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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

Listener Letters

Air Date: Week of

Host Bruce Gellerman reads your compliments, corrections and criticisms. He also checks in with the man who lived in an airtight box with plants for 48 hours to see how he fared.


GELLERMAN: It’s Living on Earth. I’m Bruce Gellerman.


GELLERMAN: Time now to catch up with some of your letters. First off, we goofed! In our story last week about Chesapeake Bay shore birds, we said the birds munched on horseshoe crab eggs, and described the horseshoe crab as a prehistoric mollusk that looks like a World War II battle helmet. Well, many a sharp-eared listener wrote in to inform us that horseshoe crabs are in fact: arthropods. It’s a good thing we have a thick shell!

Ed from northern California heard our interview about the solar company Solyndra going belly up and half a billion dollars in federal loan guarantees going bad. Ed listens to our show on KQED in San Francisco and writes: “ federal subsidies for solar power are completely out of proportion to solar’s tiny share of the nation’s electricity output.”

And last week we talked with Scottish scientist Iain Stewart – just before he was shut in a glass box with a bunch of plants for two days to see if they’d produce enough oxygen for him to survive. We were curious to find out how the experiment went, so called him back up.

STEWART: (laughs) Yeah, well, I lived. No, it was ok. When I when in, I was a bit worried, you remember, about whether I would be gasping for breath with the low oxygen, but in the end, I wasn't gasping for breath, but I was ... I was kind of just a bit slow, really. My mental faculties weren’t really working as good as they should have been. That aside, I was confined, and the last six to eight hours - I had a huge headache because of the lights. The lights had been on for about 40 hours solid. So that was a problem. That aside, but in between that, it was quite pleasant to be on low oxygen, actually.

GELLERMAN: (Laughs) Any surprise findings?

STEWART: Just how much care that I took of the plants. You could actually see that every time, for example, I did some watering - that they would have a kind of surge, a little surge in photosynthesis and a surge in oxygen. So, I started to almost tend every leaf, every frond. I didn’t want to see them damaged. If they started to wilt, I gave them extra care. So, by the end of it, I was fixated by these plants around me.

GELLERMAN: Iain Stewart, would you do it again?

STEWART: Not quickly (laughs). But, I would, I would. Having 40 hours to sit down and relax and read a book and think about things was very pleasant indeed. And all I had to do was, you know, every few hours to do some watering. But I think doing nothing is actually exhausting, and I came out feeling really tired. So, you know, I’d give that a little bit of time. But, I recommend it to anyone.

GELLERMAN: And we recommend you get in touch with us. Send your kudos, comments, corrections and criticisms our way. Our email address is: comments at L-O-E dot O-R-G - or go to our Facebook page – it’s PRI's Living on Earth.




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