Posts Tagged ‘npr’

polluting your backyard

No one wants pollution spewing into the air, waterways, or land near where they live. Yet with chemicals and substances that are naked to the human eye, how can you know with any certainty what is who or what is polluting your backyard? Thank heavens for the Internet and crowdsourcing. With the help of modern technology, scientists, and advocates across the world, you have access to the information you need to monitor your home habitat.

Poisoned Places- NPR and their Poisoned Places series has created an interactive map that allows the user to see how polluted their neck of the woods has become. They take their aggregate data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: the Clean Air Act watch list, the Air Facility System (AFS), the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) and the Risk Screening Environmental Indicators model (RSEI).

Superfund Sites Where you Live- The EPA allows you to find out if you are living next to a Superfund Site, or an area where pollutants or hazardous waste is located. The site also allows you see how the cleanups are progressing and access community resources that help educate and involve residents in the restoration of their neighborhoods.

Landsat Satellite Images- Pictures have the power to express what data sheets, charts, and tables are unable to infer. Google Landsat takes satellite images from space and through timelapse photography creates videos that chronicle urban development, climate change, and environmental destruction. Time magazine has compiled several of the most stunning pieces on their website.

Ventus: Developed by researchers at Arizona State University, Ventus is a computer game that uses crowdsourcing to track CO2 pollution from power plants across the world. Users are able to enter information as to the size, capacity, and output of each facility in a competition to win top honors from the website’s founders. In addition to identifying the new plants springing up around the globe, Ventus can be used as a tool by policy makers and scientists looking to reform energy infrastructure.

U.S. NRC – Chances are if you live near a nuclear power facility, you are already aware of your radioactive neighbor. The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission offers several interactive maps that show the locations of nuclear power plants, waste storage and materials facilities.


I may be from the TV and Internet generation, but when it comes to the topic science, I am snuggled up next to my radio like it was the newest piece of sparklingly modern technology.  Radio has had to step up its game in the past several decades in order to remain competitive amongst other forms of media.  Broadcasts dealing with complex subjects must be engaging enough to grasp the listener’s attention while also being presented in a clear enough manner that ideas are understood without producing that glazed over look so common in academic lecture halls.  Add in the task of making difficult and sometimes abstract topics relevant and entertaining, and you have an idea of the challenges radio faces.  With this understanding, I am in awe of these amazingly creative shows that keep me informed and curious about the natural world, grappling with the ethical impacts of new inventions, and enlightened as to the workings of the universe.

Radiolab- Fans of This American Life will fall in love with Radiolab, a podcast that explores the intersection of science, art, and human life.  Each episode deals with a central theme that is explored through story, anecdotes from history, and testimonials from researchers and field experts.  The hosts keep a conversational dialogue throughout the pieces, provoking a million questions to consider and keeping the tone lighthearted and inquisitive.  The soundscape is as compelling as the narratives, and aid in stimulating the listener’s imagination.  Personal favorite episodes concern themselves with the nature of moral behavior, parasites, and the accidents and unintended consequences of experimentation. Download or listen to the archives of podcasts online for free.

Talk of the Nation Science Friday- Every week, Talk of the Nation takes a break in its discussions of politics and popular culture to explore the newest achievements in science and technology.  Science Friday stays on top of the most relevant questions that society is currently grappling with, such as energy consumption and global warming, as well as the more quirky and diverting internet memes and tales of the weird.  Guests lead conversations alongside host, Ira Flatlow every 1-2pm ET, and take questions from listeners across the country.  Tune into your local NPR station for a dose of intelligent dialogue and insight from some of the brightest minds of their discipline.

99% Invisible- Roman Mars, the host of 99% Invisible, is fascinated with the small and almost unnoticeable elements of design and architecture that we encounter each day.  From the clicks and buzzes engineered for soundless electronic devices to graffiti tags etched into the sidewalks of San Francisco, the program explores the intentions and backgrounds of what many of us take for granted.  Another Public Radio production, you can listen to these short, beautifully produced accounts of the physical world on demand and free of charge.