August 18, 2013: Saving Children in Ethiopia, Reigning In Our Sweet Tooth, and More

High fructose corn syrup is one common form of sugar we consume. Rich Cohen writes about our addiction to sugar in his article "Sugar Love" for the August issue of National Geographic Magazine.
High fructose corn syrup is one common form of sugar we consume. Rich Cohen writes about our addiction to sugar in his article “Sugar Love” for the August issue of National Geographic Magazine.


Every week, embark with host Boyd Matson on an exploration of the latest discoveries and interviews with some of the most fascinating people on the planet, on National Geographic Weekend.

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Episode: 1333 – Air Date: August 18, 2013

Hour 1

Ancient cultures occasionally have a practice or two that doesn’t stand up to the morals or tastes of modern times; yet, they persist until one person is able to see the practice for what it is. For example, National Geographic Emerging Explorer Lale Labuko courageously spoke out to stop a horrible custom in his Ethiopian tribe. When he was 15 years old, Lale learned of mingi – a term used for certain children who are deemed cursed and are killed to prevent famine, drought and disease from plaguing the tribe. In part one of the interview, Lale describes the heart-breaking story of how he first leard about mingi‘s curse and how he set out to stop it. Listen here.

In the second half of our interview with Lale Labuko, he describes how he gradually convinced his tribe to let him take in the mingi children so they would not be killed. He started Omo Child to get help taking care of the children and after rescuing 37 children, he realized the organization could only take so many children. Lale shares the dramatic moment when his tribe’s elders finally realized they could stop the mingi killings. Listen here.

While it appeared suddenly, the massive sinkhole that recently swallowed part of a resort near Orlando, Florida was likely in the making for a long time. Randy Orndorff, a geologist for the U.S. Geological Survey explains why sinkholes are fairly common in places like Florida where most of the ground is made of soluble rock like limestone. As more land is used for development, paved surfaces are creating the perfect recipe for sinkholes. Listen here.

Sven Hedin was a Swedish explorer responsible for mapping much of Central Asia around the turn of the 20th century. More than 100 years later, National Geographic Grantee Lars Larsson is following the famed explorer’s footsteps to discover how the region has changed. While you might think it would be easier to get around this century, Lars tells Boyd the most challenging part of his recent journey through Iran was trying to cross its central salt desert without the camels that were easily available during Hedin’s time. Listen here.

Dan Gilgoff, Director of Digital News at National Geographic, chats with Boyd about some Star Wars fans who are upset about a menacing sand dune, the possibility of the fountain of youth in Florida and a new ocean camouflage wetsuit that will only put you back $495 to keep the sharks away, assuming the sharks don’t smell you first. Listen here.

Hour 2

National Geographic Emerging Explorer T.H. Culhane is putting value to human trash and waste by creating innovative ways to use it for energy. He describes the simple science behind the biodigesters that are, essentially, tanks of water and waste that produce natural gas – the truly natural sort. After taking this technology to Baghdad, he now plans to spread the word about the affordable, alternative energy to areas in Rio de Janeiro, where sewage is harming its residents and its world famous beaches. Listen here.

Scott Briscoe discovered a passion for the outdoors at an early age, but until a recent career change, wasn’t able to indulge as much as he might like. Many African Ameriacns are not often so fortunate to get exposure to nature. That was the case for Erica Wynn who grew up in Queens, New York and didn’t explore the outdoors until she later moved to Connecticut. Now, Scott and Erica are both on a mission with Expedition Denali to encourage African Americans to take part in the great outdoors. They recently attempted to climb the highest peak in North America with an all African American team before a dangerous storm kept them from reaching the very top. Listen here.

If you’ve gone on any hike of reasonable distance, you probably have experienced the toll it can take on your feet. Hiking expert Andrew Skurka, and author of the “The Ultimate Hiker’s Gear Guide”, gives tips on how to prevent blisters by duct taping your heels, or simply testing out your socks and shoes before you hit the trails. Listen here.

In the August issue of National Geographic Magazine, Rich Cohen writes “Sugar Love (A not so sweet story)” about our obsession and addiction to sugar. The history of sugar can be traced all the way back to 10,000 years ago when it was first used in New Guinea and then eventually made its way to Britain, where it caused many black, rotten teeth. Rich explains as more time passes, more sugar is being consumed per person, causing an increase in cases of diabetes. Listen here.

In this week’s Wild Chronicles, Boyd shares his time spent riding in an old jeep in Macedonia that was made famous for its role as a getaway car during a multi-million-dollar bank robbery. The robbery was all the more daring, but also unsuccessful, because it happened back when the country was under communist rule and people could easily spot the robbers’ excess cash. Listen here.


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Meet the Author
Gina Cook is an intern for the weekly radio program National Geographic Weekend. She is a graduate student studying multimedia journalism at the University of Missouri.