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March 17, 2013: Getting Married at the North Pole, Cage-Free Swimming With Great Whites and More

On this week’s show, meet a woman who free-dives with great white sharks, a man who skied to the North Pole in the darkness of winter, and photographers who can turn such darkness into a colorful portrait of a world we can’t see.

Carbon Tax Is a Popular Topic in Washington

Since China announced it will hold off plans to introduce a carbon tax, the idea has generated some activity on Capitol Hill. Lawmakers on Tuesday proposed a draft bill that would charge the largest industrial polluters a fee for, or carbon tax on, their fossil-fuel emissions. The plan, proposed by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Rep. Earl…

CITES Ivory Policy Is On Drugs

Sunday is opening day for the two-week-long 16th meeting, in Bangkok, Thailand, of the world’s leading body for regulating the world’s wildlife—the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES). How will the gathering decide on the issue of legalizing the sale of ivory?

Q&A: How a Turtle With Fake Limbs Got a Leg Up

Find out how Lu, the injured loggerhead sea turtle, got her sea legs back thanks to prosthetic limbs developed by a Japanese team.

Blood Ivory Surges – Major Seizure in Hong Kong

Customs authorities in Hong Kong have seized over 1,000 kg of African ivory worth almost $1.5m. This concealed shipment of 779 tusks is the third largest seizure in just three months and was smuggled by sea from Kenya via Malaysia. A routine x-ray scan of a shipping container reported to contain “archaeological stones” revealed the…

The Deadly Thumbs of Japanese Flick Knife Frogs

The Japanese Otton frog (Babina subaspera) may look harmless, but don’t be fooled by its ordinary green, warty appearance. This frog carries concealed weapons. A new study has discovered that the Otton frog has sharp retractable claws that shoot out of its thumbs. The rare frog, native to the Amami islands of Southern Japan, uses…

Kiyoshi Sakamoto: Portrait of a Photographer

On March 8, 1918, National Geographic editor, Gilbert Grosvenor received a letter from Arthur Hosking regarding several photographs the Society had recently purchased. Hosking was handling the transaction for the photographer, a Japanese schoolteacher named Kiyoshi Sakamoto, and he thought Sakamoto and National Geographic might be a good match. Editors at National Geographic did indeed find Sakamoto’s work worthwhile. The letter marked the beginning of what would be a decades-long relationship between the Society and the photographer.

Cherry Tree Planting in March 1912 Shaped Public Face of Washington, D.C.

The cherry trees are blooming in Washington. Tuesday, March 27, 2012, marks 100 years since First Lady Helen Taft and the Japanese ambassador’s wife, Viscountess Iwa Chinda, planted the first two trees. No photographs of the event exist, and newspaper accounts were sketchy. But historical records offer a picture of what happened that day and how it came about.

Happy New Year Bluefin!

A North Pacific Bluefin tuna fetched 56.49m yen/$736,000 at Tsukiji fish market’s first tuna auction of the year.  Bluefin stocks in the Atlantic and South Pacific are depleted to fractions of their original size thanks to overfishing driven primarily by the Japanese sushi market.  Many of us, who may love sushi as much as the…

Big Businesses’ Call for Climate Action: Strong Treaty, More Aid

A group of 285 large investors, representing more than $20 trillion in assets, urged world governments to forge a binding treaty at upcoming climate negotiations in Durban, South Africa, and said global spending has not been nearly enough to keep warming below 2 degrees Celsius. The call came from a coalition of four green investment groups—representing the…

Japan, Germany Struggle With Nuclear Power Slowdown

With a large share of their nuclear power plants down at the moment, both Japan and Germany are scrambling to meet energy demand and figure out how to get by without nuclear in the future. Two-thirds of Japan’s 54 nuclear reactors are currently down, most of them for maintenance and testing. To cope with the…

After Fukushima, Japan Vows to Boost Renewables

In the wake of the nuclear disaster at Fukushima, Japan’s Prime Minister Naoto Kan pledged to boost renewable energy to at least 20 percent of its consumption in the next decade. This would double the share of renewable electricity in Japan, which gets most of its electricity from nuclear, coal, and oil. Nuclear power had supplied…

U.K.’s “Greenest Government Ever” Charges Ahead with Nuclear Power

Britain’s Prime Minister, David Cameron, has repeatedly pledged to create the “greenest government ever,” and now the country has adopted a new, ambitious goal for cutting greenhouse gas emissions, aiming by 2025 to slash them by half, compared with 1990. The goal, agreed to by Cabinet ministers in the ruling coalition of Conservatives and Liberal Democrats,…

Natural Gas Fracking Under Increasing Pressure

The Oscar-nominated documentary “Gasland” featured dramatic clips of people whose tap water could be set on fire, apparently a side effect of “fracking,” a method of opening up fissures deep underground to unlock natural gas. A new Duke study backs up these residents’ woes, finding that drinking water near fracking sites had average methane levels…

From Early Geographic “Lady Writer,” D.C. Cherry Blossoms and Tsunami

Cherry trees are a cherished landmark of Washington, D.C. Admired by thousands of visitors at this time of year, when they are in flower, the trees represent an enduring bond between the U.S. and Japan. But few people know of the woman behind Japan’s gift of the trees to America–a pioneering National Geographic editor who famously reported for the magazine on the earthquake wave that devastated Japan in 1896, and introduced the word tsunami to the English language. Meet Eliza Scidmore.