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President Donald Trump makes remarks prior to signing an Energy Independence Executive Order at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Headquarters on March 28, 2017 in Washington, DC.

Surrounded by coal miners, President Donald Trump signed a broad executive order Tuesday directing federal agencies to revise or withdraw key regulations aimed at restricting greenhouse
gas pollution. The order takes particular aim at the Clean Power Plan, the Obama Administration’s far-reaching set of rules designed to reduce carbon emissions from power plants. Environmental advocates say the order effectively halts federal action on climate change, while coal industry supporters say it will bring back jobs. We discuss the order and its potential impacts.

Jonathan White holding a surf board.

Jonathan White has been thinking about the tide, and the mysterious process behind it, for most of his life. As a young surfer in Southern California, White found the tide often dictated the quality of the surf. In Alaska, White almost lost a boat when it ran aground in a spring tide, and in the Puget Sound, White spent several years hosting “floating seminars” from a 65-foot schooner. In his new book, “Tides: The Science and Spirit of the Ocean,” White travels across the Arctic, China, Europe, Latin America and Mavericks, the famed big-wave surf spot, to meet the people whose cultures are impacted by tides and sea level rise. White joins us to discuss the complexity of tides, including why great thinkers like Plato and Descartes were confounded by them.

A view of a Chevron refinery on March 3, 2015 in Richmond, California.

When Steve Early moved to Richmond in 2012, he saw a city trying to break free from its big oil roots and reinvent itself. He also saw from his backyard an oil explosion that sent 15,000 to the hospital because of toxic smoke. Home to a massive Chevron oil refinery since 1902 — Standard Oil back then — the working-class Bay Area city has a long history of pollution and poverty. But, as Early chronicles in his new book “Refinery Town,” for the past fifteen years, the Richmond community has tried to reinvent itself with a push for reform and progressive policies, electing a Green Party mayor, approving rent control measures and, most recently, passing a resolution calling for the impeachment of President Trump. Steve Early joins us in-studio to discuss Richmond’s history, its recent efforts to redefine itself and its rocky relationship with its biggest employer, Chevron.

The head of a trap jaw ant.

Imagine a fungus that controls the mind of an ant, turning it into a zombie. Or a violent frog that uses its mustache as a weapon. Or a fish that can choke a shark with its slimy snot. In this hour, we’ll talk to WIRED science writer Matt Simon and California Academy of Sciences researchers about the wild and weird creatures they study.

More Information on Cal Academy Bioblitzes

Some of the Creatures Discussed:

Meg Lowman taking notes in the canopy.

Meg Lowman has spent her life climbing trees. Wearing a helmet and harness, Meg will often scale 200 feet above the ground, exploring the canopies of trees where she says half the planet’s biodiversity lives. She’s been doing this work for decades earning her the nickname, “Canopy Meg.” But growing up in the 1960s, Lowman says she was often the only girl in science class and later one of the few working scientists bringing her children on research expeditions. Lowman joins us to talk about her life exploring the forest canopies, the hurdles she encountered as a single mother and how she encourages women around the globe to pursue careers in science.

Jon Foley poses for a portrait.

Jonathan Foley is the executive director of the California Academy of Sciences, which has been dubbed “the greenest museum on the planet.” The academy has gone so far as to divest its financial assets from fossil fuel companies. Foley’s research focuses on sustainability and how climate change impacts global agriculture. He recently co-authored an article titled “How to Fight the War on Science and Win.” Foley joins us to talk about the role of science, scientists and institutions like the Cal Academy during the Trump administration.

Further Reading

Floodwaters surround vehicles on February 22, 2017, in San Jose, California.

After being hit by what’s being called the worst flooding in 100 years, San Jose officials called for the mandatory evacuation of about 14,000 residents on Tuesday and Wednesday. The flooding came after another round of heavy rain on Monday caused Coyote Creek, which runs through the heart of the city, to overflow unexpectedly. Some residents had to be rescued from the floodwaters by boat. City officials say the creek is now stable and no longer rising, and the areas under mandatory evacuation have reduced in size. We’ll bring you the latest on the flooding and discuss why residents in San Jose weren’t warned about the threat sooner.

Newport Beach, California

The West Coast is experiencing unprecedented erosion on many of its beaches, according to a U.S. Geological Survey report published this week in the journal “Nature Communications.” Scientists examined coastal changes at 29 beaches across Washington, Oregon and California, finding that the 2015-2016 El Nino caused unprecedented erosion. We discuss the findings and what can be done to protect California’s coastal areas.

More Information:

Extreme Oceanographic Forcing and Coastal Response Due to the 2015-2016 El Niño (Nature Communications)

Mountain-Bike-for-Forum

Mountain biking advocates in Marin County are frustrated at what they see as the slow pace of new trail openings, promised in a 2014 Marin County road and trail management plan. They say that the sport is growing at an annual rate of more than 11 percent and they need more technically challenging trails. But hiking and equestrian groups argue that they are the biggest users of the open space and that the bikers travel too fast for safety and disrupt nature. Forum discusses the issue and hears from both sides of the debate.

This aerial view from a California Department of Water Resources drone shows water flowing over the auxiliary spillway at Oroville Dam on Saturday, February 11, 2017, after the lake level exceeded 901 feet elevation above sea level.

Evacuations of over 100,000 people near Oroville Dam remained in effect Monday, as engineers worked to repair damage to an emergency spillway that threatened to send torrents of water into nearby towns. State officials say that the 770-foot dam itself is not in danger and the threat of flooding lessened Monday as Lake Oroville’s water level dropped. But more storms are expected this week, prompting officials to continue to drain water from the lake. We discuss the state of the dam, the ongoing impacts on surrounding communities and the condition of the California’s water infrastructure.

California Aqueduct

On Wednesday, the State Water Resources Control Board voted to extend, through September, California’s existing emergency water conservation regulations and prohibitions against wasting water. We’ll discuss the decision with KQED Science Editor Craig Miller.

Cows graze on grass at the Stemple Creek Ranch on April 24, 2014 in Tomales, California.

The rich agricultural lands that surround Bay Area cities make up the Bay Area greenbelt, a landscape that owes its existence to decades of conservation efforts. A report released Tuesday by the Greenbelt Alliance, a group dedicated to the protection of these lands, finds that an area almost 10 times the size of San Francisco could be developed in a generation. As Bay Area housing demand continues to grow, we’ll hear about the report and strategies to protect it from the forces of urban sprawl.

More Information:

Greenbelt Alliance website
Read the Report

Oklahoma Attorney General and President-elect Donald Trump's nominee to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Scott Pruitt testifies during a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill January 18, 2017 in Washington, DC.

Drawing harsh rebukes from environmentalists, President Trump issued executive orders Tuesday to push through construction of the Dakota Access and Keystone XL oil pipelines. He also directed the EPA to suspend grants and contracts, instituted a media blackout at the agency and promised to undo the Clean Power Plan, which would reduce emissions from power plants. Meanwhile, Congress moved to reverse other Obama-era environmental rules. We discuss the impacts of the Trump presidency on the environment so far.

Daniel Kraft poses for a portrait.

Imagine wearing a smart patch that collects all of your vital medical information. Or getting an ultrasound by plugging a device into your smartphone. According to Dr. Daniel Kraft, digital health care is creating more personalized care and has the potential to prevent disease and lower costs. Kraft is the chair of medicine at Singularity University and founder of two medical startups. We talk with Kraft about the potential and pitfalls of digital medicine as part of Forum’s First Person series, which profiles Bay Area innovators and leaders who make our region unique.

More Information:
Singularity University website
Worlds Fair Nano website

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