OPB's daily conversation covering news, politics, culture and the arts.
What is the ‘new normal’ when it comes to wildfire season?
The worst of this year’s wildfire season appears to be over, but it has been another tough year. The Bootleg Fire scorched 413,000 acres in Southern Oregon before it was contained and, at one point, it was the largest wildfire burning in the United States. This summer, cities in Southern and Central Oregon were socked in by wildfire smoke for weeks. Last year, Portland had the worst air quality in the world for a few days in September after the Labor Day fires. Is this the new normal? Chris Dunn is a research associate in the College of Forestry at Oregon State University. He joins us to talk about the future of wildfire.
OHSU COVID-19 forecast shows Oregon hospitals will remain strained
Oregon Health & Science University’s latest forecast suggests COVID-19 hospitalizations will stay at extremely high levels until early October. Peter Graven is a lead data scientist at OHSU. He joins us with details.
Medical debt plays a role in a majority of Oregon bankruptcy filings
The Oregon State Public Research Group has released a report on bankruptcies and medical debt within the state. Their findings show that in counties with bankruptcy filings, such as Multnomah County, 52% of them had some form of medical debt involved, while others like Linn County have up to 69%. We spoke with Francis Wong, Assistant Professor of Economics at the Ludwig-Maximilians University of Munich, on his research regarding the state of U.S. medical debt.
Wildfires and smoke are affecting our mental health
Oregonians have had yet another summer impacted by wildfires and lingering smoke. The immediate threat of fires is traumatic for those whose homes and businesses are directly in the path of a blaze. But the smoke from these fires spreads farther than the flames themselves, and has led to weeks of unhealthy, or even hazardous, air in cities around the region. David Eisenman is one of the few scientists who has studied the mental health impacts of wildfire smoke. His work also focuses on solastalgia — the specific grief people feel when a landscape we love is lost or dramatically altered. Eisenman is a professor of medicine and public health at University of California, Los Angeles and the director of the UCLA Center for Public Health and Disasters. We talk with him about his work.
Research explores smoke exposure to wine grapes
Year after year, wildfires continue to blaze through the West. How can wineries and grape growers combat smoke exposure? Tom Collins is an assistant professor of viticulture and enology at Washington State University. He joins us with details on research about what tools can help reduce this growing problem.
Interstate 5 Rose Quarter project is getting bigger and more expensive
After years of wrangling, the Oregon Transportation Commission has granted conditional approval for a plan to widen Interstate 5 through Portland's Rose Quarter corridor. The original funding was approved by the Oregon Legislature in 2017. The newest plan includes "caps" over the freeway to enable some redevelopment of the former Albina district, the historically Black neighborhood that I-5 destroyed when the highway was initially constructed. There are still a lot of unanswered questions about how all this will work, and where the money will come from. We dig into the details with Oregon Transportation Commission Chair Bob Van Brocklin and OTC Vice Chair Alando Simpson.