Science Friday

Climate Summit, Offshore Wind, Hummingbirds. April 23, 2021, Part 1

April 23, 2021

World Leaders Gather Virtually For Climate Summit

Forty world leaders attended an international summit on climate change to discuss how each country would commit to decreasing emissions. Sophie Bushwick from Scientific American fills us in on the commitments stated during the meeting. Plus, she talks about China launching its space station and how researchers were able to read a 17th-century letter without opening it.


Offshore Wind Power Moves Forward In Massachusetts

Back in 2016, the state of Massachusetts pledged to begin buying wind energy from local sources within the decade. The next year, a company called Vineyard Wind filed paperwork proposing an offshore wind farm that would involve 62 turbines situated about 12 miles off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard. The project has been stalled in regulatory review and limbo ever since. Now, there are signs that the project may finally be moving forward.  

Environmental journalist Miriam Wassser of WBUR updates Ira on the project, including how it may contribute to Biden administration plans to go all-in on wind power


Setting New Goals At An Earth Week Climate Summit

This week, world leaders met online to discuss global climate policy and targets for carbon emissions reductions. The climate summit, organized by the Biden White House, comes just after the United States formally rejoined the Paris climate accords that were abandoned by the Trump administration.

In connection with the summit, the Biden administration announced a national goal of a 50% reduction (based on 2005 levels) in carbon emissions by 2030—a significant boost to the targets proposed in the original Paris accords. And European Union nations announced the outlines of a climate deal that would put the EU on target for “climate neutrality” by 2050. The EU also committed to a 55% reduction in emissions over 1990 levels by 2030.

Other climate policy actions are in the works at home as well—including major support for renewable energy projects in the Biden administration’s proposed infrastructure plan. Emily Atkin, who writes the climate-focused newsletter HEATED, joins Ira to discuss the latest goings-on in climate policy, and whether the federal government is finally getting serious about the threat of climate change.


The Dazzling Rufous Hummingbird, Threatened By Climate Change

The Rufous hummingbird has a reputation as one of the continent’s most tenacious birds of its size. Weighing less than a nickel and topping out at three inches long, it’s migratory journey is one of the world’s longest. Each spring, just as flowers start to bloom, it will travel nearly 4,000 miles—from Mexico to Alaska.

Yet climate change is taking its toll on even these tenacious birds. The population of rufous hummingbirds, one of the most common hummingbird species in the U.S., is decreasing dramatically. And the Rufous may soon join the list of 37 hummingbird species currently threatened with extinction, according to an analysis by BirdLife International.

Jon Dunn, natural history writer and photographer set out to document as many of these remarkable bejeweled birds as he could before they are gone. He joins Ira to talk about their shared fascination with hummingbirds and his new book, The Glitter In the Green: In Search of Hummingbirds.

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