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Living on Earth


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.

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.


Cambridge, MA




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.




20 Holland Street Suite 408 Somerville, MA 02144-2749 1-800-218-9988


Amazon Near Climate Tipping Point, Indigenous People and Forest Care, Deep Time Reckoning: How Future Thinking Can Help Earth Now, and more

New research confirms that the damaged Amazon rainforest is now a net contributor to climate change overall, and parts of the Amazon are showing signs of nearing a crucial “tipping point”. But there is hope for protecting the forest: Indigenous people have taken care of these forests for millennia, and now with the help of a nonprofit they’re using GPS data to take a stand against illegal deforestation. Also, many of us are fixated on the now, and in fact much of the environmental damage we...


The Troubling Decline in Fertility, Chemicals and Hormone Havoc, Winning a Fight Against Plastic Bags and more

Over the past four decades, sperm counts have dropped by more than 50% in the US, and female fertility is also declining. Some chemicals that disrupt hormones are key culprits, including those found in plastics, cosmetics and fracking solutions. Why this looming fertility crisis hits vulnerable communities especially hard. Also, a recent study finds the toxic class of chemicals called PFAS, also known as “forever chemicals”, is widespread in lipstick, mascara, and other cosmetics. The ugly...


Ocean Warming Speeding Up, Oyster Shell Recycling, Secrets of the Whales and more

Recent data show the Earth’s oceans are warming much more rapidly than previously reported. That means rising sea levels, stronger storms, and more intense droughts. Also, fertilizer runoff can create massive algae blooms in water that suck up oxygen and create dead zones for most other forms of life. The Chesapeake Bay is particularly vulnerable but restaurants in Pittsburgh are pitching in to help. And a documentary miniseries seeks to unravel the secrets of whale behavior and understand...


DNA Barcoding for Quick Species ID, Ubuntu and Unity for Healing, The Butterfly Effect and more

Roughly 1.3 million species have been identified and recorded, but that’s just a fraction of life on our planet. A recent advancement known as DNA barcoding samples small but key parts of genomes to ID species. Also, the U.S. is extremely divided in many ways, from politics to race to wealth. But for a model of unity, we might look to the African concept of Ubuntu as a way to heal the many broken relationships in America. And insects far outnumber us on this planet, and they’ve shaped the...


Line 3 Pipeline Threatens Native Way of Life, Oil Leasing in Court, Plastic Waste Suppliers and more

Activists are ramping up actions against the Line 3 pipeline, which would carry tar sands oil through delicate wetlands and the treaty territory of the Anishinaabe peoples in northern Minnesota. And while that oil would be coming from Canada, President Biden is hoping he can use his executive power to pause oil and gas leasing on U.S. public lands and waters like the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. But this is being challenged in the courts. Also, increasingly the oil and gas we extract...


Celebrating Juneteenth, Farming While Black and more

Juneteenth and African Foodways / One in Five Deaths from Fossil Fuels / Redlined Real Estate and Extreme Urban Heat / Why I Wear Jordans in the Great Outdoors / Farming While Black: A Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land June 19th marks the holiday known as Juneteenth, when African Americans gather to celebrate emancipation of ancestors from slavery with picnics and cook outs. The voyage from Africa isn't often on people's minds, but it is in their stomachs, by way of the foodways from...


The Golden State Going Greener, The Ev Rx, Roadside Pollinator Havens and more

The Golden State Going Greener / Beyond the Headlines / The First All-Electric Ford Pickup / The EV RX / Backup: African Elephant and Chacma Baboon / Running Buffalo Clover / Roadsides as Vital Habitat California has often led the nation in environmental ambition, and now that his state finds itself with a big budget surplus Governor Gavin Newsom wants to invest 14 billion of it in climate initiatives, with a focus on vulnerable communities. We catch up with Jared Blumenfeld, California...


Exxon's New Board and Climate, Brazilian Enviro Officials Accused of Profiting From Illegal Deforestation, Katherine Johnson and One Step Further and More!

Corruption In Brazilian Government / The G7 Gears Up to Talk Climate / Climate Activists Take Board Seats at Exxon / Beyond the Headlines / One Step Further: The Story of Katherine Johnson Brazil's environment minister and nine other government officials face allegations of corruption, including profiting from illegal deforestation in the Amazon. But despite public criticism, the Brazilian government continues to endanger the environment. Also, climate activists take three seats on...


Climate and Infrastructure, Youth Climate Plaintiffs Try Again, Mark Bittman’s “Animal, Vegetable, Junk”, and more

Climate and Infrastructure / Beyond the Headlines / Youth Climate Plaintiffs Try Again / Audio Postcard: Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica / "Animal, Vegetable Junk" President Joe Biden's proposed $2 trillion infrastructure bill presents a rare opportunity to pass climate legislation through Congress. But it won't be easy and will require lots of political maneuvering. Also, back in 2015 a group of young people sued the United States for failing to protect the climate and therefore their rights to...


Brood X Emerges!, Cicada Cuisine, Rescuing the Planet, and more

EPA Updates Signs of Climate Change / Beyond the Headlines / Rescuing the Planet / "Fight Card": Elk at Jasper National Park in Alberta, Canada / Brood X Emerges! / Cicada Cuisine Brood X is here at last: trillions of cicadas, underground for the last 17 years, are emerging in numerous Eastern and Midwestern states to transform, sing, and mate. Many will become a meal for birds, raccoons, squirrels and more. Also, eating cicadas isn't just for the birds. Insects are rich in proteins and...


Youth Activists Win Stronger Climate Action in Germany, Elizabeth Kolbert’s "Under a White Sky", The Colorado River's Shrinking Water Supply and more

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...


Fixing America’s Water Crises, Gardening for Abundance and Generosity, Secrets of the Whales and more

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...


Methane and Swift Climate Action, Getting Bushmeat Off the Table, Beloved Beasts: Fighting for Life in an Age of Extinction, and more

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...


The Way Forward For People And Our Planet: An Earth Day Special

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...


Biden's Climate Summit, "Stooping" Turns Trash to Treasure, Poetry In the Time of Climate Trouble, and more

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...


Why I Wear Jordans in the Great Outdoors, Cactus and Snow in the Desert Sky Islands, The Wonders of Spring Migration, and more

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...


Restoring Life in the Oceans, Boosting US Wind Power, Tips for the Casual Gardener and more

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...


[Broadcast] Damaged Amazon Adds To Global Warming; Prehistoric Magnetic Flip Shook Up Life On Earth; Birch, Beech And Other Unusual Syrups; and more

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...


[Broadcast] One In Five Deaths From Fossil Fuels, Families Sickened By Fracking, Carbon Bomb Fridges and more

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...


[Broadcast] Warming Planet Slows Ocean Currents, 30x30 to Save Species, Regenerative Farming for Soil Health and more

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,...