El Niño Vs. the Blob, Yeast Painkillers, and a Butter Bummer

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Conditions are currently warming up in the Pacific, and the NOAA Climate Prediction Center expects a greater than 90 percent chance that El Niño will continue through the winter and most likely into the spring. This image shows the July 13-19, 2015 sea surface temperature departure from the 1981-2010 average. Image by NOAA

This week’s news roundup takes us to San Francisco, where Ira is joined by KQED science and environment reporter Lauren Sommer. As California’s historic drought continues, many Californians have pinned their hopes on a larger-than-usual El Niño to dump much-needed water on the West. But as Sommer explains, there’s a new climate player in town that could muck up that plan: the Blob–scientists’ name for a mass of warm water in the North Pacific—which could divert those long-sought winter storms around the thirsty state.
Then, a study out last month found that butter doesn’t compare favorably to olive oil, and that it raises LDL and HDL cholesterol after even moderate consumption. But the strangest bit about the new study is who funded it: the Danish butter industry. Roberto Ferdman, who writes about food policy and economics for The Washington Post, gives us the lowdown on health study funding in this episode of Good Thing/Bad Thing.

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