridays for Future - India. How climate activism connects with the Indian farmer protests, and the government's attempts to silence activists and journalists. Also, President Biden's pick for Secretary of Agriculture is Tom Vilsack, who would be reprising the role after his 8 years in the Obama administration. "Vilsack II" is showing signs that since then he's become more supportive of food assistance programs and reforming historically racist programs at USDA. And insects far outnumber us on this planet, and they've shaped the course of human history. A conversation with the author of "The Butterfly Effect: Insects and the Making of the Modern World" on this legacy and the critical need to preserve insect biodiversity for future generations.
India's Farm Crisis and the Climate Emergency / Beyond the Headlines / Angry Birds and the People's Climate Vote / Bottlenose Whales in the Arctic / Modernizing Mobility / BirdNote®: Here Come the Barred Owls / In Honor of Black History Month: Harriet Tubman and the Barred Owl India is experiencing dramatic climate impacts that are hitting farmers especially hard. On top of that, the Indian government recently passed legislation that could make it harder for farmers to get a fair price for their crops, leading to massive protests. Also, games like Angry Birds meet climate policy through the work of the People's Climate Vote, a United Nations survey of more than a million people around the world. And in the United States transportation infrastructure is falling deep into disrepair with $2 trillion of deferred maintenance costs. President Joe Biden is seeking to modernize mobility infrastructure in a way that supports the broader overall goal of net zero carbon emissions by 2050. And as we celebrate Black History Month: Harriet Tubman was an unsung naturalist who used bird calls and her knowledge of woods and wetlands to lead some 70 people out of bondage.
Biden's Pen and the Climate / Beyond the Headlines / GM in the EV Fast Lane / The COVID Biking Boom / An Owl-Inspired Hearing Test / Teddy Roosevelt's Conservation Legacy President Biden has signed detailed executive orders focused on protecting the environment and fighting against climate change, laying the groundwork for strong climate policy and green investment. And the private sector is already moving in that direction: General Motors recently announced a bold plan to phase out gas-powered cars by 2035, signaling a major step towards decarbonizing the economy and creating thousands of green jobs. Also, a look back at President Theodore Roosevelt's complicated legacy for conservation in a time when it's being reimagined with more diversity and inclusivity.
The Whole of Government For Climate Action / Resisting Line 3 Pipeline / COVID Risk for Tribal Cultures / Beyond the Headlines / Vista: A Break in the Storm / 'Becoming Wild' and Culture Among Animals The Biden Administration is making big and early moves to tackle the climate crisis and show the rest of the world and major investors that the U.S. is committed to decarbonization. Also, Native American communities have been hit especially hard by the Covid-19 pandemic, with nearly twice the mortality rate of white Americans. The deaths of tribal elders are also leading to losses of language and other cultural knowledge. And biologists are finding that many animal species from sperm whales to birds use language and other hallmarks of culture.
U.S. Back in Paris Agreement / Biden Reverses Trump Rollbacks / Little Time Left to Save Right Whales / Beyond the Headlines / Ubuntu and Unity for Healing At his inauguration on January 20th President Biden called for unity at a time when America faces multiple crises. For a model of unity, Mr. Biden might look to the African concept of Ubuntu as a way to heal the many broken relationships in America. Also, hours after taking the oath of office, President Biden signed several executive orders to restore environmental protections removed by his predecessor, and recommitted the U.S. to the Paris Climate Agreement. The Executive Director of Greenpeace International joins us to talk about how the U.S. can get back on track with the rest of the world, after 4 years of turning its back on climate diplomacy. And the North Atlantic right whale is one of the world's most endangered species. With ship strikes and entanglement in fishing nets threatening its survival, environmental organizations have filed a lawsuit seeking expanded protections to save the whales before it's too late.
Merrick Garland and the Environment / Deb Haaland: 'Fierce for our Planet' / Interior's Next Frontiers / Beyond the Headlines / A Mayan Bee Guardian / Ice Visions President-elect Biden's Attorney General pick, Judge Merrick Garland, has ruled over many environmental rules and regulations while on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit. What an AG Garland could mean for environmental policy and enforcement. Also, after four years in pursuit of extraction at the expense of conservation, the Department of the Interior is about to undergo a major change in how it manages federal public lands and relates to Native Americans. Biden's nominee for Secretary of the Interior, Congresswoman Deb Haaland, will be the first Native American to lead DOI if confirmed and would bring a strong conservation, climate action, and tribal rights perspective to the Department. And former Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell joins us to discuss how the Biden administration can pause oil and gas extraction on public lands, attract more renewable energy and restore the sacred Bears Ears National Monument.
Georgia's Green and Brown Voters / ANWR Oil Leasing / BirdNote®: The Oilbird's Lightless Life / Activism Cuts Plastic Waste in the Bahamas / Beyond the Headlines / Remembering Barry Lopez The Democratic victories for both of the Senate seats in Georgia's runoff elections are thanks in part to the state's environmental voters, who are more likely to be people of color and young, and to live in urban centers. Also, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge likely has billions of gallons of oil under it and for decades it's been one of the most high-profile environmental battles. Despite opposition from conservationists and native peoples, a judge allowed the Trump Administration to proceed with a last-minute auction of oil and gas drilling leases in the refuge. And the late Barry Lopez is being remembered as a beloved environmental writer who authored National Book Award-winning "Arctic Dreams" and many other works. We share a conversation with Barry Lopez from 2019, when his final book "Horizon" was published.
Care for the Common Critter / 'It Could Be the Last One': Stories of People Helping Rare Critters / Wildly Magical: Animal Encounters in the Galapagos / Native American Stories of Human and Animal Kinship From one woman's dream of swimming with marine iguanas, to uncommon encounters with common rabbits, to a Native American tale of how the dog came to be our loyal companion, and much more, this Living on Earth holiday storytelling special features stories of how other species on this Earth touch human lives. "Wildly Magical: Stories of Animal Encounters", a storytelling special from PRX.
Comments (1)

Edie Thomas

I'm sorry, but these students just chap my hide. There have been thousands of people fighting for action and trying to educate people about the affects of climate change. Just because our current administration and actions are lacking doesn't mean people haven't sacrificed to try and change these outcomes. There are still hundreds of thousands of ADULTS working towards a healthier future for our planet and our children. These students do a disservice to all those great people who have lead on climate action by instilling a belief that no one has done anything before them. Show your respect for the people who have lead the way and marched in the streets and changed laws to encourage this environmental movement. These students are not pioneers, they are walking in the footsteps of some amazing environmentalists that inspired my generation and now my children's generation.

May 10th
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