Heather Goldstone | WCAI

Heather Goldstone

Science Editor and Host of Living Lab

Heather Goldstone is science editor at WCAI and host of Living Lab on The Point, a weekly show exploring how science gets done and makes its way into our daily lives. Goldstone holds a Ph.D. in ocean science from M.I.T. and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and spent a decade as researcher before leaving the lab to pursue journalism. She has reported extensively on Woods Hole’s unique scientific community and key environmental issues on Cape Cod. Her stories have appeared in outlets ranging from Cape Cod Times and Commercial Fishery News to NPR and PBS News Hour. Most recently, Goldstone hosted Climatide.org, an NPR-sponsored blog exploring present-day impacts of climate change on coastal life.

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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.

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.

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.

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.   

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

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.

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.

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:

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.

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.