Science & Environment

Around the Nation
9:01 am
Sat July 11, 2015

Wildfires In Canada And Alaska Drive Thousands From Homes

Smoke billows from a forest fire in southern Saskatchewan, Canada, in late June. Thousands of Canadians have been forced to evacuate their homes because of wildland fires.
AP

Originally published on Sat July 11, 2015 1:57 pm

"Extreme." "Unprecedented." "Historic." Those are just a few of the words being used to describe the start of this year's fire season in North America.

The wildfires are centered in the northwest of the continent, but their consequences are far-reaching. Thick smoke has blanketed parts of Wisconsin and North Dakota. It's triggered air alerts in Minnesota and Montana and muddied skies as far south as Tennessee and Colorado.

And, of course, things are even worse at the source.

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Animals
7:45 am
Sat July 11, 2015

For This Tarantula-Killing Wasp, Dinner's A Meal Best Served Living

Meal time for one species probably means sleepless nights for others.
Debbie Hall Flickr

Originally published on Sat July 11, 2015 10:38 am

It's been wet in Texas this year — exceptionally wet, as a matter of fact. With record amounts of rain, Texas is more than a little hot, green and rife with happy insects.

Take the tarantula hawk, for example. In case you've never heard of it, it's a wasp that's so big, and so nasty, that it attacks tarantulas — who happen to be quite big and nasty themselves.

So, what does a happy tarantula hawk look like? Ben Hutchins, an invertebrate biologist with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, takes NPR's Wade Goodwyn through all the gruesome wasp-on-tarantula details.

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Music
7:45 am
Sat July 11, 2015

Classical Composers' Feathered Influences

Originally published on Sat July 11, 2015 10:38 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

WADE GOODWYN, HOST:

Time now for some "Talkin' Birds."

(SOUNDBITE OF RADIO SHOW, "TALKIN' BIRDS")

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: It's a bird show. I like that. I love birds.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Ray Brown's Talkin' Birds.

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U.S.
6:50 pm
Fri July 10, 2015

California's Driest Region Finds Short-Term Drought Aid

Five 2,500-gallon water tanks wait to be unloaded at the nonprofit Self-Help Enterprises near Visalia, Calif. So far about 140 tanks have been distributed to homes, but at least 1,000 more are needed in Tulare County alone.
Kirk Siegler NPR

Originally published on Fri July 10, 2015 8:22 pm

Rural Tulare County, Calif., is now being called the epicenter of this drought.

That's because at least 1,300 residential wells have run dry, affecting at least 7,000 people. When your taps start spitting out air here, Paul Boyer and his team are who you call.

Under a punishing midafternoon sun, Boyer helps muscle down five of these hefty 400-pound water tanks from a semi-truck flatbed. He helps run a local nonprofit that's in charge of distributing these 2,500-gallon water tanks to drought victims.

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Goats and Soda
6:33 pm
Fri July 10, 2015

Cholera Vaccine Protects Whole Community, Even Unvaccinated

A family receives treatment for cholera at a clinic run by Doctors Without Borders in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, in October 2011, a year after the overwhelming outbreak began.
Ramon Espinosa AP

Originally published on Fri July 10, 2015 7:01 pm

It's about the size of an "energy shot." You take it just like a shot of whiskey — bottoms up.

But this little ounce-and-a-half of liquid is more potent than caffeine or alcohol.

It's a cheap, oral vaccine against cholera. It could prevent deadly outbreaks, like the current one in Haiti that has killed nearly 10,000 people.

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Science
5:11 pm
Thu July 9, 2015

Study Finds Most Ants In A Colony Are Slackers

Originally published on Thu July 9, 2015 6:26 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

The Salt
4:56 pm
Thu July 9, 2015

Buzz Kill For Bumblebees: Climate Change Is Shrinking Their Range

A bumblebee collects pollen from a flower. New evidence suggests climate change has left bumblebees with a shrinking range of places to live.
Yuri Kadobnovy AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri July 10, 2015 2:54 pm

There's new evidence that wild bees, some of nature's most industrious pollinators of wildflowers and crops, are getting squeezed by our planet's changing climate.

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Pop Culture
4:31 pm
Thu July 9, 2015

Tom Selleck Accused Of Stealing Water For California Ranch

Originally published on Fri July 10, 2015 3:03 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

Now we bring you the story of an investigation. Cue the "Magnum, P.I." music...

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MAGNUM, P.I. THEME")

MCEVERS: ...Because yes, this involves the famously mustachioed star of the '80s series, Tom Selleck.

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Goats and Soda
4:23 pm
Thu July 9, 2015

From Pygmy Hunting Songs To Taylor Swift, What Makes Music Universal

Even if you don't speak their language, you can likely communicate with these musicians through song and dance: Men from Papua New Guinea; Wiz Khalifa at the 2015 Billboard Music Awards; and Japanese dancers at the Daihanya Festival in Kagoshima City.
Ness Kerton/AFP/Getty Images; Ethan Miller/AFP/Getty Images; iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri July 10, 2015 9:57 am

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Environment
5:04 am
Thu July 9, 2015

ProPublica Documents The West's Water Crisis In 'Killing The Colorado'

Originally published on Thu July 9, 2015 8:23 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

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