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Air Quality, and Fighting Opioid Addiction: Tuesday’s Show (April 25, 2017)

Is it getting harder to breathe around here? According to Environment Texas, the number of days Houston experienced unhealthy levels of ozone increased from 101 in 2015 to 106 last year. But that momentary snapshot may miss the bigger picture: the air quality in Houston is much improved from what it was years ago. On […]

Skyline Haze Smog Highway Arial - FMartinIs it getting harder to breathe around here? According to Environment Texas, the number of days Houston experienced unhealthy levels of ozone increased from 101 in 2015 to 106 last year. But that momentary snapshot may miss the bigger picture: the air quality in Houston is much improved from what it was years ago.

On this edition of Houston Matters, we discuss the history of air pollution in the region and then consider how strides made in improving air quality might be impacted in the coming years.

Also this hour…

Opioid Addiction Smyposium

Last week, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced the federal government will provide nearly half a billion dollars for prevention and treatment programs aimed at fighting opioid addiction. Texas will receive more than $27 million from that grant to support prevention, treatment and recovery services.

Here in Houston, UTHealth and the University of Houston are hosting a symposium on Friday (April 28, 2017) to discuss opioid abuse. We learn more about the latest research regarding opioid addiction and examine how Houston’s medical community is addressing this problem with Marc Fleming, assistant professor at the University of Houston’s College of Pharmacy.

The Geography of Genius

Eric Weiner likes to think of himself as a “philosophical traveler.” The former correspondent for NPR has made a second career out of studying the intersection of places and ideas, with books such as The Geography of Bliss and his latest: The Geography of Genius.

In the latter, he travels the world examining how and why creative genius has flourished at different times and places throughout history – such as Athens or Silicon Valley. Weiner will speak on Saturday (April 29, 2017) at the Tagore Society of Houston. Houston Matters producer Michael Hagerty talked with him to find out what he’s learned in his travels and his writing.

How a Comedian Became Mayor of Iceland’s Biggest City

It’s not that surprising to find all sorts of interesting people rolling through Houston. It is, after all, the nation’s fourth-largest city. And we’re a major player in all sorts of industries. For a while, one of those interesting people included Jon Gnarr (pronounced YAHN guh-NARR). He’s a comedian from Iceland, who — as a joke — once ran for mayor of the country’s biggest city (Reykjavik) — and won. Imagine the character Stephen Colbert played on The Colbert Report becoming a US Senator or mayor of New York City. While he says politics wasn’t his thing, Gnarr brought some comic relief to some hard times in Reykjavik.

So, what’s all the got to do with Houston? Well, for several months in 2015, he called Houston home as a writer and lecturer-in-residence at Rice University. Now, he’s back in Houston to give a talk at Brazos Bookstore called Sour Apples: The Pleasures and Paradoxes of Climate Change in Iceland, on Thursday (April 27, 2017). So, on that occasion, we revisit the conversation Houston Public Media’s Edel Howlin had with Gnarr about his time in politics and why he calls Houston “the greatest city on earth.”

Houston Matters offers a free daily, downloadable podcast here, on iTunes, Stitcher and various other podcasting apps.

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