Current Event February 8, 2021
President Biden has nominated New Mexico Congresswoman Deb Haaland to head the U.S. Department of the Interior. If confirmed by the Senate, Haaland would become the first Native American to hold a Cabinet-level position in the government. The Interior Department oversees public land such as national parks. In the past, the U.S. government removed indigenous people from much of their land, and some say Haaland’s Native American background gives her a unique perspective on issues of land use and rights. Listen to hear more about Deb Haaland and reactions to her nomination, and learn what she hopes to accomplish as Interior secretary.
Update: Since this story aired, Deb Haaland has been confirmed by Congress as U.S. Secretary of the Interior.
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.
Across the globe, people consume many different types of foods, but some food choices are better for the environment than others. This audio story introduces cricket protein, a different food source than many of us are used to eating and a more sustainable option than animal proteins such as beef or lamb. Listen to learn more about cricket protein and why it is a good protein choice for the planet.
There is no minimum age for scientific discovery. Young scientists ask questions about topics that have puzzled humans for hundreds of years. This audio story introduces a high school senior who uses math to help astronomers search for undiscovered planets. Listen to hear more about this project and other amazing work done by Ana Humphrey.
Current Event June 4, 2020
Yellowstone National Park, among the nation’s most popular tourist sites, has been closed during the pandemic. Now officials face unique challenges as they consider reopening the park for the summer season. A quick reopening could help local businesses that have suffered during the closure, but maintaining social distancing and other safe practices will be difficult when hordes of visitors arrive. Listen to hear local people and a park visitor discuss the benefits and risks of reopening one of the nation’s busiest national parks.
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?
A variety of adaptations help animals survive the winter, when temperatures drop and food is scarce. Some migrate, some change how they eat and find ways to stay warm, and some hibernate, essentially going to sleep for many months. Listen to learn about how different animals adapt to the changing seasons and find out what happens when bears hibernate.
Current Event November 6, 2019
A Chinese insect has invaded Pennsylvania. It likely traveled on shipping containers across the Pacific ocean and when it arrived, it found bountiful food and no real predators. Now, the spotted lanternfly populations are getting out of control. With both ecosystems and businesses suffering, experts are considering drastic actions to reduce this invasive insect’s spread. Listen to learn more about the spotted lanternfly and scientists’ “crazy” solution to this bug’s growing numbers.
Current Event November 5, 2019
Wildfires are raging across California, forcing thousands of people to flee their homes and prompting neighboring states to send supplies to help fight the blazes. Adding to the confusion, some areas have gone dark as California’s biggest electric company has shut off service. The company claims blackouts are necessary to contain the fires, but California’s governor blames the company for creating the problems that led to an unsafe electric grid. Listen to hear the governor of California describe how Californians can stay safe and why he feels such urgency about the electric company fixing the power grid.
Current Event October 30, 2019
According to a new report, bird populations are generally decreasing throughout North America. Having fewer birds could negatively impact our ecosystems and our lives. However, there are steps we can take to help our feathered friends bounce back. Listen to learn what factors are causing bird populations to decline and some simple steps people can take to help slow the trend.
Current Event October 24, 2019
Landscape architect Walter Hood is famous for transforming worn out urban spaces into beautiful and useful places. The winner of a MacArthur Fellowship, also known as a “genius grant,” Hood researches the history of a neighborhood, talks to residents, and then incorporates their ideas into his designs. Listen to learn how Hood’s childhood memories influence his work and how he integrated a slave ship drawing into a museum design project.
Current Event October 23, 2019
The boardwalk in Ocean City, New Jersey, was plagued by food-stealing seagulls. They would dive down and snatch French fries, pizza, and even ice-cream right out of people’s hands. The city devised a creative solution to remedy this situation–more birds! Listen to learn how bringing in bigger birds made the boardwalk a friendlier place.
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 2, 2019
Have you ever wondered what chirping birds might be saying to each other? Squirrels seem to understand communications between their feathered neighbors, and they use this information to help them stay alive. Recently, scientists decided to see just how much information “eavesdropping” squirrels gather from birds. Listen to discover what they learned and how these animals’ networks operate “almost like Facebook.”
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.