Tree Pittsburgh Fights Canopy Loss With Sapling Giveaways

Sep 19, 2019

On today's program: Tree Pittsburgh looks to a giveaway to help the city's tree canopy; a philosopher tries to understand climate science deniers and change their minds; NPR's David Greene peeps the upcoming hockey season; how Pittsburgh isn’t preparing for potential climate migration; and a new immersive theatre project explores how AI affects modern life and whether humans have a say. 

You get a tree and you get a tree... 
(00:00 — 12:25) 

Non-native insects, extreme weather and a high rate of development cost the region 10,000 acres of tree canopy from 2011-2015, according to a report last year by Lawrenceville-based nonprofit Tree Pittsburgh. Homeowners can help, community and education coordinator Joe Stavish says, by planting trees in their yards to replace others lost nearby.

The group is sponsoring a series of sapling giveaways starting in October, beginning with neighborhoods most affected by tree loss. Stavis joins Erin Gaughan, volunteer and special events coordinator.

Can a philosopher convince climate science deniers?
(13:51 — 17:51) 

The Allegheny Front's Kara Holsopple spoke with Lee McIntyre, research fellow at the Center for Philosophy and History of Science at Boston University and a lecturer in ethics at Harvard Extension School. He says people have been denying fact-based science since the time of Galileo. 

"The thing that I realized in the course of my own research is that every lie has an audience. Every piece of misinformation has an audience. If you don’t stand up to the person who’s misrepresenting the facts, who’s telling the lie — if you don’t stand up for what’s actually not only true, and the process by which true beliefs are formed, there’s going to be a whole extra generation coming up behind them."

Despite roster changes, David Greene believes in the Pens
(17:51 
— 23:02)

After two losses and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger out for the season, many Pittsburgh sports fans are eagerly anticipating the start of hockey season. NPR's Morning Edition host and big Pittsburgh sports fan David Greene says the Penguins have a lot of unfinished business to take care of this year. 

The Penguins were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs last April, and it’s that early end to the team's 13th consecutive playoff appearance that has Greene so impatient. He's looking forward to seeing what impact the team's roster changes will have this year, too. 

"This organization has proven itself. That it can make the right roster moves to create the team with the best chance to win," he says. "They haven't done everything right, but at least they've done enough that I've come to trust them that they really are trying to find that talent to find a championship-caliber team."

The Penguins are in preseason action against the Columbus Blue Jackets Thursday at 7 p.m.

Could climate migrants seek refuge in Pittsburgh?
(23:07 — 29:25) 

With intensifying extreme weather conditions, some across the globe are looking at relocating as a way to confront the immediate effects of climate change. Some cities like Buffalo and Cincinnati are taking specific action to make themselves attractive to climate migrants. Is Pittsburgh doing the same? Juliette Rihl, a reporter for Public Source, says no

She found that many climate migrants simply move to the nearest town to avoid things like rising water levels. Despite that, Rihl reports that Pittsburgh is addressing issues like its aging infrastructure, including outdated sewers, roads and energy sources, as part of the city’s ongoing climate action plan. 

Exploring the pleasures and pitfalls of digital living  
(29:30 — 39:00) 

The latest immersive theatre project from Bricolage Production Company has a unique premise: audience members have bought tickets not to the theater, but rather to the secret launch of a spectacular AI product by a company called Aura. (The show’s own venue, a South Side warehouse space, will itself be revealed only to ticket-buyers.)

“Amelia” was created by Michael Skirpan, a computer scientist, educator and a consultant on computer ethics who grew up in Belle Vernon. After earning his doctorate, he returned to Pittsburgh and sought out the Bricolage for help developing his show. 90.5 WESA's Bill O'Driscoll spoke to him about the show and his thoughts on the implications of big tech. 

90.5 WESA's Julia Zenkevich contributed to this program.

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in weekdays at 9 a.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts.