Current Event February 22, 2021
A huge power outage in Texas has left millions of people without electricity. The crisis occurred when a storm brought frigid temperatures causing equipment to freeze in every part of the state’s power generation system, including wind turbines, natural gas wells, and coal and nuclear plants. The cold weather was unusual for Texas, but experts say the state needs to prepare its power systems for more extreme weather events in the future. Listen to learn more about the crisis and how politicians are discussing it in the media.
Current Event February 3, 2021
The world's billion-and-a-half cows produce huge amounts of methane, a gas that contributes to global warming. Methane is made in cows’ guts as they digest their food. When they burp and fart, they spew the gas into the air. Now, scientists have found a simple, unexpected way to reduce methane production in cows. Listen to learn about a surprising solution to the problem of gassy cows and how it may help address climate change.
A whale inhales and exhales air through the blowhole at the top of its head. The plume that rises when the whale exhales is made up of blow, a scientific term for whale snot. Whale snot can reveal important information about whale stress, but collecting the snot can be challenging. Listen to hear a scientist describe how she collects whale snot and what it can tell us about how whales are coping with the effects of climate change.
Current Event October 28, 2020
When people think of penguins, they often imagine them waddling on ice and sliding into freezing water. Some species of penguins, though, live in warm climates, and that has scientists wondering how penguins manage to adapt to such different environments. Recently a study was released that provides some answers. Listen to learn where scientists believe penguins first evolved, what powered their migration, and how their bodies have adapted to a wide variety of environmental conditions.
Current Event September 17, 2020
Wildfires are burning out of control in California, Oregon, and other states in the western U.S., and now National Guard units from outside the region are being sent to help battle the blazes. Officials are asking other countries like Canada and Mexico to send fire crews, too. The huge fires are moving close to cities and towns and have posed a dangerous threat to homes, people, and wildlife. Listen to hear why fires are becoming bigger and more frequent in the West and what firefighters have been prioritizing as they spread out of control.
Current Event September 9, 2020
Parasites are creatures that live in or on a host animal. Some people dislike parasites because they can be slimy, and they often cause harm to their host, but they can also play a key role in supporting ecosystems. Now, climate change is threatening the survival of host animals such as elephants and polar bears, putting their parasites at risk, too. Listen to hear about the surprising life cycle of a flatworm and learn what scientists are doing to try to save important parasites.
Hurricanes are huge storms that can cause major damage and destruction. Scientists predict that hurricanes will gain in strength due to climate change. Since nothing can be done to stop hurricanes, scientists are working on methods to better predict hurricanes so that people can prepare well in advance. This audio story describes how climate change affects hurricanes. Listen to hear how hurricanes affect land and why predicting a hurricane is so challenging.
Human beings have a long-standing fascination with dinosaurs that dates back to the discovery of the first fossils. To this day, people of all ages visit museums and fossil sites to study and learn more about these prehistoric creatures. This audio story features the answer to a seemingly simple question: how did the dinosaur age begin? Listen to hear what scientists know about the beginning of the age of dinosaurs. The story may contain a few surprises!
Current Event May 5, 2020
Snapping shrimp produce surprisingly loud noises by clicking their claws. The noises they make are so pronounced that they once led to a Navy investigation. Ocean warming is causing the snapping shrimp clicks to become even louder and more frequent. The increase in ocean noise from this and other human impacts can be disruptive to marine ecosystems where sound is important to survival. Listen to hear what snapping shrimp sound like and learn why their sounds might be helpful to some species and harmful to others.
Current Event April 21, 2020
As factories shut down and fewer people drive to work, the environment is getting cleaner. Carbon emissions have dropped worldwide and people around the globe are noticing clearer air and better views of mountains. Scientists point out that an even bigger drop is needed to head off the worst effects of climate change, requiring actions such as converting to wind and solar power. Listen to hear more about how the slowdown in human activity is affecting the environment and why scientists believe animal sightings have increased.
Current Event March 11, 2020
The earth is getting warmer. Records kept for the past century show a steady increase in temperature each decade, and 2019 was the second hottest year ever. As humans send carbon dioxide into the air from cars, factories, and other sources, the trapped heat warms the planet, causing glacial ice to melt, oceans to rise, and big weather events like floods and droughts to increase in intensity. Listen to learn more about changes to the earth caused by global warming and what to expect in the future.
Current Event January 14, 2020
Wildfires are raging in Australia, threatening human and animal life. As the climate warms and rainfall and humidity decrease, large parts of the land have become dry and brittle – ideal conditions for fires to start suddenly and spread quickly. Listen to hear how intense heat and smoke are affecting daily life and what residents are doing to stay cool when temperatures reach 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
Current Event January 10, 2020
Renewable resources are said to provide “clean” energy that does not harm the planet. Some say wood is renewable, arguing that trees can be replanted, and that the carbon dioxide released by burning wood is eventually reabsorbed by the new trees, making them “carbon neutral.” Others dispute the math used to calculate carbon neutrality since it takes so many years to regrow a forest. Listen to hear why the U.S. is sending millions of tons of wood pellets to Europe for burning and then debate: Should wood be considered renewable energy?
Current Event January 7, 2020
Extra food thrown into landfills produces harmful methane gas as it rots, contributing to global warming. Farmers in Massachusetts are combating the problem by converting gas from food waste into something useful: electricity. The results have helped to power thousands of homes. Listen to hear a farmer describe how he makes electricity from discarded food and why he calls the process a “home run.”
Current Event November 25, 2019
The worst flood in 50 years has hit the historic Italian city of Venice. The 6-foot high floodwaters damaged buildings, art, books, and other precious objects, and volunteers are streaming into the city to help. Listen to hear volunteers explain why they flocked to Venice after the flood and learn what is involved in saving the city’s valuable treasures.
Current Event November 1, 2019
A Native American tribe in California took an unusual step to protect a river central to its way of life – it gave the river the same rights as a person. The move allows the tribe to take legal action against anyone who harms the river. Listen to hear a tribal member explain the special role of the river in tribal life and why the group decided to take such bold action.
Current Event October 21, 2019
A recently released United Nations report looks at changes in the world’s oceans caused by a warming climate. The report found that oceans are rising at a faster rate than ever before and becoming more acidic, threatening human and fish populations. Communities that depend on the sea for their food and way of life are especially vulnerable. Listen to learn more about the challenges humans will face as sea levels continue to rise.
Current Event October 16, 2019
Low-income urban neighborhoods are often hotter than wealthier neighborhoods in the same city. This is problematic, especially during heat waves, when residents’ health and even their lives could be at risk. One of the reasons poorer areas get hotter is because they tend to have fewer trees. Listen to learn how trees keep communities cool and why they are more prevalent in some neighborhoods than others.
Current Event October 1, 2019
Frustrated by the slow pace of progress on addressing climate change, millions of young people around the world recently skipped school and took to the streets in protest. The strike came days before the U.N. Climate Action Summit, and protesters of all ages joined the students with signs demanding that their governments take urgent action. Listen to hear more about these worldwide strikes and what the marchers hoped to accomplish.
Current Event September 23, 2019
The Arctic may seem like an unlikely place for fires, but every year wildfires burn millions of acres of forest in Alaska, northern Canada, and Siberia. This century, the blazes have grown bigger, hotter, and more frequent, causing health problems for local residents and releasing harmful greenhouse gases into the environment. Listen to hear a climate scientist describe the effects of wildfires in the Arctic and how the global community can respond.