Birmingham Shines

A show about the makers, creators, and innovators of the Magic City: Birmingham, Alabama.
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Now displaying: Category: science
Aug 6, 2015

In this episode, I talk with Dr. Scot Duncan, associate professor at Birmingham Southern College and author of Southern Wonder: Alabama's Surprising Biodiversity.

The focus of the conversation is on the economics of protecting nature--from the value of ecosystem services to the economic growth we derive through outdoor recreation and tourism to the health benefits of time spent in nature (which reduce healthcare costs and stress that lowers productivity in the workplace). 

I recorded this interview with Dr. Scot Duncan a couple of weeks before the release date and scheduled it for epsiode 17 because I had a conference and other constraints that would keep me from doing new interviews during the 10 days or so leading up to August 6, the date I'm publishing this episode of Birmingham Shines.

In a sad coincidence, the night before the episode was scheduled to publish for Birmingham Shines the Alabama State Senate voted, 23-1, in a special session to destroy the Alabama Forever Wild program by diverting funds from that program to fund the Alabama State Parks system.

The Forever Wild program was approved in 2012 by a 75% of Alabama voters who authorized a 20-year continuation of the program. Forever Wild Alabama is funded through 10% of the interest on oil and gas royalties paid to the State by oil and gas developers. The Forever Wild program and lands in the program are not intended to be a replacement or substitute for the Alabama State Parks.

I hope this conversation with Dr. Duncan will contribute to public awareness of the travesty that will occur if the House goes along with the State Senate and passes legislation to divert funding and end Forever Wild. I hope that this conversation will raise awareness that nature is a leading engine of our economic not an expense.

One of the fastest (and least expensive) ways we could boost our state's economy is to grow our tourism industry, with an emphasis on outdoor recreation and outdoor sports, like fishing, boating, water sports, hiking, climbing, bird watching, and more. We need well-funded state parks and we need lands in Forever Wild. 

I hope you will share this episode widely and contact your Alabama legislators and the Governor and tell them to protect funding for Forever Wild, fund state parks and grow our economy by emphasizing the natural beauty of our state. Our lives depend on nature.

Visit for more.

This episode is also published as episode 22 of the Shine Springs Farm Shinecast®.

Jun 15, 2015

This is a bonus episode of Birmingham Shines, featuring David Weigel, a young educator and explorer who moved to Birmingham in 2014 to become the director of Christenberry Planetarium at Samford University.

David shares a bit about his love for space exploration what he likes about Birmingham (the outdoors and the city's amenities), and some of the topics that will be covered during the Alabama Summer Skies program at Christenberry Planetarium this summer.

The free planetarium shows are interactive and open to the public, with seating available on a first-come, first-served basis. The first show is set for June 16, 2015 and that's why I wanted to release this episode as a bonus, while still adhering to my regular Thursday publication schedule.

In addition to astronomy 101, the shows include updates on current NASA missions like New Horizons and Dawn, and the European Space Agency Rosetta mission to the Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

David talks about these missions in this episode of Birmingham Shines, as well as what you can see in the Alabama night sky this summer even if you can't make it to one of the shows at Christenberry Planetarium.

For details about the Alabama Summer Skies shows visit the Christenberry Planetarium Facebook page. You'll find a link to the page and the complete show notes at

The regular episode of Birmingham Shines will be published, as scheduled, early Thursday morning.