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

Beyond the Headlines

Air Date: Week of

Presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy is a staunch climate denier. (Photo: Gage Skidmore, Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0)

Living on Earth Contributor Peter Dykstra joins Host Paloma Beltran to note the concern about climate change from young conservatives and discuss the results of a study that found coronavirus circulating among deer in Ohio. In the history books, they look back 35 years to 1988, when the massive Yellowstone wildfires spared the historic Old Faithful Inn.


DOERING: It’s Living on Earth, I’m Jenni Doering.

BELTRAN: And I’m Paloma Beltran.

It's that time now for a look beyond the headlines with Peter Dykstra, our Living on Earth contributor. Peter joins us from Atlanta, Georgia. Hey there, Peter, what do you have for us this week?

DYKSTRA: Hi, Paloma. Looking back to last month's Republican presidential candidate debate in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. There was even a question about climate change. Most of the candidates hemmed and hawed and didn't say very much. Only one was an outright climate denier. And that's the political newcomer, Vivek Ramaswamy. He said climate change is a hoax. But the fact that there was a question has heartened many young conservatives who see it as a point of vulnerability when the Republicans either deny or don't talk about climate change at all.

BELTRAN: So young Republican voters are really pushing the conversation around climate change for their party. Interesting.

DYKSTRA: Well, that makes sense, because they're the ones that are going to have to live with it. And what we've seen this year with wildfires, those atmospheric rivers that are dumping rain in places that don't get much rain, all of the storms, typhoons, hurricanes, and the fact that these things are on the upswing in precisely the way that climatologists have predicted for 30 years, it's becoming a harder and harder issue to ignore. And young conservatives want to see it at least get in the discussion, as we approach the 2024 presidential election, elections of the entire House of Representatives and 1/3 of the Senate in November 2024.

BELTRAN: And, you know, there's this recent poll between the Washington Post and the University of Maryland, that says that 35% of Republicans say that climate change is a major factor in extremely hot days compared to around 85% of those who lean Democrat.

DYKSTRA: Well, it shouldn't be a political issue at all. It's a weather and climate issue. And it's a multi multi billion dollar issue. And someday, hopefully not in the too distant future, American politicians will be on the same page and realize that this is a problem. We're already late in dealing with, we don't want to get much later.

BELTRAN: What else do you have for us, Peter?

White-tailed deer have tested positive for COVID, sparking concerns about the disease bleeding over from animals to human populations. (Photo: Tom Murray, Flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0)

DYKSTRA: A little potential come back for COVID. It has vanished from the news, although it's still killing people. But there's a research project in Ohio, that's been testing white-tailed deer for COVID infections. They tested over 1500 deer using nasal swabs. And all of us who got a nasal swab test for COVID know how much fun that is. And in about 10% of the deer tested COVID positive. It's something that needs to be watched. Because deer can be a vector, not just to other wildlife, but even back to humans in a potential return of the intensive and tragic toll that COVID inflicted throughout the world in the last few years.

BELTRAN: Yeah, we'll definitely need to come back for updates on that research. What do you have for us from the history books?

DYKSTRA: 1988, 35 years ago, it's hard to believe that the Yellowstone fire, that massive wildfire, took place 35 years ago. Paloma, where were you 35 years ago?

BELTRAN: I wasn't yet on this earth, Peter. Where were you?

DYKSTRA: I was in Washington DC. An argument could be made that that's really not on this earth either. But from there, we watched the Yellowstone fire overtake a lot of the park. The fire reached the perimeter of Old Faithful, that geyser that is the most known symbol for Yellowstone. Firefighters were not able to save 19 outbuildings around the Old Faithful complex, but they did save the vulnerable and wooden, Old Faithful Inn to continue serving tourists who come to see not just the geyser, but the beauty of this park.

The Old Faithful Inn stayed standing during the 1988 North Fork Fire. (Photo: Jim Peaco, National Park Service, Public Domain)

BELTRAN: Amazing, Long live Old Faithful and long live Yellowstone.

DYKSTRA: And let's be faithful to our national parks.

BELTRAN: Well, thank you, Peter. Peter Dykstra is a Living on Earth contributor and we'll talk to you again real soon.

DYKSTRA: All right, thanks a lot, Paloma. Talk to you soon.

BELTRAN: And there's more on these stories on the Living on Earth website. That's LOE.org.



CNN | “As Young Conservatives Try to Get Climate on the Agenda in 2024, Denial Takes the Spotlight Instead”

Forbes | “Latest COVID Twist: Coronavirus Is Spreading in Deer, Study Finds—And Many Are Getting It from Humans”

Learn more about the Yellowstone wildfire in 1988


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