89 episodes

For more than 10 years, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been working on an initiative called Engineering With Nature that uses natural processes and systems to deliver a broad range of economic, environmental, and social benefits. EWN, as it is called, is developing and implementing nature-based solutions for infrastructure, engineering, and water projects.

EWN brings together a growing international community of scientists, engineers, and researchers, from all kinds of disciplines to collaborate on how best to harness the power of nature to innovate, solve problems, and create sustainable solutions.

This podcast tells their stories.

It’s a show about innovation and collaboration. It is about combining natural and engineering systems. And it is about amazing results for infrastructure, the environment, and communities. Scientists and experts will talk about how they are transforming traditional approaches to infrastructure challenges across the US and around the world by applying the principles and practices of EWN.

Sarah Thorne of Decision Partners has been working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on the EWN initiative for the past decade, and, through this podcast, will share stories of the people, their unique collaborations, and a broad range of projects that exemplify the principles and practices of EWN.
We hope you’ll listen to the show and be inspired!

EWN - Engineering With Nature USACE and Story Studio Network

    • Science
    • 5.0 • 2 Ratings

For more than 10 years, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been working on an initiative called Engineering With Nature that uses natural processes and systems to deliver a broad range of economic, environmental, and social benefits. EWN, as it is called, is developing and implementing nature-based solutions for infrastructure, engineering, and water projects.

EWN brings together a growing international community of scientists, engineers, and researchers, from all kinds of disciplines to collaborate on how best to harness the power of nature to innovate, solve problems, and create sustainable solutions.

This podcast tells their stories.

It’s a show about innovation and collaboration. It is about combining natural and engineering systems. And it is about amazing results for infrastructure, the environment, and communities. Scientists and experts will talk about how they are transforming traditional approaches to infrastructure challenges across the US and around the world by applying the principles and practices of EWN.

Sarah Thorne of Decision Partners has been working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on the EWN initiative for the past decade, and, through this podcast, will share stories of the people, their unique collaborations, and a broad range of projects that exemplify the principles and practices of EWN.
We hope you’ll listen to the show and be inspired!

    NBS Policies and Strong Collaboration are Closing the Gaps on Climate Resilience in Arctic Regions

    NBS Policies and Strong Collaboration are Closing the Gaps on Climate Resilience in Arctic Regions

    The Arctic is changing more rapidly than anywhere else on earth due to climate change, and this is profoundly impacting the people that live in and depend on the ecosystems in these cold regions. In Season 7, Episode 13, host Sarah Thorne and cohost Jeff King, National Lead of the Engineering With Nature (EWN) Program, US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), welcome back Laura Wendling, Senior Research Scientist at SINTEF Community in Trondheim, Norway. We continue our conversation on how innovative nature-based solutions (NBS) are being used in cold regions. 

    After recording Episode 12, Laura was headed to the Gaia Arctic Summit held in Vesterålen in Northern Norway. The summit focused on how to accelerate the transition to climate resilience in the Arctic. She returned inspired: “It was fabulous from start to finish. The landscape there is absolutely stunning, and I think seeing it really brought home how important it is that we protect this beautiful area and the people who live there.” The summit brought together people from policy, finance, business, research and innovation, and public administration. “The main message for me is the need to collaborate across disciplines in how we work every day—not just having a meeting once a year but how we work in our daily life and how we plan things.”

    Laura goes on to discuss the policies, challenges, and opportunities for advancing NBS in cold regions and some of the efforts going on in Europe. She notes that there is strong explicit support for NBS within the European Green Deal and associated strategies such as the Biodiversity Strategy for 2030—policies designed to set goals to deliver on international commitments. One of the challenges that Laura notes is aligning policy at various levels, from the high-level European national policies to those on the ground at the local level. Jeff notes a similar challenge in the US: “Even those individuals or organizations that are receptive to the idea of NBS still have their own set of policies, rules, or regulations that they must adhere to and sometimes those can be contrary to the overall goal of integrating NBS into a landscape. We must find that common ground and be able to highlight the value of NBS and what that means for local economies, sustainability, and resilience.”

    Laura also notes challenges in valuing NBS and making trade-offs are particularly evident in the Arctic. “Where we see the sea ice dissolving and opening up new transport routes and revealing previously unknown mineral resources, there are all sorts of development possibilities. How do we ensure that the Arctic is developing in a way that’s consistent with the needs and desires of the local populations?”

    Looking forward, Jeff highlights the ongoing work at ERDC’s Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory. “We are continuing to prioritize NBS and look for opportunities to integrate NBS concepts and projects into our Arctic communities. International collaboration is something that I want to see EWN continue to support.” Laura agrees with this effort and has a call to action for listeners: “I would ask everybody listening—our global community—to think about a consolidated action plan to engage the full range of stakeholders and move across borders to address the issues of climate change because climate change doesn’t stop at borders. We all have to work together. Only global action is going to have the outcome that we all need.”

    We hope you enjoy our final Season 7 episodes on NBS in cold regions with Laura Wendling. Season 8 kicks off in September. For more information and resource links, please visit the EWN Podcast page on the EWN website at https://www.engineeringwithnature.org/  

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    • 40 min
    Innovative Nature-Based Solutions in Cold Regions

    Innovative Nature-Based Solutions in Cold Regions

    From Iowa to Australia to Finland, and most recently Norway, Laura Wendling has followed her passion to integrate nature with engineering and technology to create solutions that, as she says, “are workable in lots of different situations, including cold regions.” In Season 7, Episode 12, host Sarah Thorne and cohost Jeff King, National Lead of the Engineering With Nature (EWN) Program, US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), are joined by Laura Wendling, Senior Research Scientist at SINTEF Community in Trondheim, Norway. Jeff and Laura met at a recent conference sponsored by the American Society of Civil Engineers.

    Laura’s interest in innovating with nature was sparked in her undergraduate years while working as a research assistant on a project comping how constructed and natural wetlands purify water from agricultural runoff. “That really got me interested in understanding how we could design natural, or pseudo-natural systems that worked as well or almost as well as the natural system itself—like a real ecosystem.” As she says, her “ah-ha moment” was when she learned about the use of nature-based solutions (NBS): “To have the added emphasis on stakeholder engagement right from the beginning, and making sure that we plan projects so that we’re deriving social and economic benefit in addition to the core target of achieving some kind of ecological outcome—it just made so much sense to me.”

    Today, Laura is particularly interested in how climate change is affecting cold regions. “The Arctic is warming at a rate that’s far greater than the rest of the world, and there’s been profound—possibly irreversible—effects on terrestrial, aquatic, freshwater, marine ecosystems, and the cryosphere, as well as the people who live in these areas.” Laura highlights some of her recent projects. In her work at SINTEF, she focuses on water and the environment, everything from water-cycle services and water management to the broader environmental issues associated with climate change.

    Laura also talks about the importance of spreading the word about NBS, including her work as coeditor of the Nature Based Solutions Journal and Evaluating the Impact of Nature-Based Solutions: A Handbook for Practitioners. “We can’t do science in secret. We should be telling everybody what we’re doing and sharing our results widely, including the things that don’t work.” Laura also stresses the importance of using these indicators and measures to communicate beyond the scientific community. “To talk with people in different sectors, we need to present information in different ways. Traditionally, we haven’t been as good at talking with the public policy sector. We need better evidence that can help to underpin evidence-based policy.” 

    Jeff feels that Laura’s travels and experiences have really aligned her focus with the principles and practices of EWN: “Everything you describe speaks volumes in terms of your affinity for EWN. You’ve been in the United States, Australia, Finland, and now Norway. You’ve had exposure to so many diverse ecosystems and so many different people. Those opportunities to learn in those diverse environments will serve you well, both now and in the future. I know you’re going to continue to be a leader in this space.”

    Jeff and Sarah invited Laura back for Episode 13 to talk about the policies that are driving strategies for including NBS in Europe. 

    For more information and resource links, please visit the EWN Podcast page on the EWN website at https://www.engineeringwithnature.org/  
    •      Jeff King at LinkedIn
    •      Laura Wendling at...

    • 39 min
    Conversations on Climate Change with Katharine Hayhoe Part 3: Inspiring Action – Katharine’s Call to Listeners

    Conversations on Climate Change with Katharine Hayhoe Part 3: Inspiring Action – Katharine’s Call to Listeners

    In Season 7, Episode 11, host Sarah Thorne and cohost Jeff King, National Lead of the Engineering With Nature (EWN) Program, US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), conclude their in-depth conversation with Katharine Hayhoe, Chief Scientist of The Nature Conservancy (TNC). In Part 3 of our special three-part series, Katharine talks about her role as an advocate and her mission to inspire others to take action on climate change. Her bottom line is that you don’t have to be a top climate scientist to make a difference – we can all get involved. 

    As a scientist, Katharine is an advocate for understanding the social science of how humans interact with information. “So often we physical and natural scientists feel like: ‘Oh, you just tell people the truth. Surely, they’ll do the right thing, right?’ Well, what social science tells us is no. If we haven’t made that head to heart to hands connection, nothing is going to happen in the right direction, especially pushing against the accumulated inertia of our fossil-fuel based economy and society.”  

    Katharine notes the work of the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, which finds that people’s assumptions about what others think about climate change are usually wrong. “We assume that we care and very few other people do. We assume that we’re doing things and nobody else is. We assume that nobody else is worried except me and my friends. But actually, they’re already worried. They just don’t know what to do. So, they don’t want to talk about it.”

    Katharine’s climate change advocacy is focused on talking about and encouraging other people to talk about climate change. She has initiated and supported multiple channels of communications on climate change, including her TED Talk in 2018, The Most Important Thing You Can Do to Fight Climate Change: Talk about It; her personal social media accounts and her Newsletter, Talking Climate; and her work with organizations like the Potential Energy Coalition and Science Moms. Jeff reflects on how inspiring and inclusive Katharine’s message is, to include scientists, ecologists, engineers, social scientists, and artists.” As Katharine describes it, “We need people painting the pictures with words, with art, with music, with visual art, with spoken art, with every way we can.” 

    Katharine plans to continue her tireless advocacy along many fronts. Her academic work is focused on developing and evaluating high-resolution climate projections and preparing for impacts and increasing resilience planning. As Chief Scientist of TNC, she is dedicated to supporting and advancing the work of TNC scientists. And she is going to continue her work with faith-based communities to advocate for climate action—including being the first plenary speaker at this year’s World Evangelical Alliance annual meeting.

    Jeff closes by comparing her skill to another well-known Canadian, “That reminds me of Wayne Gretzky. He basically said, ‘I just skate to where I think or know that the puck is going to be.’ That’s exactly what you’re saying here. We need to be thinking well out into the future and then leaning into those certain outcomes that we can anticipate and planning accordingly.” He adds, “Katharine, the message I am really drawn to is your ‘head to heart to hands’ message. I want to use that and put it into practice in the Engineering With Nature program.  It is truly inspirational.”  This concludes our conversation with Katharine. We hope you enjoyed this special series! For more information and resource links, please visit the EWN Podcast page on the EWN website at https://www.engineeringwithnature.org/  
    •      Jeff King at LinkedIn
    •      a...

    • 22 min
    Conversations on Climate Change with Katharine Hayhoe. Part 2: Taking Action and the Role of NBS in Climate Solutions

    Conversations on Climate Change with Katharine Hayhoe. Part 2: Taking Action and the Role of NBS in Climate Solutions

    In Season 7, Episode 10, host Sarah Thorne and cohost Jeff King, National Lead of the Engineering With Nature (EWN) Program, US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), continue their in-depth conversation with Katharine Hayhoe, Chief Scientist of The Nature Conservancy (TNC). In Part 2 of our special 3-part series, Katharine talks about taking action—living according to your values and making changes that contribute to climate solutions—and about the critical role of nature-based solutions (NBS) in addressing climate change. 

    To live up to her personal climate action values Katharine measured her own carbon footprint 12 years ago and when she found that travel was the largest factor, she successfully transitioned over 80% of her talks to virtual. “Then the pandemic hit and I was ready to go.” She notes that when she does travel for an important event, she “bundles” other meetings and speaking opportunities around that event. “When I went to the climate COP two years ago in Egypt, I packed in 55 panels, meetings, talks, and events.”

    Katharine believes that communicating the message that climate action is a collective effort that all people can meaningfully contribute to, is essential. “People are worried about climate change, but they don't know what to do about it.” Picking up the analogy she used in S7E9 comparing the work of addressing climate change to moving a giant boulder, Katharine adds: “If we feel like we’re the only hands on the boulder that we’re trying to roll uphill, we will despair. But if we realize there are millions of hands on the boulder, in every country around the world, then we realize we're not alone. That global connectivity is absolutely essential to fixing this problem.”

    Katharine goes on to talk about the critical role of NBS as part of the response to climate change, noting that the IPCC estimates that 25% of present-day emissions could be addressed by NBS. “If I see a newspaper headline saying, ‘Is this a silver bullet for climate change?’, I can tell you the answer is no. But I like to say there’s a lot of silver buckshot, and nature is one of our biggest pieces of silver buckshot. I mean, 25% of the climate change pie? That is huge!” She adds that NBS also produces multiple benefits, and notes: “Nature is all through these climate solutions. In fact, I don’t think there’s any way for us to meet our commitments made in the Paris Agreement in 2015, in any way, shape, or form, if we leave nature out of the equation.”

    Jeff is highly complimentary of TNC’s work on NBS and highlights the important contribution of TNC in bringing organizations together to collaborate on NBS initiatives such as the Natural Infrastructure Initiative that TNC led along with Caterpillar, USACE, the University of Georgia, and Ducks Unlimited. “When you put TNC in a room with, say, an AECOM or a Great Lakes Dredge and Dock, people start scratching their heads saying, ‘Hmm, what's this all about?’ TNC brings so much interest and awareness to this space, showing how very different entities can work collaboratively to accomplish many of the same goals and objectives that we all share.”

    Our conversation with Katharine concludes in Episode 11, which posts on June 26. In our final episode of this series, Katharine focuses on inspiring action, how to learn more about climate change, and how to talk about it with others. We hope you enjoy this special series!!

    For more information and resource links, please visit the EWN Podcast page on the EWN website at https://www.engineeringwithnature.org/  
    •      Jeff King at LinkedIn
    •      Katharine Hayhoe at...

    • 17 min
    Conversations on Climate Change with Katharine Hayhoe. Part 1: The Injustice of Climate Change

    Conversations on Climate Change with Katharine Hayhoe. Part 1: The Injustice of Climate Change

    Katharine Hayhoe is a world-renowned scientist, climate communicator, and passionate advocate for climate equity. She’s a climate ambassador whose message is one of hope. She has dedicated her life to motivating action. Every day. In Season 7, Episode 9, Katharine Hayhoe, Chief Scientist of The Nature Conservancy (TNC) joins host Sarah Thorne and cohost Jeff King, National Lead of the Engineering With Nature (EWN) Program, US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), for a conversation on climate change that was so deep and wide ranging that we’re going to feature it in a 3-episode series.

    Katharine was born in Toronto, Canada, and grew up in a home where science was always front and center. Late in her undergraduate studies in astrophysics, she took a class on climate change, which completely changed her educational path and led to a PhD in atmospheric science. “I found out that climate change affects us all, but it doesn’t affect us all equally. I felt if I had the skill set you need to work on this urgent global issue that affects every aspect of our lives on this planet, if I have those abilities and those privileges, I need to be using them to make a difference.”

    Today, as Chief Scientist at TNC, where she can live her passion for applied science. TNC has ambitious goals for protecting and conserving freshwater, land, and the oceans. In describing the challenges of addressing climate change today, and in particular the social inequities, Katharine notes that “engaging with nature-based solutions not only addresses immediate issues of climate adaptation to heat, it also helps with air pollution, health, and flooding.”

    Katharine’s message is one of hope. “I think of this as the ‘head to heart to hands’ gap. In our heads, we know global temperature is rising and humans are responsible. Around the world, the vast majority of people are worried about climate change. In the US over two thirds of people are worried. So, we’re really reaching a tipping point in terms of the head, but they don’t understand how it affects the people, places and things we love. They haven't made the head to heart connection. They still think of it as a future issue, a distant issue, and something that is not on their priority list. If we don’t understand there’s a problem that matters to us, why would we want to fix it?”

    Katharine sees that as only half of the challenge. “We could have the whole world worried, but if they don’t know what to do about it, they’ll do nothing. And that’s exactly what we see in the US. Two thirds of people are worried, but only 8% are activated. That’s where the hope comes in. The hope is in connecting our heart to our hands. If I do something, could it make a difference?” Through her newsletter—Talking Climate—and many other channels, Katharine is trying to close these gaps by sharing good news and the actions being taken by people. “Because the number one thing we can do to kickstart and catalyze action is the thing that two thirds of Americans are not doing, and that is we’re not talking about it.” 

    Part 2 of the conversation with Katherine, includes a discussion of the critical role that that nature-based solutions play in addressing climate change. Episode 10 posts June 12. In Episode 11, which posts on June 26, the third part of our conversation with Katharine focuses on inspiring action, how to learn more about climate change, and how to talk about it with others.  We hope you enjoy this special series!!  For more information and resource links, please visit the EWN Podcast page on the EWN website at https://www.engineeringwithnature.org/  
    •      Jeff King at LinkedIn
    •      a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/katharine-hayhoe/"...

    • 25 min
    Seeing the Forest for the Trees—The Value and Complexity of Forest Ecosystems

    Seeing the Forest for the Trees—The Value and Complexity of Forest Ecosystems

    How do we think about forests and their value? We know that forests store carbon, and with the climate changing, many might think the answer is to just plant more trees. Our guests challenge that conventional wisdom and, as the saying goes, help us see the forest for the trees. In Season 7, Episode 8, host Sarah Thorne and cohost Jeff King, National Lead of the Engineering With Nature (EWN) Program, US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), are joined by Laurie Wayburn, Cofounder and President of Pacific Forest Trust (PFT), and Nathan Beane, Research Forester in the Environmental Laboratory of the USACE Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC). They’re talking about how to sustainably manage forests to make them more resilient. 

    Laurie has dedicated her career to forest conservation and sustainability. She is an innovator, a pioneer, and an authoritative voice on forest practices and policy. Much of Laurie’s work at Pacific Forest Trust (PFT) is working with private landowners on conserving forests. “We wanted to work with what I would call the enlightened self-interest of private landowners and make it financially competitive, or even more desirable, to keep their forests as forests, not just as plantations, but to manage them as forests with the full suite of functions.”

    Nathan is the leading research forester within the US Department of Defense (DoD). As lead of the Forest Ecosystem Dynamics Team at ERDC, his research primarily focuses on forest communities, their function, health, management, and sustainment, and ultimately the creation of “resilient forests.” Nathan’s work addresses problems in forested lands on USACE and DoD installations. His on-the-ground research helps to inform a more comprehensive understanding of healthy forest ecosystems and how to improve their management.

    In their respective roles, both Laurie and Nathan speak for the forests. As Laurie describes it, “When people use the term forestry, what they’re typically thinking about is the production of timber or fiber commodities. That phrase, ‘seeing the forest for the trees,’ is all too apt because so many people think of forests just as a collection of trees.” She describes forest systems as beginning well below the ground and ending above the canopy with trees being the most visible piece of a storehouse of biodiversity that comprises the forest overall. Nathan agrees, noting, “While forests provide key habitats for a range of wildlife, including threatened endangered species, they also generate oxygen, filter water, provide soil stabilization, carbon sequestration, ecosystem biodiversity, natural disaster mitigation, and flood control.”

    Laurie has a strong call to action for listeners: “One of the most critical things I hope we can help people think about is forests are essential infrastructure, just as we think about roads or the internet as essential infrastructure. As you go about your daily life, be aware of, and grateful for, the grace and blessing of forests and return the favor. They don’t exist without people caring and being involved.”

    Nathan agrees: “I’m a big advocate for that. I think it’s important to highlight that it’s critical that we understand the complexity of forests. We have a lot of challenges ahead of us, and I think it’s really important that we continue to conduct research in this space. I’m really glad to be a part of the EWN Program that supports this.”

    For more information and resource links, please visit the EWN Podcast page on the EWN website at https://www.engineeringwithnature.org/  
    •      Jeff King at LinkedIn
    •      Laurie...

    • 56 min

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