• The Permian Basin Hosts the Highest Emitting Oil and Gas Project in the World

    The Permian Basin Hosts the Highest Emitting Oil and Gas Project in the World

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    Where is your favorite area of Texas?


    A few months ago, The Guardian did a five-month investigation into “carbon bombs,” or fossil fuel projects that would, over the course of their life, emit over one billion tons of carbon. They found that there are 195 planned oil and gas carbon bombs around the world, and if they proceed as planned, these projects alone would blow past internationally agreed upon climate targets. For our fourth deep dive on carbon bombs, we take a look at the Permian Basin: a large region of Western Texas and Southeastern New Mexico home to the highest emitting carbon bomb in the world. The Permian plays a major role in driving global climate change, but is also home to local issues from air and water pollution to land disputes to a struggle since the pandemic to find enough workers to keep the oil and gas industry moving. Today, we explore the issues posed by the oil and gas industry in the Permian Basin, how the region is responding to related climate and economic impacts, and how this region can move forward in a way that maintains the economic successes, but without the environmental costs. With special guest Dr. Joonghyeok Heo: Assistant Professor of Geosciences at the University of Texas Permian Basin.

    The Sweaty Penguin is presented by Peril and Promise: a public media initiative from The WNET Group in New York, reporting on the issues and solutions around climate change. You can learn more at pbs.org/perilandpromise.

    Support the show and unlock exclusive merch, bonus content, and more for as little as $5/month at patreon.com/thesweatypenguin.

    CREDITS

    Writers: Hallie Cordingley, Naomi Rubin, Ethan Brown

    Editor: Trevor Snow

    Producers: Ethan Brown, Megan Crimmins, Shannon Damiano, Maddy Schmidt

    Ad Voiceover: Maddy Schmidt

    Music: Brett Sawka

    The opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the host and guests. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of Peril and Promise or The WNET Group.


    Clips

     

  • Were We Prepared for September’s Historic Extreme Weather?

    Were We Prepared for September’s Historic Extreme Weather?

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    Prior to listening to this episode, how many of these weather events were you aware of?


    September has seen a long list of historic extreme weather events, from a record-breaking heat wave in the American west to a storm surge in coastal Alaska to Hurricane Fiona in the Caribbean. While each of these events was a different weather phenomenon affecting different regions, they did share some things in common, chiefly a strain on power grids and an overall lack of preparedness. Ethan breaks down how each of these historic weather events happened, what role climate change likely played in each of them, and what lessons we could take away from this intense month of extreme weather in this week’s “Tip of the Iceberg.”

    The Sweaty Penguin is presented by Peril and Promise: a public media initiative from The WNET Group in New York, reporting on the issues and solutions around climate change. You can learn more at pbs.org/perilandpromise.

    Support the show and unlock exclusive merch, bonus content, and more for as little as $5/month at patreon.com/thesweatypenguin.

    CREDITS

    Writer: Ethan Brown, Maddy Schmidt

    Fact Checker: Ysabel Wulfing

    Editor: Megan Antone

    Producers: Ethan Brown, Megan Crimmins, Shannon Damiano, Maddy Schmidt

    Ad Voiceover: Maddy Schmidt

    Music: Brett Sawka

    The opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the host and guests. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of Peril and Promise or The WNET Group.

  • EPISODE SWAP! “Hazard NJ” Episode 2: America’s Biggest Crime Scene

    EPISODE SWAP! “Hazard NJ” Episode 2: America’s Biggest Crime Scene


    “Hazard NJ” is another environmental podcast from The WNET Group covering Superfund sites in New Jersey. They will be releasing four new episodes this fall to take fresh looks at the relationship between these Superfund sites and climate change, starting on September 28th. We hope you enjoy this episode, and encourage you to subscribe to “Hazard NJ” wherever you get your podcasts.

    Our regularly scheduled “Tip of the Iceberg” and “Deep Dive” episodes will resume next week.

    About the episode:

    The chemical company Diamond Alkali, one of the nations main producers of Agent Orange, spent years dumping chemical waste into the Passaic River and polluting Newark’s Ironbound neighborhood. In the early 80’s, state and federal authorities pledged to clean the mess up but today, nearly 40 years later, toxic mud still lies beneath the water. Now the cleanup is facing a $1.8 billion price tag, an uncertain timeline, and the growing threat that intense storms fueled by climate change could stir the pollution up.

    About the show:

    New Jersey is home to the largest number of Superfund sites in the country — and while federal cleanup is underway — the bigger threat to them now is climate change. Flooding, fires, and rising sea levels could make life even harder for those who live nearby. Hazard NJ digs through the muck of each contaminated site to give a clearer picture of what the threat is and what it will take to clean it up before it’s too late. Hosted by journalist Jordan Gass-Poore’, produced by NJ Spotlight News.

  • Bonus: This Is Worse Than the Bear Carcass

    Bonus: This Is Worse Than the Bear Carcass


    LIVE from Third Wheel Hollywood, Ethan reflects on the first 100 episodes of the podcast. He discusses some of the biggest takeaways, what struck him so deeply about the recent carbon bomb story, and why he remains so motivated and optimistic about the future given today’s climate crisis.

    Support the show and unlock exclusive merch, bonus content, and more for as little as $5/month at patreon.com/thesweatypenguin.

  • Extended Cut: Penguins with Dr. Heather Lynch

    Extended Cut: Penguins with Dr. Heather Lynch
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  • Over Half of the World’s Penguin Species Are Threatened

    Over Half of the World’s Penguin Species Are Threatened

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    What’s your favorite type of penguin?


    We at The Sweaty Penguin may be biased, but penguins are a really cool animal. They play important roles in their ecosystems, they drive tourism revenue for many communities, and they themselves are fascinating for a number of their special traits and rituals. But unfortunately, 11 out of 18 penguin species are globally threatened, with climate change, pollution, and commercial fishing all playing major roles in penguins’ decline. Coming to you from Third Wheel Hollywood, in our first in-person episode with an audience, we explore why penguins are important, why their populations are changing, and where we go from here. With special guest Dr. Heather Lynch: Institute for Advanced Computational Sciences Endowed Chair for Ecology & Evolution at Stony Brook University.

    The Sweaty Penguin is presented by Peril and Promise: a public media initiative from The WNET Group in New York, reporting on the issues and solutions around climate change. You can learn more at pbs.org/perilandpromise.

    Support the show and unlock exclusive merch, bonus content, and more for as little as $5/month at patreon.com/thesweatypenguin.

    CREDITS

    Writers: Ethan Brown, Maxwell Pociask, Naomi Rubin, Maddy Schmidt

    Editor: Will Andronico

    Producers: Ethan Brown, Megan Crimmins, Shannon Damiano, Maddy Schmidt

    Ad Voiceover: Will Andronico

    Music: Brett Sawka

    The opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the host and guests. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of Peril and Promise or The WNET Group.

  • Pakistan’s Latest Floods Demonstrate the Concern of Correlated Extreme Weather Events

    Pakistan’s Latest Floods Demonstrate the Concern of Correlated Extreme Weather Events

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    Were you aware of the floods in Pakistan this summer?


    On August 25, Pakistan declared a state of emergency after a summer that has brought the worst flooding in the country’s history. The floods have affected 33 million people, killed over 1,300 people including 416 children, created an economic loss of 10 billion dollars, and as of August 29, around one third of the country was underwater. Ethan breaks down how climate change made these floods more severe and what lessons we can learn from these floods about extreme weather in this week’s “Tip of the Iceberg.”

    The Sweaty Penguin is presented by Peril and Promise: a public media initiative from The WNET Group in New York, reporting on the issues and solutions around climate change. You can learn more at pbs.org/perilandpromise.

    Support the show and unlock exclusive merch, bonus content, and more for as little as $5/month at patreon.com/thesweatypenguin.

    CREDITS

    Writer: Ethan Brown

    Fact Checker: Ysabel Wulfing

    Editor: Will Andronico

    Producers: Ethan Brown, Megan Crimmins, Shannon Damiano, Maddy Schmidt

    Ad Voiceover: Will Andronico

    Music: Brett Sawka

    The opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the host and guests. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of Peril and Promise or The WNET Group.

  • How Do We Protect Avocados From Drought, Deforestation, and Drug Cartels?

    How Do We Protect Avocados From Drought, Deforestation, and Drug Cartels?

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    What’s your favorite thing to put avocados on?


    Avocados are rising in popularity fast. Over the past two decades, consumption of avocados in the United States tripled to more than eight pounds per person per year. Unfortunately, the avocado industry is up against several challenges, from high water demand to deforestation to extortion and violence at the hands of Mexican drug cartels. Today, we explore what issues avocados face, how climate change may exacerbate some of them, and how to improve the production of this beloved, valuable fruit. With special guest Dr. Roman Grüter: Research Associate at the Zurich University of Applied Sciences’ Geography of Food Research Group.

    The Sweaty Penguin is presented by Peril and Promise: a public media initiative from The WNET Group in New York, reporting on the issues and solutions around climate change. You can learn more at pbs.org/perilandpromise.

    Support the show and unlock exclusive merch, bonus content, and more for as little as $5/month at patreon.com/thesweatypenguin.

    CREDITS

    Writers: Ysabel Wulfing, Maddy Schmidt, Ethan Brown

    Editor: Will Andronico

    Producers: Ethan Brown, Shannon Damiano

    Ad Voiceover: Naomi Rubin

    Music: Brett Sawka

    The opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the host and guests. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of Peril and Promise or The WNET Group.


    Clips

     

  • This New PFAS Solution Isn’t a Silver Bullet, But It Paves the Way for Future Research

    This New PFAS Solution Isn’t a Silver Bullet, But It Paves the Way for Future Research

    PFAS — short for “per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances” — have accumulated in the environment and humans very successfully thanks to their use in common items like rugs, water bottles, and cookware. They’re toxic synthetic chemicals that build up and resist things like water, oil, and grease, hence why they’re used for such a wide variety of things. The problem with PFAS — why they are referred to as “forever chemicals” — is that they don’t go away on their own. It’s scary to see that an estimated 98% of Americans have detectable levels of PFAS in their blood. Although past technologies have found ways to remove PFAS from the environment, researchers weren’t able to decompose the substances afterwards. For years scientists have searched for a way to break down these substances that are highly durable and can therefore persist all around us for long periods of time. 

    Finally, research on these seemingly unbreakable compounds has paid off. Recent experimentation published in Science has found success with breaking down perfluorocarboxylic acids (PFCAs), one of the largest PFAS classes. Scientists used the common solvent dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO), which is derived from wood and has been used industrially since the mid-1800s. It’s actually a byproduct of paper production. This makes things a little easier implementation-wise; it’s a solvent that is relatively easy to access, and it comes from a renewable resource.

    PFCAs, the class of chemicals DMSO was found to work with, certainly aren’t the only class of PFAS. But a scientific breakthrough like this opens up room to experiment on other classes as we look for ways in which other simple solutions may work.

    DMSO may also be able to work with other classes of PFAS, once scientists are able to identify more class-specific methods. It hasn’t been tested, but researchers from this experiment note that the solvent may be generalizable to other PFAS. 

    Considering scientists have been discovering the effects and behaviors of these “forever chemicals” since the 1950s, these results may come as somewhat surprising. There has been a solution to a major class of PFAS all along.

    That said, the effects and existence of PFAS are so widespread that it’s hard to even know if a solution like DMSO is going to work everywhere. PFAS are in water, soil, fish and humans. Just in the 50 states and two territories, almost 3,000 contaminated sites were found this past June. Over 200 million Americans are impacted by contaminated water supplies. So there is a lot of ground to cover in tackling the PFAS crisis. DMSO doesn’t solve the entire problem of PFAS everywhere, but it paves a path forward.

    Success stories like this are what fuels future research. Knowing that DMSO actually worked to combat the strength of PFCAs can build confidence in researchers to try simpler avenues before ruling them out. And there’s certainly room for growth when accounting for scale issues with DMSO, as well as the fact that it hasn’t been proven to work across other classes of PFAS. These chemicals we thought were nearly impossible to break down now are being cracked at by present innovation. That gives motivation. And this innovation will continue to inspire more research down the line as more potential PFAS destroyers are put to the test.

  • Scientists Found an Industrial Solvent That Can Break Down PFAS

    Scientists Found an Industrial Solvent That Can Break Down PFAS

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    What’s your favorite industrial solvent?


    Nicknamed “forever chemicals,” PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) have spread all throughout our environment, and have been linked to a long list of health problems including cancer. But according to a new paper in Science, an industrial solvent called dimethyl sulfoxide can actually break down a subset of PFAS chemicals. Ethan breaks down how this solvent works, how much this solution could help combat the PFAS crisis, and what science enthusiasts can take away from this discovery in this week’s “Tip of the Iceberg.”

    The Sweaty Penguin is presented by Peril and Promise: a public media initiative from The WNET Group in New York, reporting on the issues and solutions around climate change. You can learn more at pbs.org/perilandpromise.

    Support the show and unlock exclusive merch, bonus content, and more for as little as $5/month at patreon.com/thesweatypenguin.

    CREDITS

    Writer: Ethan Brown, Maxwell Pociask, Maddy Schmidt

    Fact Checker: Ysabel Wulfing

    Editor: Will Andronico

    Producers: Ethan Brown, Shannon Damiano

    Ad Voiceover: Naomi Rubin

    Music: Brett Sawka

    The opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the host and guests. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of Peril and Promise or The WNET Group.

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