Breaking news on the environment, climate change, pollution, and endangered species. Also featuring Climate Connections, a special series on climate change co-produced by NPR and National Geographic.


Washington, DC




Breaking news on the environment, climate change, pollution, and endangered species. Also featuring Climate Connections, a special series on climate change co-produced by NPR and National Geographic.




1111 North Capitol St NE Washington, DC 20002


Pope Francis: Climate Activist?

Pope Francis says he will attend the COP28 climate conference in Dubai next month, which would make him the first pontiff to attend the annual UN gathering. The pope has made addressing the climate crisis an important focus since 2015, when he published an encyclical on climate change and the environment. Last month, he doubled down on his stance with a new document – Laudate Deum. It's a scathing rebuke of the inaction by world leaders over the last eight years. As Francis takes on an even bigger role in climate activism. What does he hope to achieve? And how does this all fit into his broader legacy as leader of the world's 1.3 billion Roman Catholics. NPR's Scott Detrow spoke with Fordham professor Christiana Zenner, and Associated Press Vatican correspondent Nicole Winfield, about Pope Francis and his role in advocating for action on climate change. Email us at considerthis@npr.org.


Thousands of earthquakes in Iceland may spell a volcanic eruption

Saturday, the entire coastal town of Grindavik, Iceland was evacuated. That's because over the weekend, the country experienced nearly 2,000 earthquakes within 48 hours. And they've kept coming since then – in swarms. Scientists think the quakes are indicative of magma moving closer to the surface in the country's southwestern peninsula and that a local volcano could erupt at any moment. Today on the show, host Regina G. Barber talks to volcanologist Diana Roman about the science behind these earthquakes. Got science to share? Email us at shortwave@npr.org.


To Figure Out The Future Climate, Scientists Are Researching How Trees Form Clouds

If you've ever looked up at the clouds and wondered where they came from, you're not alone. Atmospheric researcher Lubna Dada is fascinated by the mystery of how clouds form and what role they play in our climate. Today, host Aaron Scott talks to Dada about a recent study on the role of trees in cloud formation, and how this data will improve our current climate models. Want more stories on the environment or climate change? Email us at shortwave@npr.org.


How to build low-waste practices into your life

The average American generates five pounds of trash per day, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Reduce your household trash by listing your output and taking these simple actions.


How Climate Change Is Testing The Endangered Species Act

Some people keep dogs in their backyards. In the Florida Keys, some residents have deer the size of a golden retriever in their yards. As sea levels rise and salt water climbs higher on the islands, it's shrinking habitat for this deer — which already has an estimated population of at most 1,000. Today, host Regina G. Barber hears from reporters Nate Rott and Ryan Kellman about the Key deer, and how rising sea levels are forcing wildlife managers to ask big questions about the future of the subspecies. In this episode, we incorrectly stated that Valerie Preziosi is the founder of Key Deer Alliance. In fact, she is the founder and director of the organization Save Our Key Deer.


Code Switch: Baltimore teens are fighting for environmental justice — and winning

From our friends at Code Switch, we present a story about one group of student activists in Baltimore and how their efforts to make their neighborhood healthier has them facing big coal — and actually making gains.


Florida Corals Are Dying. Can A 'Coral Gym' Help Them Survive?

Coral reefs in Florida have lost an estimated 90% of their corals in the last 40 years. And this summer, a record hot marine heat wave hit Florida's coral reefs, exacerbating that problem. Scientists are still assessing the damage as water temperatures cool. And one researcher is taking coral survival a step further: Buffing up corals in a "gym" in his lab. Reporter Kate Furby went to South Florida to see the coral reefs up close and talk to the innovative scientists working to save them. Questions about the science happening around you? Email shortwave@npr.org — we'd love to hear about it!


Why Chilean Mummies Are Decomposing After 7,000 Years

Here on Short Wave, we're getting into the Halloween spirit a little early with a look at the world's oldest mummies. They're found in modern-day northern Chile. The mummies are well-preserved, so over the past 7,000 years, some have been exhumed for scientific study. But recently, something startling happened: Some of the mummies started to decompose. Today on the show, Regina G. Barber talks to archeologist Marcela Sepulveda about the civilization that made these mummies: the Chinchorro people. We dig into the science behind their mummification techniques and how the changing planet is affecting archeologists' ability to study the past. Fascinated by a science mystery? Send us your tales — we're at shortwave@npr.org.


Student activists are fighting big coal, and winning

South Baltimore has some of the most polluted air in the country. Local teenagers are fighting polluters back, and slowly building toward climate justice.


As the 'water tower of Asia' dries out, villagers learn to recharge their springs

In the Himalayan foothills, water is getting harder to come by. Villagers in one region of northern India are learning how to recharge the groundwater-fed springs they depend on.


How the Sierra Club is adapting to the political challenges of the 21st century

Politicians in red states sometimes resist green policies. NPR's Steve Inskeep talks to Ben Jealous, executive director of the Sierra Club, about how they're trying to bring red and green together.


Fossil fuel rules catch Western towns between old economies and new green goals

The Biden administration is trying to dramatically change how and where oil and gas drilling occurs on federal land, which is getting mixed reviews in longtime drilling boom-towns.


Most of Western Washington's largest Caspian tern colony is dead. Can the seabirds rebound?

More than 1,500 adult Caspian Terns made Rat Island, near Port Townsend, their home. Now 80% of them are dead.


Cars are a major predator for wildlife. How is nature adapting to our roads?

Environmental journalist Ben Goldfarb says cars are killing animals, while highways cut off them off from their food sources and migration paths. His new book is Crossings.


The U.S. needs minerals for green tech. Will Western mines have enough water?

As the U.S. plans new mines for copper, lithium and other metals to use in green technologies, mining projects in the West could threaten scarce water supplies.


Thousands of federal firefighters face a looming pay cut. How much is up to Congress

The bipartisan infrastructure law granted federal firefighters a big pay bump. Amid a looming government shutdown, that wage increase will expire, leaving first responders unsure about their income.


Vaccines are still tested with horseshoe crab blood. The industry is finally changing

The horseshoe crab bleeding industry is in transition. One biomedical company agreed to more oversight, and a regulatory group is paving the way for drug companies to use animal-free alternatives.


A lawsuit is challenging the vast number of airstrips in Idaho's protected wilderness

Idaho has more backcountry airstrips and wilderness pilots than any state other than Alaska. Many airstrips were incorporated into protected wilderness but now conservationists are challenging them.


Can't Match The Beat? Then You Can't Woo A Cockatoo

Today on the show, All Things Considered co-host Mary Louise Kelly joins Regina G. Barber and Maria Godoy for our bi-weekly science roundup. They talk through some of the latest eye-catching science news, including the percussion-intensive mating life of cockatoos, what pink diamonds today tell us about the breakup of the ancient supercontinent Nuna and the latest on the Nipah outbreak in India.


Selling safety in the fight against wildfires

Wildfires are becoming more frequent and serious due to human-caused climate change. This is prompting a new industry focused on residential wildfire preparedness. Today, we consider the new technology addressing wildfire risk and the cost of protecting yourself. Related Episodes: Gambling, literally, on climate change (Apple Podcasts / Spotify) For sponsor-free episodes of The Indicator from Planet Money, subscribe to Planet Money+ via Apple Podcasts or at plus.npr.org. Music by Drop Electric. Find us: TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, Newsletter.