March 30, 2014: Skiing Everest, Mission Blue, Search for Michael Rockefeller, Violent Animal Reproduction, and More

Misson Blue is a program created to Sylvia Earle to protect and set aside ocean refuges called "Hope Spots" which would allow species in the region to recover and not be under fishing pressures as well as limit our human impact from waste and pollution in these regions. (photo by David Alan Harvey)
Misson Blue is a program created to Sylvia Earle to protect and set aside ocean refuges called “Hope Spots” which would allow species in the region to recover and not be under fishing pressures as well as limit our human impact from waste and pollution in these regions. (photo by David Harvey)

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.

Please check listings near you to find the best way to listen to National Geographic Weekend on radio, or listen below!

Hour 1

Kit Deslauries is the first person to ski off of the seven summits; the highest peak on each of the seven continents. She says that Everest was by far the most difficult because of the steep slopes and high altitude, not to mention hiking it in ski boots. To get her through the tough decent of Everest on her skis, she created a mantra, which was “Like your life depends on it, TURN!” Mount Aconcogua in South America was also dangerous, as thick snowfall on the Polish glacier created an avalanche hazard while Mount Kilimanjaro didn’t even have snow on her first accent of the mountain. Her new focus is a glacier study in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge, exploring the highest peaks in the Brooks Range. Listen here.

– In the March 2014 issue of National Geographic Magazine, Anne Bernard describes the current life conditions for the city of Damascus in Syria in her article, “Will the walls fall?” Anne explains the war is localized, and life goes on almost like normal in the government run city center of Damascus, though a few blocks over there may be weapons exchange.  The Syrian people are worried about an economic collapse from within and that the war will become a “new normal” for the once-prosperous city. Listen here.

– The ocean is Sylvia Earle’s second home. The former NOAA chief scientist has observed alarming changes within the ocean over many years and believes if we do not create protected areas and stop overfishing, we could “remove every last tuna or whale” from the earth.  Though she misses the ocean as it was 50 years ago, Sylvia believes we can help save the oceans and make them better. Through a project called Mission Blue, she shares the crisis facing the ocean, as well as the success stories of species and habitats brought back from the brink in protected areas called Hope Spots around the world. Listen here.

– World hunger and conversion of forest into farmland are two major crises facing our planet today. Tristram Stuart believes eating ugly food can help solve both. He describes that 1/3 of world food production is wasted before reaching consumers because it does not fit commercial beauty specifications. The UK campaign on ugly fruit and vegetables is encouraging people to solve issues of food waste.  Tristram explains that stores need to account for their food waste statistics and be less stringent on specifications of beauty. It can help both the farmer growing the food, the hungry people in Africa and the environment, and that “the solution to this problem is delicious.” Listen here.

– David Braun, editor of National Geographic Daily News, shares stories of a frog that thinks it is an ant, did you evolve from jellyfish and do conjoined whales exist? The West African savannah frog secretes pheromones which mimic that of ants that it cohabitates with. In a new genetic study, sponges were discovered to have evolved more recently than sponges. Corpse eating beetles are being reintroduced into the wild, and rare conjoined gray whale calves discovered off Baja, California. Listen here.

 Hour 2

Carl Hoffman, National Geographic writer, tries to solve the mystery of the disappearance of Michael Rockefeller in his new book: Savage Harvest.  His search for the answer took him on several trips to Papua New Guinea where years earlier Michael Rockefeller was visiting to collect native artwork. In a story filled with a violent storm, head hunting, and cannibalism, Carl explains that the chiefs of a village on the island killed Michael. The tribes believe in an eye for an eye when it comes to revenge. Though he didn’t worry about tribal violence on his trek, Carl ran the hazard of having to smoke tobacco at every social encounter on his quest to learn about Michael’s fate. Listen here.

– For Craig Childs, walking on Mars is as easy as walking through the driest desert on earth. During his quest to experience the beauty of desolate landscapes, he hiked through the Atacama Desert in Chile, completely barefoot. He says that “traveling barefoot is a navigational tool,” but “it can be hard to put his feet back into shoes afterwards.” On another trek across the Greenland ice sheet, Childs compares it to Mars’ polar regions, and the water may be just as undrinkable. More similarities between the two planets and ways to experience Mars here on earth. Listen here.

– Dan Riskin explores the often-untold dark side of nature in his book, Mother Nature is Trying to Kill You. He explores unusual animal behaviors that span the seven deadly sins including strange reproductive characteristics. Dan shares stories of male spiders, which have to avoid becoming a meal to their mates, a marsupial that dies after mating, and a wasp larva that slowly eats its victims while they are still alive.  His story of a baby shark that eats its siblings before they are born will make you feel better about your sibling rivalry. Dan believes “this is what gives nature its character” and that humans may not be as selfish and barbaric as some may think. Listen here.

– Andrew Skurka, a National Geographic Adventurer of the Year and long distance hiker, stopped by to give his tips on how to pack for a camping trip. He suggests a packing light but smart because there is a “trade off between what you really need and what you might think you’ll need.” At end of long day of hiking, his favorite meals balance weight with caloric value and include simple, instant meals. Because he’s “not sure that after a long day of hiking someone wants a peanut butter & jelly sandwich for dinner,” he will give you some food for thought to take on your next adventure. Listen here.

– On this week’s Wild Chronicles, Boyd recollects his trip to New Guinea in 1976.  Boyd ends up in the middle of a tribal war between neighboring villages.  He is safe because the war is only between villagers, but describes the people believe in revenge more than a legal system to solve their differences. Listen here.


Meet the Author
Justin O'Neill produces the weekly radio program National Geographic Weekend with host Boyd Matson. Check it out on on SiriusXM satellite radio (XM channel 133 Sundays at noon), subscribe to the iTunes podcast, or stream it directly to your smartphone with Stitcher Radio.