Category Archives: Environment

Inventing Tomorrow

In this edition, recorded on May 16, 2018, we interview three of the producers of INVENTING TOMORROW, an inspiring documentary that features six passionate teenage scientists from Indonesia, Hawaii, India and Mexico, creating cutting-edge solutions to the world’s environmental threats-right in their own backyards. It follows them, as they eventually journey to compete at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Los Angeles. It premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2018.

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(L-R) Producer Diane Becker, director Laura Nix and producer Melanie Miller

Laura Nix is known for her films The Yes Men Are Revolting (2014) as well as The Yes Men Fix the World (2009), The Light In Her Eyes (2011) about Houda al-Habash, a conservative Muslim preacher, founded a Qur’an school for girls in Damascus, Syria when she was just 17 years old. Her work in film goes back to 1997.

Melanie Miller is known for her work on Detour (2013), and Alaska Is a Drag (2017). Her film work goes all the way back to 2001 as associate producer on the Liars Club

Diane Becker has films going back to 2006, including Five Came Back(2017), Homegrown: The Counter-Terror Dilemma (2016), Legion of Brothers (2017), Jaco (2015) and many more.

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(L-R) Melanie Miller, Laura Nix, Jose Manuel Elizade Esparanza, Fernando Miguel Sanchez Villalobos, Sahithi Pingali, Shofi Latifa Nuha Anfaresi, Jared Goodwin, Diane Becker, Jesus Alfonso Martinez Aranda

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ENEV063T_Anfaresi_Shofi Latifah Nuha_Indonesia_053_CA.jpgProject ENEV063T: Bangka’s Tin Sea Sand-Fe3O4 as a Removal of Heavy Metals in By-Product of Tin Ore Processing  (above): Intan Utami Putri
Shofi Latifa Nuha Anfaresi  
Banka, Indonesia

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EAEV088_Pingali_Sahithi_15_CA.jpgProject EAEV008 – An Innovative Crowdsourcing Approach to Monitoring Freshwater Bodies

above: Sahithi Pingali
 in Bangalore, India

J.-Goodwin2-225x300.jpgEAEV018_Goodwin_Jared_USA_02_KR.jpgProject EAEV018 – Arsenic Contamination through Tsunami Wave Movement in Hawaii: Investigating the Concentration of Heavy Metals in the Soil from the 1960 Hilo, Hawaii Tsunami

Jared Goodwin
 is from Hilo, Hawaii

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Project CHEM059T: Photocatalytic Ceramic Paint to Purify Air
Fernando Miguel Sanchez Villalobos
Jesus Alfonso Martinez Aranda
Jose Manuel Elizade Esparaza
     above: in Monterrey, Mexico

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When not producing films, Diane, Laura and Melanie can be found promoting science in other ways.

 

 

 

Adam Higginbotham – MIDNIGHT IN CHERNOBYL: The Untold Story of the World’s Greatest Nuclear Disaster

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After 10 years of research, Adam Higginbotham’s book, MIDNIGHT IN CHERNOBYL: The Untold Story of the World’s Greatest Nuclear Disaster, provides the first complete account of the catastrophe that encircled the world and helped precipitate the fall of the USSR. It is published by Simon & Schuster.

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Some articles referring to the event can be found here:

Chernobyl: The end of a three-decade experiment   • 14 February 2019 https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-47227767

Since the explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in 1986, an area of more than 4,000 square kilometres has been abandoned. That could be about to change, as Victoria Gill discovered during a week-long trip to the exclusion zone.

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Visiting Chernobyl 32 Years After the Disaster
https://www.theatlantic.com/photo/2018/04/visiting-chernobyl-32-years-after-the-disaster/559016/

On April 26, 1986, technicians conducting a test inadvertently caused the fourth reactor to explode. Several hundred staff members and firefighters then tackled a blaze that burned for 10 days and sent a plume of radiation around the world in the worst-ever civil nuclear disaster. More than 50 reactor and emergency workers were killed at the time. Authorities evacuated 120,000 people from the area, including 43,000 from the city of Pripyat. Below, recent images from Chernobyl and nearby ghost towns within the exclusion zone, as well as memorials held in Ukraine and Russia.

19 stunning photos show what the radioactive area inside the Chernobyl nuclear plant looks like 32 years after the explosion
Sarah Jacobs      Apr. 26, 2018,
https://www.businessinsider.com/photos-of-chernobyl-nuclear-disaster-zone-today-2018-4

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Chernobyl Today – The site of Chernobyl 30 years after
http://www.radioactivity.eu.com/site/pages/Chernobyl_Today.htm

CHERNOBYL: A MILLION CASUALTIES          http://www.envirovideo.com

Chernobyl Accident 1986
http://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/safety-and-security/safety-of-plants/chernobyl-accident.aspx

 

Rob Dunn – NEVER HOME ALONE

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More than ten years ago, scientists at North Carolina State University dared to go where few had gone before. They began to explore the biodiversity of backyards, bedrooms, belly buttons, and more. But they didn’t do it alone. The work required the collaboration of scientists at many other universities, as well as that of thousands of non-scientists around the world, including children, who helped to take samples, ask questions and even to think about new kinds of analyses. NEVER HOME ALONE: FROM MICROBES TO MILLIPEDES, CAMEL CRICKETS, AND HONEYBEES, THE NATURAL HISTORY OF WHERE WE LIVE, published by Basic Books, tells the big story of the tens of thousands of species discovered in our homes. It argues that, as often as not, more biodiversity in your home ends up being better than less.

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Rob Dunn is a biologist in the Department of Applied Ecology at North Carolina State University. Central to all of his work is the sense that big discoveries lurk not only in faraway tropical forests, but also in our homes and neighborhoods. His books include, EVERY LIVING THING; THE WILDLIFE OF OUR BODIES: PREDATORS, PARASITES AND PARTNERS THAT SHAPE WHO WE ARE TODAY; THE MAN WHO TOUCHED HIS OWN HEART; and NEVER OUT OF SEASON.robdunn.panel3_-1.jpg

You can find out more about his work at http://robdunnlab.com/

You can find out more about citizen science projects here:    http://yourwildlife.org/

Julian Brave Noisecat

Julian Brave NoiseCat is an enrolled member of the Canim Lake Band Tsq’escen in British Columbia. He is a graduate of Columbia University, and received a Clarendon Scholarship to study global and imperial history at the University of Oxford. He was formerly the native issues fellow at The Huffington Post. He writes for The Guardian, The Nation, The Paris Review, CBC, Vice, Pacific Standard, Dissent, Jacobin, Fusion, Indian Country Today, Salon, High Country News, Canadian Geographic, Frontier Magazine, World Policy Journal as well as other publications.

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Julian Brave NoiseCat, a contributing editor of the newly unveiled Indigenous Peoples Atlas of Canada, points on a giant map at a launch event in Toronto, Wednesday August 29, 2018. The Indigenous Peoples Atlas of Canada includes a four volume print atlas, an online atlas, an app, and a giant floor map. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Blinch)

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To find out more about the Tribal Canoe Journey for the 50th anniversary of  Alcatraz : https://www.canoejourney2019.com/

Here are links to articles referenced in this interview:

How a River Was Granted Personhood  https://www.theatlantic.com/video/index/587689/river-me/

His side of the story: Nathan Phillips wants to talk about Covington https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/feb/04/nathan-phillips-his-story-hate-division-covington

‘This is my home’: growing anger in Canada over projects on indigenous lands https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jan/11/canada-pipeline-indigenous-trudeau-treaty

Trans Mountain pipeline halted after Canadian court overturns approval https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/aug/30/trans-mountain-pipeline-latest-canada-court-overturns

The Polynesian Voyaging Society’s Hikianalia Journey to Californiahttps://bombmagazine.org/articles/the-polynesian-voyaging-societys-hikianalia-journey-to-california/

The Tribal Canoe Journey, an odyssey to reclaim tradition and territory   https://www.canadiangeographic.ca/article/tribal-canoe-journey-odyssey-reclaim-tradition-and-territory

After grisly murder, stop delaying passage of Savanna’s Act http://www.startribune.com/after-grisly-murder-stop-delaying-passage-of-savanna-s-act/503171711/

Missing and Murdered     http://www.frontier.is/missing-and-murdered/

Disruption Beyond Standing Rock    https://www.vanalen.org/stories/disruption-beyond-standing-rock/

Standing Rock inspired Ocasio-Cortez to run. That’s the power of protest https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/jan/14/standing-rock-ocasio-cortez-protest-climate-activism

Native Americans Take Power    http://inthesetimes.com/features/native-american-voters-government-political-revolution.html

Indigenous Struggle Is Key to a Green New Deal       https://truthout.org/articles/indigenous-struggle-is-key-to-a-green-new-deal/

Lauren E. Oakes – In Search of the Canary Tree

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IN SEARCH OF THE CANARY TREE: THE STORY OF A SCIENTIST, A CYPRESS, AND A CHANGING WORLD, published by Basic Books, chronicles the six years Lauren E. Oakes, PhD, spent beginning in 2010, as a young Stanford University scientist, doing doctoral research in South East Alaska, studying the mysterious die-back of ancient yellow cedar trees. Hers was a multi-disciplinary approach. In addition to the grueling field work studying thousand of trees, and countless other plants in the changing forests, she also interviewed local folks, including native Tlingit weavers, timber operators, other scientists, and just regular folks who enjoy the forests for recreation. There were many surprises along the way, which she shares with us in this interview.

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Mary Beth Pfeiffer – LYME: THE FIRST EPIDEMIC OF CLIMATE CHANGE

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Our guest on this edition of Forthright Radio is award winning investigative journalist, Mary Beth Pfeiffer. Her latest book is LYME: THE FIRST EPIDEMIC OF CLIMATE CHANGE (Island Press, 2018). Over the years, we have interviewed numerous guests on different aspects of Lyme Disease. None of them has gone into such depth, nor been so global in scope, nor addressed so critically and effectively the issues of, not only Lyme Disease, but other tick-borne diseases, of which there are an ever expanding number recognized – but as importantly, investigating the politics and economics of the science and medical guidelines, which have defied logic, common sense, medical ethics or compassion. As you will hear, there are elements of a darker age – some say, An Inquisition, in the current state of governmental, university and medical research, funding and protocols.

Mary Beth Pfeiffer has been an award-winning investigative journalist for three decades, who has specialized in social justice, environmental and health issues. In addition to her latest book, LYME: THE FIRST EPIDEMIC OF CLIMATE CHANGE, she is also author of Crazy in America: The Hidden Tragedy of Our Criminalized Mentally Ill, which is a critically acclaimed look at treatment of the mentally ill in prisons and jails in the United States.

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Borrelia burgdorferii’s corkscrew shape allows it to penetrate into heart muscle and to cross the blood-brain barrier, as well as other organs. Lyme carditis can be deadly, as are deaths by suicide of some Lyme sufferers.  And like that other “Great Imitator” spirochete, Syphilis, it can cross the placenta to infect the fetus, causing miscarriage and congenital health problems.

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Ixodes scapularis, the host of the Lyme spirochete, thrives in modern human altered environments and the warming, more humid weather patterns of climate change.lyme-disease-symptoms.png

Tick-borne diseases are on the rise in many parts of the world.

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Long lived for an arachnid, ticks need only  feed once during each of their life cycles, which may span 3 years. The Lyme spirochete actually increases the fertility, viability and longevity of the ticks. At least one tick species can reproduce without fertilization from males.

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Although the “bulls eye” rash, erythema migrans, is the only definitive symptom considered diagnostic for Lyme Disease, according to a CDC study of 150,000 cases, it appeared in only 69.2% of patients. What about the other 30%?

10 points about suing the architects of Lyme policy—as a task force meets to review it              https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/10-points-about-suing-the-architects-of-lyme-policy_us_5a2764bbe4b0650db4d40bb5

Lyme bug stronger than antibiotics in animals and test tubes. Now study people. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/lyme-bug-beats-antibiotics-in-animals-and-test-tubes_us_59fa4fdbe4b09afdf01c4023

David Quammen- The Tangled Tree: A Radical New History of Life

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I am delighted to welcome back to Forthright Radio, award winning author, journalist, David Quammen. He was our guest 5 years ago after his book, SPILLOVER: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic was published. His latest book, THE TANGLED TREE: A RADICAL NEW HISTORY OF LIFE, published by Simon & Schuster came out a couple of weeks ago. And lest you think this book, being about science – the research and theorizing –  isn’t something you’d be interested in – let me tell you, this recent research reveals just how bacteria become resistant to our most potent antibiotics so quickly and fatally to so many, or how Horizontal Gene Transfer not only allowed for evolution, but may explain how certain cancers develop – as well as questioning our most basic concepts of ourselves as a species and individuals. And this puts a new meaning on “Tree Huggers” and “Tree Cutters”.

David Quammen has won many awards for his books and magazine articles, including from the National Association of Science Writers, and the Society of Biology (UK) Book Award in General Biology. His work with National Geographic is particularly noteworthy, and has taken him on myriad, lengthy difficult treks, which distinguish him from most authors, such as chronicling J. Michael Fay’s 2,000 mile survey hike through the forests of Central Africa, The Megatransect.

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Charles Darwin speculated on the evolution of life as a tree, with “I think” written on top.

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A popular 20th century version based on Darwin’s idea of a tree of evolution. At least this one, doesn’t place humans explicitly above other species.

In the 20th century there has been  a tumultuous debate as to how best to characterize the concept of evolution. Is it a tree? Is it a web? Is it a net? A mosaic?

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In David Quammen’s book, Carl Woese’s work was crucial to the debate, pioneering molecular phylogenetics, using (at the time) dangerous, innovative techniques to study RNA as a basis to determine species and evolution.

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After demonstrating that there was a third “kingdom”, the Archaea,  different from Bacteria, Carl Woese proposed a new Tree of Life pictured above.d997044659f3d0b0579a70728d1553e7.jpgLynnMargulis, married Carl Sagan when she was 19. After bearing 2 sons with him, she moved on. She took her second husband’s name, Margulis while making her revolutionary mark on biology. After juggling the three jobs of scientist, mother and wife, she decided to forego that last job, wife.
Her work synthesized earlier ideas, which she coined, endosymbiosis, that organelles, crucial to more complex life forms – including humans – were based on “infective heredity” by bacteria, that established essential organelles such as mitochondria, chloroplasts and centrioles.

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