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.

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Selected Podcasts

The sound of spring


In the Northeast, one of the first signs of spring is the unmistakable calling of the spring peeper. While this small frog weighs only a few grams, its mating call is louder than that of many songbirds ten times its size.

Hydroelectric dams and carbon sequestration


One of the key ways of mitigating climate change is to keep carbon away from the atmosphere where it is found as carbon dioxide, a key greenhouse gas. Carbon that is stored in trees and other woody plants, in soils, and in the oceans is said to be sequestered.

Pharmaceuticals disrupt sensitive stream habitat


Pharmaceutical pollution is found in waters throughout the world. Causes include sewage overflows, aging infrastructure, and agricultural runoff. Even when waste water makes it to sewage treatment facilities, they aren't equipped to remove most pharmaceuticals.

Improving water, improving lives


Add water pollution to the list of ills suffered by under-served urban communities. Economically-depressed neighborhoods are hotspots for water contamination due to aging sewer and storm-water systems. Optimistically, a new study suggests that water cleaning and community greening can go hand-in-hand. 

The future of woodland pools


Woodland pools are temporary wetlands that provide important habitat to forest wildlife. They also help mitigate floods. While land development is a major threat to woodland pools, there are also subtle changes that undermine their health.



There are few creatures more deadly than the tiny Aedes aegypti mosquito, which transmits malaria, dengue fever and other infectious diseases.  Malaria is one of the world’s great killers, claiming about 800,000 lives each year.  We can, of course, drain wetlands and spray large areas with insecticides to kill these mosquitoes. 

rain puddle

Acid rain: Progress but not triumph


Though not in the news as much as it once was, acid rain remains a problem. Power plants, factories, and vehicles give off sulfur and nitrogen oxide emissions, which react in the atmosphere to form sulfuric and nitric acids. These acids are then deposited back onto the landscape in rain, snow, fog, or particles.

Fish have to eat


My colleague Emma Rosi-Marshall is an aquatic ecologist at the Cary Institute. One of her research projects involves an endangered fish called the humpback chub. She and her team spend a lot of time counting insects in the Colorado River downstream of the Glen Canyon Dam. You might think her time would be better spent counting the actual fish, but her approach will provide us with a lot more information.

Methane: The other greenhouse gas


Most of us are familiar with the idea that we need to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to prevent global warming. Methane is also a problem, and we hear about it much less frequently. But compared to carbon dioxide, methane's impact on climate change is some twenty times more powerful.

burmese python

Invasive species: good, bad, or neither?


When we hear about the devastation caused by invasive species like emerald ash borers and hemlock wooly adelgids, it is easy to believe that all invasives should be killed. But in fact many well established invasives have neutral or even positive qualities: witness the popular sport fish rainbow trout and large-mouth bass.

How dams can cause fish declines


The Glen Canyon Dam was the last big dam built in the United States. Spanning the Colorado River above the Grand Canyon, it provides hydropower for the region and regulates the flow of water. Until the dam was built, the river would experience spring floods during snowmelt followed by low flow in the summer, especially during drought years. Now water below the dam flows at about the same rate year-round.

Bad news for maple syrup and moose


Following an exhaustive review of more than fifty years of long term data on environmental conditions at the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, the results are clear: spring is advancing and fall is retreating.

Why should we care about one endangered fish?


The humpback chub is a rather homely fish that lives only in the Colorado River. It is federally listed as protected under the Endangered Species Act.

The Clean Water Act's 40th birthday


Just four decades ago Cleveland’s Cuyahoga River was known for its flammability. It, and countless other rivers, streams, and lakes were used as dumping grounds for sewage and commercial waste. 


Have deer gotten a false rap for Lyme disease?


It's commonly believed that Lyme disease risk is tied to the presence of deer ticks and white-tailed deer. But this simply isn't correct.


Earthworms are invading our forests


In the northeastern U.S., all earthworms are non-native. And they are damaging our forest habitats.

More wildlife diseases are making the leap to humans


Research has found that when humans modify the environment, fragmenting habitat and reducing species diversity, we are more likely to contract diseases normally confined to wildlife.

Not just hot summers, climate change will affect winter, too


Most people think about global warming during the dog days of summer. But temperatures are rising in the winter too, and that means less snow.

Are fish made of maple leaves?


Most of us learned about the aquatic food web in high school. Using a sealed aquarium, teachers explained that plants form the base of the web, with the organic carbon they create supporting aquatic life—from invertebrates to sport fish.

pearly mussel

Why should we care about freshwater mussels?


There were once three hundred species of mussels in the United States. They supplied food to Native Americans and people harvested them for pearls and for mother-of-pearl to make buttons. Now, hardly anyone eats freshwater mussels and buttons are mostly made of plastic.


Eavesdropping on your neighbors? Even the birds do it


Most of us use the sounds around our homes to take measure of our neighborhood—it's all part of the information we process about our surroundings.


Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies | Millbrook, New York 12545 | Tel (845) 677-5343

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