Insect extinction, echidna back from brink, Diwali record breaker, Swedes say “hey”

Nov 22, 2023 Episode 165

Insect extinction threat, cute echidna back from the brink, India’s Diwali record breaker, Swedes campaign to be neighborly

Episode Transcript


LEELA: This week… Insect extinction, but one animal is bouncing back, Diwali 2023 breaks records and being neighborly in Sweden…

OPENING STING – LEELA: “Hey, hey, hey. Listen up. New, new, newsy – Newsy Pooloozi!”

LEELA: Hi! We’re back from our time off during the Indian festival season, once again brining you the coolest pool of news and information! I’m Leela.

MAMA: And I’m Lyndee.

LEELA: And this is Newsy Pooloozi!


LEELA: This week…

Insects – like ‘em or loath ‘em – creepy crawlies are a vital part of our planet and the cycle of life. But they’re declining at alarming rates!

Good news in Asia, though – yes, a mammal last seen in 1961 is back from the brink of extinction as it’s rediscovered.

This year’s Indian festival of Diwali breaks a record – but it’s not all good news.

And as the nights get longer – and I mean REALLY long up in Sweden – residents of a northern Swedish city are being asked to say one simple word to their neighbors. Which one? Oh, you know – you gotta listen till the end to find out!

Alrighty then – let’s dive on in. First up is…

BIG NEWS STORY STING – VARIOUS VOICES: “The big news story of the week!”

LEELA: This week it’s all about how sometimes the smallest amongst us are also the mightiest.

MAMA: Wow! That’s some deep thinking, my dear! And yes, you´re right, sometimes “Parvus sed potens,” which is Latin for “small but mighty.” And what are we talking about that’s “small but mighty?”

LEELA: Why, bugs, of course! Even though they’re literally at the bottom of the food chain, we humans wouldn´t be here without them!

MAMA: Correct again! And by “food chain,” we mean, who eats who – or what – in the wild, right?

LEELA: Yep. And in fact, there’s one insect, bees, who are absolutely essential for humans. Did you know bees pollinate 70 of the 100 crops that feed 90% of the world? Impressive, right?

MAMA: Ohhh yes very much so… And by pollinate, we mean, bees help fertilize plants so they can make seeds and flowers. But they’re not the only “small but mighty” insects out there. Are they?

LEELA: Oh, no.

MAMA: Insects make up about 80 percent of all animal life – in fact it’s estimated there could be 10 million insect species that we don´t even know about yet.

LEELA: Crazy. But sadly…

MAMA: A group of entomologists –

LEELA: Those are people who study bugs.

MAMA: Entomologists in North America say the world’s insects are declining at alarming rates – like 40 percent of all bugs are threatened by extinction.

LEELA: And by extinction, we mean when an animal species totally dies out. Forever.

MAMA: Although… if there were a few less cockroaches in the world, I wouldn’t be too upset…

LEELA: Well, Mama, sorry to say, but even those gross guys serve a purpose. Did you know cockroaches are like nature’s recycling team? They eat decaying plants, food and wood and little animals. They’re quite good at living with humans too, so they’re probably not dying out, or going extinct, anytime soon.

MAMA: And to be honest, they’re not even the GROSSEST of bugs out there, in my opinion. Two words. Dung. Beetle.

LEELA: Ha! Yes! Dung beetles! These creatures feed on other animals’ exterminate

MAMA: As a poop.

LEELA: Yes, it’s disgusting to think about, but again, they ARE vital for the ecosystem.

MAMA: I know, I know… Because they help fertilize the soil and improve its nutrients. But, sadly for them, and us, really, dung beetles are one of the species of insects that entomologists say could be in danger of extinction.

LEELA: So, what are they going to do to stop this?

MAMA: Well, first they gonna have to gather information. Lots of it. So, the National Academy of Sciences in the U.S. is launching a study on insect populations next year to learn more. And I guess another thing we can do is stop thinking about insects as “pests.” We humans need to see bugs as helpful to nature, and not something that needs to be exterminated.

LEELA: Exactly! I’ll remind you of that when you encounter your next cockroach.

MAMA: (Shudders) Thanks… I think.

[SOURCE: https://www.kosu.org/news/2023-11-08/insects-hold-our-planet-together-but-theyre-disappearing-a-national-study-aims-to-learn-more








LEELA: But we’re not finished with this topic – oh, no we’re not…

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.”  

MAMA: So, there is some good news on the extinction front.

LEELA: There sure is. And for this update we need to head to our environment correspondent

MAMA: Mirabel Power

LEELA: For the story.

MIRABEL: Thanks, Leela!

Yes, it seems like we’re constantly hearing about an animal or plant species dying out. As in gone. Forever.

But something strange happened recently in Indonesia. Scientists who THOUGHT an animal was extinct, actually rediscovered the animal again after 60 years!

What is it exactly?

Well, a funny little creature that looks a bit like a porcupine with a long skinny snout. It’s called an “echidna”.  (EH-KID-NAH)

But its official name is the Attenborough long-beaked echidna – yes, named after the famous English filmmaker and naturalist David Attenborough.

So how did they find out echidna were NOT extinct?

Well, last summer a group of scientists set up some cameras in the Cyclops Mountains in Papua, Indonesia… which was the last place an echidna was seen, way back in 1961.

The scientists trekked through some pretty intense rain forest, but eventually, they managed to film one.

And, boy, were they pleased.

Mainly because there are only four, well, now five species of this egg-laying mammal that exists.

The biologists said echidna represents a unique branch on the tree of life.

So, you could say the scientists really went… “out on a limb for them…”

Get it?

Reporting for Newsy Pooloozi, I’m Mirabel Power signing off for now!

LEELA: Awesome story, Mirabel. And even more awesome pun. Nice one!

MAMA: Yeah, thanks Mirabel!

[SOURCE: Elusive Attenborough echidna rediscovered in Indonesia (msn.com)

Sir David Attenborough: The echidnas, snails and scary plants named after him – BBC News


Zaglossus attenboroughi (Sir David’s Long-beaked Echidna) (iucnredlist.org)]

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: Hamas agrees to release 50 of its hostages being held in Gaza in a deal with Israel that includes a four-day pause in the fighting. 150 Palestinian women and children will also be released from Israeli jails under the agreement.

Rescuers trying to reach the 41 construction workers trapped in a tunnel they were building in India after a landslide gave the men their first hot meal in nine days. So far only snacks had been sent through a narrower pipe.

In South American Argentines elect the far-right outsider Javier Milei as their new president in a close race. The radical newcomer’s victory is being called “a political earthquake.”

Staying in Latin America, where temperatures are soaring in Brazil, a fan at a Taylor Swift concert passed out and later died of cardiac arrest. The superstar left heartfelt condolences on social media.

[SOURCE: https://www.bbc.com/news/live/world-middle-east-67481139




LEELA: Well, thank you so much for that – wait for it… that whippity-whappity-zippity-zappity wrap of what’s making headlines elsewhere in the world, Mama. But question… Are these actually 80 seconds like around the world in 80 seconds or does the time sometimes alter?

MAMA: Ohhh now you are asking. You know Leela we used to really careful about trying to make sure with definitely in 80 seconds at least you know the actual news may be not the introduction and the music but sometimes let you go lucy gucy with the time when there is more news. Alright, as we mentioned earlier, we took a little break the last two weeks to enjoy the festival season in India.

LEELA: Yep, it’s been party time – especially for the biggest festival, Diwali – the Hindu celebration of light over darkness.

MAMA: And this year a record was set a guiness record no less in the process.

LEELA: For more on this story, let’s cut across to our Indian festival correspondents, Adhyant and Nirbhay Singh Chauhan. Take it away, boys.


As you said, Diwali is a celebration of light over darkness.

Or you could say good over evil.

And as listeners to this podcast will know – if you heard the Diwali explainer last week – it’s a celebration marked by the lighting of lamps called diyas.

Those are typically small earthen, or clay bowls, filled with burning oil or just a candle.

Well, this year thousands of Indians set a Guinness World Record lighting the most oil lamps along a river in the holy city of Ayodhya.

How many, you’re wondering?

Not just a few hundred or thousand, oh, no.

But over 2.22 million lamps were burning at the same time!!

And they were burning for 45 minutes, as Hindu chants and music filled the air on the banks of a river.


This beats the city’s own record last year of 1.5 million earthen lamps lit.

But… while these days electric fairy lights are also strung up around people’s house, these traditional burning diyas…

Along with the many fireworks that are also let off during Diwali…


Means a lot of…


In fact, dangerously high levels of it too, especially in the capital, New Delhi.

Of course, as this podcast explained way back in Episode 16, India’s pollution problem is a multiheaded monster!

Yep, there are many reasons for the pollution problem in India.

From farmers burning their crops to the massive amount construction going on all over the country.

Never mind the constant exhaust from vehicles.

All of which makes it a complicated problem to solve.

Still… we’re hoping one day the light will conquer the dark… smog.

In Bangalore, we’re Adhyant and Nirbhay Singh Chauhan, reporting for Newsy Pooloozi!

[SOURCE: https://www.thelocal.com/20231107/swedish-city-launches-campaign-to-get-locals-to-say-hi


LEELA: Thanks a lot guys agree completely.

MAMA: Me too.

LEELA: OK then – let’s see what the lucky dip machine has for our last story 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: Well, the lucky dip machine is on point this week – as we talk about the power of light over darkness.

MAMA: Oh, really? Good old lucky dip machine!

LEELA: Yes, a curious new campaign is being launched in Sweden where this time of year the sun barely shines up there in the top of the Northern Hemisphere.

MAMA: I know! I think I’d go bonker-brains with only four or five hours of sunlight a day.

LEELA: Well, the poor city of Luleå only gets THREE HOURS of sunlight in winter! So, it’s no wonder the people there have a reputation for being quiet and unsociable. Or, I mean, very reserved.

MAMA: Yeah, with such blink-and-you-miss-it short days, never mind the cold, I guess face-to-face conversations are pretty rare in the winters there.

LEELA: I know. And get this – they’re so reluctant to be social – that even the teeny-tiny word “yes” is replaced with just… a sharp intake of breath!

MAMA: No way!

LEELA: Yes way. Or, I mean, [sharp intake of breath]! Which is why city officials have launched a curious campaign to get people to say “hi” to each other or, I should say it in Swedish, “hej.” Yes, that’s hi – or hey – in Swedish, pretty cool, huh? In fact, that’s the name of the campaign – “säg hej” – though in the Swedish spelling it looks QUITE different.

MAMA: And this campaign is just about saying hey? That’s it?

LEELA: Yep. They’re starting small. Don’t want to overwhelm the super shy.

MAMA: Hmph. OK.

LEELA: They reckon just saying a neighborly “hey” will bring a smile and inspire that person to do the same to the next neighbor and so on.

MAMA: I see. Taking the cool edge off the city by making it a little more sunny in attitude if not longitude. Ha ha, get it?

LEELA: [Sharp intake of breath] Very clever. But yes – you’ve got the idea.

MAMA: [Sharp intake of breath]

LEELA: [Sharp intake of breath]

MAMA: I could get used to this.

[SOURCE: https://www.thelocal.com/20231107/swedish-city-launches-campaign-to-get-locals-to-say-hihttps://www.bbc.co.uk/newsround/67439802]

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 – Bugs are super important to life on earth, Scientists say insects are in danger of extinction, which is dangerous for the ecosystem of life on earth or as the Latin phrase goes, “parvus sed potens” – what does that means?

Small but mighty

LEELA: FAB FACT NUMBER 2 – Echidna were recently rediscovered in Indonesia after 60 years. What is the official name of this egg-laying mammal?

David Attenborough’s echidna

MAMA: FAB FACT NUMBER 3 – India broke a Guinness Book of World Records lighting 2.2 million diyas, or earthen lamps, in what holy city?


LEELA: FAB FACT NUMBER 4 – And what is the Diwali festival a celebration of?

Light over darkness

MAMA: FAB FACT NUMBER 5 – The northern Swedish city of Luleå is encouraging its residents to say hi to each other, especially in the dark winter months when they only get how many hours of sunshine?


And don’t forget, if you want to test yourself later on, then go to the Lucky Dip page of our website, that’s pool-o-o-z-i, and take this quiz online in your own time!

LEELA: And that brings us to the end of this episode of Newsy Pooloozi!


LEELA: If you enjoyed this dip in the coolest pool of news and information then HIT that subscribe button on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Alexa or wherever you get your podcasts.

MAMA: While you’re at it… Give us a good rating. Or better still, leave us a review! Go on – we’ll read it out loud if you do…

LEELA: Alrighty then, see you next week in the happy, splashy giant Newsy Pooloozi!