May 04, 2010

Pt 1: Coping with the Oil Spill - As the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico moves ever closer to land, we look at what the spill might do to the fragile ecosystems around it, and how the people who live there will cope. (Read More)

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Pt 2: E.O. Wilson - Legendary evolutionary biologist E.O. Wilson discusses what we've learned from disasters like the oil spill and what ants can tell us about human nature. (Read More)

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Pt 3: Mount Saint Helens - It was thirty years ago this month that Mount Saint Helens erupted ... killing 57 people and spreading an inch-thick layer of volcanic ash across a huge swath of the Pacific Northwest. Today, the area around it stands as a testament to the durability of ecosystems left untouched by humans. (Read More)

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Whole Show Blow-by-Blow

It's Tuesday, May 4th.

Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, wants the United States to join a "humane movement" for abolishing nuclear weapons.

Currently, and by nuclear weapons he means neck ties.

This is The Current.

Coping with the Oil Spill - Alexander Kolker

We started this segment with a clip from Doug Suttles, BP's Chief Operating Officer speaking yesterday. Now despite his assurance that the company is making progress, oil is still gushing into the Gulf of Mexico at an estimated rate of nearly 800,000 litres-a-day.

The spill is threatening coastlines from Louisiana to Alabama. Sensitive wetlands, bird migrations routes, as well as animal habitats hang in the balance. And there is likely more bad news to come, as bad weather and high waves make the efforts to protect the shorelines more difficult.

For a sense of what's at stake, we were joined by Alexander Kolker. He's a professor of coastal and wetland science at the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium. He was in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Coping with the Oil Spill - Mayors

We started this segment with a clip from Rear Admiral Mary Landry, the Commander of the U.S. Coast Guard's Eighth District.

Craig P. Taffaro Junior is the President of St. Bernard Parish, one of the communities she's talking about. St. Bernard Parish is just south of New Orleans. And that's where he was this morning.

We also headed east along the coast where we were joined by William Skellie Junior. He is the Mayor of Long Beach, Mississippi.

And Chipper McDermott is the Mayor of Pass Christian, Mississippi. The community is home to the second largest oyster reef in the world.


Anthill - E.O. Wilson

E.O. Wilson is one of the world's most renowned evolutionary biologists. He has written 24 books, two of which won the Pulitzer Prize for Non-Fiction. And he is widely considered to be one of the most original -- and sometimes controversial -- thinkers in his field.

E.O. Wilson is also one of the world's leading entomologists. His passion is ants. And now, as he approaches the age of 81, E.O. Wilson has turned that passion into his first novel. It's called Anthill. And E.O. Wilson was in Cambridge, Massachusetts.


Mount Saint Helens - Ellen Rose

Last month, the world's attention was focused on a volcano in Iceland ... a volcano that was inconveniencing millions of air travelers and costing airlines billions of dollars. Today a new cloud of ash from the same Icelandic volcano has closed airspace over Ireland, Northern Ireland and parts of Scotland. But the activity of that volcano is small compared to what happened 30 years ago this month.

We aired a clip of the scene on May 18th of 1980, when Mount Saint Helens erupted and obliterated just about every living thing in a 500 square kilometre area. Before that spectacular act of self-destruction, Mount Saint Helens was considered one of the most beautiful sights in the Pacific Northwest ... a snow-capped, near-perfect volcanic cone surrounded by forest.

By the time it was all over, Mount Saint Helens had blown off its northern face and lopped off about 400 metres from its peak. 57 people died. And the volcano heaved hundreds of millions of tonnes of ash up to 20 kilometres in the air ... an act that grounded flights for days.

Ellen Rose was just a short drive away when that happened. She was the President of the Chamber of Commerce for the town of Castle Rock, about 45 kilometres from the foot of Mount Saint Helens. Today, she is the owner of the Mount Saint Helens Motel. And that's where she was this morning.

Mount Saint Helens - Charlie Crisafulli

Two months after Mount Saint Helens erupted, a young research ecologist named Charlie Crisafulli arrived at the site to look at how the area would come back to life. Then, in 1982, the U.S. Congress set aside 45,000 hectares as the Mount Saint Helens National Monument, a protected area in which to allow entirely natural processes to transform the area without human influence.

Charlie Crisafulli has watched that happen over the last 30 years. He is a Research Ecologist at the U.S. Forest Service's Pacific Northwest Research Station. Charlie Crisafulli was in Yacolt, Washington, about 60 kilometres from Mount Saint Helens.

Mount Saint Helens - Robert Christiansen

Most people don't think of North America as a hotbed of volcanic activity. But according to Robert Christiansen, there is a history of violent eruptions here. He's a Research Geologist Emeritus with the U.S. Geological Survey. He was in Palo Alto, California.

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