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Living Lab Radio: September 22 and 23, 2019.

The North Atlantic right whale population has a chance at recovery if entanglement & ship strikes can be avoided.
NOAA Photo Library
North Atlantic right whale

Living Lab Radio for September 22 and 23, 2019.

  • Right whale conservationists have ended up exactly where they didn’t want to be – in an escalating battle between lobstermen and scientists.

North Atlantic right whales are critically endangered. There are only about 400 remaining, and numbers are falling. Entanglement in fishing gear is the leading cause of death and in April this year, a broad group of stakeholders agreed to new commitments to reduce the amount of rope in coastal waters with the aim of cutting right whale deaths by at least sixty percent.
But the Maine Lobstermen’s Association has since withdrawn its support. Public officials from Maine have chimed in, demanding science-based policies. Meanwhile, more than a dozen scientists have signed a letter asserting that the April agreement was based on the best science available. We talk to Fred Bever, a reporter who’s been covering this issue for Maine Public Radio. 

  • Government officials have warned people to avoid e-cigarettes after several people have died and hundreds of otherwise healthy people have ended up in emergency rooms across the country with lung damage that appears to be linked to vaping.

The illness has been dubbed “mysterious,” but new research may help explain what’s going on. A study exposing mice to some of the chemicals used in e-cigarettes resulted in similar lung damage.
We talk to Farrah Kheradmand, Professor of Pulmonary Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, and the senior author on that newly published work.

  • It’s officially fall, and temperatures have turned cooler but one unwelcome part of summer continues to linger – and that’s the risk of the mosquito-borne EEE virus.

Massachusetts state officials this past week confirmed an eighth case of EEE in the Commonwealth, and one person died from the virus in August. There have also been cases – and fatalities - from EEE in Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Michigan.
While EEE infections are rare, they can be deadly. And the risk will continue until there is a hard frost to kill off mosquitos.

We talk to Tonya Colpitts, Assistant Professor of Microbiology at Boston University, to talk through what we know about this unusual virus.

  • Climate change is real, it’s human-caused, and it will affect everyone. But the impacts will vary from place to place and person to person. And, already, there are major disparities in climate impacts. Women are disproportionately impacted, as are those with limited financial resources.

Theoretically, that means that policies aimed at limiting climate change should disproportionately benefit those people. But that’s not always the case. For example, market-based solutions that might result in increased energy prices are a disproportionate burden for those already at a financial disadvantage.
The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative – or RGGI - is a carbon cap-and-trade program for the energy sector. There are currently nine member states in the northeast and mid-Atlantic. And many of those states also have other climate policies and programs in place.

Recently, researchers decided to see whether and how RGGI states are addressing the issue of equity.

We talk to Jeanne Herb is the Executive Director of the Environmental Analysis & Communications Group at Rutgers University, and lead author on the new report.

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Elsa Partan is a producer and newscaster with CAI. 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.