Produced in collaboration with WAMC Northeast Public Radio, Earth Wise focuses on raising awareness about the science that underpins environmental issues. New topics are featured daily, with coverage on climate change, energy, sustainable living, agriculture, and threats to air, water, and wildlife.

Airs Monday through Friday at 11:10 a.m. and 4:04 p.m. on WAMC.

Access the complete archive of Earth Wise podcasts:

Selected Podcasts

Acorns and Lyme disease


In New York's Hudson Valley, it's hard to go outside without stepping on an acorn. Oaks have 'boom and bust' acorn production cycles. In lean years, trees produce a handful of nuts. In boom years, acorns seem to rain down from the sky. 

Killer air


Globally, air pollution kills 3.3 million people per year. And this number could double to 6.6 million people by 2050 if little is done to decrease the dangerous levels of tiny particles, toxins, and ozone in the air.

The trouble with sustainability


Since its inception, sustainability has been human-centric. It came into vogue in 1987, with the publication of a UN report called Our Common Future, which defined sustainable development as: "Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."

Leave leaves alone


In natural ecosystems, there is little waste. Nutrients taken up by plants are returned to the soil when plants die and decompose. Ecologists call this nutrient loop a biogeochemical cycle.

Whine while you can


There are lots of potential impacts associated with global climate change – shifts in the distribution of plants are among them. Most plant species are adapted to a range of climate conditions. If the climate changes, their habitat can shift as well. This is true for crop and forestry plants, as well as native species.

Mercury and selenium pollution in the Grand Canyon


The Grand Canyon Reach of the Colorado River is breathtaking and remote. For hundreds of miles, the rugged landscape renders the river virtually inaccessible to people. Those intrepid enough to explore the area are treated to red rocks, blue skies, and meandering waters.

Plastic shopping bags: a modern blight


Single use plastic shopping bags are the norm at grocery stores, pharmacies, and big box retailers. They are also a familiar sight tumbling down roads, waving from trees, clogging storm drains, and polluting lakes, streams, rivers, and oceans.

Outsourcing our emissions


The average American is responsible for one of the largest carbon footprints in the world. Some 37% of our carbon emissions is associated with electricity generation; 33% stems from transportation – largely personal automobiles. The remaining 30% is attributed to industry, residential use, and agriculture.

Less beef


In the Northeast, grilling season is almost over. While many will miss backyard barbecues, it’s high time that we rethink the American summer ideal of a thick, juicy steak.

Getting the lead out


Lead. Romans made pipes out of it. Armies use it for bullets, artists and builders for paint. And, automotive engineers once added lead to gasoline to make engines run better. The problem: lead is toxic to humans.

Wikipedia and controversial science topics


Wikipedia is world's most popular online encyclopedia, the sixth most visited website in America, and a source most students rely on. But, according to a recent study, Wikipedia entries on politically controversial science topics can be especially unreliable.

Tech advances provide window into wildlife


Since the evolution of our earliest ancestors, people have looked to clues – such as footprints in the mud or rubs on trees – to gain insight into wildlife behavior.

Mosquito migration


Globally, there are more than 3,000 mosquito species, with around 150 native to the U.S. To many listeners – a mosquito is a mosquito. But depending on the species that bites you, mosquitoes can be a nuisance or a public health threat.

Nature: a natural stress-buster


If you've ever taken a walk outside to "clear your head," it turns out you were onto something. Scientists, doctors, and the average person have long known that time spent in nature can have de-stressing, mood-boosting effects. They just haven't been exactly sure why.

Street trees are good for us


Want to feel younger? Live on a street with more trees. That's the finding of University of Chicago researchers who studied the impact of street trees on the real and perceived health of residents of Toronto, Canada.

We need more free-range kids


Once-upon-a-time, kids were expected to amuse themselves outdoors. Today, fears of shady neighbors and bodily harm have led to a nation of parents who appear content to keep their kids inside, playing computer games, surfing the web, texting, and watching TV.

Biodiversity is good for us


There are many reasons to protect Earth's biodiversity. One of the more underrated is that disease incidence is lower when ecosystems support a variety of plants and animals.

Missing monarchs


We have talked about monarch butterflies before. The orange and black butterflies are often used in school lessons about insect ecology. Monarch caterpillars forage exclusively on milkweed; in the process they acquire foul-tasting chemicals that ward off predators. In late summer, monarchs living in the Eastern U.S. migrate to overwintering grounds in Mexico.

The case for mixed recycling


In the early days of recycling, people diligently sorted their waste, with bins for paper, plastic, aluminum, and glass. Comingled approaches are becoming more common. They require less effort, so more households comply.

Watch out for this weed!


Weeds are the bane of many a gardener's or landscaper's existence. They sprout up, uncontrolled and unwelcome, and must be tediously managed time and again. But some weeds are more than a nuisance – they rise to the level of a public health hazard. Such is the case with giant hogweed.

On the care of our common home


Religions are based on systems of faith, morals, and practice. Science is based on a system of theories, evidence, and hypothesis testing. Both are embedded in the structures of society where a convergence of beliefs and knowledge can often work together for a common social good.


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