Harr, Jonathan: Toxic Water, A Book

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A Civil Action

Water, a necessary element to our survival is expected to be pure, safe and clean when it comes into our home. When it is polluted, the results can be extreme. The people in the town of Woburn, Massachusetts, just west of Boston, had an unusually high rate of cancer in the early 1970s. The town’s water was contaminated with industrial pollutants. Several children and adults became very sick and some died. Their families sued the polluters in the U.S. Federal Court. Jonathan Harr, a non-fiction writer, followed the process and wrote a book telling the story of what happened. He called it, “A Civil Action.” A movie, also called “A Civil Action,” was based on the book and released at the end of 1998. I spoke by phone with Jonathan Harr, from his home in Massachusetts, a month after the movie was released and asked him how he was able to capture what occurred and create “A Civil Action.”

Originally Broadcast: February 2, 1999

Norse, Elliott: Trawling the Ocean Floor

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Once, fishes as big as turkeys and sheep swam the seas. Now, most of their few remaining descendants would fit into a frying pan. Dr. Elliot A. Norse, president of the Marine Biology Conservation Institute in Redmond, Washington, believes that this radical reduction in the size and number of the world’s fishes comes not only from over fishing, the catching of fish at a faster rate than they can breed, but also from bottom trawling. Dr. Norse writes that bottom trawling crushes, buries, and exposes marine creatures like lobsters, crustaceans, clams, corals and sponges that live on or in the seabed, damaging or killing them. In August of 1999, Dr. Norse visited with Radio Curious to discuss the effects of bottom trawling, how and where it’s done, and some of the concerns and causes of global warming and the effects it has on the oceans.

Elliott Norse recommends “The Song of the Dodo: Island Biogeography in an Age of Extinction” by David Quammen.

Originally Broadcast: November 27, 1998

Del Castillo, Dennis & Lu, Mercedes: Peruvian Environmental Issues

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In this edition of Radio Curious, we visit Dennis del Castillo and Mercedes Lu, two environmental activists from Peru. I met with them in Lima, Peru on February 5th, 1998. Dennis del Castillo, who holds a Ph.D. from Mississippi State University in soil science and in this interview describes contemporary environmental problems in the Peruvian Amazon Basin. In the second half of this program we visit with Mercedes Lu, a scientific technician, who described some of the problems resulting from copper mining that occurs along the coast of southern Peru. We began our conversation when I asked Dennis del Castillo to describe the potential of the Peruvian Amazon Basin.

Dennis del Castillo recommends “The Losing Ground,” by Erik P. Eckholm.

Originally Broadcast: April 3, 1998

Lappe, Marc: Roadside Spraying, For Better or Worse

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Spraying of herbicides to kill weeds and/or plants that are considered by some to be pests is a phenomenon of the 20th century. These sprays, in many cases, pollute the water we use in our homes; they destroy and sometimes permanently alter not only the growth cycle of what we are intending to kill, but also other plants, animals, and sometimes people. Dr. Marc Lappe was a widely recognized Ph.D. toxicologist who has studied the effects of the use of the sprays. He was the founder and a director of The justify for Ethics and Toxics, located in Gualala, California. He was also the former director of the California State Hazard Evaluation System. He’s been a fellow at the Hastings justify for the Study of Bioethics in New York, published 112 articles and eleven books on the subject of toxicology. Dr. Marc Lappe died in May, 2005.

www.cetos.org

Marc Lappe recommends “Break Out, ” by Dr. Marc Lappe.

Originally Broadcast: February 5, 1997

Coy, Gary: The Man Driving the Dog Team

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There is strong historical and anthropological evidence that dogs came across the Bering land bridge with people migrating from Siberia to Alaska. These dogs worked hard to maintain their keep; they werent pets. Instead, they chased and ran down polar bears and located seals hiding beneath the Bering ice. One of the early dog professionals in Alaska was Harry Karstens, who later became the first superintendent of Mount McKinley National Park. As a young man, he pioneered a dog sled route from Fairbanks to Valdez, and hauled mail to the Katishna mining district. Now, at Denali National Park in central Alaska, theres a breeding and training and leadership program for these sled dogs. I spoke with Gary Coy, the director of this remarkable kennel. In his office there is a large sign quoting Harry Karstens. It says: A man driving a dog team is the biggest dog himself. Amid the noise and the chatter of the dog kennels in Denali Park, I asked Gary to explain what that sign means and to tell us a little about this wonderful project.

Gary Coy recommends A Dog-Puncher on the Yukon, by Arthur Walden.

Originally Broadcast: August 28, 1996

Cheek, Laura: At Home in Glacier Bay

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Some of the most studied glaciers in the world are found in Glacier Bay National Park located in southeastern Alaska. These expansive ice sheets cover approximately ten percent of the earth’s surface and hold eighty percent of the world’s fresh water, ninety-nine percent of which can be found in Greenland and Antarctica. Due to gravity’s pull, glaciers shape and scour the landscape moving land and vegetation great distances as they slowly slide downward toward the sea. This glacial movement has created rich farmland, vast deposits of gravel and sand, and concentrated valuable metals, depending on where they glaciers have traveled. Glaciers also create deep valleys and fjords, like the kind seen in Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska. Laura Cheek was a national park ranger at Glacier Bay National Park in 1996 when this program was recorded. As part of her job, she boarded tour ships in Glacier Bay to discuss glaciers, what they’re like and how they’re formed.

Laura Cheek recommends “The Island Within,” by Richard Nelson.

Originally Broadcast: August 14, 1996

Koponen, Niilo Ph.D.: North to Alaska

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People who crave space, freedom, adventure, and opportunities have long been attracted to Alaska. In June of 1996 I spoke with Niilo Kopanan, the son of Finnish immigrants who grew up in New York City and moved to a mountain ridge near Fairbanks, Alaska in 1952. At that time, land there was still open for homesteading. He located his 160 acres and filed a homestead on the ridge where he still lives. After several years there, in the mid 1950s, he returned to the lower 48 states to earn a Ph.D. Yet the magnet of Alaska pulled him back where he became a university professor and a member of the Alaska legislature, and he’s been there ever since.

Niilo Koponen, Ph.D. recommends “The life story of Elizabeth Morgan” by Ernest Morgan.

Originally Broadcast: June 18, 1996

Harr, Jonathan: Toxic Water, A Book

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A Civil Action

Woburn, MA, is a small, blue-collar community just north and west of Boston. In the 1970s, some children in Woburn, MA, became sick and died from childhood leukemia. Some adults in that town developed rare forms of cancer. All of these people live very close to each other. Their illnesses were traced to two contaminated water wells that provided the water to their homes for drinking and bathing. As a result, one of the most complicated personal injury lawsuits was tried in the US Federal District Court in Boston. In this program of Radio Curious, I spoke with author Jonathan Harr, who wrote “A Civil Action,” the horrendous story of the people who became sick and the subsequent trial.

Jonathan Harr recommends any books by Charles Dickens.

Originally Broadcast: November 22, 1995

Gomez, Rodolfo: A Walk in the Costa Rican Rain Forest

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On the eastern slope of the Continental Divide, about an hour’s drive east of San Jose, Costa Rica, is the Rain Forest Aerial Tram, a tramway that travels through, above and below the rain forest canopy. The rain forest canopy is home to more diverse forms of flora and fauna than anywhere else in the known universe. Rodolfo Gomez, trained as an architect, has found his calling as a tour guide in Central America and specifically Costa Rica. My daughter Molly and I met with Rodolfo in the rain forest, near the aerial tram and recorded this program in April of 1995.

Originally Broadcast: June 20, 1995

Perry, Dr. Donald: A Ride Through a Rain Forest in Costa Rica

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Life Above the Jungle Floor
In the middle of the Costa Rican rain forest, about an hour west of San Jose, Costa Rica, on the east side of the continental divide, you can find the Rain Forest Aerial Tram located on a private rain forest reserve. It’s a series of small, open-air cars that hold about five people each held together by a three kilometers long cable. The tramcars carry visitors through, above and below this portion of the Central American rainforest canopy. The Rain Forest Aerial Tram was the brainchild of Dr. Donald Perry, a biologist trained at the University of California at Los Angeles, who, beginning in 1970, has specialized in the study of the flora and fauna of the Central American Rainforest. In April of 1995, I visited the Rain Forest Aerial Tram with Dr. Perry.

Dr. Donald Perry recommends “Life Above the Jungle Floor,” by Dr. David Perry.

Originally Broadcast: April 1, 1995