Oct 4, 2023 Episode 160
Goats and AI used to fight fires in California, Swiss glaciers melt at record pace, humans have Neanderthal mix, animals on the loose
LEELA: This week… Goat firefighters, melting Swiss glaciers, Neanderthal mixing and animals on the loose.
OPENING STING – LEELA: “Hey, hey, hey. Listen up. New, new, newsy – Newsy Pooloozi!”
LEELA: Hello and welcome to Newsy Pooloozi – I’m Leela.
MAMA: And I’m Lyndee.
LEELA: And you’re listening to the coolest pool of international news and information for kids.
MAMA: And adults like it too!
LEELA: That’s true. We get reviews from kids and adults alike. So, this week…
Goat firefighters to the rescue in California. No, not goat as in “greatest of all time” fire-fighters, but literally – baaaaaaah – goats to help fight fire. Find out how.
Also, news from high up in the Swiss Alps where glaciers are melting at a record rate.
Plus, big news for the human race – we might have more Neanderthal in us than previously thought.
And while animals on the loose in Mexico, India, Malaysia and, in the US, you’ll never believe what “support pet” was denied entry into a baseball game.
LEELA: Alrighty then, let’s dive on in. First up, it’s the…
BIG NEWS STORY STING – VARIOUS VOICES: “The big news story of the week!”
MAMA: So, for the past few years, it seems like forest fires dominated the news headlines during the summer months in both California and down under in Australia, right?
LEELA: Tell me about it. But this year it feels like we were hearing about forest fires in all different parts of the world.
MAMA: I know, right? From Canada, to Portugal, to Chile…
LEELA: And Hawaii.
MAMA: Of course. As temperatures are creeping up with global warming, resulting in super dry land, it meant the right condition for forest fires to crop up.
LEELA: And spread.
MAMA: That’s right. Because when land gets hot and dry, it burns quickly. Well, authorities are thinking of ways to stop fires even BEFORE they begin by reducing the amount of highly flammable dry grass and bush around it. And you’ll never guess what they’re using to do that in California.
SFX OF GOAT
LEELA: Goat firefighters?!
LEELA: Mama, you’ve got to be “KIDDING” me.
MAMA: Ha! Because a baby goat is called a kid… Nice one! But it’s true. In places that are super dry, firefighting teams are using goats as a sort of vacuum cleaner to gobble up the bushes before they catch fire.
LEELA: I guess it makes sense. Goats have those long narrow snouts and nimble – or quick – tongues and lips. And, whenever I’ve seen them, well, they do seem like they’re always hungry!
MAMA: They are! They eat lots of grass and bushes that are a pain in the neck to remove by hand, like the thorny star thistle plant, because you get stuck by their prickly thorns!
LEELA: They also eat poisonous plants I guess because, I guess, they have stomachs of steel?
MAMA: Exactly! And besides these eating habits, did you know that goats like to stand up on their hind legs to get to hard-to-reach spots?
LEELA: Anything for a snack, I guess.
MAMA: You got that right. Now, interestingly, this is not the first-time firefighters have used goats to help create a buffer, or a firebreak.
LEELA: A fire-what?
MAMA: A firebreak, it’s an area where all the dry bush, and dead trees, and loose shrubs and other flammable vegetation are cleared away.
LEELA: Ah, I get it! So, if a wildfire is headed that way and it gets to the open spot – with no trees or shrubs to burn – the fire goes out!
MAMA: That’s exactly right. A firebreak BREAKS the fire before it reaches people’s homes. And firefighters have been using goats, and cows and sheep for that matter, for years in other places in the world where it’s dry.
LEELA: Smart. Genius, actually. “Kids” these days, just have all the answers!
MAMA: Oh dear. With all these puns, you’re really “goading” me on, aren´t you?
MAMA: Oh well, You started it! Now… besides goats, another new weapon in the firefighting toolbox is … Hold on. I gotta play this first…
TECH STING – LEELA/MAMA: “It’s time for…. Technology News, technology news, tech news!”
LEELA: Wait, what’s tech gotta do with wildfires?
MAMA: Well, artificial intelligence is also helping authorities fight fires.
LEELA: Don’t tell me ChatGPT now also fights fires?
MAMA: Well, Kinda. AI is being used to help locate and identify fires in places where there is little to no visibility. As in, you can’t see them.
LEELA: Ok… So, how does that work?
MAMA: At the Cleveland National Forest in San Diego County and California, for example, there are about 1,000 cameras stationed in different parts of the forest. Recently, a camera with AI was able to identify a small fire and alert authorities who then contained the blaze to a small, 10 by 10 foot area.
LEELA: Wow! That’s pretty amazing. I guess the fire would have been burning out of control otherwise.
MAMA: Completely. So, here’s to a mix of old and new-school firefighting techniques.
LEELA: Hooray! Now, I believe we’re staying outside for our next story, right? Because it’s time for…
NATURE STING – VARIOUS VOICES: “The call of nature. Get on your safari suite. Or squeeze into your scuba gear. And get ready to hop into a jeep. Or submarine. Submarine. Because mother Nature is calling! Nature.”
LEELA: So, Mama.
MAMA: So, Leela.
LEELA: When you hear “Swiss Alps” – what comes to your mind?
MAMA: Ummm, the famous book or story of Heidi, the movie the Sound of Music and fashionable ski slopes.
LEELA: Exactly. It’s not like glaciers comes first to mind, right?
MAMA: Oh, yeah, no. I mean, you’re right.
LEELA: Yet the Swiss Alps are also known for glaciers. Guess how many there are?
MAMA: Glaciers? In the Swiss Alps – so not the neighboring French, Italia or Austrian Alps? Okay!
LEELA: Right. Just Switzerland.
MAMA: Ummm, 200?
LEELA: No way – more like 2000! Well, 1,800 to be precise, including the region’s longest one the Aletsch Glacier. [PRONOUNCED: Ai’lasht]
MAMA: Wow, that’s a lot of glaciers. Which, of course, are masses of ice that move slowly down a valley.
LEELA: Right, only there’s a problem.
LEELA: Yep, and for this we’ve gotta head to our Swiss correspondent Avani Jade Prasad, who’s got the story.
AVANI: Merci, Leela.
You’re right – there’s a big problem these days with Switzerland’s Alpine glaciers. They’re shrinking!
And the rate at which this is happening is being described by authorities as “mind-blowing.”
We’re talking ten percent of their ice volume has totally disappeared in just TWO years.
The last time they shrunk by that much it took THREE DECADES to happen – from 1960 to 1990.
But now it’s just taken two years. Why?
Well, for a start – rising temperatures.
Switzerland has just experienced its third hottest summer on record.
But also, there’s been less snow than usual too.
Put the two things together and well, we’re in meltdown mode.
Most of the world’s mountain glaciers which are remnants of the last ice age in case you didn’t know! are retreating due to climate change.
But those in the European Alps are smaller and don’t have as much ice cover – making them more exposed and vulnerable.
So, if greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise, the Alps glaciers are likely to shrink by more than 80% by 2100.
And that is really mind-blowing!
Reporting on the Swiss Alps, I’m Avani Jade Prasad, for Newsy Pooloozi.
LEELA: Thanks a lot, Avani, for that important story!
WORLD WRAP STING – LEELA: “What’s that? I’ll tell you what. That’s the halftime bell! Which means… it’s time to hear what’s making news around the rest of the world. Hold on tight, it’s around the world in 80 seconds.”
MAMA: The Nobel Prize in physics is awarded to three scientists who created rapid flashes of light to ‘capture the shortest of moments.’ Put another way – they created tiny pulses of light so short they can be used to watch the inner workings of atoms.
In Peru while workers were installing a new gas line below the city street in the capital, Lima, guess what they discovered. None other than eight mummies and a wealth of artifacts from BEFORE the Inca era. They were buried in a sitting position, wrapped in funeral bundles made of cotton.
Over in Asia, a critically endangered Sumatran rhinoceros’ calf is born at a national park in Indonesia, where such rhinos were once found in great numbers before illegal poaching and habitat loss nearly wiped them out. The calf’s birth represents hope for the threatened species.
And get ready for a ring of fire… Yes, an annular – as in ring-shaped – solar eclipse will make its appearance in the skies over in North, Central and South America on October 14. It’s a rare and dazzling event – so mark your calendars!
MAMA: Big Neanderthals news this week.
LEELA: Neanderthals – as in the human-like creatures with huge foreheads and unibrows?
MAMA: Those are the ones. But they may be more human than we thought!
LEELA: What?! We’re related to Neanderthals – they’re not just our very distant cave-man cousins?
MAMA: That’s right! Well, maybe not the cave-man cousin bit. But, yes, Neanderthals were one of the groups of early up-right, two legged creatures that once roamed the earth. They’re an extinct species or subspecies of “archaic humans.”They looked pretty similar to us but were a bit shorter and stockier.
LEELA: Stockier means… like sturdy?
MAMA: Yes, exactly. They looked beefy; you know? And like you said, they had deep-set eyes, prominent jaws and a long sloping forehead.
LEELA: So, whatever happened to them?
MAMA: Well, a new species of human developed who had bigger, smarter brains and who were more mobile. They were called homo sapiens.
LEELA: That’s the group that WE’RE from!
MAMA: Yes, exactly. But now researchers have found out that, we may have more “Neanderthal” in us, than we once thought?
LEELA: What do you mean “in us”?
MAMA: Well, a few years ago, some scientists in Sweden mapped the Neanderthal DNA genome.
LEELA: The what-what?
MAMA: The Neanderthal DNA genome. It’s basically a list of all the genes – you know, as in the building blocks of life that EVERYTHING is made up of – well, this was a list of genes that made up Neanderthal people. And what they discovered when they looked closely at this list was that some of the Neanderthal genes were passed down to us, the homo sapiens.
LEELA: Wow! So, like, I could be part Neanderthal?
MAMA: Maybe! We’d have to run a few tests to know for sure. But what scientists found was that Neanderthal DNA was linked to the shape of people’s noses, their fertility as in the ability to produce babies and even their immune system.
LEELA: That’s pretty incredible! I guess calling someone a “Neanderthal” won’t be an insult anymore, ehh?
MAMA: I guess you’re right.
LEELA: And finally, let’s see what the lucky dip machine has for us this week.
ODDBALL STING – VARIOUS VOICES: “Step right up, step right up… Have a go at the lucky dip machine… What’s it gonna be today, eh? An oddball, no doubt!”
LEELA: Oh, yes, indeed, we don’t have just one odd ball. But this week 4 in fact, has come out of the machine.
MAMA: What – is it broken?
LEELA: Nope, there’ve just been that many odd stories about – wait for it, – animals on the loose. Q the music mama.
LEELA: First, we start in Mexico, where a family was enjoying a birthday picnic in a Monterrey Park.
When all of a sudden, they had an unexpected visitor none other than a hungry bear.
Yes, without a care in the world, the bear began to eat their tacos and tamales.
Acting like a “mama bear” herself, the birthday boy’s mother held him tight, shielding his eyes, keeping him calm, while the family sat frozen – not daring to upset the beast during his feast.
After a few moments eating all, he could, the bear casually sauntered away.
Meanwhile, all the way across the world, right here in India, just a few miles from us, in fact, at the Delhi Zoo, some work was going on next to a certain animal enclosure.
Without thinking, workman had casually knocked out a small hole in the wall just big enough for two of the animals to escape.
None other than two five-foot-long baby marsh crocodiles, also known as muggers.
Yes, it was half an hour before they were discovered and put in a more secure enclosure. Luckily it was just before the zoo opened to the public.
Nearby in Malaysia… a woman decided to clean her porch just before daybreak when she felt something biting her leg.
Turning a light on, she sees what she thinks is a monitor lizard – only it’s a lost baby crocodile!
No, not the one from Delhi Zoo.
But, still, if there’s a reason not to clean your house too early, this is it!
And, finally, spinning the globe back around to the US – you won’t believe what kind of pet a man tried to get into a Major League Baseball Game in Philadelphia.
He claimed his pet was his emotional-support service animal.
Certified dogs for people with special needs are allowed.
But this was not a dog.
Because it was a five-foot-long… alligator!
On a leash. But still!
I’d say that’s a croc of… crazy, if you ask me!
FAB FACTS STING – LEELA: “And it’s time to wrap up the podcast with the top five fab facts heard today. Here goes…”
MAMA: FAB FACT NUMBER 1 – Goats are helping firefighters in California by clearing out the dry grass and bush. What makes them so good at doing this?
Their nimble tongues and lips
LEELA: FAB FACT NUMBER 2 – In fact these goats eat lots of grass and bushes that are a pain to remove by hand, like the thorny plant?
MAMA: FAB FACT NUMBER 3 – MAMA: This is not the first-time firefighters have used goats to help create a firebreak, which is what?
A firebreak is an area where all vegetation has been cleared away and so acts as a buffer, breaking the fire.
LEELA: FAB FACT NUMBER 4 – Switzerland’s Alpine glaciers are losing 10% of their volume in just two years because of rising temperatures and less snow than usual. What are glaciers and how many does Switzerland have?
Glacier are masses of ice that move slowly down a valley and Switzerland has 1800 of them.
MAMA: FAB FACT NUMBER 5 – Scientists have just discovered that we Homo sapiens are more related to our Neanderthal cousins than we thought! What unique characteristics did these cousins have?
Prominent forehead and deep-set eyes
And don’t forget, if you want to test yourself later on, then go to the Lucky Dip page of our website, newsypooloozi.com, that’s pool-o-o-z-i, and take this quiz online in your own time!
LEELA: And that almost brings us to the end of this episode of Newsy Pooloozi! But first – yes – of course, we’ve got another review to read out.
MAMA: And this one is realllly old because it was left on New Zealand’s Apple Podcast review board, and you know, we don’t really see that too often. So deeeeeep apologies for not reading this out sooner, Ben4858, who wrote:
LEELA: Hi! I’m Benedict from New Zealand. Newsy Pooloozi is so awesome, also my cousins like it too and it is actually a real-world news podcast. It is so amazing I give it 2 million stars.
MAMA: Oh, my stars – how cool is that?! Thank you!
LEELA: Seriously! That’s so awesome – thanks a ton, Benedict!
LEELA: So, what are you waiting for? Go on and give us a rating and leave us a review.
MAMA: Yeah, it not only makes our day but helps other kids find us and hear us too.
LEELA: Alrighty then, see you next week in the happy, splashy giant Newsy Pooloozi!