Monday, January 30, 2012

Patt Morrison for Tuesday, 1/31/2012

Tuesday, January 31, 2012
1-3 p.m.

l:00:00 – 1:40


1:40 - 2:00
Whatever happened to winter?
Across the continent—here in southern California, in unseasonably warm New York and Alberta—this season's weather is leaving people scratching their heads and wondering…whatever happened to winter and what explains it? It was less than a year ago that California Governor Jerry Brown declared an end to California's 3-year-long drought. That was after a winter of heavy rain and snowfall, but this year has been especially dry and, so far, the state snowpack is at below-average levels. Forecasters had expected 2012 to be another La Niña season, which results from cooler-than-normal surface temperatures in the eastern Pacific Ocean and usually brings heavy precipitation to the southland, but somewhere along the line, they missed the mark. Patt checks up on the California snowpack, how it's impacting business at ski resorts around the state and what it means for our water supply.

Bill Patzert, research oceanographer and climatologist, Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Frank Gehrke, chief of the California Cooperative Snow Surveys Program at the Department of Water Resources; joins us live from the Tamarac Flat Snow Course about 60 miles east of Sacramento

2:00 – 2:30
The drone wars – robots that fly and fight all by themselves
Science fiction like the Terminator movies have long entertained and frightened us with depictions of a future dystopia where humans wage war against an army of intelligent and violent computers. Although fighting wars against robots still falls in the purview of Hollywood, fighting wars with robots is rapidly becoming a reality. As of 2012, unmanned drones make up nearly one-third of U.S. military aircraft, up from 5 percent in 2005. Although it has become commonplace for "desktop pilots" to control planes halfway around the world our military is increasingly relying on autonomous drones that can fly themselves, and experts say that the deployment of flying robots that can make their own tactical decisions isn't far off. The Navy is even working on a drone that can automatically perform one of the most complex maneuvers required of their planes - to take off and land on aircraft carriers. Although taking pilots out of cockpits keeps American lives farther from the battlefield, saves weight, increases performance of the aircraft and can potentially reduce costs, some military advisers are wary of removing the human element from waging wars. Who is responsible when no one pulls the trigger? Is the increasing use of drones on the battlefield good or bad?

Guests TBA

2:00 – 2:50
A grey wolf named Journey makes a solo trip to California
In late 2011, a lone gray wolf with the name OR7 crossed into Northern California from Oregon, marking the first time a wild gray wolf has set foot in the state for the first time in 88 years. His trek also brought him fame and a new name – Journey – chosen in a competition by schoolchildren in his home state. GPS technology that allows for tracking of Journey's daily movements has allowed Journey to captivate the imagination of Californians – Journey has at least two Twitter accounts providing updates of his musings as he wanders in search of a mate. Gray wolves were nearly extinct in the contiguous 48 states by the 20th century, leading to a 1974 classification as endangered in the Endangered Species Act. Scientists and environmentalists have hopeful but more realistic assessments of Journey's adventures. Reintroduction programs in the mid 1990s released 66 Canadian wolves into Yellowstone National Park and their population has grown to nearly 1,700. How can the gray wolf fit into the modern ecosystem? What can humans do to coexist with gray wolves?

Karen Kovacs, Wildlife Program Manager, Northern region, California Fish and Game

Matthew Kirby, Washington Representative for The Sierra Club

2:50 – 3:00
Dennis McCarthy says goodbye after 40 years in journalism
Imagine walking away from a rewarding career that you've loved for four decades. It cannot be easy, but that is exactly what LA Daily News columnist Dennis McCarthy will be doing on today [Tuesday, January 31]. After writing more than 5,000 columns, McCarthy is saying good-bye to his days as a newspaper man. The columnist acknowledged that he feels honored to have worked as a journalist and that it will be difficult to move on, but joked, "Now it's time for me to walk out before I'm carried out." McCarthy talks with Patt of his love of the newsroom, and why he's decided to leave his desk.

Dennis McCarthy, columnist, Los Angeles Daily News

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