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Inside Appalachia: Sticky Conversations Over Climate Change

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Roxy Todd
Don Olson, Maple Syrup Farmer

In colder regions of Appalachia, the third week in March is maple syrup season. That’s right, maple syrup isn’t just for New England farmers. This weekend marks the 31st annual maple syrup festival in Pickens, West Virginia.

More and more farmers in West Virginia are producing maple syrup on their forest farms.  But climate change could threaten this growing industry. 

In Appalachia, the climate change discussion is complicated. For some people here, their jobs are at stake. For most scientists, the debate over whether climate change is happening, and whether it’s caused by burning fossil fuels, is settled science.

But in West Virginia, there’s a debate about what to teach school children about the phenomenon.

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Travel to a Maple Syrup Camp

First, Jean Snedegar takes us to Mike Richter's Maple Syrup camp. Here, maple syrup, maple sugar, maple candy, and that very rare delicacy, maple cream are produced each March.

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Credit Photo Courtesy of the WV Maple Syrup Producers Association

Climate Change Not So Sweet For Maple Syrup ... Maple trees could be in trouble in the Northeast U.S. in the coming decades. Federal climate models have predicted the region will lose most of its maples by next century. But producers don't seem worried: maple syrup prices are high, and with technology, the sap is flowing just fine. The Allegheny Front's Julie Grant tells us more.

 

 Climate Change and Forecasted Health Effects

Climate change may be effecting the maple syrup industry, but a recent discussion at West Virginia University revealed the changes may also be effecting our health. This according to research from a public health expert, a social scientist, and an entomologist. Glynis Board of West Virginia Public Broadcasting spoke with  panelists after the event to find out how climate change, or disruption, could affect West Virginians.

What's in a Name

What's the name of the maple syrup farm just a few miles from Pickens, West Virginia? Resident Linda Zimmer says there are a few different theories about where the name for this town originated.  Listen to the show to find out.

Organic Maple Syrup Farmer Worries About Climate Change 

The Blue Rock Farm has been producing organic maple syrup since 2009, Like Richter’s maple syrup, this farm also sells its maple syrup at the local Pickens store. The Pickens Maple Syrup festival brings tourists and friends to his sugar house. This week, however, not a lot of bottling has been done. Here Roxy Todd talked with Don Olson about how climate change is affecting his business. 

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Credit Roxy Todd
Four students from Marshall University spoke to the board- Caitlyn Grimes (L), Jenna Atkins, Jake Waldman and Matt Jarvis. The students are not science majors, but they are mentored by a group called CFACT and deny climate change as a proven scientific fact.

How will climate change be taught in West Virginia?

For most scientists, the debate over whether climate change is happening, and whether it’s caused by human activity such as burning fossil fuels, is settled science. But in West Virginia, there’s a debate about what to teach school children about the phenomenon. Kara Holsopple, with the Allegheny Front reports.

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Kathy Knauer

Kathy Knauer Breaks Down the Climate Science Conversation

Sometimes the findings in science just aren’t translated well to public. After all, they’re scientists, not communicators. In the show, we ask for a some help from a woman who recently won  the 2015 Carnegie Science Center Awards for Science Communicator.  The award honors leaders in the fields of science, technology, and education.  Kathy Knauer is the executive producer of The Allegheny Front, a public radio program that covers the environment in Pennsylvania.

Music in today’s show was provided by Dog and Gun, Andy Agnew Jr., and our What’s in a Name theme music is by Marteka and William with “Johnson Ridge Special” from their Album Songs of a Tradition.

 

 

 

Jessica can be heard on Inside Appalachia and West Virginia Morning the station’s daily radio news program. You can reach her at jlilly@wvpublic.org
Roxy Todd is a reporter and producer for Inside Appalachia and has been a reporter for West Virginia Public Broadcasting since 2014. She’s won several awards, including a regional AP Award for best feature radio story, and also two regional Edward R. Murrow awards. You can reach her at rtodd@wvpublic.org.