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PRI's Environmental News Magazine

May 24, 2013

Air Date: May 24, 2013

FULL SHOW

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SEGMENTS

Unpredictable Weather and Climate Change

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Producer Guy Hand tells the story of the much-maligned Magpie, the bird everyone loves to hate, and why the critter deserves a break. (06:35)

Greenhouse Gambling

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Cutting emissions might not keep the planet from heating up, but it would increase our odds of seeing less extreme temperature increases by the end of the century. MIT climate change researchers have worked those odds into a roulette wheel. Economist John Reilly let’s host Steve Curwood give it a spin to see what luck-- and different emissions paths-- might mean for our planet and its residents. (06:35)

Science Note: Synthetic Ambergris / Mary Bates

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Ambergris is a strange substance regurgitated from the stomachs of Sperm whales. It is a key ingredient in some perfumes, and can sell for as much as $10,000 a pound. But natural ambergris may soon be replaced by a synthetic alternative, and that’s a good thing for the whales. (01:34)

DOE Looks for Orphan Wells / Kate Malongowski

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The federal government is pushing new efforts to deal with an old problem – abandoned oil and gas wells. In Pennsylvania, there may be as many as 100,000 orphan wells. If the wells were not sealed properly, they could explode. As The Allegheny Front’s Kate Malongowski reports, the government is using high-tech helicopters to find out where these wells are located. (06:20)

The Darien Gap / Jennie Erin Smith

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The Pan American highway doesn’t go all the way from South America to Canada without interruption. The road breaks in the dense forest between Panama and Columbia known as the Darien Gap. New Yorker correspondent Jennie Erin Smith visited this beautifully inaccessible region and brought back tales of tamarins and paramilitaries. (11:25)

Mad about Magpies / Guy Hand

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Producer Guy Hand tells the story of the much-maligned Magpie, the bird everyone loves to hate, and why the critter deserves a break. (15:34)

Show Credits and Funders

Show Transcript

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Unpredictable Weather and Climate Change

Homes flooded in Minot, North Dakota. (photo: NOAA)

Transcript forthcoming.

Related link:
National Center for Atmospheric Research

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Greenhouse Gambling

John Reilly and the MIT Greenhouse Gamble. (Photo: Steve Curwood)

Transcript forthcoming.

Related link:
Check out the website from the MIT Joint Program on Science and the Policy of Climate Change

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Science Note: Synthetic Ambergris

Ambergris has been a key ingredient in fine perfumes for centuries. (Peter Kaminski)

Transcript forthcoming.

Related link:
Abstract in the Journal of Biological Chemistry

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DOE Looks for Orphan Wells

Surveying helicopter

Transcript forthcoming.

Related links:
- PA Dept. of Environmental Protection’s Abandoned & Orphaned Well Program
- PA Geological Survey website
- PA’s Orphan Well Project
- The Allegheny Front, environmental radio for western Pennsylvania

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The Darien Gap

Jennie Erin Smith with guide Sergio Tamayo and a U.N. plane that had seen better days in Capurgana (photo: Jennie Erin Smith)

Transcript forthcoming.

Related links:
- Jennie Erin Smith’s New Yorker article
- Jennie Erin Smith’s website

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Mad about Magpies

Ornithologist Chuck Trost holds a dead magpie he uses to perform a "magpie funeral." (Credit: Photos © Guy Hand Productions)

Transcript forthcoming.

Related link:
Learn more about the magpie at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website

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