Elsa Partan | CAI

Elsa Partan

Producer for Living Lab

Elsa Partan is a producer for Living Lab Radio. She first came to the station in 2002 as an intern and fell in love with radio. She is a graduate of Bryn Mawr College and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. From 2006 to 2009, she covered the state of Wyoming for the NPR member station Wyoming Public Media in Laramie. She was a newspaper reporter at The Mashpee Enterprise from 2010 to 2013. She lives in Falmouth with her husband and two daughters.

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Artificial Intelligence Can Help Fight Climate Change

Nov 17, 2019
Artificial intellegence could assist in making farming more efficient.
Don Graham, https://tinyurl.com/uksmlzb

Climate change is complicated. Every part of our daily lives can play a role in causing it, from electricity, to transportation, the homes we live in, the food we eat, even the healthcare services we rely on. And all of those aspects of our lives are also affected by climate change.

starmanseries, https://tinyurl.com/wroj2ug

We've known for some time that, on average, women are most comfortable at room temperatures that are slightly higher than what men prefer.

Now, for the first time, researchers have looked into how differing preferences play out, that is, how men and women view the decision-making process around setting the thermostat. Interestingly, women in the study tended to see the interactions as conflicts, while men said that there was agreement or compromise. 

Dr. Jennifer Orme-Zavaleta, EPA Science Advisor and Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator for Science, testified before the House Science, Space and Technology Committee.
Public Domain

A proposed rule change at the EPA is back in the news almost a year and a half after it was first proposed – and met with strong pushback from the science community. It’s called the “Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science Rule,” and members of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee heard testimony on the proposal this week.

Living Lab Radio: November 17, 2019

Nov 17, 2019
Nick Youngson, Alpha Stock Images / CC BY-SA 3.0

"That's the kind of backdrop for me in terms of thinking about science, is to think about the risks of rejecting science that's true versus the risks of accepting science that's false. And I argue that in our current world, with the threat of climate change bearing down upon us, the risk of ignoring what scientists are telling us is very, very grave indeed." - Naomi Oreskes

White nose syndrome is a fungus that affects several bat species.
NPS photo/von Linden / Public Domain

In 2007, a mysterious disease killed thousands of bats in a handful of caves in upstate New York. The culprit, dubbed white nose syndrome, was soon found to be a fungus, Pseudogymnoascus destructans, that thrives in cold, dark, humid environments and can kill entire bat colonies.

Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska
Glacier Bay National Park

The Trump administration has begun the formal process of withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement. It’s against that backdrop that more than 11,000 scientists from 153 countries have signed a letter declaring a climate emergency.

How Whales Help The Ocean Breathe

Nov 10, 2019
Peter van der Sluijs, Wikicommons

A new analysis finds that each great whale in the ocean is worth $2 million. Not only because they are the source of tourism revenue, but because they are an important part of enabling the ocean to produce more food and store more carbon.

Vaping360.com/flickr / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Electronic cigarettes have been widely perceived as safer than conventional combustion cigarettes. But more than two thousand cases of lung injury and three dozen deaths associated with vaping have called that assessment into question.

Living Lab Radio: November 10, 2019

Nov 10, 2019
Wildfire near Tok, Alaska in 2015.
Sherman Hogue/Fort Wainwright PAO / Public Domain

"If I discovered that the toothpaste you're using was causing pancreatic cancer, and I just published in a journal - I didn't say anything about it - I just wouldn't be doing my duty and obligation. It's just troubling the way people feel that if you raise the alarm about climate change, well, you're no longer a scientist; you're an advocate. Well, we're also members of society. And we know we have special knowledge that not everyone has and we feel an obligation to share it. " - Bill Moomaw

This week on Living Lab Radio:

  • Veteran climate scientist Bill Moomaw co-authored a study signed by more than 11,000 researchers declaring a climate emergency that could cause "untold suffering" without urgent action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The study outlines six action areas and provides a dashboard of metrics for gauging progress.

There are more than 20,000 pieces of debris larger than a softball orbiting the Earth.

Space exploration and space technology have led to improvements here on Earth. We wrap runners in space blankets at finish lines. Memory foam that once protected astronauts is now found in many of our pillows and mattresses.

The Outer Space Treaty of 1967 says that, “the exploration and use of outer space should be carried on for the benefit of all people, irrespective of their degree of economic or scientific development.”

But of course, that hasn't necessarily been the reality. Danielle Wood wants to change that.

Estimates of land at risk of annual flooding given unchecked greenhouse gas emissions and moderate sea level rise projections. Left panel reflects legacy elevation data; right panel is based on CoastalDEM v1.1 estimates derived from satellite data correct

As greenhouse gases build up in the atmosphere, the planet gets hotter, land-based ice melts, and warming ocean water expands. The result is sea level rise. A lot of scientific effort has gone into projecting how quickly and how high ocean waters will rise. But the ocean is only half the equation when it comes to the threat of sea level rise, and an update to the land side of the equation has dramatically increased the estimated number of people at risk.

A Look At The Arctic, Close-Up

Nov 3, 2019
Chris Linder

The Arctic is warming faster than any other part of the planet.

As the permafrost thaws and the tundra burns, it is releasing powerful greenhouse gases that further accelerate warming.

Since the permafrost holds three times as much carbon as all the world’s forests combined, what’s happening in the Arctic is one of the most important aspects of climate change. It’s also one of the least understood.   

Living Lab Radio: November 3, 2019

Nov 3, 2019
Fall foliage in Acadia National Park in 2016.
Tony Webster/flickr / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/

“Leaves are green to begin with because they make chlorophyll, and what chlorophyll does is it turns CO2 into the oxygen that we love and the sugar that they need to survive. Once the days start getting shorter and the temperatures start to cool down, they stop that chlorophyll production. And what happens is then that green pigment breaks down, and the oranges and yellows that have been there the whole time – we can actually see them.” - Stephanie Spera

Taming Uncertainty

Oct 27, 2019
NMK Photography, https://tinyurl.com/y44ut8jn

You’ve heard the old Benjamin Franklin quote that nothing can be said to be certain except death and taxes.

But there is actually quite a lot that’s uncertain about both death and taxes. And about everything else.

Why Cleaning Can Really Help Reduce Flu Transmission

Oct 27, 2019
Cleaning counters and keyboards can remove flu virus, which can survive well there, a study suggests.

Seema Lakdawala, University of Pittsburgh and Linsey Marr, Virginia Tech

Leer en español.

Influenza, or flu, viruses cause about 200,000 hospitalizations every year in the U.S. Annual seasonal vaccination is our best line of defense, but in recent years, it has become clear that mismatches in the vaccine can limit its effectiveness.

These Machines Could Turn Back The Carbon Clock

Oct 27, 2019
The Climeworks direct-air capture plant in Switzerland pulls carbon dioxide out of the air, which is then used to grow vegetables in a nearby greenhouse.

A carbon-neutral world by 2050: that’s what climate scientists have said is necessary to avert the worst impacts of climate change. That, of course, means dramatically reducing greenhouse emissions.

But people are beginning to acknowledge that hitting goals like those set in the Paris climate accord will also require pulling carbon out of the atmosphere that’s already there. In fact, such carbon capture technologies are a key part of many climate change scenarios.

From breakthroughs in computing to a new Ebola research program in Japan, senior physical sciences reporter Davide Castelvecchi of Nature News explains some of the top science stories of recent weeks:

Living Lab Radio: October 28, 2019

Oct 27, 2019
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay / https://pixabay.com/service/license/

"We really think that carbon isn't necessarily a bad thing; it's just in the wrong place. In our atmosphere, it causes these impacts that are really detrimental to our society. But carbon is really all in the world around us. And we can actually capture that carbon and harness it in our soils, use it to power industries and build our buildings and restore our forests.

New Approaches To Climate Change Communication

Oct 20, 2019
Elsa Partan

Think climate change is too serious to joke about? Consider this.

With each new scientific report, the situation seems more dire. But the social and political will to address the issue has lagged.

The 1890 Census Helped Grow Computing

Oct 20, 2019
Herman Hollerith's census card reader machine.
U.S. Census

The 2020 census is going digital. We recently brought you a story of how this technological innovation could lead to undercounting Native Americans who live on tribal land.

Today, we’re flipping that equation and rather than looking at how computer technology is affecting the census, we’re asking how the census has affected the development of computer technology.

U.S. Air Force photo, Anthony Nin Leclerec, https://tinyurl.com/yy6quhsp

Aquaculture is currently the third-most lucrative fishery in New England after lobster and scallops. Oysters and, increasingly, kelp, are two of the most commonly grown.

Now, a new study says aquaculture could also be an important way to address issues like nutrient pollution and habitat loss. In fact, the study found that New England’s waters are among the top 20 locations in the world with the greatest opportunities for restorative aquaculture.

Michelle@TNS, https://tinyurl.com/y2j54uub

For years, the advice has been the same – for a healthy heart, eat less red meat. And then, two weeks ago, an international panel of scientists released a review of the science that they said overturned the prevailing wisdom. In fact, they said it was based on poor-quality science and that eating red meat didn’t make a significant difference.

Living Lab Radio: October 20 & 21, 2019.

Oct 20, 2019
Mike, https://tinyurl.com/y2bg5avq

  • For years, the advice has been the same – for a healthy heart, eat less red meat. And then, two weeks ago, an international panel of scientists released a review of the science that they said overturned the prevailing wisdom. In fact, they said it was based on poor-quality science and that eating red meat didn’t make a significant difference.

That study has garnered lots of headlines and sparked plenty of criticism and controversy. Scott Lear says that high-profile disagreement and conflicting advice could do more harm than any specific recommendation.

The Optimist's Telescope

Oct 13, 2019

Author Bina Venkataraman understands very well the temptation to keep doing what we’ve always done, even if we’re pretty sure it’s not the best approach. She’s done it herself.

A few years ago, she was hiking in the Hudson Valley in New York just north of New York City, a place she knew was loaded with Lyme disease. She didn’t wear tick repellent. And even when she found a rash on the back of her leg, she didn’t do anything about it.

“It didn't look like the telltale bulls eye you associate with a tick bite,” she said.