Topic: Environment

Current Event September 17, 2020

Western Fires Require Federal Help

Environment Climate Change

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.

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Current Event July 26, 2020

Weird News: Bald Eagles Return to Cape Cod

Environment Animals Conservation

Listen to hear about bald eagle sightings on Cape Cod for the first time in more than 100 years.

Vocabulary: deforestation, century, symbol

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Science

Eating Bugs is Good for the Planet

Environment Human Impacts Nutrition

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.

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Science

High School Astronomer Uses Math to Find Planets

Environment Space Systems Mathematics Forces and Newton’s Laws

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.

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Current Event June 4, 2020

Yellowstone Park Begins to Reopen

Health Environment Business

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.

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Current Event April 21, 2020

The Pandemic's Impact on the Environment

Health Environment Climate Change Air Pollution

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.

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Current Event March 11, 2020

The Warming Earth

Environment Climate Change Weather and Climate Human Impacts

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.

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Current Event January 14, 2020

Wildfires in Australia

Environment Climate Change Weather and Climate

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.

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Current Event January 10, 2020

Debate: Should Wood Be Considered Renewable Energy?

Environment Climate Change International

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?

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Science

Bears and Hibernation

Environment Animals Ecosystems

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.

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Current Event November 6, 2019

Invasion of the Lanternflies

Environment Ecosystems Ecology Diversity and Adaptation

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.

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Current Event November 5, 2019

California Wildfires Create State of Emergency

Environment Weather and Climate Industry

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.

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Current Event October 30, 2019

Birds Are Disappearing

Environment Animals Human Impacts Ecosystems Ecology Conservation

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.

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Current Event October 24, 2019

Revitalizing Neglected Urban Spaces

Environment Arts

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.

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Current Event October 23, 2019

Fighting Aggressive Seagulls

Environment Animals Human Impacts

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.

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Current Event October 21, 2019

Ocean Warming Is Accelerating

Culture Environment Climate Change Weather and Climate Human Impacts Oceans

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.

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Current Event October 16, 2019

Trees Can Help Beat City Heat

Health Environment Climate Change Class

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.

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Current Event October 2, 2019

Squirrels Are Listening

Environment Animals Ecosystems Language Ecology Diversity and Adaptation

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.”

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Current Event October 1, 2019

Climate Change Strike

Politics Environment Climate Change Protest Human Impacts Reform

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.

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Current Event September 25, 2019

How to Avoid Snake Bites

Health Environment Animals

Recent weather has led to an increase in snake populations across the United States. Given this trend, it is important to understand how to avoid being bitten by these animals and what to do if the worst case scenario does occur. Listen to hear insights from a biologist and an emergency room doctor about how to avoid snake bites and how to handle them if necessary.

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