PRI’s The World is a daily radio news magazine offering a mix of news, features, interviews, and music from around the globe. Launched in 1996, this co-production of Public Radio International, the BBC World Service, and WGBH/Boston goes beyond the headlines to bring its on-air and online listeners stories, voices and issues they won’t hear anywhere else. The World’s environment desk, launched in 2008, has expanded and deepened the program’s coverage of the environmental issues that increasingly affect the lives of every one of the earth’s 7 billion people.
The impacts of climate change linked to pollution from human activities are being seen faster and more widely than scientists expected just a few years ago. The World has explored this unprecedented global challenge from all angles, including the causes, policy debates, impacts and possible responses.
In Big changes in the cryosphere, a scientist from the National Snow and Ice Data Center talks about how fast the planet’s cold regions -- especially the Arctic and Greenland -- are changing as the planet warms up. To document some of these changes, reporters for The World travel to places like Greenland, Antarctica, and even Colombia's Nevados National Park; look at emerging science suggesting that melting ice may cause sea levels to rise much faster than expected; and explore how agricultural communities as different as coffee growers in Uganda and traditional farmers in the high Andes of Peru are experiencing and responding to climate change. And we report on a wide range of efforts and ideas to mitigate the effects of climate change, from an experiment in carbon sequestration in Iceland to tree-planting and growing efforts in Mongolia and Burkina Faso to the raging debate over the ethics of geoengineering.
The need for energy to fuel the global economy is at the heart of some of the biggest environmental challenges of our time, from climate change to widespread contamination of the air, water and soil. Correspondents for The World travel the globe to report on the environmental impacts of energy production, as well as efforts to develop cleaner alternatives to traditional fossil fuels. The World’s Beijing-based reporter Mary Kay Magistad explores the past, present and future of the world’s biggest consumer of its dirtiest fossil fuel in our five-part series China’s Coal Habit. Reporter Sam Eaton caps off a year of intense coverage by The World of Japan’s triple nuclear meltdown with a visit to the exclusion zone around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant and a look at how Japan is faring in its promised post-Fukushima move toward renewable power. And Anita Elash reports on the backlash against the growth of wind power in Ontario.
Our reporters discover small but promising green energy efforts in Pakistan, Kenya, India and Israel and the West Bank, and a collaborative effort to develop energy-efficient office buildings across North America from Toronto to Mexico City. As the boom in new shale oil and gas drilling technologies sweeps across the globe, we look into differing reactions to proposed projects in France, Israel and Poland. From Australia, we step into the middle of the contentious battle over a proposed carbon tax to help fight climate change. We turn our eyes northward to examine Canada’s emergence as an energy superpower and the battle over the country’s latest giant hydropower project. And we report on a unique project to use dangerous methane gas pumped from the bottom of a lake in Rwanda to help provide badly needed electricity to the small African country.
Water & Resources
With a human population of seven billion and counting, the demand on resources from clean water to precious metals is putting a strain on communities and ecosystems around the globe. The World explores the impacts, conflicts and proposed solutions on every continent. In Toilet Tales: Water and Waste, we take a global look at the widespread problems associated with human sanitation and the opportunities presented by efforts to deal with those problems. The 5-part series takes listeners to China for a report on a huge experiment with composting toilets, to Sweden for discussion of the benefits of “eco-sanitation,” on a visit to an Indian toilet museum with an ambitious public health mission, to Haiti for a look at the promise of composting toilets in solving a range of major problems in that impoverished country, and to Cambridge, Massachusetts for a report on a prize-winning plan to help solve the global sanitation crisis by converting human waste into fertilizer, electricity -- and profit. The World’s Laura Lynch travels to Pakistan to report on how water shortages in both urban and rural parts of that volatile nation are contributing to dissatisfaction with the government and political unrest. And in another multi-part series, The World’s Jason Margolis travels to Australia to explore the battles there over water, farmland and other resources.
Soaring prices are driving a global gold rush. We examine the benefits and consequences around the world, from Colombia to Romania, Ghana and Scotland, and report on a horrendous, ongoing lead poisoning epidemic in Nigeria brought on by a rash of illegal gold mining. From Laos, we look at a plan to dam the Mekong River that’s sending ripples throughout Southeast Asia; we return to Haiti, where activists hope to turn the massive 2010 earthquake into an opportunity to restore the country’s ravaged rural landscape and to Rwanda to hear about a sweeping government plan to restore that country's ecological integrity. With a foot each in Brussels and Seattle, we take a look at the differences between toxic waste recycling laws in the E.U. and the U.S. And as the world’s human population reaches a new milestone, we examine the different population trajectories of two similar countries -- Bangladesh and Pakistan -- and ask, "At seven billion people, is Malthus still wrong?"
Food & Agriculture
Climate change, population growth and land development are all putting an unprecedented squeeze on our ability to feed the world without overtaxing the environment. The World explores these challenges from the global to the hyper-local. With demand for meat booming in China, we explore the emergence of western-style industrial livestock farms and their impact on the environment. From Britain, we hear from a small farmer who’s making a pro-environment argument for eating meat and take a look at the growing global impact of nitrogen pollution from farms and factories. From Spain, we report on Europe’s tough new pesticide laws, and how they compare to those in the U.S. And we travel to Peru to explore the impact of the global asparagus market on local water supplies and hear about efforts to preserve the country’s unique agricultural diversity. We examine the trend of food-stressed countries buying or leasing farmland in other parts of the world, and look at case studies in Mali and Ethiopia. And we look into the possible links between climate change, food prices and political instability in places like Pakistan, Russia and Egypt.
Biodiversity & Development
As human activity affects more and more of the earth’s land, sea and air, there’s less and less space for other creatures and the vital natural goods and services they provide. And that’s led to an unprecedented extinction crisis. The World documents the hotspots and explores the causes, consequences and possible solutions. In East Africa, we report on clashes between wildlife and development on the iconic landscapes of Tanzania and Kenya. We examine the trade in illegal bushmeat in Ecuador, Cameroon and France, and the poaching of millions of songbirds a year in Cyprus. What does drinking coffee have to do with a decline in migratory birds? We explore that question and the impacts of other consumer goods on migratory birds. We travel to Panama to accompany scientists on a quest to rescue endangered frogs and take a look at a fledgling effort to promote eco-tourism in the small West African nation of Gabon. Reporter Ari Daniel Shapiro travels to the Indonesian island of Sulawesi to report on efforts to restore vital mangroves and to Beijing to talk with local residents who watch out for the sprawling city’s diminishing population of raptors. And looking at the big picture, we explore the growing understanding of biodiversity as “natural capital” and the efforts of the global community to wrestle with the extinction crisis.
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