RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC – The Burroughs Wellcome Fund and the Rita Allen Foundation partnered to support the Science Friday Initiative’s Local Voices, Local Impact: Public Health Stories from the Front Lines of Climate Change program. The project sought to bring local climate-caused health issues to national awareness by blending highly skilled multimedia science reporting with a community-level focus to bring to help empower the communities to tell their story.
“This project aligned nicely with our efforts in climate change and science communications,” said BWF CEO and President Dr. Louis Muglia. “We are honored to have partnered with the Rita Allen Foundation to work with Science Friday.”
For the past three decades, Science Friday and host Ira Flatow and staff have engaged with listeners on the broad topic of science. For Local Voices, Local Impact six radio segments and two podcast specials were produced. Each segment and podcast special featured a written article accompanying the segment as well as a segment transcript on sciencefriday.com.
Each segment aired on Science Friday and reached 1.8 million listeners on more than 425 stations and through digital listenership across the United States and beyond.
Radio Segment 1: Local Communities Spar Over Minnesota Oil Pipeline
Date aired: August 6, 2021
Science Friday partnered with Minnesota Public Radio and Indian Country Today on this segment to discuss Minnesota’s controversial oil pipeline which is under construction. After months of lawsuits, protests, and arrests in northern Minnesota, Canadian energy company Enbridge, Inc., says the Line 3 replacement pipeline, is necessary to improve the safety of an aging pipeline.
In 1991, Line 3 ruptured, causing the largest inland oil spill in the United States. The new pipeline will be both higher capacities and follow a different route past lakes, rivers, and other state waters. But during a severe state-wide drought, the pipeline’s construction process requires the company to temporarily pump tens of millions of gallons of groundwater. Meanwhile, drilling ﬂuids have been spilled at least once into a nearby river.
Radio Segment 2: Latinos In The West Are Twice As Likely To Be Affected By Wildﬁres
Date Aired: August 6, 2021
Ira Flatow spoke with Currently’s editor-in-chief Abbie Veitch to report on a California housing crisis, mixed with the location of farm work and frontline jobs that attract Latino residents, particularly migrant workers, have put the community at greater risk of being impacted by wildﬁres.
Radio Segment 3: The Hot And Cold Past Of The Air Conditioner
Date Aired: October 8, 2021
This segment, produced by Elah Feder, in collaboration with St. Louis Public Radio’s Shahla Farzan, examined air conditioning during a time of unusual autumn heat. Widely considered one of the greatest engineering achievements of the 20th century, technology has transformed how and where people live—and it’s prevented countless deaths. Costs were examined and discussed how to keep up with a warming climate and other ways to stay cool.
Radio Segment 4: On Long Island, A Tribal Nation Faces Growing Pressures
Date Aired: October 15, 2021
The Hamptons on Long Island are known as a mansion-lined escape for wealthy New Yorkers. But the area is also home to the Native residents of the Shinnecock Tribal Nation. An estimated 1,500 Shinnecock members are left in the U.S., and about half live on the Nation’s territory on Long Island. As with the rest of the island, Shinnecock Nation is extremely vulnerable to climate change. Receding shorelines threaten to eat up three-quarters of its territory by 2050, adding to the existing threat of development from the Hamptons.
This issue of climate change and its impacts around Long Island is the subject of the new podcast, “Higher Ground,” from WSHU Public Radio in Fairﬁeld, Connecticut. One story is that of Tela Troge, Shinnecock tribal sovereignty attorney and kelp farmer, who lives on Shinnecock territory in Long Island. Tela talked to Ira about seeing climate change and development affect Shinnecock land with her own eyes, and her venture into kelp farming as a tool for nitrogen sequestration.
Radio Segment 5: As Wildﬁre Intensity Rises, So Does The Human Toll Of Blazes
Date Aired: November 12, 2021
In partnership with KVPR, Science Friday worked with the team that produces Kerry Klein’s podcast Escape From Mammoth Pool, from Valley Public Radio. They collaborated on radio storytelling about the 2020 Creek Fire, which was one of the largest in California state history.
Radio Segment 6: Tribal Concerns Grow As Water Levels Drop In The Colorado River Basin
Date Aired: December 10, 2021
Science Friday worked with Colorado Public Radio to repurpose a story originally investigated and reported on by journalist Michael Elizabeth Sakas. In the story they explored the topic of water access to Native Americans. Native American households are 19 times more likely to lack piped water services than white households, according to a report from the Water & Tribes Initiative. The data also show Native American households are more likely to lack piped water services than any other racial group. Leaders of tribes who depend on the Colorado River say the century-old agreement on managing a resource vital to 40 million people across the West is a major factor fueling these and other water inequalities.
Yet collectively, they own rights to about a quarter of the water that ﬂows through the Colorado River — a share that exceeds what some states have and includes legally superior senior water claims. They explore the causes, including water rights policies, and the health concerns Native Americans are facing as a result.
Two podcast specials were produced: a 40-minute documentary on air conditioning (and the need for alternate cooling in a warming planet), as well as a 20-minute special about California’s worsening wildﬁre season and a particularly dramatic rescue during a ﬁre in the Sierra Nevada mountains.
“The Hot and Cold Past of the Air Conditioner” – https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/history-air-conditioner/
“As Wildfire Intensity Rises, So Does The Human Toll Of Blazes” – https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/fires-west-climate-change/
BWF underwriting credit – https://drive.google.com/file/d/19RUQgP5HVwjuM5NiJ57oeJo9ZkzZTIXL/view