Outside/In

Outside/In

A show where curiosity and the natural world collide. We explore science, energy, environmentalism, and reflections on how we think about and depict nature, and always leave time for plenty of goofing off. Outside/In is a production of NHPR. Learn more at outsideinradio.org

Episodes

June 13, 2024 35 mins

During their twelve seasons as winter rangers in Yosemite National Park, Rob and Laura Pilewski have learned a thing or two about what it means to love a place – and a person.

This episode comes to us from the wonderful folks at The Dirtbag Diaries, another podcast that features stories about conservation, epic adventures, and more. 

Featuring Rob and Laura Pilewski

 

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What do wolves, waste-water treatment plants, and the Gulf Stream have in common? This episode, that’s what! It’s that wonderful time when we comb through all your wonderful questions and call up some scientists to help us answer them. Some of the more unlikely things that get brought up include dinosaur pee, abandoned shopping carts, and wolves preying on cheese curds. 

Here’s what’s on the docket:

  • Why is dog saliva slimier than...
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May 30, 2024 30 mins

Every December, during the Christmas Bird Count, tens of thousands of volunteers look to the skies for an international census of wild birds. 

But during migration season, a much smaller squad of New York City volunteers take on a more sobering experience: counting dead birds that have collided with glass buildings and fallen back to Earth. 

In this episode, we find out what kind of people volunteer for this grisly job, visit the New...

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May 23, 2024 27 mins

The Smithsonian National Zoological Park in Washington, DC is sometimes called “the people’s zoo.” That’s because it’s the only zoo in the country to be created by an act of US Congress, and admission is free.

But why did our federal government create a national zoo in the first place?

Producer Felix Poon has the scoop – from its surprising origins in the near-extinction of bison, to a look at its modern-day mission of conservation, ...

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May 16, 2024 32 mins

While digging a well in 1750, a group of workers accidentally discovered an ancient Roman villa containing over a thousand papyrus scrolls. This was a stunning discovery: the only library from antiquity ever found in situ. But the scrolls were blackened and fragile, turned almost to ash by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius.

Over the centuries, scholars’ many attempts to unroll the fragile scrolls have mostly been catastrophic. But now,...

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The Colorado River – and the people that rely on it – are in a state of crisis. Climate change and overuse are taking a significant toll. Seven states must compromise and reach a solution to prevent the river from collapsing.

In late 2023, tensions were running high between the major players in the water world as they convened at the annual Colorado River conference in Las Vegas. LAist Correspondent Emily Guerin was there, seeking t...

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May 2, 2024 27 mins

You might associate it with the foil that wraps leftover pizza and the shiny craft beer cans sold in breweries, but aluminum is literally everywhere. Scoop up a handful of soil or gravel anywhere on Earth, and you’ll find atoms of bonded aluminum hidden inside. Over the past 150 years, that abundance has led production of the silvery metal to skyrocket (pun intended) and created an industry responsible for 2-3% of global greenhouse...

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April 25, 2024 29 mins

When officials commissioned a set of updated hazard maps for Juneau, Alaska, they thought the information would help save lives and spur new development. Instead, the new maps drew public outcry from people who woke up to discover their homes were at risk of being wiped out by landslides.

What’s followed has been a multiyear project – not to address the challenges posed by climate-fueled landslides – but to alter, ignore, or otherwi...

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April 18, 2024 40 mins

When it comes to protecting the biodiversity of Planet Earth, there is no greater failure than extinction. Thankfully, only a few dozen species have been officially declared extinct by the US Fish and Wildlife Service in the half-century since the passage of the Endangered Species Act. 

But, hold on. Aren’t we in the middle of the sixth mass extinction? Shouldn’t the list of extinct species be… way longer? Well, yeah. Maybe.

Producer...

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April 11, 2024 54 mins

Shirtless influencers on TikTok and Instagram have acquired millions of followers promoting the carnivore diet. They say studies linking meat consumption and heart disease are flawed — and plant foods are making people sick. "Western medicine is lying to you," says content-creator Dr. Paul Saladino, who co-owns a company selling desiccated cattle organs.

The online popularity of the carnivore diet is undeniable. Yet, no controlled s...

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Hemp used to be a staple of life in America. King James I demanded that colonists produce it. Hemp rope and fabric were ubiquitous throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. The USDA even produced a WWII newsreel called “Hemp for Victory.”

But other materials came to replace hemp – wood pulp for paper, and cotton and synthetics for fabric. Why?

For that matter, what is hemp? Is it different from weed? And does it actually have 25,000 us...

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It’s that special time again! Scientists everywhere hold their breath as the team opens the Outside/Inbox and answers listener questions about the natural world. In this episode, we consider Flaco the Eurasian eagle owl, an impulsive goat purchase, and a big night for salamanders. Plus, we’re graced with Nate’s rendition of a Tom Waits song. 

Questions:

  1. What would NYC look like in 50 years if humans disappeared?
  2. What if the earth ...
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March 21, 2024 24 mins

To save for retirement, common knowledge says to “diversify your portfolio.” Give your cash to a company so they can invest it into hundreds of other companies on the stock market. But unless you’ve gone out of your way to change it, your portfolio probably has little to do with your values. 

For example, there are climate activists invested in fossil fuel companies. Staunch vegans putting some of their hard-earned income into Tyson...

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Editor's Note: This episode first aired in July, 2023

With 'Oppenheimer,' director Christopher Nolan turned the Manhattan Project into an Academy-Award-winning blockbuster. The film is set in Los Alamos, where the first atomic bomb was tested. But few people know the history of Carrizozo, a rural farming area downwind of the test.

Radioactive fallout from the bomb settled on everything: the soil, gardens, and drinking water. Cow’s mi...

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If you grew up with family members who pushed (or dragged) you onto the trail, chances are you have strong memories associated with hiking. Epic vistas… swarms of black flies… and your dad’s terrible homemade gorp. 

Whether you grow up to see them as personal triumphs or family fiascos, those early adventures can shape your perception of the outdoors for life.
Can parents shape kids into hardcore hikers? And what happens when your be...

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February 29, 2024 33 mins

A century ago, coastal dunes threatened to overwhelm the city of Florence, Oregon. The sand swallowed roads, highways, and houses. When “Dune” author Frank Herbert visited the area in 1957, he was stunned by the awesome power of the sand. Eventually, it inspired his fictional desert planet, Arrakis.

But now, the dunes that inspired “Dune” are disappearing. 

To solve the sand problem, the US Forest Service planted dunes with non-nativ...

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February 22, 2024 36 mins

In the Catskill Mountains of upstate New York, dozens of strangers gathered together in the woods for three straight days. Their mission? Teach people of color how to kill, gut, and butcher a deer for the first time.

Producer Felix Poon was there as a first-time hunter. He wanted to know: what does it feel like to take an animal's life to sustain your own? Given the opportunity… would he pull the trigger?

In this episode we follow Fe...

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Editor's note: This episode was first published in July, 2022.

Humans have had an impressive run thus far; we’ve explored most of the planet (the parts that aren’t underwater anyway), landed on the moon, created art and music, and made some pretty entertaining Tik Toks. 

But we’ve survived on the planet for just a fraction of the time horseshoe crabs and alligators have. And we’re vastly outnumbered by many species of bacteria and in...

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February 8, 2024 27 mins

Thwaites Glacier in Antarctica is massive, bigger than the state of Florida. If it collapses, it could reshape every coast on this planet during this century. That’s why it’s sometimes known as “the Doomsday Glacier.”

And yet, until recently, we knew very little about it. Because Thwaites is extremely remote, reachable only by crossing the wildest ocean on the planet, scientists had never observed its calving edge firsthand. 

In 2019...

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February 1, 2024 32 mins

Support Outside/In before February 5th and your gift will be matched dollar-for-dollar! Donate $8 per month and we’ll send you a pair of merino wool socks from Minus33 (they’re made in New Hampshire!). 

A lot of discussion about sustainability revolves around the trash and waste we leave behind.  But at some point, every human being will die and leave behind a body. 

So what should we do with it? Casket? Cremation? Compost? And does ...

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