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November 2, 2014: Exploring Underwater Caves, Boxing With Ghana’s World Champs and More

National Geographic Emerging Explorer Kenny Broad shares the secrets of 300-foot blue holes found on the Bahamas. He's able to learn about the island's climate past, as well as what animals and people made it home. (photo by Wes Skiles/National Geographic)
National Geographic Emerging Explorer Kenny Broad shares the secrets of 300-foot blue holes found on the Bahamas. He’s able to learn about the island’s climate past, as well as what animals and people made it home. (photo by Wes Skiles/National Geographic)

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

– Some adventures require years of preparation and planning. If you ask Felix Starck, cycling around the world isn’t one of those adventures. Starck came up with the idea to ride his bike around the world in January, 2013; he left five months later. He pulled his bike back into Herxheim, Germany 365 days, 22 countries and more than 11,000 miles pedaled later. Starck says that the toughest part of the ride was “all of Asia,” and one of his favorite parts of the ride was pedaling up one of the world’s steepest roads in New Zealand. Starck plans to turn his year pedaling into a documentary.
– Big mountain skiing requires the ability to eyeball a slope, a cliff or a hole in the snowpack from afar and be able to gauge the required speed or identify necessary turns to avoid disaster. It doesn’t have the controlled, predictable conditions of an Olympic ski jump or half pipe. Professional skier Lynsey Dyer tells Boyd about her biggest big mountain air, as well as discusses her all-woman ski film Pretty Faces. The film was crowdsourced, gathering footage from women skiers on mountains everywhere. Dyer is also co-founder of SheJumps, an organization that seeks to promote an outdoor lifestyle for girls and women everywhere. 

– After taking a trip to Swaziland, where she met conservationist Ted Reilly, who helped rebuild Swaziland’s rhinoceros populations after a particularly brutal poaching episode, animal enthusiast Melinda MacInnis was moved to publicize their global plight. Her forthcoming documentary “The Price” follows the demand for rhino horn through a dozen countries, starting with its use in traditional Chinese medicines and continuing into a commodity controlled by organized crime organizations worldwide. MacInnis plans to release “The Price” in 2015.

– National Geographic Explorer  Kenny Broad endures the dangers of Scuba diving in caves as deep as 300 feet below the surface in the name of science. Broad stresses that on land, he’s much more accident prone than underwater, but says that he takes the risks that he does to study “blue holes” on Bahamian islands to learn about our past. Broad explains that one mystery that still leaves him guessing is the fact that humans only very recently settled the Bahamas, despite the fact that humans had been living on the North American mainland, just 60 miles away, for thousands of years.

HOUR 2
 
Ethan Johns is a musician, producer and student of history – he lives a short distance from Stonehenge, in southern England. For him, music and history are both very present in his life. It seems like a natural fit, then, that his new album, The Reckoning, transports listeners to the late 1800’s following the deeds and misdeeds of a pair of brothers living on the American frontier. And while many of Johns’ songs on The Reckoning might not immediately strike listeners as “happy melodies,” he explains that “there’s hope and redemption all throughout the record.”

– Kenyans are known internationally as long distance runners. Canada has hockey, Australians swim, and New Zealand plays rugby. And while these countries have relatively small populations for their outsized sport successes, their people to sport notorieity ratio is dwarfed by that of the boxing fame enjoyed by Ghana’s Bukom neighborhood in Accra. Joe Haldeman recently spent the summer there, living amongst Bukom’s boxers trying to understand their boxing recipe. He explains that it can be understood historically: the once wealthy port neighborhood lost many of its jobs, leaving behind crowds of people competing for space and resources. Among idle young men, fights often happen. The British introduced the ring, and a long while later, Joshua Clottey is the welterweight world boxing champion, while two of his brothers fought professionally in other weight classes. Haldemann is making a documentary about Bukom’s success in the “sweet science”.

– The Middle East has recently been ravaged by religious-driven conflict, scarring generations of people who are just trying to live. But a historic hallmark of the religious warfare in that region for centuries has been the “destruction of cultural heritage for its symbolic meaning.” Syrian anthropologist Salam al Kuntar explains that ISIS’ insistence on destroying relics and monuments devoted to Muslim leaders that don’t conform with their worldview, and that’s intended to “obliterate the meaning of people’s lives, including their connection to their history.”

– Everybody knows that snow is white. But that’s precisely the problem facing the glaciers on Greenland and in the Himalayan Plateau: the once white snow, in many places, is black. Because of the color change, it’s melting much faster than it otherwise would, from the extra focus of the sun’s rays. Dr. Tami Bond has received one of the MacArthur Foundation’s “Genius” Grants for her research on black carbon, the microscopic agent that floats through the atmosphere and ultimately lands back on earth, sometimes settling on top of glaciers. Dr. Bond is studying ways to cut down on atmospheric black carbon. And, she says, that while it may be expensive to cut down on, “the cost of fixing an environmental problem always has to be compared to the cost of not doing anything.”

– In this week’s Wild Chronicles segment, Boyd shares the story of his own experiences diving in underwater caves. He says that in open water scuba diving, you’re able to let your air tank go down to nearly empty, although you’re not supposed to. The repercussions of running out of air, or even losing you way in an underwater cave system, are much more severe than risking decompression sickness from surfacing too quickly in open water.