The State of Nuclear Power, Climate Refugees, and Bad News for Bananas


Some of this year’s picks. Photo by Brandon Echter

This episode of Science Friday will air on December 11, 2015 on WSQX from 2-4pm.

Freelance journalist and author Maggie Koerth-Baker returns to Science Friday to discuss the state of nuclear power around the world—a topic she tackles at length in a recent New York Times article. Countries like Japan and Germany are looking to phase out nuclear energy, and even the United States, which largely embraces it, hasn’t opened a nuclear reactor since 1996. Koerth-Baker also shares other short subjects in science this week, including a story about how the first climate refugees in the continental United States may hail from an island in the Chesapeake Bay.

Plus, one of the most popular fruits in the world—the banana—may eventually be wiped out by Tropical Race 4, a mutation of Panama disease. The type of banana at risk is the Cavendish, which replaced the Gros Michel banana in the mid-1900s when it was devastated by the Panama disease fungus. The Washington Post’s Roberto Ferdman talks about what bad news might be in store for this widely grown banana, and how scientists and companies might be able to rethink banana production.
Segment Guests
Maggie Koerth-Baker is a science journalist and author. She’s based in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Roberto Ferdman writes about food policy and economics for The Washington Post and is based in New York, New York.

Also, the best Science Books of 2015- have you made your list yet?

Was there a science, technology, or environmental book from 2015 that made you think, laugh, or gape in amazement? Now’s the time to celebrate it. Join Ira as we build our list of the Best Science Books of 2015 with help from Pulitzer Prize-winning science journalist Deborah Blum and Brain Pickings editor Maria Popova. Have a favorite science read from 2015? Share it in the comments!

Maria Popova’s Picks for 2015:
(1) On the Move: A Life, by Oliver Sacks
Read more on Brain Pickings, listen to Oliver Sacks read an excerpt.

(2)The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt’s New World, by Andrea Wulf
Read more on Brain Pickings, listen to Andrea Wulf on SciFri, and read an excerpt.

(3) Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs: The Astounding Interconnectedness of the Universe, by Lisa Randall
Read more on Brain Pickings, listen to Lisa Randall on SciFri, and read an excerpt.

(4) The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage: The (Mostly) True Story of the First Computer, by Sydney Padua
Read more on Brain Pickings, listen to Sydney Padua on SciFri, and read an excerpt.

(5) The Physicist and the Philosopher: Einstein, Bergson, and the Debate That Changed Our Understanding of Time, by Jimena Canales

(6) Nature Anatomy: The Curious Parts and Pieces of the Natural World, by Julia Rothman
Read more on Brain Pickings

(7) Thunder & Lightning: Weather Past, Present, and Future, by Lauren Redniss
Read more on Brain Pickings, listen to Lauren Redniss on SciFri, and read an excerpt.

(8) The Blue Whale, by Jenni Desmond
Read more on Brain Pickings