Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Back from the dead?

An animal specimen discovered in the basement of the Natural History Museum in London has raised hopes that a species long thought to have been extinct in Australia may still be living in the remote outback.

An echidna in the wild in New Guinea (Tim Laman)

The long-beaked echidna looks like a cross between a platypus and a porcupine, but with the elongated snout of an anteater. It is one of just five mammal species on Earth that lays eggs.

It was thought that the last few animals were living in the rainforests of New Guinea where hunting has driven them to the brink of extinction.

But a surprise discovery in the museum's huge collection of preserved animals has raised the tantalising possibility that they have been living in Australia's remote North-West all along.

Podcast #43: Europe's horse meat scandal, The sound of glaciers + An Australian species back from the dead?

This podcast includes the following stories:
  1. Europe's horse meat scandal
  2. EU ministers vote for a phased ban on fish discards
  3. EU plans boost to cap and trade scheme by withholding new permits
  4. Global Ocean Commission formed to look at threats to the High Seas
  5. Chinese businessman offers reward for river dip
  6. The sound of glaciers melting
  7. Museum find raises hopes for 'extinct' Australian oddity
Listen to more CoolGreen episodes here

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Is Kraftwerk anti-nuclear?

German electro band Kraftwerk have updated the lyrics of their 1975 song Radioactivity to cement its status as an anti-nuclear anthem.

As pioneers of electronic music, Kraftwerk's whole image was futuristic and utopian. With lyrics like "I programme a home computer, beam myself into the future" and "fun fun fun on the Autobahn" there was usually an underlying suggestion that the future - and especially future technology - would be beneficial to the human race. 

The original lyrics of Radioactivity were minimal and passed no explicit judgement on nuclear energy.

Kraftwerk performing Radioactivity in London in February 2013
But again there was an implication that the technology was helpful:
Is in the air for you and me 

But come 1991, the song was updated to list the names of famous nuclear disasters: Chernobyl, Fukushima, Harrisburgh… The following lyrics were also added:

Chain reaction and mutation
Contaminated population
Stop radioactivity
Is in the air for you and me

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Q&A: Beijing Smog

Since the start of the year, China's capital Beijing has been swathed in smog so thick that it is causing health concerns as well as inconvenience. Here's the story unpacked:

Why is this newsworthy?
Apart from anything else, the photos are pretty remarkable. Where there were skylines, there are now shadows in a soupy grey haze. And as pictures from NASA's Terra satellite show, the air pollution appears to have wiped the city clean off the Earth. It is also a big deal because air measurements show that levels of certain substances are way above what is considered safe for humans.

Aerial view of Beijing on January 3

Aerial view of Beijing on January 14

Podcast #42: President Obama's climate pledge, Beijing air pollution + Why mackerel is off the menu

This podcast includes the following stories:
  1. President Obama's inaugural address
  2. Why mackerel could be off the menu in Europe
  3. NASA prepares to launch latest Earth-monitoring satellite
  4. A global treaty to phase out mercury
  5. BP to pay penalties totalling $4bn
  6. Shell not responsible for oil leaks in Niger Delta
  7. McDonald's to use sustainable fish
  8. Beijing's air pollution goes off the scale 
Listen to more CoolGreen episodes here