Rising Seas Stories, Pseudo-Biology of Monsters, Howling Wolf Soundscape. Oct 29, 2021, Part 2

Rising Seas Stories, Pseudo-Biology of Monsters, Howling Wolf Soundscape. Oct 29, 2021, Part 2

By Science Friday and WNYC Studios

Science Friday

Friday, 29 October

The Science Behind Cryptid Sightings

People around the world have long been fascinated by the idea that there are strange creatures out there, ones that may or may not exist. Tales circulate about cryptids–animals whose existence can’t be proved—like Bigfoot hiding out in American forests, or sea serpents lurking just below the water in coastal towns.

Despite the best efforts of monster hunting T.V. shows and amateur sleuths, there may never be concrete proof that these creatures exist. But that doesn’t stop people from analyzing strange photographs or odd carcasses and saying maybe, just maybe, cryptids do exist.

Darren Naish, a paleontologist and author based in Southampton, U.K., has a particular interest in looking at cryptozoology—from a skeptical perspective. His breakdowns of cryptid sightings from a scientific perspective have been published in Scientific American, his website, and in his book, Hunting Monsters: Cryptozoology and the Reality Behind the Myths.

Darren speaks to guest host Sophie Bushwick about faked evidence, his relationship with cryptozoology, and how cryptids may lead to other pseudoscience beliefs.

 

Stories From Those On The Frontlines Of Sea Level Rise

Next week marks the start of the UN’s annual conference on climate change in Glasgow, Scotland. It’s a big moment for global consensus on climate change: Nations are supposed to make new, aggressive pledges to lower their emissions in the attempt to prevent the planet from hitting 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming.

Meanwhile, in the world we see and touch, seas are already rising. In some coastal areas, seas have risen between 0.5 to 1.5 feet in the last century. We’re also already seeing hurricanes with higher storm surge, and heavier rainfall. More change, of course, is projected.

The SciFri Book Club has been talking about these risks, and reading about how these numbers have endangered wetlands, flooded homes, lost livelihoods, and sometimes scattered communities in Elizabeth Rush’s 2018 book Rising: Dispatches From The New American Shore. But while we’ve talked to wetland scientists and Elizabeth herself, the voices of community members most affected by climate change—a key part of Rising’s mission—were still missing.

In a final conversation with guest host Sophie Bushwick, producer Christie Taylor shares some of the stories of people on the frontlines, including a real-estate agent who helped his neighbors relocate after Hurricane Sandy, and the leader of the Gullah Geechee people on the sea islands of the southeast coast. Plus, social scientist A.R. Siders’ insights into communities’ need to adapt to sea level rise, and how they can be most successful.

 

Listen To The Haunting Howls That Once Permeated Europe

Last year, Melissa Pons, a field recordist and sound designer, set out to capture a sound that at one time would have been familiar to almost any European: the howl of an Iberian wolf.

There was a time when the sounds of wolves filled the forests and mountains of Europe. But after centuries of persecution by humans, only some 12,000 wolves remain in all of Europe. Isolated pockets of wolves can be found in Italy, Spain, Greece, and Finland. A sixth of the entire remaining population lives in the mountains of Portugal.

Pons headed to the remote, mountainous region of Picão—a settlement on the small island Príncipe off the west coast of Africa—where there is a rehabilitation center for the Iberian wolf. There are some 350 packs of wolves spread out over about 45 acres of the reserve.

Pons first explored the region and observed the wolves. Then she set up her recording gear and gathered over 100 hours of tape. From those recordings, she composed an album where each track captures a distinct soundscape made by these wolves.

The album is available online and half the proceeds go toward supporting the rehabilitation center in Portugal.

 

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