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Should we mine the deep sea?

The first license of its kind has been granted for deep-sea mining. It will be used to run early tests to see whether the seabed could be good place to harvest rare earth materials in the future. These earth minerals are what powers much of our modern technology, and the demand is growing year on year.

The license raises ethical questions about whether anyone has ownership over the seabed, and whether we could be disrupting ecosystems under the sea in doing so. We have two experts joining us to discuss the scientific implications. They are marine biologist, Dr Helen Scales and Bramley Murton from the National Oceanographic Centre, Southampton University.

Also on the programme, we build on last week’s discussion about growing opportunities for researchers on the African continent. We look at how programmes of genomic sequencing are offering opportunities for Africa-based researchers, that haven’t been available before.

And lastly, we talk to Thilo Kreuger, a PhD student at Curtin University, Western Australia, who’s behind the discovery of a whole new species of carnivorous plants. We discuss what it’s like fulfilling a lifelong dream to discover more about these spectacular plant species.

(Image: The Metals Company plans to mine the seafloor for these nodules containing nickel, cobalt, and manganese in the Clarion Clipperton Zone of the Pacific Ocean. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Presenter: Roland Pease
Producer: Harrison Lewis, Robbie Wojciechowski

Science and the causes behind Pakistan’s floods

A new report by the World Weather Attribution consortium demonstrates the impact of global warming on flooding in Pakistan. The consortium is helping to assess the link between humanitarian disasters and global change, faster than ever before.

The work, conducted by a team of statisticians, climate experts, and local weather experts, is part of an emerging field in science called Extreme Event Attribution, and can reliably provide assessments in the immediate aftermath of an extreme weather event

The report follows widescale flooding in Pakistan that has disrupted the lives of over 33 million people. Dr. Friederike Otto from the Grantham Institute for Climate Change explains some of the network’s conclusions as to the causes behind this devastating flood. Can it all be down to climate change?

Also this week, we speak to Prof Oyewale Tomori of the African Centre of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases, who writes in this week’s journal Science about what he believes African countries’ role should be in response to the Monkeypox pandemic, and how future academic work in the area should be more homegrown.

Finally, psychologist Lynda Boothroyd talks us through a new study about how the arrival of television in people’s lives can help shape unhealthy and negative perceptions of body image. The study, conducted in Nicaragua, amongst communities only recently connected to electricity supplies, is helping to show how the media could play a part in contributing to conditions like eating disorders.

(Image: Pakistani people move to a safer place due to flooding. Credit: Jan Ali Laghari/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Presenter: Roland Pease
Producer: Alex Mansfield, Robbie Wojciechowski

2 episodes